Renting Vs Owning an RV in 2024

OTR RV Rental vs ownership

In the U.S. recreational vehicles or RV’s have been an essential travel experience for decades. In recent years their popularity has only grown, thanks in part to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. With summer upon us there is no better time to plan a road trip. RV’s however, can be very expensive. So what is the trade off when renting vs. buying an RV? What’s right for your needs? Here we will discuss the options for travelers looking to bring a new level of comfort and leisure to their road trip experience.

Your Needs

The first and most important thing you need to ask yourself when tackling this issue is, “What are my needs?” If you foresee RV’s becoming an essential road trip tool you might consider buying. However, as you likely already know, RV’s can be quite the investment. Renting is a great option for those looking to test the waters before fully committing. Aside from an RV in general, there are many different types of RVs which suit different needs. It might be suitable to rent different styles to gauge what will best meet your needs and lifestyle. 

RV Styles

Differences in RV styles range from size, to functionality, and capabilities. Start by deciding whether you are looking for a motor-home style or one to towable trailer style for your truck or SUV. If you are looking for a drivable motor-home make sure to look into the road laws in your state and the ones you plan to travel to. This is because depending on the style and weight of your vehicle you may need a commercial drivers license (CDL). Beyond this trailers and motor-homes have some key differences. For one, trailer styles generally tend to be quite a bit cheaper as they do not have engines and other vehicular hardware which drives up the cost of production. This is of course providing you have a vehicle which is capable of towing a trailer which weighs several thousand pounds. Another thing to consider is how comfortable you are driving with a trailer. Trailers can be difficult to maneuver as well as find parking for. In some ways they can even be seen as more dangerous than a motor-home. For travelers with pickup trucks looking for a more budget friendly option compared to motor-homes without the hassle of pulling a trailer, truck bed campers might be your best option. These are RV’s which rest in the bed of your truck. These are typically smaller but provide the essential amenities to get you by on the road. The last major functionality difference you might consider with trailers is that the amenities of your RV will not be available to travelers in motion like they are in a motor-home. The main appeal of motor-homes is their luxury. Much like the name suggests, these styles provide all your home amenities wherever you go. Many higher end models provide luxuries such as king or queen sized bed frames, bathrooms with showers, ovens/stoves, and much more.

Pros & Cons: Renting Vs. Owning

The best place to start when comparing these options is cost. The main appeal of renting is that it is so much cheaper, depending on how often you plan to use it. Yes, over time heavy RV users will find owning to be cheaper than renting, but it takes a long time for owning an RV to become cheaper in this manner. Especially if you are considering a motor-home. Travelers might be surprised to find that through sites like RVShare you can find all styles of RVs to rent in your area for a reasonable price. Most trailer styles can be rented for an average of $70 - $160 per night, which is comparable to the average cost of a hotel! When examining Drivable RVs the price increases towards the neighborhood of $150 - $350 per night. If you compare this to the purchase price of an RV which can be anywhere from $5,000 for a lower-end teardrop camper, to $100,000 and up for many motor-homes, you can see why renting and trying out your options might be a good first step. For those looking to buy, it is a good idea to take advantage of the used RV marketplace through sites such as RVT (RVTraders). This can save you thousands, even tens-of-thousands compared to buying new. RVT also supplies new RVs through a portfolio of dealers.

 As mentioned before renting is also a good way to learn about the differences in RV setups and features. However, this can be considered a con of renting as you have to invest time to learn about each vehicle before embarking on a trip. Though, taking time to learn about the differences of different vehicles such as hook-up configurations, driving styles, and ease of use among others things will help you make a much more informed purchase down the road. The main con of renting is that you are renting another person's vehicle which they likely use themselves. This can result in rentals which might be below your expectations of cleanliness and otherwise general condition. The last thing anyone wants is a poorly serviced RV to give you technical troubles on the road. The gravity of this potential issue depends on your expectations. The biggest cons of owning primarily relate to the amount of money you will be spending upfront and your ability to get your money’s-worth out of it. Buying an RV will likely require you to spend a large amount of time on the road for your purchase to become cheaper than renting an RV for the same amount of time. Though, purchasing an RV will provide a much more comfortable experience for many travelers as you can customize your vehicle, use it in a more spontaneous manner, and really get comfortable in your second home.

To Conclude, renting and owning RVs have their respective perks and issues. If you’re an infrequent traveler looking to add a new level of comfort to your next trip without breaking the bank, renting is probably the best option for you. The same can be said for those who are looking to purchase an RV but are unfamiliar with RVs and uncertain about what their lifestyle demands. However, those who travel more frequently and don’t want to deal with the hassle of loading and unloading, learning new systems, and generally want to feel more comfortable in an environment that feels like a second home might find buying to be a better option for them.

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