The Cost of RV Ownership and Things to Know Before Buying an RV

When you first get into the RV lifestyle and purchase a camper, there are a lot of additional costs that seemingly come out of nowhere. You agree to a deal on an RV and just when you think you’re ready to go camping, in the blink of an eye, you’re required to have insurance, buy parts, and realize you even need to pay to park the dang thing!  

Although each person’s buying experience is different, many first time RVers are unaware of the cost of RV ownership.  

It’s important to understand that the cost of an RV doesn’t end after you purchase it. I’ve been working as an RV Outfitter, helping RVers find their ideal camper, and even I was surprised by the costs of getting into RVing when I began in this industry. At Bish’s RV we don’t want you to be caught unaware of expenses for RVing, so here are the “hidden costs” of owning an RV:  

The Costs of RVing

How Much Will I Need to Spend on RV Parts?

Figuring out which parts you need to buy before taking your RV out for the first time can be overwhelming, so here is a quick rundown of all the parts you need to go camping in comfort.

Essential Parts:

  • Sewer hose: $40 – $175
  • Toilet chemicals: $11 – $50
  • Fresh water hose: $25 – $60 (standard hose), $350 – $500 (upper-end, heated hose)
  • RV safe toilet paper: $5 – $10 (pack of 4 rolls)
  • Water pressure regulator valve: $15 – $130
  • Wheel Chocks: $3 (plastic) – $240 (x-chocks)
  • RV Adapter Cord: $25 – $75
  • Surge Protector: $140 – $480

Total: $264 – $1,220

Nice to Have:

  • Water Filter: $50 (filter) – $580 (water purifier)
  • Stick-on Level: $5 – $35

Total: $55 – $615

Where To Buy RV Parts

Dealers usually have a parts department where you can buy RV parts. You can also buy most of these parts on Amazon. If a part is out of stock in store it may be faster to buy online than wait for a store to restock their inventory.

The Cost of Essential Parts 

Bish’s RV provides our customers with a recommended parts guide to help choose the parts they need. At Bish’s, all the items on this list will cost you about $350. For all the essential parts (excluding the surge protector and level), it will cost about $175. The overall cost of parts will vary individually, depending on what you buy. (The prices listed here reflect the 10% discount our Diamond Club Membership provides for customers who purchase an RV or camper from Bish’s RV.) 

Check out our locations nationwide to see if any are near you.

What Does it Cost to Winterize an RV?

What is winterization and why do you need to winterize your RV? Winterizing your camper is essential to prevent your water lines and pipes from freezing. When water freezes in your pipes the ice expands and takes up more space. This can easily cause the pipes in your RV to crack.  

Not winterizing your camper can cause serious damage and cost you a significant amount of time and money in repairs. The cost to winterize will depend on whether you pay someone to do it or do it yourself.  

Cost to Have a Professional Winterize Your Camper

Between the cost of the service to winterize and the price of anti-freeze, having a professional RV technician winterize your camper will cost from $85 – $150, with an average price of $110. The number of appliances that use water in your camper will affect the cost to winterize your RV. If you have a washer/dryer unit installed in your camper or a fridge with an ice maker in it, it will probably cost a little extra to have your RV winterized. 

Cost of DIY RV Winterization

If you are handy and don’t mind spending an hour or two figuring out how to winterize your RV yourself, you can watch a YouTube video, buy a few gallons of antifreeze, get your tools, and winterize your camper yourself.

The amount of antifreeze you need will vary depending on the size of the tanks and water heater in your RV. Antifreeze will cost you anywhere from $4 per gallon to $10 per gallon.  

Choosing to winterize your RV yourself can save you a lot of money each year, but be aware that if not done correctly, you’ll risk expensive damage to the RV.  

Free Professional Winterizations From Bish’s RV

Bish provides free annual RV winterizations to all our RV buyers as part of our Diamond Club Membership. If you aren’t handy, you can drop off your camper and have your RV winterized for free. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can pick up the antifreeze to do the winterization yourself at no extra cost.  


