Many people assume that living in an RV is cheaper than living in an apartment. Although living in a camper does have its perks, there are definitely some costs that people don’t think about. After doing the math, is it cheaper to live in an RV or an apartment? We were shocked by the answer!
When we were deciding whether or not to become full-time RVers, we had thought about moving into an apartment. My husband and I sat down and broke down all the numbers to see if it would benefit us to renovate a fifth wheel. Obviously, we chose to get an RV, so that must mean it was cheaper, right? Not exactly.
What determines whether it’s cheaper to live in an RV or an Apartment?
There are a bunch of factors that go into whether or not it will be cheaper for you and your family to live in an RV versus an apartment. I’m going to break down every single cost that we pay for each month and an estimate for an apartment.
I would HIGHLY recommend you take the estimates below and figure it out for yourself. The biggest factor that determines whether or not it’s cheaper is the location you will be living in.
If you are planning on traveling, you will want to figure those costs in as well. Surprisingly it can get pretty spendy stay at different KOA every night.
Alrighty, let’s compare the costs of living in an RV versus an apartment.
The Costs of Living in an RV
I’m going to be comparing the costs from Virginia Beach, VA since that’s where we first started full-time RVing. At this time we were stationary, so if you plan on traveling make sure you add in gas to your budget. When we were traveling we paid about $150 a day in diesel.
Total Monthly Cost: $2,215
1. Parking Space Rent: $950
We were SHOCKED at how expensive it can be to park your trailer. It obviously will greatly depend on where you are located, but we haven’t found spaces for rent for less than about $500 per month.
Now, if you don’t mind being in a trailer or mobile home park, you can probably find something for $400-$600 per month. But, we wanted a nicer space with the ability to take walks daily. This meant spending a bit more.
Also, keep in mind, many places are booked out several months in advance, so you have to take what you can get!
2. Utilities: $150-300
I was surprised that most places don’t include utilities in their rent cost. Especially when they charge almost $1000 a month! The most expensive thing has been propane. That costs anywhere from $50-$200 a month, depending on if you need to run your furnace or not.
When we stayed at the KOA we had to pay for electric. They covered sewer and water!
3. Fifth Wheel: $260
This is the cost of our home on wheels. In the beginning, I liked to bundle this with the parking space rent. This gave me a good comparison for a base price of an apartment.
4. Truck Payment: $650
If you don’t have a truck already, you will have to invest in one. Keep in mind that this cost can be bundled with your house/rent price. Since this is part of your home, it’s not an added vehicle cost on top of your rent.
5. Insurance: $100
We were SHOCKED that our insurance went down when we bought the truck and trailer. You must go through the same company because they give you a discount for bundling.
6. Wifi Hotspot: $15
At first, we had wifi through a private seller and that was $100 per month. Then we switched to Verizon hot spot, which gives us 30g a month. We also use our hotspots on our phones, which gives us about 15g. We decided to go without satellite, but we know people that have it and it’s really expensive.
7. Annual Macitence: $400 per year
There are things that come up when living in an RV. These campers are only meant to last for 44 weekend camping trips. So, when you are living in it…. Things start to break. You want to set aside money for fixing and winterizing your trailer!
8. Mailbox: $50
We got a medium size mailbox at the UPS store. This gives you a physical address if you need to use it for things like driver’s licenses and taxes. You can get a smaller box if you don’t get much mail and it’s a bit cheaper.
**Note: I didn’t add in the phone bill, subscription services, laundry and groceries. That’s really going to depend from family to family. You will need to consider whether or not you plan on traveling or staying stationary because that will make a huge difference. Don’t forget to add in gas if you plan to be mobile.
Other Things to Consider
- You will need a down payment for an RV.
- You will need a decent credit score.
- It might be difficult to buy an RV if you have a lot of debt.
- If you don’t have a truck, you will need to buy one. (And you need a down payment for that)
- If you plan on renovating, make sure you budget for it.
Living in an Apartment Costs
Before we break down the costs of living in an apartment, I want you to know that I am not including the car payment, car insurance, or groceries. This is because since it’s not a cost to live IN the apartment. When I was calculating the cost of living in an RV, the truck was part of our house since we travel!
Total Monthly Cost: $1,944
1. Rent: $1600
Obviously, this is what will vary the most from city to city. To get an idea of what it will cost you to live in an apartment, check out www.apartments.com. Choose your bedroom size and then get an average cost!
2. Utilities: $202
This is the article I used to estimate how much your utilities would cost in an apartment. This is an estimate of the US, so it could be a little more or a little less. But, it gives you a pretty good idea of electric, gas, and water.
3. Pet Fee: $35
Most apartment complexes charge a pet fee! Some also require a non-refundable deposit to cover if any damage is done.
4. Renters Insurance: $27
If you don’t have pets, this would be somewhere around $15 per month. But most apartments require $100,000 in liability coverage for your renters’ insurance. This is a little spendier!
5. Wifi: $80
When we lived in a house, it cost $80 for basic wifi… no cable! Sometimes they will give you a deal when you bundle them. But for us, it wasn’t worth it.
Other Things to Consider
- You will need a security deposit.
- You need a good rapport with past landlords.
- Most of the annual macitence is the complex’s responsibility.
- Mail will get delivered to your apartment.
When you look at the costs of living in an RV versus an apartment, you will see that it’s cheaper to live in an apartment. But keep in mind, this cost doesn’t include your car, car insurance, groceries, and other random bills.
When you add a car payment and car insurance to your apartment costs, you are WELL over what it would cost to live in an RV.
Apartment Monthly Cost: $1,944
Car Payment: $510
Car Insurance: $140
Total Cost for Apartment Living: $2,594
See what I mean… it’s tricky!
What SHOULD you Do??
Now you need to plug in your numbers! Take all my estimates and put in your monthly costs. This will give you a pretty good idea of which would be better for you.
Tip: Make sure you are realistic with your apartment. You want to look at a place that you would actually be interested in living in.
Surprisingly, the base cost of living in an apartment is cheaper than an RV. But, once you add in all your other bills it seems to be the smarter option to live in an RV. Obviously, your totals will differ depending on where you live, but this breakdown should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.