The Tiny house Blog

Unveiling the True Cost of an RV Renovation

Updated on:
October 2, 2023
tiny house rv

View Ram ProMaster by Mango Vans

Are you exhausted from the daily grind and craving a life filled with adventure and liberty on the open highway? If so, you're not alone. Many individuals are swapping their traditional residences for the excitement of RV living. However, before you take the leap, it's crucial to comprehend the financial aspects of bus conversion, the benefits of RV living, and where you can locate a renovated RV for sale. In this comprehensive article, we'll walk you through every aspect, from the beginning to the end.

The Basics of RV Renovation

Before you take the leap, this is your comprehensive guide to understanding RV renovation. Just like fitting together pieces of a jigsaw, it demands your time, skills, and of course, money. Plus, a clear picture upfront helps avoid the kind of budgeting blunders that’ll have you cringe later.

When it comes to cash, brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride. It’s all about managing the flip side of those RV renovation expectations. Often, the reality check might be steeper than you think, stripping aside the veneer to unveil the true cost of an RV renovation.

The Cost of RV Renovation

Here’s the real deal: the cost of RV renovation varies broadly. Are you envisioning a scarlet splashback or roof windows that open up to stargaze? Maybe a luxe enclave with stylish interiors? All these individual customization choices play a big role in determining the RV renovation cost.

Setting out on the bus conversion journey commences with acquiring a used bus or van, which serves as the canvas for your mobile abode. The cost of this initial investment can fluctuate considerably due to numerous factors:

1. Selection of Vehicle

The primary step is selecting the foundation vehicle for your conversion venture. Common options include school buses, transit vans, and older tour buses. Prices can range from a few thousand dollars for a pre-owned van to tens of thousands for a larger, more spacious bus.

2. Condition

The condition of the vehicle plays a significant role in costs. If you come across a used bus or van in good condition, you'll save on repair and renovation expenses. Conversely, if the vehicle requires extensive work, be prepared to allocate a larger portion of your budget to repairs.

3. Size and Features

The dimensions and features you desire in your RV will notably impact the expenses. Are you interested in a minimalist setup with only the essentials, or are you envisioning a lavish, fully-equipped residence on wheels? Customized features such as solar panels, premium appliances, and high-quality furnishings can significantly increase the total cost.

4. DIY vs. Professional Conversion

Many aspiring RV owners opt for a do-it-yourself (DIY) conversion to save money. While this can be cost-effective, it demands time, skills, and effort. Alternatively, hiring professionals can streamline the process but comes with additional expenditures.

5. Materials and Accessories

Renovating an RV involves acquiring materials like insulation, flooring, cabinets, and appliances. These costs can fluctuate based on your choice of materials and brands. Premium materials can enhance comfort and durability but can also elevate expenses.

6. Labor Costs

If you are not handling all the conversion work yourself, you'll need to allocate a budget for labor costs if you decide to hire professionals. This may include electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and painters.

In summary, the cost of RV renovation can span a wide range, from a modest sum for a basic, DIY conversion to more than $100,000 for a high-end, professionally-constructed RV.

tiny house ram promaster interior
View Ram ProMaster by Mango Vans

The Cost of RV Living

Now that you possess your renovated RV, it's time to embark on your journey. While the freedom and excitement of RV living are enticing, it's essential to consider the ongoing costs tied to this lifestyle:

1. Fuel

RVs are not known for their fuel efficiency. Depending on the size and type of RV, anticipate spending anywhere from $0.10 to $0.30 per mile on fuel. It's essential to incorporate fuel expenses into your travel plans.

2. Campground Fees

Unless you intend to boondock (camping without hookups), you'll need to budget for campground fees. Prices can vary based on location and amenities, ranging from $20 to $60 or more per night.

3. Maintenance and Repairs

Like any vehicle, RVs necessitate regular maintenance and occasional repairs. Set aside funds for routine tasks such as oil changes, tire replacements, and unforeseen fixes. Maintenance costs can average around $1,000 to $2,000 per year.

