Financial Considerations

youtubeI embraced the RV lifestyle literally a generation ago. Living on the West Coast (the Canadian version of the Pacific Northwest), we are blessed with some of the most beautiful RV and camping environments on earth. From the time I was a small boy, my parents would take my brothers and I camping on a regular basis. We would camp throughout British Columbia, Washington, and even into Oregon. I was very young and don’t remember much of those early days, but I do vaguely remember when our family graduated to a tent trailer (I even have a foggy memory of the look, layout, and smell of it).

When I was in elementary school, my father decided to take a sabbatical from work as a physician and take the family on an extended trip across North America in a Winnebago. I’m convinced that 6-month trip of a lifetime (to that point in my life at least) caused me to catch the RV bug. As a result, I have had my own RVs from the time I graduated from University for the first time.

We eventually sold that RV, but when I was in high school, my father decided to purchase a van and convert it to a camper himself. He got as far as laying the sub-floor and lino and having a local RV customizing shop install the raised roof. For reasons I don’t recall, he ultimately decided to have the shop finish the job instead of doing it himself. I do remember taking many trips in that van, first with my parents, then with friends.

The RV lifestyle is a great way to spend time with family and explore the great outdoors at the same time. During our dual cross-country trip across Canada and the USA, my brothers and I participated in distance learning, which was made easier because my mother was a teacher. We traveled with another family, who had their own RV. Between the two families, there were 6 kids of vastly varying ages, which made for a great social learning environment. Our parents took the opportunity whenever possible to use scenic and historical locations as living classrooms.

RVs Offer Great Family Time

The latter part of 2020 was an incredible year for RV rentals and sales, and 2021 is shaping up to be even better. Families are realizing that RV travel is a great way to self-isolate without having to stay cooped up at home and see the country at the same time. Thank goodness we seem to be coming out of the “new COVID normal”. While I’m sure most reading this article have already joined the growing RV family, some of you may be considering upgrading your home on wheels.

New RV for You?

For most people, the first RV they purchase is an opportunity to test the RV waters within the confines of affordability. For some, this results in a great coach that serves the family well for years. Eventually though, most RV owners end up upgrading or changing the type of RV they travel in. Many owners upgrade on a regular basis. RV purchase is always an exciting experience, and it doesn’t get any less so with each transaction. However, when purchasing a new (or new to you) RV, the elephant in the room is the inevitable financial obligation and some may wonder if it’s safe to leave a deposit with an RV dealer. Depending on the unit being purchased, this can be as low as around $500, to as high as several thousand dollars.

Leaving a Deposit with a Dealer? Not to Worry

Before you start shopping for a new RV, take careful stock of your financial situation, including how much savings you are able to spend and what monthly payment you can afford. Armed with a good solid understanding of your finances, you will be in a better position to determine what type of unit you are able to take home. Remember that the Finance & Insurance (F&I) representatives at the dealership are required to be licensed in the state or province where they operate and are therefore bound by financial laws and regulations. For reputable RV dealerships, you don’t have to worry about leaving a deposit to secure the RV of your dreams. The important thing is to inquire about the terms of cancellation and ensure the deposit is refundable in case you have to back out of the deal. While you’re at it, ask lots of questions about financing and warranty, such as interest rates, financial institution(s) of record, etc. When it comes to extended warranty, be VERY careful when purchasing these policies. Read the proposed policy terms thoroughly and ask questions regarding what is and isn’t covered. Nothing is worse than contacting your service provider after your factory warranty has expired only to find out that the expensive failure of your RV is not covered under your extended warranty. I have had to break this news to my customers, and it is as painful for me as it is for them.

Steve Froese
Author: Steve FroeseEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Steve Froese is a Licensed Professional Engineer in British Columbia, as well as an Interprovincial Red Seal RV Technician, which is equivalent to a Master Certified RV Technician in the USA. Steve was a personal friend and colleague of the late Gary Bunzer (“the RV Doctor”), and works closely with FMCA as the monthly “Tech Talk” columnist, as well as being a member of the Technical Advisory and Education Committees. Steve and his family are lifelong and avid RVers, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.


0 #1 Tom Wagner 2021-03-31 18:35
I'm thinking of purchasing a B-class van RV. I was wondering about the ongoing costs apart from the purchase price. Things like initial and annual registration, Insurance, AAA membership, Annual maintenance, and winter storage. Also, since my neighbors don't really want to stare at an RV parked at my home, and there are City regulations about that, I'd probably need an off-site storage place. I live in Washington, so there are some high registration fees.

Is there any information about annual costs for a B-type RV?

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