If you are looking to purchase and RV this year, WHERE you buy isn’t an insignificant decision.
Due to the sales tax, insurance, and other fees present in many states, even small “percentages” are big costs on a purchase of this size (and most RVs ARE significant purchases).
In this guide I’ll walk through the factors that drive costs up (both government and market nuances) and list some of the top US states to purchase (if you can).
What Factors affect the Cost of an RV?
First, let’s rundown some of the critical factors that effect the cost of an RV in a particular state.
- Sales Tax: Like any significant purchase, buying an RV incurs sales tax. This tax varies from state to state, and some local regions may also impose additional sales taxes. Collectively, this can significantly inflate the final cost of your RV.
- Registration and Title Fees: Upon purchasing an RV, you’re obliged to obtain a title proving ownership and register it for road use. These processes involve additional fees, which vary from state to state and can be based on factors like the RV’s weight, age, and value.
- Insurance Costs: Every state mandates auto insurance for vehicles to be legally roadworthy. The cost of RV insurance is contingent on various factors, including geographical location, RV type, and personal usage habits. Further Read: Hidden Costs of RV Ownership .
- Proximity to Manufacturers: States closer to RV manufacturing hubs may have lower transportation costs, potentially reducing the retail price.
- Seasonality: In states with pronounced seasonal RV use, prices may fluctuate, with higher costs in peak season and potential discounts in the off-season. For example, Texas and Arizona generally offer great late Summer deals on RVs, more so than other states due to variety of factors.
- Environmental Regulations: States with stricter environmental regulations may have higher costs for RVs that meet these standards.
- Dealer Competition: More competition among RV dealerships in a particular state can lead to better deals and lower prices for consumers.
The Cheapest States to Buy an RV
The final price of an RV can be heavily dictated by the state where it’s bought, given the variation in taxes, fees, and insurance costs. The following states are renowned for their cost-effective RV markets:
1. Montana: Lowest Fees & Taxes
Montana is widely considered the cheapest state to buy an RV, primarily due to its absence of sales tax and personal property taxes on RVs. Moreover, Montana permits non-state residents to register their RVs there via a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
2. South Dakota
South Dakota is another cost-friendly state for prospective RV buyers, boasting low sales tax, affordable insurance rates, and no state income tax. Establishing South Dakota residency to register an RV there is also a relatively straightforward process.
Texas offers an attractive RV market due to its lack of income tax, personal property tax, and reasonable title and registration fees. Its sales tax is also relatively low at 6.25%. Texas also has a very large and competitive dealer market, mean
4. Indiana: Most Competitive Dealer Market
Often considered the RV capital of the world, with manufacturers like Thor Industries and Forest River, Indiana offers a wide selection of RVs at competitive prices due to the high concentration of manufacturers and dealerships.
5. Florida: Best Used Market
Known for its large retiree population and RV-friendly weather, Florida has a competitive market for RV sales, often providing good deals, especially on used models.
Another hidden benefit to buying used in Florida is that the lack of road salt tends to leave RVs in better shape (just similarly be on the lookout for saltwater or flooding damage in coastal areas).
Arizona’s warm climate and popularity among snowbirds make it a hotspot for RV sales, with a considerable market for both new and used RVs.
Similarly, lack of moisture and harsh weather makes the used market particularly resilient (but watch for sun damage on rooftops).
Home to numerous RV shows and dealerships, Minnesota offers a variety of choices and can have lower prices, especially during off-season sales.
8. New Hampshire: Best for Northeast Purchases
If you can’t make it to Texas or out West for an RV purchase (totally understandable, the cost of travel or shipping might outweigh most of the benefits), then NH is a great option in New England (and the wider Northeast) due to it’s lack of sales tax.
The higher the sticker price, the more this make sense. So for Class C RVs this might be even more of cost savings.
The next closest option from NH is Delaware, so for those in NY, PA, NJ, or MD, Delaware is good option for similar reasons to NH.
