14 Tips for Living in a Camper RV to Save Money
Saving Money

14 Tips for Living in a Camper RV to Save Money

Is RV Living cheaper? Discover how living in an RV to save money helps you to live a debt-free and wealthier life! Plus, tips for living in a camper full-time.

The cost of living in a home can be extremely expensive.

Saving money seems near impossible…

And, it can make it extremely difficult to reach your financial goals.

That’s why more people than ever are considering moving into a camper van!

The trend of RV living isn’t entirely new. However, it is still not as expected or standard as one would think. Which is bizarre, because honestly, who wouldn’t want to do it?

It’s fun, it’s adventurous, and it has so many financial benefits.

I wrote a post titled 23 Ways to Make Money While Traveling in an RV or Van. You should check it out.

Plenty of travel-enthusiast people choose the life of living in an RV to save money and stay on the road without any worries, and to be honest, that’s the kind of Instagram-worthy life we all low-key dream of, don’t we?

RV living can help you to live a debt-free, wealthy, and happier life. It can be a truly magical experience.

However, with this lifestyle’s magical-ness, there are several things you need to think about practically.

If you’re considering living in a RV full-time to save money, there are certain things you MUST know.

These things and much more are all here in today’s post.

So, if you are planning to live on the road in a giant travel trailer, make sure you read it all so that you can be adequately prepared!

Does living in an RV save money?

Of course, it does! You’re saving house rent, you’re not receiving tremendous amounts of electricity and gas bills, and you’re not paying any house taxes either; that holds a significant portion of your monthly living costs.

Living in a house trailer helps many people prevent and pay off loans and debts. The fact that your general lifestyle becomes much more compact means that you only use what you need, and you only pay for what you use.

So, overall, living in an RV can help you save hundreds and thousands of dollars every month.

You can use all of that saving money to pay off any debts, invest wherever you want, attend college or university, etc.

What You Should Consider Before A Living In An RV Ful-Time To Save Money?

So, overall, you’re saving money, you’re making your life easier, and you’re living the best days of your life by camping, traveling, and having all the adventures you want!

Now, let’s move on to everything you should consider before you move into an RV.

The upcoming list shows some of the most significant, and sometimes underrated, points to think about before you shift to this particular lifestyle.

Here are my 14 tips for living in a camper RV to save money and live debt-free:

1. Do your research before buying your RV

Buying an RV to live in is a worthwhile, yet expensive investment. So make sure you know what you want and what you are getting into before purchasing one.

Do your research and spend the required time to learn about the vehicles before you go looking for one and eventually buy one.

Doing proper research when preparing to live in a RV involves a lot of things. A few examples being:

  • The price of the RV
  • The size of the RV
  • How much stuff you own and have to take along
  • The features and benefits you’re looking for
  • What company you want to go for
  • The quality levels of the vehicle
  • What colors, designs, and style of trailer you want
  • Do you want pre-used or brand new RVs?
  • Know how you’re going to use the trailer

2. Don’t drive an RV with full tanks

While different people have varying thoughts and opinions about the safety associated with traveling with full or empty water tanks, there’s one thing for sure: full tanks are always heavier. On average, an RV carries 20-100 gallons of water, which is a lot of weight when translated into pounds and kilograms!

Now, depending on your vehicle’s towing capacity and weight tolerance, there’s only so much weight that it can handle and still drive efficiently.

The more load you put on your trailer, the more fuel it uses to support it. Eventually, the quicker it uses the fuel, the sooner you have to refill. Overall, this process can get very expensive, especially if you live in an RV to save money.

3. Don’t run your RV appliances on propane

Using propane and running your RV appliances on this particular fuel is an unpopular recommendation for many reasons.

For starters, it can be dangerous. You’re living in a mobile house, and everything, including your appliances, is continually moving. If one of the machines breaks for some reason, the propane will leak. This leakage is hazardous since propane is highly flammable, and even the smallest spark can ignite it.

Plus, propane can be quiet expensive, especially when the appliances run full-time and even when you’re moving. By avoiding the use of this fuel, you can save quite a lot of money.

4. Try to stay in one place

I know, you probably only want to start living in an RV because you want to keep moving. However, as Adventurous and fun as that sounds, it is not entirely practical.

You see, even though you have the option to move whenever you want, it is always the best idea to stay in place whenever you can. The reason for this is that when you remain stable and fixed, the risks associated with you being on the road come to a minimum (stating the obvious but hear me out!) There is a lesser chance of propane leak, accidents, running out of fuel or food, and much other ugly stuff on the road. It also reduces all the costs associated with always moving, such as fuel tank refills, dining out, etc. So, staying put in one place for longer is much cheaper than being on the go all the time.