Dewinterizing a camper is another cost to consider. It will cost from $75 to $200 to have it done professionally. Dewinterizing is much easier than winterizing your camper, so you can always save money and do it yourself. To dewinterize you un-bypass the water heater and run water through your lines until clear water runs from your faucets.  

How Much are Sales Tax, Title, and Registration Fees for an RV?

When you buy a camper for the first time, you may forget that you must pay sales tax and other fees to properly title and register your camper. A dealership may be willing to include these fees into the purchase agreement of your camper and then cut a check back to you to cover the cost, but most of the time, you will have to register your camper and pay these fees out of pocket.

Make sure to check with your state and county for an estimate on what you’ll need to pay since fees will vary depending on the state and county where you title your camper. 

RV Sales Tax

Your state and county, and how much you paid for your camper will determine the sales tax you need to pay. Each state has different rules to determine the amount.  

In Nebraska, for example, the sales tax is determined by county and state sales taxes. For those in Douglas County, the sales tax rate is 7% because it combines the state and county sales tax rates, but those in Sarpy County will spend 5.5% because their county does not charge a county sales tax. Iowa, on the other hand, has a state tax rate of 6% and the state government allows counties to charge up to 1% more based on the county’s authority.  

You can contact your local county treasurer’s office (vehicle registration office) with a quote of the amount you intend to spend on a camper, to find out exactly what you’ll pay in tax. If you do not have an exact amount, they can still provide you with an estimate.

Title and Lien Fees

Title and lien fees are usually part of the total amount you pay when you register your RV. The registration office where you live can quote you a grand total and itemize the amounts you need to pay. These fees are usually minimal. In Nebraska, these range around $7 and $10, or from $10 and $25 in Iowa. Each state will vary. 

Cost to Register Your RV

In some states the DMV will let the dealership handle titling for you. If this is the case, the dealership will send your title work to the DMV. From there you will have to pay the taxes and fees to receive the plates for your camper.    

When you’ve purchased the RV, you’ll have a certain time frame to register it without incurring a late fee. This time frame changes from state to state. Each state and even county also has a different way to handle registration fees. Prevent these fees by checking your state and county’s registration process requirements.  

This is a picture of an itemized tax and fee receipt provided by the registration office

How Much Is RV Insurance?

Many first-time RVers are surprised to learn they are required to show proof of insurance for their RV. RV buyers will ask, “Do I need RV insurance? Yes. Every state requires you to have at least minimum liability coverage if you will drive (or tow) your camper on the road, just like car insurance.  

So, how much does RV insurance cost? The average yearly premium for a camper/motorhome is $712. Motorized RVs generally have a higher insurance premium than travel trailers or fifth wheels because there is more liability. According to Progressive, in 2020 the average premium for a towable camper was $502 per year and the average annual premium for a motorhome was $848.  

Try the insurance calculator from Roamly for an insurance quote.

Approximate Cost of Annual Premium for RV Insurance Per Class of RV

– Class A: $1,300

– Class B: $1,000

– Class C: $800

– Camper Van: $1,100

– Travel Trailer: $650

– 5th Wheel: $1,000

– Pop Up Trailer: $400

*Statistics according to a expert*

What Does Gas Cost for My RV?

The size of your RV’s tank, the type of gas it uses, and the price of gas will determine how much you should expect to pay to fill your tank. The cost to fill up will be much different if you fill up a Class A diesel pusher than if you fill up a Class B Sprinter Van.  

How Big is an RV Gas Tank?  

Some Class A diesel pushers have gas tanks that can hold up to 100 gallons, where Class Bs and Cs hold around 25 gallons. At the current average price of $3.82 a gallon *, this could cost from around $90 to $380 to fill your RV’s tank.  

What is the Typical RV Gas Mileage?  

Class A motorhomes average from 8 to 14 miles per gallon, Class Bs average 20 to 26 mpg, Class Cs average 15 to 20 mpg, and diesel pushers generally provide more energy efficiency which can increase your motorhome’s miles per gallon, according to Sean Williams from Topnotch Outdoor.  

