RV Living vs Apartment Renting (Which is Cheaper?)

Renting is expensive in almost every city out there. Your money goes nowhere, and you are never any closer to having something of your own.

A wonderful idea has been spreading all over the country in the last decade. Living small or more specifically living in an RV full time.

RV living is cheaper compared to renting an apartment. The average cost for RV living is between $500-$1000 and the cost of living in renting an apartment is between $1000-$1500.

You may spend more on the initial purchase of the RV, but in a long run, you will save more. RV living is becoming widely popular creating a larger market for RVs than ever before.

Whether you are single, a couple, or even a small family you will be able to save money by living in an RV.

It may seem a little scary at first wondering how in the world you would manage it. If you are struggling to afford rent this could be a game-changer for you and your family.

Selling off everything you own, buying an RV, and taking off. It really can be that easy. It can be terrifying to wonder where to start but it is a very simple life to live.

Now we will look at the breakdown of exactly why living in an RV will cost you less, tips to living small while still having a home that can function well, and saying goodbye to throwing away rent money for the rest of your life.

RV vs Apartment Cost Comparison

Family vacation travel RV, holiday trip in motorhome

Here is the actual breakdown of the average cost of renting a home compared to living in an RV full time. These numbers are the average cost in the United States.

Some town’s rent could be far higher or lower depending on where you live. Rv cost is typically close to the same around the country as campgrounds are usually close to the same in every state, the view is simply different.

*Cost is the average for a couple living in a single-family home in the US and not an exact cost there are many variables that could easily change the price substantially*

UtilityRv Living CostRenting Cost
Monthly “Housing”Free to $800$1000-$1500
ElectricUsually Included$120
WaterUsually Included$35
Sewer Tank DumpingFree to $8$15
Trash CollectionFree to $15$18
Food$300$450
Gas and Propane$50$80
Home and RV Insurance$60$100
Fuel and Oil (Driving)$150$75
InternetFree to $50$50
Laundry$50$50
Total Monthly Cost$560 to $1,183$1000-$1500
  • Housing –
    • This all depends on where you are staying and what is included. There are also some campsites that are free at different times during the year.
  • Electric –
    • This is typically always included in the lot cost for the month.
  • Water –
    • Water hookup is also usually included in the lot cost for the month.
  • Sewer Tank Dumping –
    •  This can be included or can cost you a few dollars to dump when your tank gets full.
    • Some campsites have it set up so you hook up your tank when you pull up so it empties as its used.
  • Trash Collection –
    • Most sites have dumpsters and just include the few in with the monthly lot fee
    • If there is a separate fee or you have excess trash you could pay a few dollars.
  • Food –
    • This is fairly self-explanatory. You will have a smaller fridge and cooking area than normal.
    • Some people think this will make you spend more on food.
    • It is actually the opposite; you will have less waste because you can only buy so much at a time.
  • Propane –
    • This will cost different for every family depending on how much you cook inside and shower.
    • You can always cook over a campfire most nights and utilize shower houses to save money.
  • Internet –
    • Instead of spending a ton on a hotpot to take along, you can utilize the free Wi-Fi offered at almost every campground.
    • If there aren’t wifi chances are there is no cell service so a hotspot would do no good anyway.
  • Laundry –
    • Some RVs have a small washer & dryer combo, some campsites have laundry mats
  • Vehicle Cost –
    • Insurance, maintenance, and gas are all costs you really can’t do anything about, unfortunately.

As you can see it is far cheaper to live in an RV. This chart does not include furnishing your home. It could cost $10,000 to buy everything when starting from scratch. RVs come furnished with just about everything you will need or items you already have.

Why People Choose RV Living

woman in vintage RV camping trailer boiling a kettle on the stove

Renting can be extremely expensive. It is truly crazy how much some people charge to live in a small home in an ok neighborhood. Even worse the large amounts paid in some parts of town that won’t even get you any closer to owning a thing.

Why renting is sometimes a bad choice:

  • You throw money away every month. Unless you rent to own you throw away money month after month.
  • Having to worry about accidentally damaging something, keeping things perfect looking.
  • Hope your landlord doesn’t sell out from under you (which sadly happens often) and leaving you frantically looking for a home.
  • One word – Scumlords
  • Yes, you are stationary but traveling/moving around has its perks.
  • It is EXPENSIVE, homes just really should not be as much as they are to rent. Some landlords sadly take advantage of people.

There are many reasons why people decide to jump on the bandwagon and live small. Whether it is for the adventure, to save money, they are retired or for work; every family has a reason to try out living small.

Many people are even selling their homes to live an RV life. No longer being tied down to one town.

While you can save quite a bit of money living in an RV there are also many luxury RVs and luxury campgrounds out there. So if you have the means to do so you technically could live a very luxurious life, on the road.

It is not the lifestyle for everyone though, and the decision should not be made lightly. Many families live simply fine in an RV and adapt very well. While some are just not able to handle the travel and confine spaces.

Before you make the leap make sure to have your family on board. Plan out what life could be life before taking the plunge. Once you sell everything you can’t just take it back if it isn’t for you. Try renting an RV for a week to see how you like it.

Living in RV Full Time

Now let’s look at the different ways to thrive living an RV lifestyle. Here is a great video on preparing to live full-time in an RV.

  • Organization –
    • The most important step to living smaller is being highly organized. You cant expect to move from a traditional size home to an RV without it.
    • Everything needs a place. This will be a game-changer.
    • Utilize every space you can find and give every space a purpose.
  • Know Where You Are Staying –
    • Some campgrounds provide free electric, water, sewer even swimming, showers, and grills.
    • There are thousands of wonderful campsites but you should also research before staying in an unknown place. There are many shady places out there that you would not want to stay let alone bring your family to.
  • Enjoy Life –
    • Soak in the time with your family. You may drive each other crazy but living the Rv life is an amazing way to become closer.
    • Take the trips you always wanted to. You do not need to pack up and you always have a cheap place to stay.

Living in an Rv can be a challenge but will typically always cost much less than renting a home. Some things you should keep in mind are:

  • Renting a home can cost you around $2,000 more every month compared to living in an RV full time.
  • Full-time RV living has grown widely popular in the last couple of decades.
  • There is an RV for every budget and lifestyle out there.
  • Almost every town in the United States has a campground. Some areas have many.
  • Have a trial run before jumping right into the RV life.
  • It is not for everyone but if you can learn to love the RV lifestyle you can save money and finally be able to enjoy the extras in life.
  • If you decide to take the plunge have fun, take chances, and enjoy the ride.

RV Living FAQ Answered

Many full-time RVers live in RV parks or mobile home communities because they are designated for permanent living in RVs. Some stay on property they own that is located outside of city and county limits where the regulations do not apply, and full-time RV residence is allowed.

According to U.S. Code, RVs are temporary shelters not used for regular nighttime habitation so those living in them full-time can be considered legally homeless. However, this can vary somewhat based on the condition and location of the RV as well as access to resources to improve living conditions.

You can claim RV as your primary residence as IRS defines homes as “A house, condominium, cooperative, mobile home, house trailer, boat, or similar property that has sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities.” RVs fall under the definition of the home if they include the listed facilities. This means an RV can be claimed as a primary residence.

The cost of living in an RV park ranges from $500 to $1500 per month on average. Parks that include electricity, water, and septic services tend to be on the higher end. Some parks will offer discounts for permanent residents. There are also discounts for seniors, military, and veterans.

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