RV vs Apartment – What’s the Differences? (Cost, Lifestyle)

Moving into a new home can be very intimidating. With all the choices and expensive prices, it can be very difficult to choose what type of living arrangement will be best for you.

An RV is a recreational vehicle that is like a large trailer where you can live, travel and have fun. On the other hand, apartments are the more conventional living spaces, where you rent or buy one apartment in a much larger one. It’s stationary and much more stable.

There are plenty of pros and cons to both of these living styles and many more differences than you might ordinarily think of. Even if you aren’t thinking of moving into an RV or an apartment, it’s always interesting to see how other people live.


Difference Between RV and Apartment Life

Apart from obviously looking very different from each other, there are several other differences between an RV and an apartment. While these two may be used similarly, they are fundamentally very different things. Here are some of their differences.

  • Stationary vs Moving

The most significant difference between an RV and an Apartment is perhaps the fact that an RV can move. While not RVs travel and some people choose to live in a more stationary, home-like life at RV parks, they still always have the ability to move. You can choose where you stay, you can choose your view, and you can even choose the weather.

An apartment on the other hand is completely stationary. You can’t move it unless you physically change apartments. The view is also restricted to whatever you end up with. You are stuck with whatever external problems that might arise due to the location. When you travel, you leave your apartment and go out on your own, whereas in an RV you take the RV with you.

  • The Material

This one is pretty obvious. The materials used to build an RV and an apartment are very different. One is built with bricks and mortar and the other can range from anything with steel, plastic, aluminum, and wood.

This difference in materials brings with it several factors. Unless your RV has insulation installed, it’s much more exposed to the weather outside. For example, you won’t be able to talk through a storm because of the noise.

Your RV will usually shake or move a lot due to external forces like winds and storms, and in worse cases like hurricanes and tornadoes. An apartment, on the other hand, is much stronger in keeping these things outside. Your house won’t shake unless it’s an earthquake. Rain and snow do not penetrate through either.

  • Space

RVs are significantly smaller than even your smallest apartments in the city. They are very congested together and it can be difficult to move around, especially for bigger families.

There is little to no privacy in an RV and you will be in very close contact with whoever you are living with at all times. A house however will at least have rooms that provide you with privacy and separation. People can have their own spaces. But with RVs, everyone can just get out and move around beautiful places to get the space that they need. Here are some examples of customized travel trailer homes including interior pictures.

  • Furniture

The kind of furniture you will own and use will also greatly differ depending on whether you live in an RV or an apartment. An apartment is usually larger and will give you much more options in deciding to get what kind of furniture you want. There is a lot of furniture to get for a house, starting from beds to couches, bookshelves, tables, etc.

With an RV you will probably have little to no furniture of your own. Most of the essential furniture like the bed and somewhere to sit is usually built-in to the RV. It is a much more minimalist lifestyle and you cannot hoard different items and furniture in your RV. There is no space for bookshelves or decorative showcases, a big dining table, or even a television.

  • Equipment

Over the years electronic equipment like dishwashers, ovens, washing machines, etc. has become an integral part of our lives. They have made regular day-to-day activities much easier for us and most apartments will usually have each of these things or you might have to buy them.

But in an RV there isn’t space for all of it to exist. You might have a dishwasher or a washing machine but not all of it together. You will have to sacrifice some things due to a lack of space. Most RVs will have an oven, but it is a different kind of oven than the one used in apartments. More expensive kinds have dishwashers or washing machines as well.

  • Waste Disposal

If you have never lived in an RV, which most people haven’t, you probably have never even thought twice about where your waste goes. Everything from dishwashing waste, to clothes’ waste and your physical waste. With apartments, it is not even an issue as all apartments will come with a bathroom and sinks connected to the local sewage system.

With an RV, it’s a little more complicated. Since RVs aren’t stationary, they usually have a waste tank where all the waste from the RV gets stored. You have to be very careful with your waste system to keep everything clean and hygienic. Proper waste management can take months to learn for newbies.

You have to clean your waste tank regularly, or it can overflow and start to stink the place up. Be careful while cleaning dishes and scrape off any excess food so that it doesn’t clog the pipes. You have to be very careful of how you dump your waste as well. There are designated places for you to clear out RV waste. You can’t just do it anywhere.

  • City life vs RV life

While you can choose to live in a city even with an RV, most people don’t. They choose to travel around and live-in places on the outskirts of the city or go even deeper into the wilderness. This kind of life can be very adventurous and fun. It will force you to leave your phone and explore the beauty outside and have fun doing several activities instead of being stuck in a room.

On the other hand, the city life of an apartment also brings with it some perks. Some people just like to live in the city. It is much more convenient with anything you want just a few miles away. Groceries, clothes, malls, movies, restaurants, etc. are all things you will be missing out on for the most part if you live in an RV.

So, there you have it, these are some of the main differences between living in an RV vs an apartment. If you experience both, you will end up finding even more differences subjective to you. They are just completely different lifestyles and it is hard to compare them. Which one suits you better depends on your preferences.



Is it Cheaper to Buy an RV or an Apartment?

While your rent and living expenses are greatly influenced by where you choose to live, living in an RV is usually cheaper than living in an apartment. The difference is costs, however, might be much more similar than you think. Even though you are living a much smaller lifestyle overall, you could still build up the expenses due to different things in an RV.