If you are towing a camper, you should expect your gas mileage to decrease. The weight of your camper and the power of your tow vehicle’s engine will determine your mpg. If you were to tow the same camper with a diesel truck vs a regular Ford F150, the diesel truck’s more powerful engine would get better gas mileage while towing.

Anyway you do it, if you tow a camper, you will see a decrease in your miles per gallon. Take this into consideration when traveling for the first time and be aware of your fuel gauge so you do not get stranded. 

What is the Cost of RV Storage?

On average, it typically costs between $50 to $500 per month to store a camper. The more options and features a storage facility has, the more expensive it will likely be.

When choosing an RV storage facility, the type of storage and how easy it is to get to your location are two important considerations.  

Learn more about RV storage, why it matters, where to store an RV, and the different types of storage options available.

How Much Does it Cost to Park at an RV Campground?

Where to park your RV is an important consideration, so you may be asking, “Where am I going to park my camper and how much will it cost?” RV campgrounds can cost anywhere from $0 – $175 a night. The length of your stay, the location, and the type of campground you select will all affect the cost of a campsite.  

Some RV campgrounds allow visitors to stay for an extended period, which is ideal if you’re looking to live in your camper full-time. 

Long-term RV Park rates range from $100 to $1,500 per month. These parks usually charge on a per-month basis, which is usually cheaper than the daily rate. The amenities that come with these campsites vary from park to park, but you can usually expect basics like electric and water hookups, WiFi, and some facilities (ex. gyms, laundry rooms, bath houses, etc.).

Is it Cheaper to Stay in an RV?

If you’ve wondered if the price to stay in your camper is comparable to a hotel or other rental, here are some stats to help you compare: 

  • In 2021 the average cost of an AirBnb was $216 per night, according to  
  • The average cost of a hotel room in the United States in 2021 was $125 per night, according to 
  • The average cost to rent a cabin ranges from $100 to $300 per night. Renting a cabin will likely come with a cleaning fee of around $100.  

The length of stay, size, and location of the room/airbnb/cabin will all factor into the average cost of these accommodations.  

How Much Do RV Repairs Cost?

Unfortunately no RV works perfectly all the time. The systems and parts on a camper can break regularly since you are basically putting a house on wheels through hurricane and earthquake-like conditions every time you take it down the road. As you use your camper things are going to move, shift, and, unfortunately, wear down over time.  

The cost of your camper’s repairs is determined by the parts needed and the amount of labor needed to fix the problem. 

Each service center will have different pricing available for service. As of 2/1/2023, Bish’s RV service centers charge the cost of parts and $185 per hour for service work (or $155 per hour for RVers who purchased their camper from us, as part of our included Diamond Club membership).

Some of the most common service repair orders we see in Bish’s RV cost on average: 

  • Water Pump Failure: $200-250+
  • Trim issues: costs vary widely depending on level of damage 
  • Air Conditioner repairs: $1,000+ 
  • Water Heater repairs: $1,500-2,000+ 

Your RV’s repairs may be covered by a manufacturer or extended service warranty. If the repair is covered, then you will not need to worry about spending your own money. If you are planning on RVing for a while, however, you should prepare for service costs, knowing that eventually problems will pop up.

Average Cost of Service Repairs for an RV/Camper

The average out of pocket cost for an out of warranty service repair in 2022 was $416 at Bish’s RV. Some service repairs may cost more than others, so we recommend you keep $500 to $1,000 in a repair fund in case your RV does experience issues. 

The Cost of Ownership After the Sale

No, the expenses are not over once you’ve purchased your RV, but now you will be aware of and prepared for extra costs, plus have the know-how to understand if you’re being overcharged on a product or service.

At Bish’s RV we want to prevent any of the surprise or hidden costs that may take the fun out of your RV adventure.  

If you are in the market to buy an RV, we’d love to help you and your family get out on the open road making memories! Take a look at our inventory to see if we have the right RV for you: 

If you have any questions, speak with one of our outfitters!  

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