5. Travel lightly when RV living (less space required)

As we discussed right initially, living in an RV to save money is all about making life more comfortable and straightforward. So, make sure you travel very lightly. Take only what you essentially need and let go of everything else. You don’t need that oversized couch or the 28-inch LCD; let it go! Take food, take clothes, and carry the bare life essentials but don’t hoard. You’re on the road anyway! You can get whatever you run out of right there on the street; there’s a grocery store or a gas station just around every corner.

Traveling light is not only less expensive and less stressful, but it also minimizes the load on the trailer and allows it to run more smoothly and efficiently. The lighter the vehicle, the lesser effort it has to exert, and it’ll use the fuel more efficiently. This fuel efficiency, in turn, is also a cost-effective benefit. Think about everything with a more open mind and longer-term thinking.

6. Find cheap parking spaces and camping sites

One of the best things about living in a trailer is that you can park it almost anywhere- notice how I said “almost,” we’ll talk about that in just a second!

Find cheap parking lots for your motor home and look for affordable or free camping sights. Specific camping sites charge money but provide facilities like food and safety. If you don’t think you need either of these and don’t want to spend the extra cash, you can look for free camping sites.

Pro tip: these camping sites are straightforward to find on the internet. Just go onto Google and look for free camp spots in the area you are in, or, if you have the eye for it, you can find some excellent low-key campsites that are not public yet.

I used the word “almost” because some parking spaces like certain grocery stores, motels, gas stations, and casinos don’t allow RV or trailers to park for longer than a few hours.

You must ask the management, authorities, or the owner for permission and parking allowance guidelines in such cases. Use Cashback credit cards to rent your RV and pay for fuel.

Cashback credit cards are also another great way to save some bucks and spend on your mobile lifestyle more affordably.

Renting RVs and paying for fuel through this payment method has its separate set of pros, some of which are the following:

  • They help you manage your finances better.
  • They offer rewards for spending money. You can redeem and use these rewards for food or other such facilities.
  • Occasional perks and offers are a great help, especially when you’re trying to save money.
  • They are much easier to use and handle than regular credit cards. As a beginner, many people prefer using this payment method instead of directly starting with a debit or credit card.

7. Eat in or outside your RV (avoid restaurants)

The primary and most common reason why a lot of people choose RV-life is to save money. Apart from the rents and bills that you’re saving, think about the food money you can save as well.

Indulging now and then is no big deal but avoid eating out or getting unnecessary restaurant food very often. Instead, prioritize cooking for yourself and eating inside or outside (camping and BBQs, remember?) the trailer.

A lot of RVs have unique spaces for tables and chairs. If not, you can always buy some of those foldable, travel-friendly equipment and make a lovely outdoor seating set up for yourself and your traveling partner.

Doing this will help save a lot of money in the long run!

>> 7 Grocery Shopping on a Tight Budget For One Person Tips

9. Use a camping membership to save money

If you don’t know what these are, some campgrounds and RV parks offer memberships for RV owners.

They provide facilities and services (which are different for every campground) and ask for a one-time fee or annual charges in exchange (campground fees can be different also).

If you don’t like the idea of traveling all the time looking for safe places to park and stay, a long-term membership with a particular site such as this is a genius idea.

Camping memberships give you the ease of having a safe place you can stay in for the most part while only having to provide a one-time payment.

Different campgrounds have different facilities, services, and convenient features in their membership, and you can choose whichever “deal” suits you best.

10. Avoid toll roads

If you’re not as frequent as a traveler, paying toll charges is probably not a big deal for you. However, if you’re always on the road, or practically live on it, as in this scenario, stopping and paying at toll roads is quite inconvenient.

Instead of going through this process every hour or so, opt for free roads. Apart from the convenience, you should do this because many usual drivers and travelers like to take the toll roads for various reasons. It’s not as inconvenient for them. So, naturally, the free roads are generally quite crowd-free and free for you to use.

11. Get good at RV DIY

A significant perk that comes with living in an RV is that you get better at self-help. And to be honest, it’s an absolute necessity rather than a bonus. RVs can be tricky and expensive to maintain and if you don’t know much about these vehicles yourself, think of all the money you will be spending on maintenance, repair, and general checkups now and then.

Knowing your vehicle is, thus, significant. And more importantly, you should know certain quick and easy DIYs to solve your trailer’s everyday problems without needing a professional every time. Besides, there is never a guarantee that you will find an expert on the road. So, in cases of emergency, you’re all by yourself. To make sure such a situation isn’t intimidating or overwhelming for you, learn the basics of an RV mechanics and get better at DIYs.

12. Find Free Activities

Another great way to save money while living on the road is not to spend much on expensive and luxurious activities. Instead, try to opt for more convenient and affordable options.

For example, instead of dining in a five-star restaurant, prefer eating from more local and low-key places.

Apart from being more pocket-friendly and cheap, these places also have the most original-tasting local food!

>> How to Live Super Frugally and Happy

13. Don’t fuel up on the highway (avoid overpaying)

Highway fuel stations, or highway anything in general, can be quite expensive. In the long run, these expenses can add up to be a lot, and I mean A LOT! So, the smartest thing to do is think with a broader mind and save all that extra cash. Avoid fueling up or shopping on the highway. Instead, fill up your tanks before you move to the highway.

