Remember when the only use for your RV was to take it in the woods to camp in luxury? It was (and still is) a budget-friendly option where you didn’t have to sleep on the ground or get wet when it rained. An RV provided the added bonus of bringing some modern conveniences from home – your own bathroom, mini-kitchen and sleeping area! It was as simple as that!
Fast forward to today and the uses for an RV have grown dramatically. RVs are not just for camping vacations any more. You paid good money (or will) for your RV so it’s time to get more from your investment.
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Use your RV as a home office – 2 options
Stationary home office
People are working from home now more than ever before. For some it has been an uncomfortable situation getting adjusted to a new way to do the same job. It has also forced people find a quiet, productive space to work from that is not the kitchen table. Put a spouse and some kids into the equation 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 rest room, break room (the kitchen) and working area (the dining table or a desk) which makes 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.
Jeremiah Owyang, a tech analyst in Silicon Valley, bought a 22-foot Airstream RV. He parked it in his back yard, and equipped it for his work needs which included video conferencing. Local office rentals were charging at least $2,000 a month. Instead, he got a 30-year-loan on his Airstream Sport Trailer for $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.
Owyang will not be cruising with his Airstream on the open road. Instead of using it for it’s intended travel purpose, he’s made it a permanent office in the backyard.
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 requires a little more creativity since we (and many others) also use the RV for living, eating, socializing and traveling down the road. If you are planning to use your RV as an office on the road, take your own needs into consideration. Does it need to be an area with a door because you are recording podcasts or can it just be a desk area? Can it have dual purpose like working during the day and eating area at night?
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.
The new space provides a desk for working along with a seat for socializing and watching TV. The desk chair can also be used for seating by guests when turned around. In order to make it as private as possible, headphones should be used for video conferences and phone calls. Who wouldn’t want the variety of ever changing views while working?
Many RV manufacturers are catching on and adding desks to their current models – either standard or as 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, you most likely have to have a dedicated space with a door – in a converted bunk room for example.
Use your RV as a guest suite
Is your RV parked in your driveway or in your yard? If so, you can use your RV as a guest suite. Who wouldn’t want to come visit you when they have the opportunity to have privacy, their own bathroom and a mini-kitchen!
This is even more ideal if you can provide hook-ups such as electric, water and a connection to sewer. If you own your property, these are easy modifications to make if not already available.
Use your RV as a source of extra income
Similar to 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. For peace of mind, Airbnb also provides a host guarantee for added protection of property damage and liability.
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. 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.
Use your RV to tailgate or like 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 because who wouldn’t want to hang with you if you have a bathroom!
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. We had upgraded to lithium batteries and installed solar panels so we were able to be self sufficient. We only ran the generator occasionally during the hot days to keep us and the cats cool.
Use your RV as a business or brand sponsorship
With some modifications, RVs have many business uses. Smaller RVs are used as food trucks or storefronts for pop-up businesses such as coffee shops or retail clothing.
RVs also attract big businesses as sponsors because of the visible advertising space on the RV itself. 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.
Use your RV as a hobby room
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 wine of course.
Use your RV as a donation to a charity or someone in need
RV owners stepped up in meaningful ways during our current 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 still see their families even though from a distance.
If you have an RV you don’t want or need anymore, there are many worthwhile non-profits who will come 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. Here is a list of numerous organizations in need that support veterans, children, animals and many others.