4. Insurance

RV insurance costs hinge on factors like the RV type, its value, and your driving history. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 annually for RV insurance.

5. Food and Supplies

While RV living enables you to cook in your own kitchen, you'll still need to budget for groceries and supplies. Expenses can vary widely depending on your dining habits and whether you choose to eat out.

6. Utilities

If you opt to stay in campgrounds offering hookups, you may encounter additional charges for electricity, water, and sewer connections. These fees can accumulate over time.

7. Licensing and Registration

Each state imposes its own regulations and fees for RV licensing and registration. Allocate funds for these expenses, which can range from several hundred to over a thousand dollars annually.

8. Entertainment and Activities

Part of the allure of RV living is exploring new locales and participating in recreational pursuits. Set aside funds for entertainment expenses like park admissions, tours, and outdoor equipment.

The cost of RV living can exhibit substantial variation contingent on your travel style, but a typical monthly budget ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 for most full-time RVers.

Benefits of RV Living

While the expenses associated with bus conversion and RV living can be considerable, they are accompanied by numerous advantages that render the investment worthwhile:

1. Freedom

RV living provides the ultimate freedom to journey wherever and whenever you desire, liberating you from the constraints of a fixed location.

2. Adventure

Every day unfolds as an adventure when you're on the road. You can explore national parks, visit new cities, and immerse yourself in diverse cultures.

3. Cost-Efficiency

Surprisingly, RV living can be more cost-efficient than conventional homeownership. It eliminates mortgage or rent payments and often results in lower utility bills.

4. Minimalism

Downsizing to an RV necessitates simplifying your life and focusing on what truly matters. It's an invigorating experience that fosters a minimalist lifestyle.

5. Connection with Nature

RV living offers the opportunity to be immersed in nature, whether you're parked in a forest or beside the shoreline. It's an ideal lifestyle for nature enthusiasts.

tiny house ram promaster renovated rv
View Ram ProMaster by Mango Vans

Renovated RVs Available for Sale

If the concept of renovating an RV from the ground up seems daunting or you're simply eager to begin your journey without delay, you can explore the market for renovated RV for sale. Several avenues can lead you to these appealing options:

1. Online Marketplaces

Websites such as RVTrader, Craigslist, and eBay frequently feature listings for remodeled RVs. You can filter your search based on price, location, and specific features.

2. RV Dealerships

Certain RV dealers specialize in selling pre-remodeled or custom-crafted RVs. These can be a splendid choice if you desire a professionally remodeled RV without the DIY endeavor.

3. RV Shows and Auctions

Attend RV exhibitions and auctions in your vicinity to uncover an assortment of RVs, including remodeled ones. This enables you to physically examine the RV before making a decision.

4. Social Media and Forums

Join RV enthusiast groups on social media platforms and forums. Members frequently share information regarding RVs available for purchase, including remodeled options.

5. Word of Mouth

Do not underestimate the potency of word-of-mouth referrals. Inform friends, family, and acquaintances of your quest for a remodeled RV. You may stumble upon hidden treasures through personal connections.

Bear in mind that prices for renovated RVs can span a wide spectrum contingent on the extent of the renovations and the quality of the work. It is advisable to meticulously inspect any RV you contemplate acquiring and, whenever possible, arrange for professional inspection to guarantee it aligns with your requirements and is in sound condition.

Some of the renovated RVs for sale include the 1974 Airstream Argosy Travel Trailer, Lilo The Argosy, and the 2015 KZ Sportsmen Travel Trailer. You can still find more about renovated RVs for sale.


Budgeting, decoding, and navigating, they all play a substantial role in shaping the cost of your RV renovations. So, does the world of RV cost all sunshine and rainbows? Probably not. Is an RV renovation worth the price tag? As long as budgeting meets your expectations, absolutely!

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