Long term and cost effective RV use

Travel Forums North America Long term and cost effective RV use

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1. Posted by Butterflyk15535 (Budding Member 11 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Hi all :)
I'm wanting to road trip for 6 months through the United States and I'm looking for a cost effective way to do so preferably in an RV.
As far as time goes, buying is definitely more cost effective than renting/hiring but it comes with the issues of registration and insurance. (any tips on how to navigate that would be great) . But my main question is if anyone know of any backpacker trade/swap/ pass on forums or sites that I could score a cheap rv from like minded people and pass it on the same way at the end. I've googled for months and I can't seem to find what I'm after so any tips or referrals would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks guys :)

2. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 789 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Are you in the USA?

There are quite a few RV'ers on YouTube.
Some of them appear to give some good advice on where to be, when and other info like what you can and can't do.
I'm sure I've heard them mention stuff like where they bought their RVs as well.
Search 'RV Life', 'Skoolie Life', 'Van Life' and when you get past the 'Look at me - I'm a lifestyle leader' vloggers, there are lots of helpful and informed people on there.

3. Posted by goodfish (Full Member 170 posts) 8w 1 Star this if you like it!

Right. It would help to know what your citizenship is - potential visa issues there - as well as your age.

Additionally - and this is no reflection on the helpfulness of TP members - I'd suggest posting your question on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum and doing some back research there for previous, similar questions. There have been quite a number of those on that forum.

I can tell you in advance that you'll be warned about purchasing "cheap" vehicles that could end up costing you significant amounts of $$ in breakdown repairs. You'll also be advised about the true cost of RV'ing: what the insurance, the gas, the campground fees, etc. can add up to be. A reliable sedan/SUV and a tent can be more cost efficient. Also, depending on where you intend to go, an all-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle can get into some places that RVs can't.

Anyway, here's just one thread on the road-trip vehicle buy/sell/register/costs subject. While not all of it may be applicable to your situation, you'll get the general idea?

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-united-states-of-america/united-states/advice-sought-regarding-how-to-buy-a-car-in-north-america-as-a-foreigner

4. Posted by road to roam (Respected Member 143 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Some of the obvious social media platforms like, facebook and instagram, are full of niche groups. If trying to establish a base of contacts through social media sounds too daunting, try the website ioverlander. That was a great resources for us as we toured across the US and Mexico for a year and a half in our van. We still live out of that van in between house sitting gigs.

Quoting Butterflyk15535

As far as time goes, buying is definitely more cost effective than renting/hiring but it comes with the issues of registration and insurance. (any tips on how to navigate that would be great)

What insurance and reg. issues are you referring to exactly? Cost? Your not being from the States? Buying a vehicle in the states and keeping it street legal will be tough to impossible without a status beyond "visitor"

However, we have met many RV folks in the states and Mexico who import their vehicles from Europe, so that is always a possibility. Need more info from you...

We had to get Mexican insurance from a Mexican company and we were able to arrange that on line from the US, so if where you are at the moment causes you concern, I am certain you will find a solution on the interweb.

Believe it or not RV insurance can be....can be cheaper than you think - depending on the size of the rig. Insurance companies adjust the price of coverage based on the fact RVs generally aren't used on a day-to-day basis like your sedan and they sit idle for the majority of the coverage period. I am not saying it is a bargain, but it can be less than you would think.

What size RV? Just you? When?

All the above questions aside:
Cost effective ways abound out there. You can build your own rig, or buy one that someone has already modified - those can be a great deal. These can range from retired school buses to vans.

Many RV companies put their builds on top of Toyota pick-ups in the early to mid 80's and those things are tanks! You can get a good one for about $3500 or less and they are perfect for 2 or 3 people.

If you can buy one here, look for RV's in the southwest and western states - they tend to see less corrosion and more temperate climates, so they are generally in better shape.

Quoting goodfish

Additionally - and this is no reflection on the helpfulness of TP members - I'd suggest posting your question on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum and doing some back research there for previous, similar questions. There have been quite a number of those on that forum.

Agree. Not too many RV or vanlife folk here, but i'd love to have a bit more info on your plans - based on what they are I may be able to shed some light on things for you.

5. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1051 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Most important, we need to know your citizenship. Help us to help you.

6. Posted by Butterflyk15535 (Budding Member 11 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Sorry guys I haven't read through all your comments yet but first things first I am Australian and will be travelling on a tourist visa. I will be 21. will upload more answers if I find anymore questions
Thank you!!!

7. Posted by Butterflyk15535 (Budding Member 11 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Andrew Mack thank you for the tip will definitely watch some vlogs :)
Goodfish I will get onto lonely planet sounds like a good place to start! And yeah not looking the scary cheap just not brand new. I'm still considering car and tent but I camped around Europe and amazing as it was I would like a more chill and Permanent set up for this long period of time.
Road to roam the issues I'm talking about are along the lines of logistics and legality of buying registering and insuring on a tourist visa. I'm looking at 25 foot maximum as I want to be able to park it in more metropolitan areas. Im the only one that's going to be there the whole 6 months but I do have other people coming and going for parts of the trip so I want something 3 sleeper minimum.

8. Posted by Dymphna (Full Member 134 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

I would look at what it costs in different states to put plates on the vehicle. Oregon might be a good look. Different states cost different amounts. Some states you have to do it annually, so they have lower rates. With campers, some states have permanent plates, so they never have to be renewed, as in Montana, so they are going to be higher for a short time ownership.

Once you figure out where you are going to put the plates on. Look through Craig's list or on Facebook for that area. You can often find some screaming deals on there.

9. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 789 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

You may have problems getting insurance for an RV if you're only 21.

10. Posted by road to roam (Respected Member 143 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Sounds like you will soon be 21. Regardless, this idea you have WILL come down to the address the state AND the insurance company will require from you. Period.

Purchasing a vehicle will not be a problem if you pay in cash. Several states, believe it or not, require you have a valid drivers license in the state you wish to purchase your vehicle. So, where you make your purchase will have it's own happy little rules to follow.

however.....

I believe the real nuts and bolts for insurance and reg. comes down to having an address in the US. The state where you must register the vehicle will require this, often with proof from a utility bill or rental lease from your indicated domicile - solid proof you live there.

You don't register a vehicle in a state without being deemed a resident of that state. States have different meanings for who is considered a resident - usually based on how long you have lived there. ALL of those require an address.

In certain cases - especially if you buy from a private seller rather than a dealer - you may have to get a mechanic to inspect it at some point and you must pay for repairs that need to be made. This requires proof of insurance and a current reg....which you can only get with an address.

This sounds like it can be a tough up-hill battle....

Sadly, just wanting to be insured and to register a vehicle so you can do the right and proper thing comes with rules piled-up on top of that. Have you considered other ways of getting around the US?

[ Edit: Edited on 26-Feb-2019, at 17:48 by road to roam ]