Money Matters: Thinking About Getting An RV?

By Dee Lee, WBZ News Radio

BOSTON (CBS) – Whenever I see an RV, I begin to wonder where they’ve been.  What kind of adventures are they hoping for?  What places are they heading to?


If you have snowbird envy and think you might like the RV lifestyle do some homework before you plunk down your credit card for a down payment on an RV.

The average age of an RV owner is close to 50, with 40-percent of owners over 60.

I would strongly recommend renting an RV for an extended vacation to see if this is the lifestyle you thought it might be.

There are many web sites and books out there about the RV lifestyle.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to RVing, Your Home on Wheels, RV Vacations for Dummies,, and And you will need to learn about repairs and maintenance as well so get a copy of the RV Owner’s Handbook.

Also rent Robin Williams’ movie RV for a fun look at RVing.

I googled RVs for sale and got over 4.5 million hits.

I found a 2004 Holiday Rambler for $225,000 and 2001 Winnebago for $76,000 both in the Boston area. I was looking for a self-contained unit, not one you would have to buy a truck to haul.

The new ones can be had with full-size side-by-side refrigerators and washer and dryers. Some of the RVs that the entertainers use are close to $1 million. A tax advantage:  if you have a bathroom in the RV, you may be able to deduct the interest on the loan, as it is considered a second home.

Don’t forget the maintenance cost of an RV.

They also need to be stored when you are not on the road. And excise tax on a fancy new one could be around $4,000 a year and you need to insure it.

RVs only get 9-10 miles to the gallon so running to the store for bread could cost you $3 before you get in the store. And if you drove to Florida, the gas alone could cost over $500 for one way.

And don’t forget the campground fees. Figure $50 a night or more. There will be just so many nights you want to spend in the Wal-Mart parking lot. And something so many folks don’t think about because they romanticized so much about the travel – who is going to empty the potty – especially if you stay in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Do you think the nomadic lifestyle is one you could embrace? Do consider a dress rehearsal, a practice run?

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT sell your house and all of your worldly possessions and buy an RV to drive off into the sunset.

I know it sounds so great to run away from all of the mundane stuff that makes up our lives, but it often is that mundane stuff that gives our lives stability.

As for me, I know I could not live with my husband 24/7 in a tin box that was 10×30. We wouldn’t make it past the Mason Dixie line together! I would be on plane home by the time we reached DC! Maybe Hartford, CT!

More from Dee Lee
  • Forrest Shelton Clark

    Good story. I loved both hearing the story AND reading your script. We are summertime RV’ers since one of us still works (and one is retired). Last summer we spent 40 days on the road and are hoping for more next summer. Our “tin box” was 9 x 27 and we enjoyed living in it TOGETHER! The next summer or two are trial runs for the possibility of Full-timing after both of us are retired. Thanks for the story!

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