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An Extra $25,000 May Be Sitting Idle in Your Driveway

Posted by The Savvy Retiree on October 30, 2019 in Retirement Finances

A few years ago, my wife, Melissa, and I headed off on a multi-year journey in our RV. Our plan was to travel the length and breadth of the U.S. and Canada, visiting friends and family and exploring as we went. Before that, we had sailed 11,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean. This was just our latest of many retirement adventures.

We had arrived at this point with lots of planning, by minimizing our spending, and selling off most of our non-essential possessions. After sailing our boat to Mexico, French Polynesia, Hawaii, and then back home to San Diego, we sold it and purchased an RV.

We had a specific type in mind when scouring the dealerships. We wanted an RV that would be easy to drive, had lots of storage, and a large cooking prep space. The reason being, we wanted it to not only be a comfortable vehicle for us to live in for extended periods while we traveled, we also wanted it to be a literal income vehicle once we returned.

Michael Harlow and his wife, Melissa (pictured), purchased their RV knowing that they’d be able to rent it out when they weren’t using it, so that it could pay for itself. ©Michael Harlow

You see, our plan was to rent out the RV while we weren’t using it ourselves, using online rental platforms. So, when choosing a model, we wanted it to be one that renters would be looking for. We had also rented a house on a friend’s property that was just five minutes from Melissa’s aging parents’ home. This gave us a permanent base and a place where we could store the RV, for free, when it wasn’t being rented. Renting out the RV would also cover the cost of renting the house.

While on our RV trip, we signed up to both RVshare.com and Outdoorsy.com, so we could jump into it as soon as we returned. Our first rental came right away.

Since we had lived in the RV, the transition to renting was simple. The RV already had all the utensils, camping supplies, and everything else a renter would need.

All we needed to do was take some amazing pictures and provide some additional details on the RV rental platforms.

Because we knew we would eventually be renting out the RV, handing the keys over to strangers wasn’t a problem. But we felt further at ease by the checks and balances that each of the rental platforms had in place. Outdoorsy does a driving and background check on their renters, and offer a $1 million insurance policy on the RV, should anything go wrong. RVshare is just as competitive and they additionally offer 24/7 roadside assistance.

Each platform will take anywhere from 15% to 25% of the rental profits as their fee. However, even after having these fees taken off the top, you can still make a lot from your rentals. They provide targeted marketing to your customers, have Facebook groups that allow you network with other renters, and much more. In our first summer, we made over $25,000, even after they took their commissions. If you have a fifth wheel, trailer, Class A, Class B, truck camper, or anything similar, you can be sitting on some cash.

Although the platforms do a great job of marketing, both Melissa and I come from marketing backgrounds, so we don’t leave anything to chance. We created our own blog and YouTube channel, sharing helpful tips with our renters, such as how to dump the black water tank, how to hook up power and water when at a campground with full or partial hookups, and more.

Renting your RV not only makes you a considerable amount of money, it also helps keep your RV running smoother. RVs want to be on the road and have their fluids circulating, not collecting cobwebs. The typical RV owner only uses their RV about three to four weeks a year, while the rest of the year it sits in a driveway, parking lot, or some type of storage facility. By renting out your RV, you’re actually helping to keep it maintained. Plus, we use some of our profits to provide further maintenance, pay for registration, insurance, purchase new tires, and all the things you would need to do regardless.

It really is the best income we’ve ever had. We get to set our own schedule, rent to who we want, when we want, help families enjoy the outdoors, and then, when we choose to, we use our RV to have our own travel adventures. Since we love to travel off-season, we plan to go across the Southwestern U.S. for most of October.

Written by Michael Harlow