How an 11-Year-Old Bought and Renovated a Camper for Only $800

Even before the pandemic, influencers have always played up the appeal of RV living and #vanlife. Many people appreciate the freedom of being able to visit beautiful places from the comfort of a camper. An RV is also a great place to stay when you’re camping in the wilderness, especially when bad weather hits.

It’s no secret that RVs can also be more expensive than most other passenger vehicles. Still, it’s possible to renovate an old model for a relatively low price. Take it from an 11-year-old New York girl who fixed up an old travel trailer for under $1,000.

The cost of renovating an old camper

The All Things With Purpose blog notes that the cost of camper renovations depends upon what needs fixing. Paint is cheap and can easily fix peeling wallpaper or other outdated decor elements. Painting an entire RV might cost as little as $300. Fixing old flooring or toilets might be more time-consuming, but these are both inexpensive tasks.

Any problem that requires a specialist’s intervention, such as wiring and mechanical issues, will be more expensive. Engine problems are the priciest hurdle when trying to renovate an RV. If it has too many miles on it and not enough accrued maintenance, it might need to be replaced.

Water damage can also be a nightmare to fix if you can’t locate the source. RVs with damaged frames are both unsafe and almost impossible to fix.

Tires can also be expensive to replace, but at least they’re relatively easy to find. If you have a bigger trailer, you’ll probably also want to replace furniture and appliances. Fortunately, you might also be able to find these items from local online marketplaces at low prices.

So simple a kid could do it

Lauren Nelson was inspired to buy her own travel trailer after seeing a toy VW Bus in an American Girl brochure, WBKW Buffalo reports. Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on the toy, Nelson’s parents suggested she buy her own camper. She saved up $400 and, with her parents’ help, bought a travel trailer from a neighbor.

Nelson spent an additional $400 for the RV’s renovations on her own. She continues to use the trailer as her own private hideaway five days a week. Skeptical? Blogger Proverbs 31 Girl also proved it’s possible to spend only $500 on RV renovations.

How much do used campers cost?

According to Cruise America, a used Class C trailer usually costs around $40,000. Class B and A RVs are larger, so expect their prices to climb from there. Additionally, you’ll have to pay taxes on your camper purchase and vehicle registration fees.

Depending upon the kind of RV you need, a new model might be less expensive. Camper Report says you can find a decent travel trailer for around $20,000. Class A motorhomes are the most expensive, with some costing nearly $300,000. 

Some buyers have found used RVs for excellent deals, as low as $1,900. Keep in mind that the lower the price, the more renovations it will likely need. Still, renovations costs will likely be small compared to a new RV’s price.

Making RV renovations on a tight budget

Go Travel Trailers shows a few real-life examples of successfully renovated campers. In addition to a little cash, you’ll also need patience and dedication for an extensive project.

Although it might seem daunting at first, camper renovations for under $1,000 are definitely doable. If 11-year-old Lauren Nelson can do it, so can you.

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