Your total expenses will mostly depend on how you choose to spend your money. You could live a luxurious, expensive lifestyle and splurge on everything even while living in an RV. Compared to that, living on a budget in an apartment can be much cheaper.

But in general, life in an RV should cost you less overall than paying rent every month in an apartment along with your other living expenses. There are much fewer things in an RV and hence lower expenses. You won’t have to pay rent, you won’t have to pay for electricity bills, you won’t need a telephone bill or cable.

You will however be spending on different things in an RV. Some places require you to pay a lodging fee to park your RV. It can be costly to travel across different states in an RV. You’ll need to buy the RV and pay for maintenance as well. So, the total can add up to very similar amounts.

But if you stick to a fixed budget and live minimally, then you can save a lot of money by living in an RV. The best way to compare costs for you is to make a spreadsheet and compare your expenses. There are plenty of tutorials online on how you can do this. This will give you a much clearer idea of what to expect.



Pros and Cons of an RV life

Having looked at the differences between an RV and an apartment, let’s take a look at what the pros and cons are of the RV lifestyle. This will help you choose which one you might consider for yourself.

Pros of living in an RV

  • Cheaper

Living in an RV can be much cheaper than living in an apartment where you have to pay rent every month. The overall lifestyle is a more minimalist kind and hence you just end up needing fewer and fewer things.

You simply do not have the luxury of buying unnecessary things and hoarding them up. This overtime can save a lot of money in the long run.

  • Closer to Nature

Unless your apartment is in the wilderness, which is unlikely, you will be much closer to nature living in an RV. From forests to waterfalls to lakes and oceans you can pretty much live near anywhere you want to.

If you get bored of one view, you can just drive up to another. You get to experience wilderness like never before and soak up the beautiful scenery and the fresh air. It also brings you lots of options to try out outdoor activities instead of staring at your phone all day.

  • Lots of traveling

Traveling costs are also greatly reduced when living in an RV. You don’t have to pay for tickets and hotels. There’s no hassle of packing or leaving your home empty. You can just take up your home and leave.

The best part about RV life is how easy it is to travel and experience different places. You can stay for much longer periods compared to if you were just going on vacation. Experience the culture and place like never before.

  • Self-exploration

Living in an RV allows you to spend time with yourself and the people you are living with on a much deeper level. Living in such close quarters with your people will force you to communicate better and understand each other.

  • New friends and experiences

You will meet a lot more people when living in an RV and traveling. There are a lot of RV communities that you can join where you can have shared experiences.


Everywhere you go, you will meet new people and make new connections. You will gain experiences; unlike anything you’ve experienced in an apartment.

Cons of living in an RV:

  • Lack of space
  • Bugs, mold, mildew, etc. can grow very easily
  • Waste management is difficult
  • Everything shakes when you travel
  • Driving an RV can be stressful
  • You don’t get to meet your friends and family all that often



Pros and Cons of living in an Apartment

Next, come the perks and disadvantages of living in an apartment. Here are some of the pros you will probably experience if you live in an apartment.

Pros of living in an apartment:

  • Stability

Life in an apartment is stable and consistent. You can have a regular job, a stable income, some close friends, and a routine. This can be calming for a lot of people, having a home to come back to every day.

You don’t have to worry about getting mail or packages. Having a permanent address makes things much more convenient. People can also visit you whenever they want and vice versa.

  • Lots of space

Living in an apartment will usually give you much more space than an RV. You can have beautiful furniture and shelves and decorate the place how you wish. You don’t have to get rid of sentimental belongings and things from childhood.

There’s no need to worry about a lack of space before buying new things. You can get dishwashers, ovens, washing machines, whatever you want and make your life more convenient.

  • Privacy

Whether you live alone or with family, living in an apartment gives you a lot of privacy. You can do whatever you like in your own space without having other people interfere in your every move.

Different rooms for different family members allow everyone to do their own thing and have some peace. There is plenty of space to move around and co-exist.

  • Waste Management

Getting rid of any kind of waste in an apartment is very easy and nothing you should be concerned about. There are fully functioning toilets, bathrooms, sinks, etc that are connected to the local sewage systems.

All the work is automatic. It is much easier to keep everything clean and hygienic. There’s no hassle of cleaning your waste tank and getting rid of your waste.

  • Everything is nearby

Living in an apartment can be very convenient. Everything starting from grocery stores to super malls or restaurants and cafes are usually within walking proximity. You have a lot more options to buy anything you want and hang out and entertain yourself.

Especially with emergencies, places like the hospital can be hard to get to if you live out in an RV. Living in an apartment makes it much easier to tackle these things.

  • Security

Living in an apartment is much more secure than living in an RV. Apartment complexes usually have lots of doors and locks and security systems to prevent such incidents from occurring. You will also have neighbors to look out for you.

Not only thieves and criminals, but there is also no risk of an animal attack when living in an apartment. It is safe and secure.

Cons of living in an apartment:

  • Can be expensive
  • Neighbors can be annoying
  • Rules to maintain
  • Outside noise
  • No pet policies
  • Can become boring

One lifestyle isn’t objectively better than the other, and they both come with their own set of perks and disadvantages.