Is Buying an RV a Good Financial Investment?

Buying an RV can be a good financial decision for many families that love to travel, but that doesn’t always mean that they are a good financial investment. In fact, just like many other vehicles, RVs can depreciate greatly for a number of reasons, meaning you can lose a lot of money when purchasing one brand new or if you pay over MSRP. But, there are plenty of other reasons why buying an RV can save you money, even if you won’t always make your money back in what you originally paid for it.

RVs, campers, and caravans |
RV’s, campers, and caravans | Michal Fludra, NurPhoto, Getty Images

Is buying an RV new a good financial decision?

Like many other vehicles, most RVs are depreciating assets. Many factors such as age, mileage, and wear can increase the rate of depreciation, and while there are some rare instances, RVs are overall not an investment if you are looking to get your money back or even make money. Of course, there are some exceptions, like if you’re looking to buy something that needs some TLC and fix it back up into better condition — though shows on flipping RV homes make it look a lot more fun than it actually is.

Because RVs depreciate like vehicles, it stands to reason that buying a slightly used, older RV means losing less money. According to Camper Report, the guidelines for avoiding depreciation in cars, trucks, and SUVs rings true for RVs as well. Buying an RV that is around 5 years old means skipping out on new vehicle depreciation while still getting something with a lot of the same modern technology and luxuries.

A bicycle mounted to the back of an RV
A motorhome with a bicycle attached | Matthias Bein, picture alliance, Getty Images

Even if RVs aren’t a good investment, they can still be a good financial decision

While you may not be making your money back on buying a new RV, that doesn’t mean you won’t be making up the money in other ways. Traveling by RV can be cost-effective for many travelers and families for more reasons than one. For larger families or groups, traveling by RV instead of an airplane can mean saving a ton of money on airfare and fees associated with baggage — and, of course, there is always the added bonus of being able to pack and travel with much more stuff. It also means having to skip out on hotel costs as you travel and having to replace whatever gets left behind — because, let’s admit it, we almost always leave something behind.

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RV deprecation isn’t exactly the same as other vehicles

There are many factors to take into account when considering how much a regular car, truck, or SUV will depreciate. Factors such as age and condition play major roles, but mileage is also a large factor. According to Camper Report, mileage isn’t necessarily as important of a factor when considering the depreciation of an RV, but rather the vehicle’s age.

Many buyers can become distracted by the luxuries and features that some new RVs have to offer — after all, it is your home away from home, so why not spend a bit more to get something you’ll really love. But that sometimes prevents us from doing our due diligence in price comparisons or making a smart purchase.

Coachmen RV trailer in a press photo in the forest
Coachmen RV trailer | Coachmen RV

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When it comes down to it, buying an RV isn’t really a good financial investment from the standpoint of owning an asset that will appreciate in value. While RVs depreciate just as many other vehicles do, the differences in the ways that they depreciate are important things to keep in mind when deciding on which ones to purchase, and which ones to pass on. If you’re looking to save money on travel expenses, love to travel with a big group or family, and just like the luxury of not having to plan airfare and hotels, buying an RV can still be a great way to invest your time, even if it isn’t a great way to invest your money.