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Westerners Buying RVs

By Jamie Cattanach

At long last, summer is here — warm weather included.

To get in the spirit, LendingTree explored consumer interest in financing recreational vehicles (RVs) and boats. Using data from the past two years, we determined when interest in RV and boat financing peaked at the national level, as well as which states were most interested in these modes of recreation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who live under the big skies of the American West are more interested in purchasing an RV, while Southerners have their sights set on the sea — and a potential boat purchase.

Key findings

  • Dating back two years, interest in RV financing on the LendingTree platform peaked in 2021. Researchers examined RV loan inquiries on our platform between May 2021 and May 2023, finding they peaked in July and August 2021. Overall, the number of auto loan inquiries for RVs in May 2023 was 7.1% higher than in May 2022 and 23.0% higher than in May 2021 (though the two-year peak came months later).
  • In the same two years, interest in boat financing on our platform also peaked in 2021. Boat loan inquiries peaked a few months earlier, in May 2021, but the second-highest number of inquiries were in May 2023 — a near-return to the peak. Overall, boat loan inquiries dropped 27.0% between May 2021 and May 2022 but jumped 35.6% between May 2022 and May 2023. There was just a 1.0% dip between May 2021 and May 2023.
  • Far and away, Oregon residents showed the most interest in RV financing in the past two years. 7.5% of auto financing inquiries in Oregon between May 2021 and May 2023 were for potential RV purchases — more than double the average across the U.S. of 3.5%. Montana and Wyoming tied for second at 6.9%. In fact, every state in the top 10 is in the West, though South Dakota (in the Midwest) snuck into a tie for 10th.
  • Florida residents were the most interested in boat financing in the same period. 3.8% of auto financing inquiries in Florida between May 2021 and May 2023 were for potential boat purchases — double the average across the U.S. of 1.9%. Alaska and South Carolina rounded out the top three, tied at 3.5%. Among the top 10, seven are in the South.
Data for this study

LendingTree researchers analyzed data from May 2021 through May 2023 on the number of consumers who inquired about auto loans on our platform — and how many of those inquiries were for RVs or boats.

We indexed the results using the month(s) with the highest number of inquiries as 100, and valued the rest of the data accordingly. For example, a month with a value of 50 means there were half the inquiries of the month with the 100 value.

Additionally, we compared the number of inquiries for RVs or boats at the state level with the number of auto financing inquiries to determine the percentage of auto loan inquiries for each mode of transportation.

Source: LendingTree analysis of auto loan inquiry forms completed on the LendingTree platform for RVs from May 2021 through May 2023.

While there’s a great deal of seasonality, interest in RV financing trended downward through 2022 but seems to be ramping up entering summer 2023, perhaps owing to many ex-office workers’ new post-pandemic location independence.

Unsurprisingly, inquiries trend up during the summer months, when warm weather and clear skies call would-be adventurers to the road.

 

Residents in Western states show most interest in RV financing

Once we explored when interest peaked in each of these different recreational transportation options, we examined where that interest was coming from. We started with RVs.

To complete this analysis, we compared the number of auto loan inquiries for RV financing at the state level to the number of auto loan inquiries, regardless of type. Between May 2021 and May 2023, 3.5% of auto loan inquiries on the LendingTree platform were for RVs.

Anyone who’s seen a map of the U.S. National Parks will agree that the West holds plenty of great RV travel opportunities — and the data backs this assertion. Each of the top 10 states with the most interest in financing an RV purchase is in the West, though South Dakota in the Midwest is in a tiebreaker at No. 10.

Oregon led the charge, with 7.5% of auto loan inquiries made there during that period being for RVs. Even zooming back nearly 30 years to 1995, Oregon was near the forefront of the RV industry, according to an Associated Press report published on the Los Angeles Times website.

Montana and Wyoming tied for second at 6.9%, with Alaska and Washington tying for fourth. (Alaska is home to eight national parks, second only to California’s nine — though several of them are inaccessible by road and must be flown, sailed or hiked into.)

Jamie Cattanach is a personal finance writer who wrote this piece for Lending Tree. Her work has also been featured at The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, CNBC Money and more. To read the full article, visit Lending Tree.

Interested in learning more about how you can develop, own and/or operate a highly successful RV and boat storage facility? Limited seating is available at the Toy Storage Nation Executive RV and Boat Storage Workshop in Reno, Nev., Sept. 29, 2023. This one-day workshop is led by experts in development, financing, feasibility studies, design, construction, security, management and more. Tickets for the event sell out quickly. Register today.

 

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