Buying an RV a good investment?

Are you currently looking to buy an RV (Recreational Vehicle) and want to know if a good investment?

When referring to RV (Recreational Vehicle) it is a motor vehicle or trailer which includes living quarters designed for accommodation.

Types of RVs include motorhomes, campervans, caravans (also known as travel trailers and camper trailers), fifth-wheel trailers, popup campers, and truck campers.

Investment is typically something that you purchase today with the idea it will go up in value.

Selling at a profit sometime in the future.

RV’s (recreational vehicles) are not a good investment. RV’s like most other vehicles and equipment depreciate because they’re a resource that loses its value through gradual wear and tear. 

So know I have answered the main question would like to explain how much RVs depreciate.

I have put in many hours performing researching classifieds on new and used RVs calculating how much RV depreciate.

How much does an RV depreciate?

Based on my analysis a new RV depreciates by 40% in its first two years of life.

The best time to purchase a new RV is after the first two years of life when 40% of value has been diminished.

If you were to sell it after two years you would certainly incur a huge loss.

The first 4-5 years is where you will experience the heaviest loss.

The depreciation model below is based on a life expectancy of 15 years of an RV.

How much does RV Depreciate?

So if you had purchased an RV for $100k it would have lost 23% in its first year or $23K. The second-year a further 17%.

After the first four years, the rate reduces moves into single digits.

Years 12 and Year 11, RV is worth 1/2 the value of the original purchase price.

If you obtained a loan it’s likely to be higher than what you could sell it for.

Meaning, if you were to sell there would be a shortfall from the sale and need to fork money out of your own pocket or continue to carry the loan until paid off.

Decline %
Year 14 0.23
Year 13 0.17
Year 12 0.12
Year 11 0.11
Year 10 0.09
Year 9 0.08
Year 8 0.07
Year 7 0.07
Year 6 0.05
Year 5 0.04
Year 4 0.04
Year 3 0.04
Year 2 0.04
Year 1 0.04
How much does RV Depreciate?

Once RV has passed its life of 14 years it retains some value, It’s likely to reduce further by low-end single digits (1-4%)

Below is an example of an Airstream RV depreciating over 14 years, that demonstrate the cost of depreciation.

Airstream RV Classic Depreciation Example

So if you were to purchase the Airstream RV Classic for the initial price of $153,000, the amount of depreciation in the first year would be $35,190, you’d only be able to sell it for around a Revised Price of $117,810.

  • Year 12 – With 3 years the model has reduced further, you’d only be able to sell it for around $86,048.  In three years, this caravan (travel trailer) has lost 42% of its value.  If you took out a long financing term on the camper, it may now be worth less than what you owe on it.
  • Year 10 – If you bought this model five years ago, you’d now be able to sell it for around $69,691.  This caravan (travel trailer) has lost 63% of its original value.  Although it has lost over half of its value at this point, it did depreciate slower through years 4 and 5 than it did through the first 3 years.
  • Year 5 – If you bought this model ten years ago, you’d be able to sell it for around $50,573.  This caravan (travel trailer) has now lost about 68% of its value. 
Price Revised Price Decline % Decline $
Year 14  $      153,000 117,810 0.23  $       35,190
Year 13  $      117,810 97,782 0.17  $       20,028
Year 12  $        97,782 86,048 0.12  $       11,734
Year 11  $        86,048 76,583 0.11  $         9,465
Year 10  $        76,583 69,691 0.09  $         6,892
Year 9  $        69,691 64,115 0.08  $         5,575
Year 8  $        64,115 59,627 0.07  $         4,488
Year 7  $        59,627 55,453 0.07  $         4,174
Year 6  $        55,453 52,681 0.05  $         2,773
Year 5  $        52,681 50,573 0.04  $         2,107
Year 4  $        50,573 48,551 0.04  $         2,023
Year 3  $        48,551 46,609 0.04  $         1,942
Year 2  $        46,609 44,744 0.04  $         1,864
Year 1  $        44,744 42,954 0.04  $         1,790
How much does Caravan (Travel Trailer) Depreciate?
Caravan (Travel Trailer) Depreciation
Caravan (Travel Trailer) Depreciation

If you are after further information on depreciation I have another article with examples of RVs depreciating.

Looking to understand the cost of owning and maintaining an RV? I have another article covering this subject, where we explore the cost of ownership.

Can I slow do or prevent depreciation?

Unfortunately, RV’s being a depreciating asset (going down in value) the value reducing cannot be stopped.

If you don’t look after it will be more difficult to sell your RV. There will be other RV’s in better condition than yours.

To get rid of your RV you will end up selling it less than other RVs being sold at that time.

Maintenance for Resale

Keeping your RV in perfect condition won’t stop it from depreciation either, it may slow it down.

It will, however, make it easier to sell than if it hasn’t been looked after.

Tips to keep your RV in decent condition for resale

  • Undercover storage
  • Frequent Servicing
  • Records of regular maintenance scheduled
  • Repairs are made when required
  • Keep your awnings maintained
  • Maintain air, fuel, coolant, and hydraulic filters in your RV
  • Keep the brakes and fluid up to date
  • Tighten your RV’s wheel lug nuts and check tire pressure.

When is the best time to purchase an RV

The best time to purchase an RV is in the off-season (winter) when there is less demand.

The fall season is the second-best time to sell an RV.

The worst time to buy an RV is in the summer months when there is more demand from buyers.

Meaning there will be more people out looking to buy an RV.

When is the best time to sell an RV

The best time to sell an RV is in the warmer months when there are buyers looking to purchase an RV for the summer holidays.

More buyers mean an increase in demand and a greater chance you will be to negotiate and sell at the price you will be happy with.

In the cooler months (winter) people are not thinking about going camping.

Hence there will be fewer people looking to purchase an RV.

Fewer people means less demand and few opportunities to sell your RV.

Therefore, the worst time to sell your RV is in the cooler (winter) months.

Final Thoughts

For most making a decision to purchase an RV is a big decision.

But before the decision is made it’s important to be aware that RV goes down in value (depreciate) and not up.

Thereby, the future value will be less than the original purchase price.

More Information

If you have enjoyed this article you will enjoy our other articles.

Below are some of our other gear reviews and popular resources;

How much does Caravan (Travel Trailer) Depreciate? with examples and charts

Everything you need to know about Pop-up Campers

Travel trailer (caravan) running costs

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