RV cost
Last Updated: May 18, 2021

How Much Does An RV Cost?

Wondering how much you’d have to spend on an RV? Well, that depends on what type of RV you’re looking to buy. It can be as little as $10,000 for a simple trailer, or more than $1,000,000 for a luxury Class A motorhome with a built-in sauna.

Recreational vehicles are expensive, but the prices heavily depend on the type of the vehicle, which is exactly what I’ll be talking about in this guide.

We’ll kick things off with an overview of the most popular RV models in 2021 and their prices. After that, I will cover all the different factors that can impact the price of an RV, as well as what you can do to save some money on your home on wheels. Read on to learn about different RV types and their prices!

Prices Of Most Popular RVs

Coachmen Apex Ultra-Lite 300BHS

Let’s start with what you came here for – the most popular RV models in 2021 and their average retail prices. Keep in mind that the prices listed here are the average between the suggested list price and the lowest retail price, as well as that they’re relevant in the spring of 2021. As the months go by, the vehicles will get cheaper.

2017 Viking by Forest River (M-17BH)  $11,200  — Most popular towable trailer and best budget option.

2017 Keystone RV (M-248RKS)   $23,450

2016 CrossRoads Rezerve Fifth Wheel RFZ24RL $35,600

2021 Grand Design Reflection 150 Series 260RD $46,800

2018 Winnebago (M-26A) $71,000

2016 Thor Motor Coach Chateau 23U  $84,500

2021 Jayco Redhawk SE 22A $98,500

2017 Airstream (EXT Grand Tour) $134,000

2021 Tiffin Allegro Breeze (Class A) $291,000

2021 Entegra Coach Anthem 44F   $452,000  — Luxury RV that sleeps 6

There you have it – a very simple overview of some of the most popular RVs. The prices listed here are all for brand new vehicles – if you can find a used version of one of these, expect it to be a lot cheaper.

It’s obvious that if you are on a tighter budget, a travel trailer is your only option. You can get one for as little as $10,000, or you can splurge $100,000+ for a massive fifth-wheeler that can accommodate half of your extended family.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that I spent hours scouring the Internet for deals on (new) RVs, and the only options I was able to find under $50,000 were towable RVs. If you want a driveable vehicle, you’ll need to budget $70,000 at the very least. Expand that budget to $100,000, and you’ll have quite a few different options to choose from and you should be able to add a few customizations as well.

Those of you with deeper pockets have absolutely nothing to worry about – if you’re fine spending more than $100,000 on an RV, you will have a sea of different options, including some massive Class A motorhomes.

Towable Vs. Driveable

Motorhome Caravan Campervan

RV stands for a recreational vehicle, and for most people, the first thing that pops into mind is a classic motorhome. But that is just one type of recreational vehicle – campervans, fifth-wheelers, and trailers are all technically RVs, even though they’re pretty different from motorhomes.

Trailers are the only RV type that is not driveable, and this is why they are the cheapest option out of the bunch. You can get a pretty good trailer for some $10,000, whereas a motorhome is at least seven times as much. If you’re on a tight budget and you already own a car, consider getting a trailer. Especially if you haven’t driven motorhomes before, or you’re not sure if you will enjoy that lifestyle. Trailers are great to dip your toe in the water and figure out exactly what you want.

As soon as there’s an engine and a driving cabin, the prices start to skyrocket. Campervans are usually cheaper than Class A and C motorhomes, especially if you’re converting the van on your own. The price of conversion varies drastically depending on the floorplan and materials used, and it can be anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

On top of that, there’s also the cost of purchasing a van. That also varies drastically – you can buy a run-down van for a couple of thousand dollars, or you can spend $35,000 on a brand new Mercedes Sprinter – a favorite among campers.

On the lower end of the scale, you can buy and convert a van for less than $40,000. A good motorhome with a similar floorplan and equipment will be more expensive than a campervan,  and that’s without even considering engine power, vehicle age, etc.

If you want to purchase a pre-built campervan (Class B motorhome), expect to budget around $100,000 for it.

RV Class (Motorhomes)

Motorhome Snow

The main thing that impacts the price of an RV is its class. There are three motorhome classes, each with its own pros and cons.

Class C RVs are the most popular options that generally cost between $70,000 and $200,000. It’s worth noting that the prices vary drastically depending on the engine, floorplan, and extra features.  These are a favorite of people who don’t plan to live in the RV full-time, but rather just want something they can use for holidays. Class C RVs are smaller, easier to drive, and generally cheaper to service and maintain over time.

Campervan

Class B RVs are pretty much just campervans. They’re built on a van chassis with a raised roof, they’re very fuel-efficient, and they’re the smallest type of motorhome. Some class B motorhomes have a driving cabin that is separate from the rest of the vehicle, while others let you turn the driver and passenger chairs and use them as extra seats.

