A few years ago, I bought a brand new Polaris RZR ATV and learned some valuable wisdom about owning and renting toys. This applies to ATVs, RVs, boats, wave-runners, Lamborghini’s, and vacation homes…and if you really want to get deep, almost everything in life.
I had recently moved to Arizona and fell in love with the desert. I had dreams of trailblazing from the west valley of Phoenix to Sedona. This was going to be epic, I thought as I drove off the lot with my new RZR.
Then, when I got home, all the things I should have been thinking about before I actually purchased it, jumped into my mind:
- Where are the trails around Phoenix I can ride on?
- How will I transport the RZR to the trails?
- How much is a trailer?
- Can my car haul it or do I need to buy a truck?
- Where am I going to store this?
- How often do I need to get the oil changed and how much is it?
I called the dealer and said “Hey man, I’m the guy who just bought the RZR from you. Where can I take this thing?” Surprisingly, he said, “Nowhere around here. You’ve gotta go north.” “Oh.” I replied.
What was initially a fun purchase experience was quickly turning into a giant headache.
I ended up taking my RZR to Buckeye, Arizona to ride around behind the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. The actual park is off-limits to ATV’s. Around a year later, the entire area around Buckeye became off-limits to RZR’s. I even had a Sheriff threaten to arrest me on my last ride. I trailered the RZR to Sedona, but that was a pretty big undertaking, and cost a small fortune in gas.
I ended up selling the RZR at half the price I bought it for.
Then I started renting. Here’s why:
The Cost Breakdown of Owning Vs. Renting an ATV
Brand new 2019 Polaris RZR XP 4 1000: $21,499 base price + upgrades, tax, title, license + street legal upgrades
Additional owernership expenses:
- Insurance ($100-500 per year)
- Trailer (approx $1,000-2,000)
- Trailer registration
- Good trailer straps
- Transport vehicle (free if you already have a vehicle with a hitch)
- Storage (free if you have a garage and room for trailer or you can rent a recreational vehicle storage unit for approx. $100/month)
- Maintenance ($400 per service approx. every 6 months)
- Tire maintenance and replacement (caused by cactus needles and rocks)
- Gas for RZR and Transport Vehicle (approx. $150 every 3 months)
- Supplies (masks, helmets, goggles, gloves, cooler, emergency gear)
Approximate price to own and operate for 3 years: $36,000
*plus possibility of additional maintenance, repairs, insurance deductibles, etc.
- You own it.
- You use it when you want, for as long as you want.
- You can sell it.
- High cost to own and operate.
- Requires being somewhat organized.
- Storage and maintenance logistics.
- Time intensive.
- No trail maps, guides, or emergency assistance.
- Added stress thinking about protecting your investment.
- Your RZR gets old over time.
- Low resell value.
Cost of renting a 2019 Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 for 4 hours in Sedona: $325 (price includes helmet, goggles, cooler, full tank of gas)
- Optional wheel and tire insurance (approx. $18)
- Cleaning for excessive mud and dirt (approx. $10)
- Gas in your own vehicle to and from the rental location (varies)
Approximate price to rent a RZR for 3 years (4 times per year): $4,140
- You show up and go, and then walk away when you’re finished.
- You can rent in any location.
- Emergency assistance.
- Not time intensive.
- No stress.
- Renting includes trail maps and suggestions for where to ride.
- You get new RZR’s every year.
- You can ride multiple days in multiple locations without worrying about overnight trailer parking and security.
- You can only ride for 4-8 hours at a time.
- Must be scheduled or riding is subject to availability.
So…here’s the bottom line:
For the price of owning and operating a new Polaris RZR for 3 years, you can rent a new RZR in Sedona every 3 months for 25 years.
That’s right…25 years.
This math works out very similar for owning and renting boats, wave-runners, and vacation homes. Did you know that for the same price of owning and maintaining a small $500,000 vacation home on the beach in Florida, you can go on vacation anywhere in the world, every three months (average vacation cost of $4,000) for over 40 years! And, you’ll have no stress about hurricanes, HOA’s, insurance, or property taxes.
“We Sell Ideas”
One of the best bits of wisdom I was told regarding this subject, was by the sales manager at a used RV lot when I was selling the RV I owned for a little over a year. I asked her if I was normal for being stressed out by owning an RV and wanting to sell it. Her response was golden.
“You’re just like everyone else. When you buy an RV, you’re buying an idea. It’s the idea of going camping, exploring, adventure, being free. That’s why people buy them…and then once they experience the pain of what it’s like to own and operate one, they quickly sell it. You were buying an idea. That’s what the RV business is all about. We sell ideas.”-RV Sales Manager (name withheld because she was actually being honest)
We buy ideas, and end up owning things. Those things end up owning us.
Ponder that for a while.
The vacation home in Florida, the RV, the ATV, the boat, the wave-runner…they’re all things disguised as ideas.
Wisdom whispers this:
Own ideas. Rent things.