14. Perform regular checks on your RV

If you’re about to head onto a long journey and don’t know whether you will have access to professional help or a garage, the best idea would be to perform a thorough check on your vehicle.

Check the fuel, check the wheels, the fuel lines, the appliances, the exterior of the RV, and everything else that you might think can cause you trouble.

Even if you believe a specific part of your vehicle might not be troublesome, check it anyway.

Better safe than sorry, right?

The money-related benefit of doing this often is that thorough frequent checkups can help you identify problems quickly. If a minor issue leads to a major one, you’ll be spending a lot more money than what you were trying to save. So, performing regular checks helps you save a lot of bucks in the long run.

Why should you consider living in an RV to save money?

There are several different reasons you should consider living in a travel trailer to save money, and these reasons drive people towards the RV living lifestyle choice. A few major ones are the following:

It’s cheaper.
As discussed above, shifting to the RV lifestyle can save you lots of bucks monthly and even more annually. So, naturally, if you’re trying to save money, pay off loans, or don’t feel comfortable paying so much money for the luxuries you don’t necessarily need, shifting to an RV is a very cheap and affordable option.

It’s simpler.
Life is a lot easier and much simpler when you only have what you need, and you only want what you need- if that makes any sense whatsoever! People who have this kind of thinking are often very comfortable living in a travel trailer to save money and make their lives simpler. They buy only what’s needed what they have space for. Thus, overspending is usually a myth for RV owners!

You’re free!
If you are a fun-loving, adventurous travel enthusiast and like to stay on the road, what’s a better lifestyle choice than living in a moving house? Nothing beats the comfort of being able to travel wherever you want, with everything you want, without a worry in the world that your home is unattended. You can stay in adventurous and cool places for as long as you want and get moving any time you wish. Plus, you don’t have to worry about flights or transport expenses, so living in an RV is a lot cheaper than traveling by air and other ways.

It’s more convenient.
Again, if you have to travel very frequently, living in an RV, we can save a lot of stress, effort, and money. How? Think of the flight money, transport expenses, and hotel rent you are going to save. Also, don’t forget about the food expenses.
When you live in a moving trailer, you have your bed with you, you only have to pay for the fuel and, and you already have all the food you’ll need. Easy peasy!

It’s fun!
Last but not least, if you love camping, here’s some good news for you: living in a trailer means campfires any day, every day! Sounds fun, right? So, for those who are into the adventurous, spontaneous, and exotic lifestyle, this particular mobile way of living is the best thing that could ever happen to them.

Is it relatively cheaper to live in an RV than a home?

Living in a trailer instead of a full house is cheaper since you give up the extra space and rooms and don’t have to pay unnecessary bills anymore. Similarly, you get rid of a lot of house taxes and other payments here and there.

Is it relatively cheaper to live in an RV than an apartment?

The answer to this question depends on your apartment costs; if you live in a big apartment with lots of rooms and plenty of bills, living in an RV will be cheaper. Even if your apartment costs an average amount, the RV lifestyle is still pretty much more affordable than an apartment.

Remember, when you’re getting the perks of lower rates and costs, you’re also giving up on a lot of extra space and comfort that you get in a house or an apartment, so keep that in mind!

How much would it cost living in an RV year-round?

On average, living in a trailer can cost you from around $1400 to $2000 or $3000 a month. In calculation, this would mean a year-long living in an RV will cost you approximately $17,000 to $40,000 on average.

Indeed, this range has a big gap, but these costs depend on many different factors, including your lifestyle, how much you move and travel, and what your average food costs are like.

How much would it cost living in an RV park full time?

This amount depends on whether you keep moving or if you have a particular campground membership.

Your lifestyle’s luxury level, such as how many times you dine out, how much you shop, and what your appliances work on, also significantly impact your overall costs when living in a trailer full-time.

In general, parking places that only allow parking and give no services and facilities can cost from anywhere around $200 to $800, sometimes even more.

If these places offer services like sewer maintenance, water, electricity, laundry, cable, and the internet, they cost even more.

Conclusion

Living in an RV full time to save money is a great idea, indeed. However, the practical aspects of it are quite different from what you might imagine.

So, to avoid unnecessary and unwanted surprises, a detailed discussion is essential, which is just what I tried to provide above.

I hope all these practical and realistic information helps you get the general idea of what it might look like, living in a travel trailer to save money, and what you should expect from this lifestyle.

If you finally decide to go forward with this idea and live on the road, don’t forget to make it worth the while! Remember, enjoy every moment of it, click it, save it, and make it magical, but don’t forget to stay safe and think practically!

Are you looking for more RV living tips? Follow our Pinterest board’s advice on full-time RV living:

Hi, I'm Liz Holmes. A full-time blogger and entrepreneur.

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