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RV annual expenses?
Old 12-30-2010, 08:20 AM   #1
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RV annual expenses?

I just travelled from LA to Laughlin, NV (one night), and Grand Canyon (2 nights). Just in time for a big snowstorm coming back home. The whole of Arizona north part seemed to be snowing. Driving on I-40 in total whiteout was scary even with my Honda Pilot.

We saw a lot of retirees with their mega-RVs and a small vehicle in tow. DW is interested in that combo after we retire, and was wondering what the annual expense would be to keep an RV, gas and RV camp fee, but save on hotels?

Also, in Grand Canyon, the temperature went down to teens at night. How comfortable are you in RV? Do you need to keep the engine running the whole night?
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:25 AM   #2
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I often am in my RV when it is in the teens, 20s or 30s. If I have an outside electrical source I run a space heater, which serves to keep things pretty warm. If I do not, I run the propane furnace with the fan operated off of the batteries for the motorhome. I can usually get a two, three days off of the batteries, but I am sure that it would be less if I ran the furnace all the time. If I lose charge I can either run my generator to charge up the system or run the vehicle to charge the batteries.

If you are in the very cold for too long you may have to winterize your plumbing system. But cold nights have not been a problem for me provided that the days warm up.
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:55 AM   #3
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We have had many threads in the past on this subject. It is a bit tricky to search for them, given that the word "RV" is rejected by the search engine which considers it too short.

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I often am in my RV when it is in the teens, 20s or 30s. If I have an outside electrical source I run a space heater, which serves to keep things pretty warm. If I do not, I run the propane furnace with the fan operated off of the batteries for the motorhome. I can usually get a two, three days off of the batteries, but I am sure that it would be less if I ran the furnace all the time. If I lose charge I can either run my generator to charge up the system or run the vehicle to charge the batteries.

If you are in the very cold for too long you may have to winterize your plumbing system. But cold nights have not been a problem for me provided that the days warm up.
I have only been in nights as cold as the low 40s. It was amazing how fast the propane furnace heater could heat up that tiny space (25 ft motor home). However, I worry more about the batteries getting run down by the furnace blower electric motor.

However, I am more concerned about having the tanks frozen if it gets colder. Imagine your black tank getting cracked! Shudder!

In my motor home, the fresh water tank is hidden under one seat of the dinette, hence kept warm. The waste tanks are simply hung under the motor home chassis and exposed to the cold air. I know there are better and larger motor homes that keep the tanks enclosed and even have heating for them.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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I have been down to 11 degrees with only coming up to the 30s during the day. Not a problem. But we have a diesel-fired furnace (that we only turn on when temps get really cold) and that probably makes a difference.

On RV expenses - it really depends on your rig. Insurance and maintenance are highish items for ours. It's best to review forums like escapees.com and trailerlife.com to see what people say. Many have actually posted their budgets on those forums, a little searching and you can find a lot of real info.

Unless you get a really cheap RV, depreciation will eat up any savings compared to other modes of transportation, but many of us much prefer this type of traveling even though RVs usually cost a lot. And if you don't count RV depreciation it seems much cheaper than any other type of travel.

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Old 12-30-2010, 11:28 AM   #5
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We have had many threads in the past on this subject. It is a bit tricky to search for them, given that the word "RV" is rejected by the search engine which considers it too short.



I have only been in nights as cold as the low 40s. It was amazing how fast the propane furnace heater could heat up that tiny space (25 ft motor home). However, I worry more about the batteries getting run down by the furnace blower electric motor.

However, I am more concerned about having the tanks frozen if it gets colder. Imagine your black tank getting cracked! Shudder!

In my motor home, the fresh water tank is hidden under one seat of the dinette, hence kept warm. The waste tanks are simply hung under the motor home chassis and exposed to the cold air. I know there are better and larger motor homes that keep the tanks enclosed and even have heating for them.
I have had my waste tanks freeze to an extent, when partially full, with no issues. They freeze enough that I can't dump them until they thaw. If it is really cold I throw in some rv antifreeze in the black and gray tanks, but I am not sure that it is enough to matter.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:30 AM   #6
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I guess the trick is to not get them full. The tanks must be made of a kind of plastic that has enough elasticity to keep from breaking.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:37 AM   #7
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We have had many threads in the past on this subject. It is a bit tricky to search for them, given that the word "RV" is rejected by the search engine which considers it too short.
Not if you use the Google search option at the top of the (v2.0 green skin) page: RV expense - Google Search
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:41 AM   #8
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It seems to me the OP was not asking about RV'ing full-time, but rather about traveling. Then, I would second what Audrey said below.

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Unless you get a really cheap RV, depreciation will eat up any savings compared to other modes of transportation, but many of us much prefer this type of traveling even though RVs usually cost a lot. And if you don't count RV depreciation it seems much cheaper than any other type of travel.
Once you get over the sunk cost of the RV, traveling expenses are not bad at all. An RV gets you to places and activities that would be more difficult or expensive to do on a car road trip. In the past, whether traveling by car in the US or riding the Eurorail in Europe, after about 2 weeks, we would miss home. Recently, we took our first long trip in our new-to-us motorhome, after a month-long trip, we wanted to keep goin', but had to return home due to a family affair.