The upside of that is that they’re very easy to drive and maneuver. The downside, on the other hand, is that there’s not that much space inside the vehicle. Class B motorhomes rarely have full bathrooms and kitchens, so they’re usually a good option only for couples or solo travelers. These usually cost between $50,000 and $200,000, depending on the manufacturer, models, and additional features. The most popular type of a class B RV is built on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis and the newest models often cost between $100,000 and $150,000.

Class A Motorhome

Class A motorhomes are the largest of all. They’re built on a bus chassis so they’re very spacious inside, but also the most difficult to drive out of the bunch. A brand new class A motorhome runs between $100,000 and $250,000 for the base features. Class A motorhomes can get a lot more expensive, especially when you start looking at the luxury RV options. These are sold for millions, and they’re definitely not what the average person is looking for. These large vehicles are great for families with several children since they often feature more than one bedroom and a lot of living space.

Keep in mind that the price ranges mentioned here are for brand new vehicles that aren’t more than five years old. If you can find a brand new RV from an earlier year, or get a great deal on a used vehicle, you can certainly work with a smaller budget. But if you want new and shiny, you’re usually looking at a $100,000 budget.

Trailer Types

Keystone Passport Travel Trailer

Trailers are the most affordable type of recreational vehicle, but that doesn’t mean they’re always going to be cheap. There are a few different types of trailers that differ in size, floorplan, and amenities.

Travel trailers are the basic type of trailers that you can tow with any vehicle. They’re smaller than motorhomes, but they’re not the smallest trailer type. That would be the lightweight trailer, which usually has a rounded top and two wheels.  Although they are the smallest out of the bunch, they’re still full of amenities and have everything you could need for a comfortable vacation.

Fifth-Wheeler

Fifth-wheel trailers are the absolute largest type of trailer with a length that maxes out at 40 feet. They’re called fifth-wheel trailers because they feature a fifth-wheel hitch for stable towing, which also helps center the weight of the RV. They usually feature a split-level design that allows for easy separation of living spaces and adds some privacy.

Additionally, some fifth-wheel trailers feature slide-outs for wardrobes, kitchens, and even bedrooms, but that’s usually going to depend on the trailer model. Fifth-wheel trailers are the most expensive type of trailer with an average cost between $50,000 and $100,000. You can purchase a class B or C motorhome for that among of money, so really think about whether you want a driveable or towable RV.

It’s also worth noting that you can find older (but new) fifth-wheelers for some $30-40,000. Vehicles that were originally released in 2015 or 2016 are much more affordable, but they’re usually not quite as comfortable and well equipped as the brand new models.

Vehicle Age

Campervan Rust

The age of an RV seriously impacts its price. A brand new RV from 2015 is going to be a lot cheaper than a fresh 2021 model, and this is a good way to save some money. The differences between the models aren’t going to be that big and unless you really want the newest and shiniest model, it’s always best to look for something that’s a little older.

Also, you’ll get the best deals on RVs that were originally released more than five years ago. A 2019 model is going to be just a little cheaper than a 2021 model, whereas getting a 2016 RV could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars.

Another thing to consider is buying a used RV. It’s certainly cheaper than buying a brand new vehicle but buying used is always a gamble. If you decide to go that route, make sure to have the RV inspected by a trusted mechanic to avoid any hidden repair costs. If you find an RV that’s in good condition without a lot of miles on the counter and that’s been serviced regularly, it’s certainly worth checking out.

The value of a new RV depreciates rapidly. It goes down about 20% as soon as you turn it on for the first time, and it just gets worst from there. The price goes down about 40% when the vehicle is five years old, and when its age hits a decade, you likely won’t even get half of what you paid for it. It’s fiscally smart to get a used RV, as long as you can confirm that it is in good condition.

Diesel Vs. Gas

Another factor that impacts the price of an RV is the type of fuel it uses. Diesel RVs are usually more expensive than gas RVs, but also more efficient in the long run. Even though diesel costs more than petrol, diesel engines boast a much better fuel efficiency. You can get more mileage out of diesel fuel, which means you won’t be filling up as often, and ultimately you’ll be spending less money.

On the other hand, diesel engines can be more expensive to repair and maintain, due to all the extra parts and their scarcity. But the engines are generally tougher than petrol engines, so you won’t have to service them as often.

Overall, diesel RVs are the more budget-friendly options in the long run, especially for people who plan to spend a lot of time on the road. Petrol, on the other hand, is more environmentally friendly and cheaper in the short term.

