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The only use for an RV used to be the ability to upgrade from a tent and camp in style. It was a way to bring modern conveniences into your outdoor adventure – complete with your own bathroom, mini kitchen, and off the ground, private sleeping area! It was just that simple.
It might have been that simple 10 years ago, but fast forward to today, and RV uses have grown dramatically. RVs are not just for camping anymore. So many are getting creative in how they are using their RV. Don’t keep your RV in a storage lot and pay a monthly rate when you could turn it into an income-producing vehicle or find a way to save money while using it.
1. Use your RV as a home office with these 2 options
You can save money a few ways by using your RV as a home office. If you can work remotely, you will save money on your commute by using your RV to work in.
Stationary home office
People are working from home now more than ever before. It has been an uncomfortable situation getting adjusted to a new way to do the same job for many. It has also forced people to find a quiet, productive space to work that is not the kitchen table. Put a spouse and some kids in the mix, and it’s time to get creative.
RVs are the perfect solution because they create privacy, functionality and decrease noise. They are self-contained with their own restroom, break room (the kitchen), and working area (the dining table or a desk), making them an ideal alternative to working from your home.
When working in an office, you usually have your own dedicated space. With an RV, you get that and more—an area to make your own, free of outside distractions and interruptions. And you will save money on your commute to your driveway or backyard.
A backyard office is a great place to start your own business and save you the cost of renting expensive office space. Jeremiah Owyang, a tech analyst in Silicon Valley, purchased a 22-foot Airstream RV with this in mind. He parked it in his backyard and equipped it for his business needs which included video conferencing. Local office space was being leased for at least $2,000 a month. Instead, he got a 30-year-loan on his Airstream Sport Trailer for only $370 monthly.
“I own it. I can claim it as a business deduction and re-sell it at some point in the future,” says Owyang.
Even though Owyang will not be cruising down the road with his Airstream like most, he saves money by using it as a business investment. He may also be able to deduct some of his expenses because it’s a separate, private space to conduct business. It just happens to be in his backyard, and he owns it.
Rolling home office
While Jeremiah uses his Airstream as a stationary home office in his backyard, we use our RV as a rolling office to work remotely from wherever we travel to.
This required creativity since we use the RV for multiple purposes: living, eating, socializing, and traveling down the road. If you plan to use your RV as an office, determine your needs for the office space by envisioning your daily work routine and your living routine if you are a full-time RVer. Does it need to be an area with a door because you are recording podcasts or having many conference calls? Will a simple desk area work? Can it have a dual purpose like working during the day and eating area at night?
I am happy to report; we are saving a lot of money by choosing to live and work remotely from our RV. We don’t have all the normal living expenses that accompany living in a sticks and bricks home. We don’t pay for a commute either.
Our rolling home office renovation
Here is how we use our RV as a home office. We made some renovations to create a dual-purpose space in the back of our fifth wheel. Office by day and lounging/entertaining area by night. For related information check out this post, Tips for Living and Working in a Tiny Space.
I work from our new desk in the back of the RV. There is also a recliner for socializing and watching TV. The desk chair can be used for seating by guests when turned around. The best part for me is the ever-changing views out the back window.
My husband Craig also works from the RV, and he uses our dining table. Isn’t he the sweetest to let me have the cool view?
To make the experience quieter and private for both of us, we can’t live without our wireless noise-canceling headphones for video conferences and phone calls.
Many RV manufacturers are catching on to the home office trend and installing desks in their newer models – standard or an option.
If you are on the road or stationary and looking for that deduction for a home office, remember to consult with your tax advisor. To get the deduction, if you are living in the RV full-time, you most likely need a dedicated space with a door – in a converted bunk room, for example.
2. Use your RV as a guest suite
Is your RV not being used at all and parked in your driveway or your yard? If so, another use for your RV is to turn it into a private guest suite. Who wouldn’t want to visit you when they have the opportunity to enjoy some quiet time, along with their own bathroom, a seating area, and a mini-kitchen!
This is even more ideal if you have available hook-ups such as electricity, water, and a connection to the sewer. If you own your property, these are easy modifications to make if not already available.
