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RV Parking Expenses for Long-Term Living & What Consequences to Expect

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Published : July 18, 2023
a couple living long-term in an RV discussing about parking expenses

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Living in a Recreational Vehicle full-time can seem like a dream for those who crave the freedom of the open road and a simplified lifestyle. However, like any major decision, it’s important to understand the financial aspects and lifestyle changes that come with it. This includes the cost of RV parking, the different factors that affect these expenses, and the lifestyle changes you may experience. 

It’s not just about the open road and beautiful sunsets; there are practicalities to consider too. Understanding the costs and factors that come with long-term RV parking and living is key to making an informed choice about whether this “road-less-traveled life” is right for you

The Types of RV Parks You Can Choose

RV parks come in many different forms, providing a variety of amenities, community vibes, and price ranges. The two primary types of RV parks are private RV parks and public campgrounds, which include national and state parks. Let’s take a look at these main options. 

Private RV Parks

Private RV parks are commercially operated parks offering a range of amenities, such as full hookups, that include electricity, water, sewage, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, bathhouses, and sometimes even a swimming pool, clubhouse, or gym. They cater to various campers, from those seeking a one-night stopover to planning extended stays.

Private RV parks are often conveniently located near popular tourist attractions or major travel routes, making them an excellent choice for travelers. They are also more likely to offer reservations, allowing for planned itineraries. Pricing varies, with high-end RV resorts commanding higher rates for their upscale amenities and prime locations.

Campgrounds at National or State Parks

National and state park campgrounds offer a different experience compared to private parks. They often provide a more rustic and nature-oriented setting, with basic amenities like fire pits, picnic tables, and dump stations. Some may offer electric and water hookups, but many do not.

The appeal of these parks lies in their natural beauty, tranquility, and access to outdoor recreational activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. They are usually more affordable than private parks but also have more restrictive rules on length of stay and often lack amenities such as Wi-Fi or laundry facilities. Availability can be limited, especially during peak season, and reservations are highly recommended.

While private RV parks and public campgrounds have advantages, the choice often depends on individual preferences, budget, and lifestyle needs. Researching and planning ensure a smooth and enjoyable RV living experience.

The Cost of Long-Term RV Parking

On average, the annual cost of long-term RV park stays can range between $6,000 and $40,000. This broad range is primarily due to the park’s location and amenities. High-end, resort-style parks in popular areas will naturally require higher fees, while more basic, off-the-beaten-path sites can offer budget-friendly alternatives.

Monthly RV Park Rates

The per-night rates at RV parks can significantly differ based on the facilities provided and the park’s location.

  • Budget-oriented parks often charge between $15 to $40 per night.
  • In contrast, a night at a luxury, resort-style RV park can set you back anywhere from $50 to $100 per night.

Most parks provide weekly and monthly rates, often enticing discounts for extended stays. This can mean monthly fees ranging from as low as $500 to well over $1,000 for parks with extensive amenities. 

Factors That Affect the Costs of RV Parking

However, long-term parking and RV living costs can vary based on several factors. When deciding to live long-term in your motorhome, it’s important to understand the various factors influencing their costs. 

From the type and size of the RV to the choice of parking location, duration of stay, utility needs, and desired amenities, each of these elements contributes significantly to the overall RV living expenses. 

The Length of Stay

You’ll earn significant discounts by opting for longer stays at an RV park. For instance, if the daily rate is $40, the park may offer a monthly rate of around $400. When calculating the cost, you get nearly twenty nights free compared to the daily rate.

For the committed, yearly rates offer even more substantial savings. While this entails a greater commitment, the savings can be quite impressive. Remember, rates and discounts can greatly differ depending on location, so don’t hesitate to shop for the best deals.

The Location You Choose

Costs can vary drastically based on the location of the RV park and the state you reside in. Those offering the cheapest rates tend to cater to long-term RV dwellers, but these budget-friendly parks might not offer the same amenities as higher-priced options. Still, they remain an attractive choice for a diverse range of individuals.

The location cost can fluctuate widely depending on the state and living costs. For example, 

  • In sunny California, RV long-term parking can be quite pricey. On average, you’ll see daily costs ranging from $30 to $100. Over a month, this translates to a cost spectrum between $840 and $3,000. When calculated annually, you’re looking at a hefty sum of approximately $10,000 to $36,000.
  • On the same side of the US, long-term RV parking costs are more moderate if you’re heading north to Washington. Here, the average daily cost is around $27 to $35. You’re likely to pay somewhere between $800 and $1,000 monthly. Annually, expect to budget around $10,000 to $12,000 for parking.
  • Now, if we shift our attention to the southern states, the picture looks slightly different. How much does it cost to park your RV in Florida? The average daily cost for long-term RV parking can be as low as $15 and up to around $70. Over a month, this costs between $420 and $2,000. If you plan an annual stay, you’ll need a budget ranging from $5,000 to $24,000.
  • Similarly, in Texas, well-known for its RV culture, the average daily cost for long-term parking ranges from $30 to $40. The average monthly cost hovers around $800 to $1,000; on an annual scale, this boils down to approximately $10,000 to $12,000.

As these comparisons show, the cost of long-term RV parking can vary quite significantly depending on the region and the type of parking location you wish to select. 