But even a modest used class C motor home, coupled with a used car to use as a toad (car towed behind the MH) like my setup, it is still a waste if you do not use it. I need to "recover" my sunk cost more by doing more long-range traveling. Alaska and Newfoundland are still my planned destinations.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:42 AM   #9
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Look up some RV forums. I like RV.net. More information than you can read in a lifetime. Not that some of us don't RV, but an RV forum will have all the answers.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:46 AM   #10
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Look up some RV forums. I like RV.net. More information than you can read in a lifetime. Not that some of us don't RV, but an RV forum will have all the answers.
+1

Another excellent RV forum, one I like even better than RV.net, is iRV2 - RV Forum Community
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:48 AM   #11
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check out rv-dreams.com. this couple has been full time rv-ing since 2005 and have posted all their budgets & expenses down to the penny. this is a great rv forum with lots of extremely helpful/nice people
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:52 AM   #12
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I have been led to believe that the concern was mainly (if not solely) for the pipes and connectors. I make sure to have Anti-freeze in all the exposed lines.

We have stayed in our RV (granted not the type the OP is speaking of) at temperatures of 5-10 and day-time highs in the lower 20's.
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:04 PM   #13
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Not wanting to post personal photos, I will just say that my set up is kind of like the picture below on the Web that I am linking to, except that my motor home is longer, and my toad is smaller.



It's a blast to unhook the toad, take it to explore and return "home" to your own kitchen and bed at night. Maybe I can arrange for someone to babysit our homes, so that we can take off for an extended time like 6 months. My planned trip to Alaska is going to take 3 months already. But that means my wife must arrange for her siblings to take over her share of the time looking over her father in his nursing home.
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:06 PM   #14
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I have been led to believe that the concern was mainly (if not solely) for the pipes and connectors. I make sure to have Anti-freeze in all the exposed lines.

We have stayed in our RV (granted not the type the OP is speaking of) at temperatures of 5-10 and day-time highs in the lower 20's.
Yes, I forgot that the drain lines which are of course lower than the tanks are made of harder PVC, and if broken will cause much grief!
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:16 PM   #15
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we just came home after staying at a state park in GA between Atlanta & Macon(without sewer) from dec 19. temps got down to the high teens/low 20's at night. we had to leave holding tank valves open so that the valves did not "pop". we just put the sewer hose down into the "blue boy" at night, dumped "blue boy" next morning & closed valves back up till the next night. thankfully only had to do this a couple of nights. my husband lived in his 5th wheel for 6 years & DID have the black water tank valve "pop" due to cold weather & he said it was not a pleasant chore to repair! our next 5th wheel WILL have enclosed/heated holding tanks as we prefer state parks and they normally don't offer sewer hook ups.
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:21 PM   #16
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Maybe I can arrange for someone to babysit our homes, so that we can take off for an extended time like 6 months.
Our Babysitter Security System (8 cameras) is connected to the Home Network. (See, for example, at Amazon... bought ours at Sam's Club.) Since it is connected to the Home Network, it allows us to monitor the cameras from remote locations (providing Internet access, of course). And, now I think of it, it can, just as easily, be independent of the Network. The DVR has enough memory, BTW, that the recording only loops every two-three months -- it takes motion/sound to trigger the recording.

You can, from anywhere, check your house as often as your paranoia dictates. If you see something unsual, you can call the Police or an "on-call" friend/relative. Unless you have someone actually living in the house full-time, that is as good as having someone "checking up" periodically.
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:44 PM   #17
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Thanks for the info. It is the home in the boonies high country that I worry about more. I have made friend with some full-timer neighbors up there, and that helped a lot in the past when we had winter storms passing through and we were not up there.

But being as paranoid as I am, I often worry about having to hurry home to take care of problems if and when I am boondocking somewhere in the Alaskan wilderness.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:36 PM   #18
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Since it is connected to the Home Network, it allows us to monitor the cameras from remote locations (providing Internet access, of course).
If your home's DSL/cable modem locks up, how do you reset it?
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:52 PM   #19
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You just don't buy the kind of modem that can lock up.

OK, OK. How about something like this that lets you call in via the phone line to cycle the power to your modem/computer/home network setup to reboot it?

Now, you are going to ask who is going to cycle the circuit breaker at the panel if it trips.

Arghh... I give up.

Why don't we just sell the damn house and live full time in the RV? That makes more and more sense...
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:05 PM   #20
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You just don't buy the kind of modem that can lock up.
OK, OK. How about something like this that lets you call in via the phone line to cycle the power to your modem/computer/home network setup to reboot it?
Now, you are going to ask who is going to cycle the circuit breaker at the panel if it trips.
"Welcome to Hawaii"...

I was wondering about some sort of home monitoring system for our travel, too, but the weak link is having to pull the plug on our DSL modem every few weeks.
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