Owning an RV can feel like a dream come true for many folks. It promises epic road trips, camping at beautiful spots, and the freedom to live life on wheels.
But be warned, RVs come with steep price tags and various taxes and fees. We’ve listed the main things you should know to figure out the best place to buy an RV.
Best State to Buy an RV: Things to Consider
Several things matter when choosing the best place to buy an RV, not just the sticker price.
To figure out the real costs of owning your RV, you’ll need to think about things like taxes, registration fees, and cost of living, which can vary a ton from state to state.
Here are the main things to consider when deciding the best state to purchase an RV:
Registration and License Plate Fees
Registering and getting license plates is a must for driving the RV legally. These fees vary depending on where you live, and they can determine the best state to buy an RV.
Some states make you pay every year to renew, while others give you a break. Same goes for one-time registration costs. And if you want a stylish vanity plate, be prepared to shell out extra.
If you’re buying an RV out-of-state, no worries. You can get a temporary tag from the seller’s DMV to drive it home. It will save you an extra trip.
Some “concession states” let you register an out-of-state RV right in your home state. One of these states could possibly be the best place to buy a camper (but there are other factors too):
- North Dakota
- New York
Sales and Other Taxes
Taxes are about as exciting as getting a root canal. But I’ll break it down so you know what to expect.
First up is sales tax. The rate differs by state, usually from 4% to 7%. Even if you purchase your RV out of state, you’ll probably end up paying the sales tax for where you live. The best state to buy an RV would be one with a low sales tax rate.
Here is a comparison table of the sales tax rates you need to pay when buying an RV in some states of USA:
|State||Sales Tax Rate||Notes|
|Alaska||0%||No sales tax on RVs|
|Delaware||0%||No sales tax on RVs|
|Montana||0%||No sales tax on RVs|
|New Hampshire||0%||No sales tax on RVs|
|Oregon||0%||No sales tax on RVs|
|Kansas||7.3% to 8.775%|
When you register the trailer, you might also need to pay an “ad valorem” tax. That simply means they’ll tax you based on what your vehicle is valued at. And if it’s your main residence, some states will charge you yearly property taxes on it just like they would on a house.
Some states make you pay property taxes on your RV every year, just like you would with a regular old house. How much you pay depends on where you live and what your RV is worth.
About 11 states charge RV property tax at the state level. Then, in 16 other states, local cities or counties can tax your RV. So, in over half the country, your RV gets taxed in some way. The cheapest state to buy an RV would be the ones where you don’t have to pay this tax or get some concession.
The amount they tax you is based on your RV’s value. So, you’ll pay more tax the first year, and it goes down over time as your trailer loses value. Makes sense, but still stinks to pay it.
RV Insurance Costs
RV insurance is another cost to be added to your expense tally. The cheapest place to buy an RV should have a low insurance premium.
All states require some level of vehicle insurance for RVs, with different rules in each place. Insurers charge different premiums in different areas. The type and size of your trailer also matters a lot. Larger Class A motorhomes cost more to insure than small travel trailers.
How often you use your RV plays a role too. Full-timers generally pay higher premiums than part-timers. Insurers also look at your background info like age, driving history, and credit score.
Premiums can range from a couple hundred bucks a year for an entry-level camper up to $3,000+ for a big Class A. The key to getting a decent deal is shopping around. Compare multiple companies to find the best price and coverage.
What State Is the Cheapest to Buy an RV?
Based on our research, we’ve selected 5 states as the most suitable to buy an RV. All of them might not be the cheapest, but they will definitely be better choices than other states.
Montana has got to be the best state to buy an RV. The main reason is they don’t require you to pay any sales tax and county or city tax. So, that means no matter what price you pay for your trailer there, you won’t owe any extra taxes on top of it.
Technically, you’re supposed to register your vehicles in the state you live in. But Montana is the only place that’ll let you buy and register an RV there even if you don’t live there. Although you need to set up a Montana LLC and register it as a business vehicle in the state. There are companies that’ll handle all that paperwork for you and it usually costs around $300 or so.
The Sunshine State could easily be the best state to buy an RV because of the perfect weather and abundance of RV parks. You can travel year round without worrying about snow or extreme heat.
Plus, if you want to live in your RV full time, Florida makes it easy. You don’t have to pay state income taxes and you get flexibility with your mailing address.
The state makes it financially easier to live your nomadic lifestyle. It’s a great state for full timers with zero income tax and low vehicle registration fees. The savings and conveniences really add up, making it possibly the cheapest state to buy a camper.
South Dakota has plenty of beautiful sights for short trips. However, the real reason to buy an RV there is the benefits for living in it full time.
New trailer purchases only cost 4% in taxes. Also, no vehicle inspections are required so you avoid that hassle. Insurance and registration are cheaper compared to other states. And you’ll be glad to know that South Dakota doesn’t require you to pay income tax.
The state is just gorgeous with mountains, lakes, and forests, perfect for camping and RV parks. Unlike some states, they don’t charge extra for heavier RVs. So, you won’t have to deal with extra taxes and weight-based fees. The registration itself is also pretty reasonable.