RV Guide

Renting My RV: Is It Worth It?

renting my RV

You haven’t used it all month, but the RV finance company wants a check just the same. While you rack up vacation days at work, your RV is just sitting there in the driveway. Taunting you. You can’t look at it. Throwing the winter tarp over it doesn’t help, you have to get it out of sight to get it out of mind. You could store it, but that will cost you more money. Or you can rent it out. Make the note payment, maybe more. But is it worth renting my RV?

Can I Cover My Monthly Loan Renting My RV Out?

The wife and I have been pondering that question, too. Let’s run some numbers together and check if renting my RV can indeed cover my monthly loan. I don’t know what your loan payment is each month, but you do, so use that number.

For this article, I’m going to use the number 320, as in, let’s say you owe $320 a month on the RV, for the next 10 years. Let’s say further, that its total value is $32,000, even though adding or taking away zeroes from a number confuses me, and is why I don’t use the metric system.

The question is, can you make $32,000 renting out your RV in its spare time?

Sharing Websites Want You and Promise to Make It worth Your While

According to RV rental websites like RVshare.com, the answer is a resounding yes, complete with testimonials from amazed owners claiming up to $42,000 of income per year. I’m going to cover my bases and say that your experience may differ.

Remember that rental income isn’t guaranteed. You have to compete for it against everyone else on the website. And all the other websites. And everything else in the marketplace.

But hopefully the benefits outweigh the costs for you. Have realistic expectations, and run some numbers yourself. Like this, maybe:

Let’s say after commission, fees, and applicable taxes, you net $100/day for your RV. You rent it, on average, 8 days a month. 8 x $100 = $800. And then you figure $800 – $320 = $480. Not bad.

Chance to Make Money:

You Have To Spend Money to Make Money

The next month, your RV doesn’t rent at all, and as luck would have it, you have to buy new tires for some reason. All four. You get off lucky at about $60/tire, and gladly spend the rest of last month’s profits on the install and shop fees while you try to figure out how to make up the hours from work you missed while you were here buying tires.

You’ll have to dip into your savings to pay the note that month. Oh-oh! Now the roof is leaking. Can’t rent it till that gets fixed. It takes two weeks for the new antenna boot to come in and then it rains on your next four days off. There goes another month of rent.

You’ll have to put money back into it, of course, just like maintaining a rental house. Can you deal with that upkeep? The rentees (as the owner, you are the renter, let’s just clear up that right now, the guests renting your RV from you are the rentees) won’t treat your RV like you do, because they are not you.

Are you okay with that, and to what degree? Does your level comfort depend on who you’re renting it to?

Wait, Who Are These People Anyway?

I rent out stuff to people for a living, and what I’ve seen is that some people Take Care of Stuff types, and some people are the kind who Mess Stuff Up, while most folks fall in the middle of that bell curve at what I think of as having No Real Impact.

Because rental companies can vet their customers, your bell curve may skew to the Take Care of Stuff side. It may be worth the 10% commission and the other fees the company will take.

Most of the time, you are likely to encounter Mess Stuff Up people when dealing with them directly. Those who rent an RV from owners do not have to go through vetting process or worried about reviews/feedback thus the attitude.

At any rate, it’s the cost of doing business with the rental company connecting you to its pool of valuable customers, and for managing the agreements you enter into with them.

Ok, But My RV Got Damaged Even Though the People Seemed Nice

Obviously, you won’t be expected to absorb the cost of damages the RV suffers while rented. The bigger brokers offer RV owners the opportunity to participate in insurance deals to protect their RV and liability.

Insurance fees are charged to the guests as part of their rental agreement, not the RV owner. Again, experiences vary and so do insurance agreements.

Expect something like full replacement cost up to $200,000 and $1 million in liability. Read the agreement, though, and talk to your insurance agent. It’s the RV owner’s responsibility to obtain all the necessary coverage, and what the rental company offers you may not include additional coverages like uninsured/underinsured.

You may have to get some commercial or business insurance to be compliant in your area. If you make a claim, there’ll be a deductible of about $2000, or whatever you agreed to, and expect insurance companies to pay about half what the insured value is. And you may have to fight them to get that, you know how they can be.

Ok, so, insurance, such as it is, is available:

My Time Is My Money

Ok, so, you’re going to have to put in some time beyond clicking away at the website. Like the time it takes for you to prep the RV for rental, greet the guests, welcome back the guests, check the RV for damage, for examples. And you’ll have to keep track of administrative stuff like mileage or generator hours, and any business licensing or taxes required of you.

Routine maintenance on the RV will increase as usage increases – that mileage adds up even if it’s not you putting the miles on it. So how much is your time worth?

Figure your time at the same rate you make at work, just to keep it simple. You can charge whatever you think you can get, really, but just to pick a number out of the air, let’s say $20/hour. If you spend 2 hours working on the RV each time it’s rented, that’s $40, what you’d spend on dinner for the family at the drive-thru.

If you rented your RV for two days and netted $400, that’s a whopping 10%! So don’t pay your kid any more than that to clean the RV for you.

Short prep time

Cheap to clean (if you have kids)

A Few Clicks, a Few Pics, and You’re Done

Posting your RV to a sharing site is fast and easy. Taking good pictures is hard. You’ll need to clean the RV for best effect. Yes, the inside, too! You want it to look good. Keep your personal items out of the pictures, if you’re not renting them along with the camper.

Keep yourself, your reflection, and your shadow out of the shot. Same for sun glare and big shadows falling on your RV. Practice your basic photography skills.

You might as well get a few snaps of pertinent plates and stickers on your RV, like the make/model, the VIN, gross weight and tire specifications. If there’s a sticker somewhere and your kid didn’t put it there, get a picture of it. Save the pictures to their own file on your phone, so they’re easy to find.

You can keep hard copies with the RV owner’s manual you have neatly filed away. You can do all of this in less than an hour’s time. Give yourself twenty dollars.

Get out the label maker and make a few pertinent stickers of your own if needed – DIESEL FUEL ONLY, maybe, or TOTAL VEHICLE HEIGHT IS. Don’t just leave that last one blank like you’re writing some dumb blog, measure it – and don’t skip the stuff on the roof – then include that measurement on the vehicle height sticker. Act like professional. Then pay yourself another $20. Look! You’ve made $40 already!

Easy to get started making money:

Ok, I Won’t Get Rich Renting My RV, Just Bottom Line It for Me

Think about it as offsetting costs you already have, like that RV loan, and don’t pin your hopes of early retirement on weekend rentals. If you can pay the note off of your rental income, then basically, you’re RV camping for free.

Could you lose everything and still owe money? You bet. Will the RV’s value depreciate away even if you never rent it out? You bet.

The simpler the RV is to operate and maintain, the less you’ll spend on maintenance. So that 22-foot travel trailer with no slide-outs and a manual crank on the tongue might be a safe bet. The Class A with a car drawer and dual slide-outs, well, if you own that, you probably don’t need extra rental income.

I’m not giving advice, here. You have to make your own decisions. The money you make may not be worth the peace of mind it costs you to make it. On the other hand, you may not be able to afford the RV any other way.

Good luck!

Joaquin Torrans
the authorJoaquin Torrans
Joaquin and his wife Jennifer own Boiling Springs Resort, a small campground and RV park in the Missouri Ozarks. We lost our home in the great flood of 2017, and afterwards lived in our 28’ Prowler for almost a year – us, our two kids, and our two dogs! We love camp life and love even more sharing its stories.

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