Fuel is cheap right now, so we have a thought for you. There’s nothing like hitting the open road and experiencing the countryside. What some call “flyover country” is what others call on-the-ground adventure territory. And the upscale way to experience it is in an RV.
Recreational vehicles can come in many shapes and sizes – from basic camper vans to luxury coaches complete with slide-outs, full kitchens, and king-size beds. Some people literally live in their motor homes. Most use them primarily for vacationing – though there are other uses as well…
Say NO to the TSA and Have Fun With Your Dogs Too
When you tour via RV you avoid airport hassles. You don’t have to check into and out of hotels. And you can stay in off-the-beaten-path places such as desert campgrounds without having to rough it in tents. You can go where you want and do what you want, all in the privacy and comfort of your own home on wheels.
An RV makes for an ideal emergency second home. In the event that you need to flee, your home goes on the road with you. Of course, the larger the RV, the less nimble and maneuverable it will be in tight areas. A smaller RV gives you more flexibility and costs less.
On the downside, RVing can be an expensive hobby. There are the costs, the maintenance, the upkeep, and… the costs. RVs carry high up-front price tags and they guzzle gas. Expect less than 10 mpg typically for large class A motor coaches.
But there are ways to offset the costs. You can even use your RV to generate income (more on that in a bit).
Get Surprisingly Great Terms on an RV Loan
There are ways to finance an RV much like you would a car. A bank often can approve an RV loan as quickly as a new car loan – no appraisals, no closing costs. But you can end up getting a loan that looks more like a home mortgage. RV loans are available in durations of up to 20 years with an interest rate below 4% in some cases.
Lenders are willing to offer relatively favorable terms on RVs as compared to cars because RV buyers tend to be mature, well-off, and responsible (i.e., low default risk). You may be asked to provide more personal financial disclosures than you would to get financing on a car. However, if you have very good credit and are willing to put at least 20% down, you shouldn’t have a problem getting an RV loan.
Try Before You Buy Because That’s Easy
If you’ve never spent any significant time behind the wheel of an RV before, then you should first try renting one for a few days. After the experience, you may decide that you don’t want to take on the obligation of owning one. As with boats and other expensive “toys,” motor homes can become a money pit that you spend more time worrying about than enjoying.
Renting is a much smaller financial commitment. A leading source of RVs for rent nationwide is Cruise America. It has a limited number of models within its fleet, mainly of the class C variety powered by a van cutaway. For a wider array of motor homes to choose from, you can turn to the peer-to-peer economy. RVShare (rvshare.com) connects people who are looking to rent an RV with those willing to make theirs available for rent.
Yes, RV’s Go From a Money Drain to a Money-Making Business
This is one way your RV can pay for itself over time. Of course, renting it out means your RV will be subjected to more wear and tear and have a lower life expectancy. You may not want to risk it getting wrecked, even if it is fully insured. You may also not want to risk potential liability claims if someone gets injured in your RV.
There are lower risk ways to monetize your motor home. For example, you can rent it out as a place to sleep, like a guest house vacation rental that sits on your property (or wherever you have it parked and hooked up to power and water). You rent out the home but not the motor.
You may be surprised at how much money you can make doing this. Millennials especially love to scour web sites like Craigslist and Airbnb looking for alternatives to conventional hotel rooms. A motor home offers guests privacy and convenience – and you a source of revenue. You can take most of the work out of the equation by charging a cleaning fee and hiring a cleaning service to prepare the RV after each guest leaves.
Turn Your Travels Into Tax Write Offs
Owning an RV for business or for fun isn’t for everyone. But you can get the most out of an RV purchase if you find ways to use it for both. Businesses can deduct travel costs when that travel is business related.
Your business need not be profitable in order to claim business deductions. However, you must have a profit motive. You can’t deduct any of your RV travelrelated costs if you are just vacationing.
Suppose you intend to write a book about vacationing in RVs. Then your travel costs could be deductible, provided they are necessary for your writing business. Your book need not even sell enough copies to recoup your RVing costs. As long as you intend for your book to be profitable and take ordinary and reasonable steps to try to turn a profit, you’re in business and your business expenses could potentially be fully deductible.
There are many ways to turn vacations into fully deductible business activities. Think creatively. But do consult a tax lawyer or accountant to be sure your business plan will pass muster with the tax goons.