How Much Will it Cost?

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How much will it cost?

This might be the question most asked by anyone thinking of living full time in a RV. We did a ton of research before we made the transition from stationary living to full time traveling and finding an answer to this question was elusive. It’s something everyone wants to know, but no one can answer. After making the transition I have a better understanding of why this is.


There are so many factors when it comes to cost of living that it makes coming up with an estimate for what you will spend impossible. Your expenses in a house are not the same as your neighbors expenses or those of your friends. The same holds true for life in a RV. We were very frugal and careful with our money before we started a life of travel and that has not changed. It is my belief that most people are not going to change their spending habits just because they move into a RV unless they are setting out to do so intentionally.

If saving money is the reason you want to live in a RV, it is definitely possible to do so

If having new experiences is your reason then saving money may prove more challenging, but is still possible. We have found a good balance between the two and honestly spend about the same amount of money on the road as we did living in our house. There are sacrifices that have to be made and challenges that have to be overcome no matter what reason you have for deciding to go full time.

 

Some of these sacrifices are not necessarily bad, but there are things that will change.

We have found that our family wears out their shoes so much faster because we are always outside walking and hiking, this was an expense we had not considered. I already gave haircuts to everyone in the family, but if you are not going to do this consider that expense and the fact that you will always be somewhere new if you are traveling. This sometimes means you just pay no matter what the cost (and not just for hair cuts, think car maintenance and groceries). I still make most of our meals in the trailer, but if you are not going to do much cooking in your RV keep in mind that eating out gets expensive (especially the more touristy the area). This does mean we do a lot of dishes because they are all washed by hand!

Some of the costs associated with this lifestyle that most of us have are the site rent, laundry, gas and propane, entertainment, and insurance

In my article Laundry Day I go over some of the costs of having to use laundromats or camp facilities. I had a very hard time finding this information when I was doing my research so I wrote the article to help others. In another article, Oh No Not the Weekend, I outline some of the different types of sites along with an average price (keep in mind they vary and change frequently). We also discuss propane usage and cost in another article. As far as the gas and insurance costs it can vary so much just depending on the state you are in that it would be difficult to give an estimate, not to mention the type of vehicle you are driving plays a part too.

While we can’t say how much it will actually cost your family, we can say it will be worth it to live this lifestyle

It would be great if I could tell you it will cost you $X a month to live in a RV full time, but the reality is that no one can tell you, just like no tells you how much you should spend on your rent or mortgage. The fact is that it varies too much. The only thing I can share with you is how much we spend a month and if you are interested in that feel free to go check it out by clicking on the become a patron link below. Just remember there are always hidden costs and things you don’t plan for (like having to buy shoes twice as often) so try to over budget.

We have been on the road for a little over a year now and I will tell you that it has been worth every penny we have spent. It has given us some unforgettable experiences and a chance to become closer as a family. As we spend more time exploring this beautiful country, it is getting hard to imagine going back to a life where we are not traveling.

 

How much does it cost us?

This is something we can answer because we track all our expenditures. We do it the old fashioned way, using a little notebook and a pen. The trick is to immediately write down what you spend before it slips through the cracks. Don’t forget to factor in yearly expenses too because the first year will go by fast once you start having so much fun. Hope this helps your family with the planning of your adventures.

Incidentals are items we use that are temporary. It could be laundry detergent, shoes, or paper plates. We pay the adults $10 a week and each kid $1.25 for work, but it doesn’t mean we always pay it. Souvenir to us means fridge magnet, though sometimes we throw post cards in to the mix. Family fun is museums not on the ASTC list or other fun things we do that cost us money (I think the family fun in week three is us visiting the Vermont Corn Maze for Journey’s birthday).

Getting to spend time with the kids, Priceless!

 

10 Comments

  1. It’s interesting what you say about not changing you usual spending habits because you are changing to an RV – I guess that makes sense, although in my head I was thinking about extra expenditure because of not having easy access to all the amenities you’ve been used to. The breakdown in costs is really useful, and a good place for anyone to start pricing up this lifestyle. Not sure it is for me, but I can certainly see the appeal!

  2. That’s the first question that comes to my mind when I want to travel for longterm. I love the fact that you shared such a detailed break down. If i ever do this, I’ll surely consider your article. I don’t think I can get a more granular post than this.

  3. You are so right that the costs are subjective and yet when you list them down, one gets a clear picture of what they need to include when they are budgeting for it. While it may all seem nice and easy, there is a fair bit of juggling that you need to do if you want to go frugal or cut down expenses. Kudos to you guys for having done what you do. Quite inspired!

  4. I love how detailed your break down is and I’m sure its very helpful for anyone considering switching to this lifestyle. I also smiled when I read that you write everything down in a notebook. I’m old school as well! I look forward to reading more about your new RV lifestyle!

  5. Have always found the idea of living in an RV so romantic and liberating. But of course there are so many practical aspects to be considered. You have given a very analytical view of the costings involved. A great guide to anyone who is looking at the the pros and cons and a cost vs benefit analysis before deciding to start living in an RV. It does work out quite cheap and complete value for money, though/.

  6. Good guide for someone who is considering to rent out a RV for mid or long term. Though this is not my style at all (I rather stay in airbnbs or hotels), I can see the appeal of this lifestyle for some. It would certainly make for family bonding is my thinking.

  7. I am in two minds about life in an RV. On one hand we love self-drive, the freedom that gives and the ability to have some of the comforts of home. On the other hand, I love staying in a wide range of accommodation on the road, and I think I’d miss that aspect. But one thing I had not really thought about was the cost factor, and you’ve given me real food for thought on trying the RV travelling style out for ourselves. It’s also a good reminder to think about the practicalities of longer term RV travel, when things like hair cuts, laundry and all the purchases and expenses of daily life come into play.

  8. A very good insight on running costs of an RV. Not as expensive as I thought it would be. My parents have got an RV but dont live in it full time but the costs are still there but they have amazing adventures. Not sure if I am ready for the RV life just yet. 😛

  9. This is so helpful for someone who’s thinking about living in the RV. You really did put your costs down on the paper, nice work!
    Even though I didn’t consider this kind of lifestyle, I can see how it can get fascinating for someone who loves to be on the move. Great tips regarding cooking and not eating out, or doing your own haircuts etc. So many things we take for granted, and when you do such a major change in a lifestyle you actually see that. But you also realize that everything is doable once you put your mind to it, right! Sounds like one great choice when it comes to your family, so glad to hear that. 🙂

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