10. Oregon: Best for Pacific Northwest
With no sales tax, Oregon can be an attractive state for making large purchases like an RV, potentially saving buyers a significant amount of money. It’s the equivalent of NH and Delaware for the Northwest market.
Out-of-State RV Registration Workarounds
While it’s typically feasible to register an RV in a different state than your residence, it’s not without potential pitfalls. For instance, Minnesota officials have been known to clamp down on residents registering their vehicles out of state.
However, establishing a domicile in a tax-friendly state can be a viable strategy for full-time RVers seeking to mitigate costs. South Dakota, for instance, is an appealing choice due to its low insurance costs, minimal sales tax, and absence of personal property taxes.
Buying RVs Online vs In-Store
Online RV marketplaces offer a convenient platform for browsing and comparing a wide variety of RVs from the comfort of your own home. However, they may lack buyer and seller protections offered by traditional marketplaces (this is what you need to watch for).
In-store RV purchases offer the advantage of physically inspecting the vehicle, potentially negotiating a better deal, and having immediate access to after-sales services such as maintenance and repairs.
Often the ability to “negotiate” in person and work the local market is offset by the great marketplace efficiencies of online purchasing (better price comps, e.g. not one model on the lot).
For private party online sales, you can also negotiate online but make the deal contingent on personal onsite inspection. This adds some travel costs, but you could – for example – fly out to the RV location and drive it back.
Personally, I don’t mind online purchasing as an option for experienced buyers & if the marketplace has solid testing / return policy.
Top Online and In-Store Places to Buy RVs
If you are in the market for an RV, there are some local hidden gem dealers for sure, but these are the most widely available national options in most markets.
Some of the widest selection online, RVT.com has something for everyone and is the first place I start and RV search. At the minimum, it’s a great place to see price comps if you find a deal elsewhere.
RVUSA is an online marketplace that connects RV buyers and sellers across the U.S. It offers detailed listings with photos, specifications, and customer reviews. The interface is a bit dated, but its still one of the largest online dealer networks out there.
Lazydays is one of the largest RV dealerships in the U.S, known for its wide selection of RVs, competitive pricing, and excellent customer service.
Lazydays has a great selection of new RVs and is an actual dealership, meaning it’s not a marketplace with many different brokers. There’s pros and cons to this. More limited inventory, but higher quality service and ease of purchasing.
RV Trader is a popular online marketplace connecting RV buyers and sellers. It guarantees a large inventory and verified sellers, ensuring a secure buying experience.
RV Universe is a dealership that provides a range of RVs, financing options, and after-sales services. Their extensive inventory of parts and accessories makes them a one-stop shop for RVers.
As the nation’s largest RV dealer, Camping World offers an extensive selection of RVs, competitive pricing, and excellent after-sales services.
Bish’s RV is a family-owned dealership known for its quality RVs, competitive pricing, and excellent customer service. They offer financing options and a one-year warranty on all pre-owned RVs.
PPL Motor Homes is the largest RV consignment dealer in the U.S, offering a wide variety of RVs and expert advice.
Facebook Marketplace is a free platform where sellers can post listings of their RVs for potential buyers. However, it lacks the buyer and seller protections found in other online marketplaces. Buyer beware an not advised for first time buyers.
Pop RVs offer a wide variety of RVs and a smooth buying process. They provide detailed information and photos of each RV, ensuring an informed and confident purchase.
Indy RV Expo is Indiana’s largest RV show, offering a great opportunity for buyers to explore a wide variety of RVs from different manufacturers, dealers, and models.
Final Note on the Best States to Buy an RV
As you can see from my list, there’s 10 solid states for saving money on RV purchases.
It’s hard to rank them perfectly, as each state has little details that might set it apart for you. For example, saving on tax and registration is great, but only if there’s a competitive market for the particular RV model you are looking for.
Furthermore, if you live in the Northeast, trekking to Texas or Arizona might not be a feasible or cost effective option in the long run, even if it saves you money on the purchase price. That said, if you can make it to a nearby state that’s on this list and more favorable that the one you reside in, it’s generally well worth it to consider.