Size And Furnishings

Motorhomes

Usually, the same model of an RV is available in multiple different sizes. The price varies according to the size, with the longest and biggest RVs being the most expensive option. A 2018 Keystone travel trailer that is 27’ long costs $22,00 on average, where a 37’ version of the same model is some $5000 more. And that’s just travel trailers – the price differences are even more drastic when it comes to campervans and motorhomes.

Furnishings also have a huge impact on the price. You can have two RVs that are the same year, model, chassis, engine, everything, and the furnishings can have a drastic impact on their prices. The variation can be anything from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the exact differences.

The more expensive RVs will usually have TVs, an entertainment system, luxe queen beds, proper bathrooms, and even marble countertops. If you want all the amenities and luxuries then it’s best to spring for better furnishings in an RV. On the other hand, you can always buy the cheaper version and spend the extra money on the amenities you are missing.

Another thing to note is that it is usually cheaper to furnish an RV on your own. If you can find an empty vehicle, you could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars if you furnish it on your own. This also gives you complete control over the floorplan, which is something you don’t have when buying new vehicles. You can make certain adjustments of course, but that’s usually just going to make the RV more expensive.  

Luxury RVs

Luxury RV

There’s an entire market of luxury RVs out there that are most likely nicer than your house. These vehicles are decked out with expensive materials, featuring luxe bathrooms, massive TVs, and all the little things you need on your adventures.

Luxury RVs usually start at $400,000, and the prices go as high as several million. If you have money to burn, a luxe RV might just be what you’re looking for. Luxury RVs are usually class A vehicles with a lot of additional features, including multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and even a gym or a garage.

When Are You Buying?

Most people want to travel in the summer, so spring is the best time for sellers. Everyone wants to buy an RV, which gives sellers a lot of room to manipulate the prices. Motorhomes are usually the most expensive in the spring – if you want to be fiscally smart, it’s best to buy an RV in the fall or winter.

The fall season is the buyer’s market because most dealerships are getting new stock, which means they’ll do anything they can to get rid of the old stock. This means that you can save quite a few bucks on an RV if you decide to buy in in October instead of May – if you can resist the temptation of getting an even newer and shinier model, that is.

Keep all this in mind even if you’re buying used – people who are selling their RVs usually get more inquires in the spring, which lets them hike up the prices. But in the fall and winter, they’ll practically be begging you to take the RV off their hands so they don’t have to worry about storage and depreciation.

Building Your Own RV

Converted Camper

Building your own RV can be cheaper or more expensive than buying a pre-built one. But it’s the only way to guarantee the motorhome is exactly what you want it to be, with every single item you could possibly need on your adventures.

There are a few different ways you can go about building your own RV. If you know your way around a toolbox and you consider yourself a crafty person, you can do everything with your own two hands. It will take a while, it will cost you a lot of money and time, but it will be more than worth it in the end. The other option is to get a professional to build you an RV, but this is usually even more expensive than just buying a new vehicle.

The main advantage of building your own RV is that you get to choose every little detail, from the color of the floor to the type of insulation in the walls. You get to decide where you want to cut costs and, which items you can and can’t live without, and what features you’re willing to splurge on. You can buy a used RV for under $10,000, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to find something for less than $5,000. Keep in mind that the condition will most likely be horrendous, and you will need to replace most of the parts, including the engine.

DIYing your own RV is especially popular among van lifers. If you’re looking to live on the road full-time, you should definitely consider doing this. It does take a lot of time and effort, but you end up with a home on wheels that is customized to your every desire. This makes life on the road much more comfortable, as opposed to just buying a motorhome and adjusting to it.

Other Costs To Consider

Buying an RV is just the start – there are a lot of other costs that come with owning a recreational vehicle. There are also maintenance costs to consider, registration fees, as well as paying for a place to store it. You can’t just park it in front of your house – RVs are very susceptible to water damage and rust, so you will need to garage it over the winter.

Also, you need to consider the cost of camping. If you’re buying an RV, you’re not going to live in it in your own backyard. Plots at campsites are more affordable than hotel rooms and apartments, but they still cost money. On top of that, some campsites will have an additional feel for use of electricity, water, WiFi, or other amenities, and that’s another thing you need to take into consideration. I would categorize these as the cost of owning and using the RV.

Are you considering living on the road full-time? It’s an exciting way of life, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Van life comes with a lot of sacrifices, but it is so rewarding that it all evens out in the end. Living full-time in your RV is a good way to cut costs, especially if you’re a renter. Instead of paying for rent and utilities each month, you just need to worry about gas. Solar panels and generators will get you enough electricity to power everything in the vehicle without any additional expenses, and you can refill the freshwater camps at rest stops and camping grounds.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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