Using your RV as a guest suite can save you the cost of buying a new home if you don’t have the room or making modifications to an existing home.
3. Use your RV as a source of extra income
Like using your RV as a guest suite, you can turn your RV into an Airbnb rental and make some money! You can list for FREE on Airbnb and charge what you want using provided tools based on rentals in your area. Airbnb also provides a host guarantee for added protection of property damage and liability for peace of mind.
Another way that your RV can earn you income is to rent it on a platform like RVshare. RVshare is free to join with the opportunity to earn up to $40,000 in a year. It makes me wish I wasn’t using my RV full-time because the rental market right now is limitless based on the new surge of RV travel this year. You can also offer a delivery option within a certain mile radius of your home if you do not want the added stress of someone driving or towing your rig.
A similar reputable platform for listing your RV for rent is Outdoorsy. You set your rates and your RV rental calendar.
I hope my trailers get people outside, make them smile, and help them learn how to vacation with less money.Michelle Boyle, Outdoorsy RV owner
4. Use your RV to tailgate and as a hotel at events
While this is not a new use for an RV, it is worth a reminder. Many sporting events, concerts, and other group activities are the perfect place to take your RV. Your RV will provide shelter from a storm or a comfortable place to cool down on a hot summer day while waiting for your event to begin when hanging with a group of friends. Who wouldn’t want to hang with you if you have a bathroom and don’t have to use a portapotty?
Since there are normally no hook-ups at these types of gatherings, having a generator comes in handy to provide electric for AC or cooking food and keeping it refrigerated.
Last year we attended a 3-day music festival featuring the Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington state. We had been to this breathtaking amphitheater previously, but this was the first time we actually had our “home” with us, and it was an amazing experience. Before the event, we upgraded to lithium batteries and installed solar panels to be self-sufficient. We only ran the generator occasionally during the hot days to keep the cats and us cool.
Compared to our previous years at the Gorge, flying there, staying at a hotel, eating out constantly, and driving to and from the event, we saved so much money by taking our RV to the event. We cooked our meals and could enter the event at our leisure.
5. Use your RV as a pop-up business
With some modifications, RVs can be transformed into a mobile retail space. You can use smaller RVs to serve food or as a pop-up storefront, such as coffee shops or retail clothing boutiques.
When considering the space you need for your new retail business, don’t rule out an RV. Initially, the cost to purchase an RV might be more than your monthly lease payment for a storefront. But you will recoup that quickly and pay less in the long run. The RV will be owned unlike the leased space and have the added option to move the business wherever the action is. Just make sure to get the permits and permissions you need wherever you want to set up shop.
6. Find a sponsor for your RV journey
RVs also attract big businesses as sponsors because of the visible advertising space on the RV itself. The sponsor pays you in exchange for a rolling billboard that travels all over the country.
For example, our friends Tina & Eric Oakley are sponsored by Dynamic Discs. The sponsorship means they receive compensation for advertising and promoting the brand throughout the country from their RV, which they live in while on tour playing the sport they love, Professional Disc Golf.
7. Use your RV as a hobby room that could turn into a small business
Not using your RV for travel anymore? Why not turn it into a hobby room otherwise known as a “man cave” or a “she shed.” It would make a great place to host the big game or a fantasy football party for the guys. And the gals might enjoy hosting a book club meeting or knitting circle – complete with the wine, of course.
Where is the money-making aspect of a hobby, you ask? Who knows, maybe this hobby of, let’s say, making jewelry will lead to steady revenue from an online business site in the future.
8. Use your RV as a donation to a charity or someone in need
RV owners stepped up in meaningful ways during the Covid-19 pandemic in the US. A group, RVs 4 MDs, was born on Facebook to support Frontline Healthcare Workers in need. They matched unused RVs with medical professionals to give them a safe place to isolate and/or quarantine after their hospital shifts. In many cases, the RVs were set up in their own driveways. This allowed them to see their families, even if from a distance.
If you have an RV you don’t want or need anymore, many worthwhile non-profits will pick it up for free as a donation. This will give you a warm feeling knowing you helped others in need along with securing a tax deduction.
Is there something I missed? Please share in the comments.