By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
Have you ever considered renting an RV? How about wondering whether you would be better off renting than buying? Here are a few things to consider.
Cost — Average owners use their RVs very infrequently. If one buys a new RV, making payments over several years, and were to figure the actual cost per hour of use, from a dollars and cents (or should I say sense?) standpoint, it is almost never cheaper to buy new than to rent. Once you start to add in depreciation and upkeep, most new buyers would have been many dollars ahead to rent rather than buy.
How about buying used rather than new? Buying used is almost always the better way to go unless you are looking for something special or are the type of person who keeps what they buy and maintains it for many years. Then the cost comparison waters become murkier. If one were able to find a genuinely good buy, where depreciation is not a factor, actual per hour cost starts to favor ownership, provided it does not simply sit in the backyard.
Speaking of backyards, don’t forget to factor in storage fees if you live where you are not allowed to keep your RV in your yard — a problem that is becoming increasingly common for many RV owners.
On the other hand, if you are an avid RVer and use your RV on regular basis, ownership may be more realistic. Rental fees would really add up if you used your RV on a weekly basis.
Convenience — There is no contest when it comes to convenience: Having your RV next to your house or in your backyard makes for ease of loading and unloading and also makes for easier maintenance. In some areas, your RV might also be less prone to vandalism when it is close at hand. Convenience is less a factor if you have to keep your RV in a storage facility.
Again, usage patterns have to be factored in here, as simply renting the RV, driving it home, loading it and hitting the road is not much of a hindrance, provided you only have to do it a few times a year.
Maintenance and the play factor — If you do not want the worry of maintaining an RV, rent! All RVs, without exception, require regular maintenance. One thing folks often fail to consider when they talk about how much renting costs is the rental company is responsible for maintaining their units, so they take on all those tasks owners normally would have to do or pay to have done.
If you are the type of owner who enjoys maintaining their own rig or “playing with your RV,” for lack of a better term, by making small modifications and doing minor maintenance, ownership is the way to fly. Some folks enjoy working on their RV in the same way that antique car owners do. There are worse hobbies, for sure — just be realistic when it comes to assessing your skill level.
Luxury — The majority of rental units are basic Class C motorhomes. They are completely serviceable but pretty bare bones (although higher-end units are available in some areas). Look over what is available in your rental market. If it would suit you, you are home free. If you want something nicer than what you find in the rental market, owning your own RV moves you to the head of the class.
Factors favoring ownership may be things as simple as wanting an awning when you camp, something most rental units lack, or perhaps simply wanting more luxury.
It’s mine — There is something to be said from an emotional standpoint for owning your rig. Some people just are not comfortable sharing. Just like some folks rent or borrow tools and some folks insist on owning their own, not everyone is comfortable using what someone else has used. You know if you fall into this category, so no sense denying it. You already knew you were not interested in renting before you started reading this article!
I’m just not sure about RVing — Funny as it sounds, some people are just not sure they will like RVing or they want to try to interest their spouse in RVing in the least risky manner. In those cases, ownership, even low-dollar buy-in just to try, or anticipated buy-and-resell, is a mistake! If you are new to this game, you may mistakenly assume RVs are infinitely flippable. The problem is that the rules of buying and selling change constantly and even established dealers often make mistakes.
What that means is something you buy one day may not find a buyer the next, or you will at least lose money on the resale. Renting in these types of situations provides you with a set cost and nothing hanging around in your back yard if you find the latest “Go RVing” advertisement proves to be more fiction than fact, once you hit the road.
As usual, there is a no best way to do it. Both renting and ownership have distinct advantages and distinct costs. The checkbook is in your pocket — you decide.
photo: twm1340 on flickr.com