The true cost of buying a motorhome

Know the full price for owning an RV

The true cost of buying a motorhome

Whether you are looking at buying a caravan or a motorhome - there is one thing for certain. A lot goes into calculating the true cost of buying a motorhome. Although the motorhome itself is the main cost, the true cost of motorhome ownership goes far beyond the initial purchase. When it comes to investing in a motorhome, it is good to be prepared for the additional costs so that you can budget around them.

To help, we’ve put together this guide to the true cost of buying a motorhome. That way you can get an idea of all the costs associated with buying a motorhome, so that you can choose a motorhome that fits within your budget. Let’s dive in.


What goes into the cost of buying a motorhome? 


The price tag of the vehicle is just one piece of the puzzle. When deciding if a motorhome is a good investment, it's good to consider the ongoing costs such as maintenance and the eventual resale. This means you can get an accurate picture of the true cost of buying a motorhome. Basic RV ownership expenses generally fall into six categories:


1. Purchasing a motorhome 

lifestyle checking

When buying, the most significant cost is likely to be the initial purchase of the motorhome. You have the option to purchase a motorhome with cash upfront or finance your purchase. Many choose to opt for financing as it allows you to pay for your vehicle in instalments. This can be helpful for cashflow in getting you into the lifestyle sooner. However, you may be charged for doing so. It is worth adding these costs into the equation.

Estimated costs: At KEA, motorhomes tend to range from $50,000 to $200,000 depending on the make, year and mileage. This can be financed in a few different ways, depending on your personal finances and situation. For more details, check out our guide on financing your motorhome.


2. Maintenance and repairs 

While repairs may not be a routine cost and will need to be addressed when they come up, regular maintenance should definitely be on the list of regular costs. Routine maintenance will ultimately slow down the depreciation of your motorhome, so it’s important to book your motorhome in for regular servicing. It’s recommended that you book in for a minor service every 10,000 km or six months. Then a major service every 30,000 km or 12 months. You will also want to consider other upgrades that may happen every few years such as replacing tyres and so on.

It may be wise to consider the ongoing maintenance and repair costs for your motorhome as you would when purchasing a property. The newer the vehicle, the more you’ll likely pay upfront, but the maintenance and repair costs tend to be lower. Buying a ‘fixer-upper’ may mean you get a great deal upfront, but you should plan to spend more on maintenance and repairs to ensure your vehicle is comfortable and roadworthy.

Estimated costs: Motorhome servicing can start from $345 for a minor service, plus any extra work needed. So you may want to budget for around $800+ per year to keep your motorhome in tip-top shape, plus have a little contingency for any additional repairs. For more information about preventing motorhome depreciation, check out our motorhome depreciation guide.


3. Insurance 

Since a recreational vehicle is not considered a dwelling for insurance purposes, people who live or travel in them do not need homeowners or flood insurance. However, since an RV is a vehicle, owners do need to purchase automobile insurance. Insuring your motorhome is a sure way to safeguard your investment against damage and theft.

This being said, insurance prices tend to be very reasonable for RVs because most people only use RVs for short periods of time. It is supposed that it is less likely that they will have accidents in these shorter timeframes.

Estimated costs: This will depend on the value of your motorhome. According to Finder Australia, the average cost to insure a motorhome ranges from several hundred dollars to over $1000 per year. It will also depend on what kind of premiums you set for your policy, and your claims history.


4. Storage


internal storage motorhome

Purchasing a motorhome is a significant investment, so it’s important to protect your asset. When you’re not using your RV, it is recommended to store it in a safe storage facility. This can be your backyard or on your street, but for most, this will be a storage unit. There are a wide variety of options when it comes to storage units for motorhomes from regular enclosed lots, to undercover security units. Overall, it is recommended that you store your vehicle in an undercover area when not in use, where possible. This will protect your vehicle from the elements and give your motorhome the very best chance of minimising depreciation over time.

Estimated costs: Beacon Storage estimates that storing a motorhome for 12 months will cost approximately $1,080 per year. This of course will vary depending on the size of your motorhome, and the type of storage/security unit you choose. For more on storage and parking your campervan, check out our guide to parking your campervan in Australia.


5. Lifestyle and travel expenses 

Easily one of the best expenses to account for when buying a motorhome - travel expenses. Lifestyle and travel expenses include the price of fuel for the journey and the cost of parking in holiday parks when you arrive at your destination. Also, don’t forget other potential extras such as paying to access fresh water or electricity (this can be common in outback areas where water is more scarce). These are some of the best expenses, as these are the ones that will have you exploring the country in your new rig. However, they are still considered in the lifetime costs of owning a motorhome, so should be accounted for.

Estimated costs: Overall, these costs will ultimately depend on the way you choose to live in your camper, where you go and how far/fast you travel. Things like eating out frequently and travelling long distances in a short period of time will impact this greatly. There are plenty of ways to save on the road too, from preparing your own meals to utilising free camping sites between holiday park stays.


6. Onselling costs 

When buying a motorhome, it's a good idea to consider if you hope to resell it one day. This will affect the kind of motorhome you buy, as well as how you take care of it while you own it. If you don’t look after your motorhome, it will depreciate quicker, which will affect its resale value.

Most people do not realize that the biggest loss they generally take is what they get for their RV at the point of sale because of depreciation, continually dropping values and costs involved in selling. One easy way to keep costs down when selling your RV is by buying from a trusted brand and then trading in your motorhome.

Estimated costs: If you choose to do a private sale, this may include fees or missed work opportunities to show the vehicle, getting the vehicle to the new owner, dropping the price to sell and so on. Trading in your motorhome will mitigate a lot of these costs by putting these in the hands of the dealer. For more information on trading in your motorhome, check out our guide to trading in your motorhome in Australia.


How to know if motorhome ownership is right for you? 


One of the most important questions when buying a motorhome is if it will suit your needs. If you want to explore new parts of the country with everything you need at your fingertips, you’ll love travelling in a motorhome. However, it's a big investment, so it pays to be sure that you will enjoy the lifestyle before you invest.

At KEA, you can try before you buy. This allows you to rent a van through thl, who own and operate the popular motorhome rental companies maui, Britz and Mighty. That way, if you have never travelled in a motorhome, or just simply can't decide on which motorhome is right for you - you will have a good idea of motorhome travel and what campervan layout you may enjoy. If you choose to buy a KEA motorhome within three months of ‘trying before buying’, then we will give your rental cost back! Easy as that.


KEA motorhome scenic

Get started with KEA 


The true cost of owning a motorhome is more than just buying an RV. It’s important to understand the costs involved in running a motorhome. These costs can include anything from maintenance and storage to lifestyle. However, at the end of the day you must also account for the value of the opportunities for travel and ease that a motorhome can give. That really is priceless.

Ready to get started with KEA? Then be sure to check out our range of campervans for sale and chat with one of our KEA certified dealers today. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all things motorhome buying, and will happily answer any questions you may have!

Already a motorhome owner and looking to trade in or service your motorhome? With over 25 years in the motorhome industry, we have you covered. We offer a range of servicing options to help you protect and keep your investment running smoothly. When you’re ready for an upgrade or a change, we are happy to help. Chat with one of our KEA team today in-store or online, about trading in your motorhome for the KEA difference.