RV Class and Size Considerations

  • The type and size of your RV can impact your parking costs. A larger, fifty-foot vehicle costs more than a compact travel trailer. This is because RV parks typically base their rates on the size and class of the RV.
  • Also, if you plan to extend your RV’s pop-out sides, you could face a higher charge. This is because pop-outs require more space, meaning you may need a larger, potentially more expensive parking spot.

The Time of the Year

The time of year can impact the cost of RV parks, with higher prices during peak seasons. For example, a park in Florida might be more expensive during winter, when it’s a popular destination for “snowbirds” fleeing colder northern states.

To optimize savings, consider your timing and location carefully. An off-peak stay could result in significant cost reductions.

The Cost of Amenities

Amenities available at an RV park can significantly affect the price. If you’re looking for features beyond basic parking, like laundry facilities, food services, pet parks, daycare, recreational activities, clean shower facilities, swimming pools, barbecue facilities, or gym access, expect to pay a higher rate. Luxury RV parks that offer a wide range of amenities are more expensive but can add significant value to your stay.

Utility Expenses

Lastly, remember to factor in utility expenses.

  • This includes fuel for your RV or generator and possibly propane for cooking. Some RV parks may also charge an extra fee if you exceed a specified limit on electricity usage.
  • Moreover, if staying connected is a priority, you may need to budget for internet and cable TV services. While these costs might seem small individually, they can accumulate quickly, impacting your overall budget.

The Consequences of Long-Term RV Living

Making a long-term switch to RV living isn’t just a change of scenery; it’s a new ball game with unique challenges and lifestyle alterations. Here are some of the most significant consequences long-term RV living can bring. 

Utilities and Maintenance

After paying the price for a long-term location, you must consider other utilities and expenses. Some RV parks include basic utilities like water and sewer in their rates. However, many charges separately for electricity, which could add another $50 to $150 to your monthly expenses depending on your usage and the local rates. 

Propane gas for heating, cooking, and running the refrigerator is another common expense that can fluctuate based on usage and season.

Additionally, all maintenance costs for your RV should not be overlooked. Like any home or vehicle, your RV will need regular upkeep. This could involve routine servicing, tire replacements, brake checks, and the occasional unexpected repair.

Insurance Costs

Insurance costs are another significant consideration. Like an automobile, an RV requires insurance coverage, but it goes beyond that of a regular vehicle, given that it’s not just a mode of transportation – it’s your home on wheels. Therefore, comprehensive RV insurance is highly recommended.

The cost of RV insurance varies depending on multiple factors. These include the type and size of the RV, its age and condition, value, and how it’s used. For full-timers, expect to pay in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 annually, though it can be higher or lower based on the factors mentioned. 

It’s best to remember that while this may seem substantial, the coverage protects against potential high-cost incidents such as accidents, theft, or damage from natural disasters.

Limited Living Space and Lifestyle Changes

One of the first lifestyle changes with long-term RV living is adapting to a significantly smaller living space than a traditional home. This transition incorporates a physical downsizing of your possessions and a mental adjustment to living in close quarters. For families, this could mean less individual privacy and more shared spaces. 

Additionally, those used to expansive living may find the smaller kitchen and limited storage challenging to accustomed routines. Creative organization and selective possession ownership become critical in maintaining a clutter-free and livable space in an RV. This shift can be a struggle initially, but it can also be an opportunity to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, emphasizing experiences over possessions.

Navigating the Lack of a Fixed Address

The absence of a fixed address is another nuanced challenge with the RV lifestyle. Routine tasks like receiving mail, registering for services, or voting can become complicated. However, there are services specifically designed to help full-time RVers navigate these issues. 

For instance, mail forwarding services can send your mail to any location, and certain states allow for flexible residency regulations for those living on the road. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these solutions to avoid legal or logistical hitches.

Privacy and Proximity in RV Parks

Privacy in RV parks can often be more elusive than you might expect. During peak seasons, spaces might be filled, meaning you’ll share close quarters with your neighbors. This proximity can lead to less privacy and potential noise disturbances. This can be a significant adjustment for those accustomed to the seclusion of a standalone home. 

However, many RVers also find community and camaraderie in these shared spaces, forming connections and friendships with fellow travelers.

Instability and Constant Movement

Long-term RV living inherently comes with a degree of instability. Whether due to park rules, changes in weather, or personal choice, you may move frequently. The prospect of continual movement can be thrilling, providing opportunities to explore new areas and experience different environments. 

However, it can also be stressful, especially for those who crave stability or have responsibilities like work or schooling that require consistent internet connectivity and a quiet environment. Coping mechanisms like meticulous planning, embracing flexibility, and creating a reliable work setup can help mitigate these potential stressors.

Don’t Want to Deal with The Hassle of Long-Term RV Living? 

Even if you are on the fence about your answer, long term RV living is likely not the right fit for you. Sure, long-term RV living can be an amazing adventure, but let’s be honest; it does come with a fair share of challenges and high costs. It’s not always easy and breezy, from parking costs and utilities to constant maintenance and adapting to a different lifestyle. 

Once you find that the costs and complications of long-term RV living outweigh the benefits, a smart solution could be selling your outdated, old, or broken RV to a specialized dealer. The experts experienced in dealing with used RVs, motorhomes, and campers, will buy your old motorhome on the spot

Life is a journey of making choices that best align with our needs and goals. If your path involves diverting from the RV lifestyle, at least make it beneficial by accepting a cash offer! 

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