Where Is The Cheapest Place To Buy An RV?
Buying an RV is a big purchase, and it may even be one of the biggest ones you’ll make in your life. So, of course, you want to do everything you can to keep the costs down. But where are RVs the cheapest?
Although the price of the RV itself won’t change much from place to place, the other costs you pay will. Taxes, fees, and more can all add up to make a big purchase even bigger.
So, what affects the final cost of your RV? And where is the cheapest state to buy an RV? Let’s take a look.
What affects the cost of an RV?
When you buy an RV, you’ll have to pay more than just the sticker price. Taxes, title and registration fees, and insurance costs are all factors in where to buy a cheap RV.
Like almost anything else you buy, purchasing an RV means paying sales taxes. The exact tax rate varies from state to state, and you may also have to pay sales taxes to your county or municipality.
In addition to sales taxes, your state and/or local government may levy personal property taxes on your RV. These are based on the full value of your RV or some percentage of the full value.
Title and registration fees
When you purchase an RV, you’re required to get a title for it that proves ownership as well as register it to be on the road. To do so, you’ll have to pay some fees. RV registration fees and rules vary from state to state.
Title and registration fees are typically one of the following:
- Flat rate – Meaning the same price regardless of your vehicle’s weight, value, etc.
- Weight based – Trailers in particular frequently have weight-based fees.
- Value-based – A certain percentage of your vehicle’s value.
- Age-based – The age of the vehicle, not the driver/occupant. Typically, the older the vehicle, the less you pay, while brand new vehicles pay the maximum price.
In addition to title and registration, every state requires you to get auto insurance to be street legal. Each state sets its own minimum insurance requirements. Because of this and other factors, the exact costs of auto insurance vary depending on where you live.
The most expensive state for insurance is Louisiana, with an average cost of $2,839 a year. The cheapest is Maine, with an average of $858.
How do you register an RV in another state?
When looking at where to buy a cheap RV, one option is to purchase and register it in a different state than you live in. Registering an RV in a different state is generally possible, and many people do it to save money.
Registering an RV in another state is almost always done in Montana because they have fairly lax laws that permit it. However, this is not without its risks. Many states don’t take kindly to registering your RV in another state, even if it’s legal there. In fact, officials in Minnesota have even cracked down on people registering their vehicles in another state.
So, if you do decide to register your RV in Montana via an LLC, you should check the rules in your state first. Alternatively, you can establish a domicile in another state to take advantage of the low taxes and fees there.
Where are RVs the cheapest?
Now that we know about the factors affecting price, let’s answer the question “where is the cheapest state to buy an RV?” Here are the top 3 cheapest states.
Where are RVs the cheapest? Most people agree that the answer is Montana.
For one, Montana has no state sales tax, and only three counties levy any sales taxes of their own. Montana also does not levy any personal property taxes on RVs. And as an added bonus, they don’t require any vehicle inspections to register vehicles.
But what really takes Montana to the top spot, as previously mentioned, is you don’t have to live in Montana to register an RV there. You just need to create an LLC, which several different services can help you do.
All told, the process of creating an LLC and registering your RV in Montana will run around $1,000. While this may seem like a hefty price, it’s outweighed by the tax savings.
After Montana, the next cheapest state to buy an RV is South Dakota.
Their sales tax is one of the lowest in the country at only 4%. They also don’t charge any personal property taxes on RVs. South Dakota also has the benefit of low registration fees, low insurance rates, and no state income tax.
You’ll need to establish South Dakota residency to register an RV there. Thankfully, another benefit of South Dakota is that it’s one of the easiest states to establish residency. A single night at an RV park there will be enough to get you started.
Another great place to buy a cheap RV is Texas.
The Lone Star State has no income tax or personal property tax, nor do they have an inheritance or estate tax. On top of this, Texas has fairly low title and registration fees, and its sales tax is low at 6.25%.
It’s also the headquarters of the Escapees RV Club. So if you decide to set up your Texas residency and buy your RV there, you’ll be in good company.
Now you know where to buy a cheap RV!
When you buy your RV, the total cost will depend on taxes, title and registration fees, and insurance costs. And because every state has different rates for its taxes and fees, some states are much cheaper than others.
So, now you know everything you need to know about where to buy a cheap RV. That means you’re one step closer to getting your RV and getting on the road!
RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.
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Jennifer lives with her husband in a 29′ trailer in Mexico. She is one half of DashboardDrifters.com and the founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers. Jennifer Jennings has been RVing for 2+ years and writing about the RV and Van Life for 2+ years. Jennifer specializes in topics such as Lifestyle, van life, campgrounds features, destination features, and product lists.
12 thoughts on “Where Are RVs The Cheapest?”
Texas does NOT allow you to register anywhere but Texas if that is your legal residence. You only have 30 days before penalties occur to obtain new Texas registration.
Also- Don’t BUY a new RV in Texas us you want to come back to have warranty service done where you bought it. An obscure Texas law requires all warranty work to be done where you purchased it (or in Texas) Fortunately for us, we purchased a NEW rv in Arizona and titled it in our home state of Texas. Our refrigerator didn’t work from the start so instead of needing it to stay for months at a Texas dealership, we were able to have the repairs done at a factory authorized dealer in New Mexico- we never had to leave our unit except for overnight while the issue was documented, and then for 2 nights (3 weeks later) while repairs were being made.
This is just plain wrong: “…the price of the RV itself won’t change much from place to place…”
A quick google search and I can see up to $6k list price difference across the country for trailers in the $20k-$30k range. That’s a major difference, and worth traveling to buy a camper.
I believe that the title of this article is somewhat misleading. It should read “Where is the Least Expensive Place to Title and Register an RV”. It would require further research to determine where you can purchase new or used RVs at the lowest cost. I will look forward to that article in the future. In addition, to estsblish residency in another state may have additional costs/ obligations/legal implications associated with it such as: drivers license, mail box, mail forwarding, voting, etc. I suggest that you consider true total costs before determining what is the best approach.
Two points you did not mention about Montana motor home registration. MH’s with a MSRP in excess of $300K are dinged a hefty $800.00 per yer fee in addition to their annual registration charge. Vehicles over 10 years pay a one time small (comparatively speaking) permanent registration fee and, thereafter no further annual fees.
I find transportation cost to be a significant factor in RV price. I bought in Indiana. Dealer was just a few miles from the factory. Got a much better price than buying back home in Delaware.
Does it make a difference the time of year your buy in the south or north states? Out of season in the south and north respectively?
I live in Missouri and know people that have been prosecuted for doing the Montana registration thing. They had to pay all of the sales tax plus personal property taxes, and a fine. I’m not sure I would be recommending that to everyone.
Can I buy an RV in Motana and buy it’ insurance from Maine?
I don’t think so. You have to be consistent.
It’s usually best to buy locally, if possible. It can be hard to get your RV serviced locally if you bought it from a dealer 2,000 miles away. Most dealers charge $20 to $30 an hour if you didn’t buy your RV from them. And, it’s a lot harder to get warranty work done from the non selling dealer.
hmmmm . . .
We bought a 2014 Voltage 36′ 5th wheel two years ago. We have homes in NH and TX. We did the math and found it cheaper to register and insure the RV in NH than TX!! You may want to check a little further.
We decided against MT even though friends of ours are doing that –When we researched this approach there were several other states besides MN that were going after trailers registered there: I think that FL and MA were two others that popped up in our research.
What ? You forgot Florida ,, heavens waiting room ! We got so many rv s it would take a year easy to look at them all !!!