We constantly get asked, “how do you afford to travel full-time?”. So we’re committed to answering that question for our readers in a variety of ways. That’s why we decided to start by sharing exactly how much it costs to full-time RV.
We have also shared the ways we afford this lifestyle…from a budgeting program that we created, to discount memberships, how to make extra income, and everything in between. If this interests you, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay informed!
Many people think you have to make a lot of money to travel full-time, but that’s not the case. In fact, full-time RVing can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose. It can all depend on the type and year of the RV you purchase, how often you travel, where you park, and the activities you do in the places you visit. But, here’s a general idea of items you can expect to pay for each month if you choose the full-time RV lifestyle.
Full-Time RV Life Expenses:
The following are a list of items that we believe to be bare necessities for RV life.
- RV Parks/Campgrounds
- RV maintenance (including repairs and propane)
- RV & Car Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Cell phone
Here’s a breakdown of how much it costs us each month to full-time RV.
Before we list our expenses and costs, we want to give you a good idea of our lifestyle in the RV. We didn’t choose RV life to cut our monthly costs, so while we budget and track expenses and save each month, we don’t strive for the cheapest cost of living possible. On the other hand, we are pretty frugal.
We rarely buy new clothes and other personal items (where would we even put them?) and we limit our spending on nearly everything. We wish we could find free parking more often, but it’s not usually a huge priority. We travel often because that’s the main reason we chose to full-time RV. We love seeing as many new places as possible as often as possible.
RV Parks/Campgrounds: $900
We try to find parks that are around $30 a night. We use our Passport America discount as often as possible, which saved us around $700 during our first 6 months of RVing! We don’t boondock as often as we’d like, mainly because we didn’t consider this when purchasing our first RV. The fifth wheel we bought didn’t have very large holding tanks, which limited us in how many days we could dry camp. If you are shopping for an RV, be sure to read these tips first to avoid making similar mistakes we did.
RV maintenance (including repairs and propane): $50
Our fifth wheel is a 2005, which means it needs repairs quite frequently (we have a new issue come up about every 6 weeks or so). We try to do repair projects ourselves (thanks to YouTube) to avoid the outrageous costs of paying an RV mechanic. We also cook in the RV often and typically turn on the heat during the cooler evenings, which uses up our propane. It costs about $20 to refill our propane tank each month.
We travel to a new destination every 7-10 days. When we travel, we typically drive 200-300 miles. This means we average about 1,000 miles of driving a month. Our truck gets around 7-8 miles per gallon of gas. Here is how we calculated the total amount we spend on gas each month:
1,000/8 =125 x $2.45 (this is the national average cost for a gallon of gas) = $306.25
We also require 1-2 additional tanks of gas each month just for driving around town, running errands, and exploring. Since we love seeing new cities, but typically park 30-60 miles outside of those cities, we end up doing a lot of additional driving aside from the usual towing.
RV & Car Insurance: $185
This is a bundled auto and RV policy for our 2005 Forest River Rockwood fifth wheel and our 2016 GMC Sierra 2500 truck.
Health Insurance: $376
We get our health insurance coverage through Dan’s company. This total includes health, vision, dental, and our HSA contributions.
We typically try to cook our meals from the RV. Typically our groceries are less than $100 per week. On travel days, we tend to grab fast food or “cheap eats” for convenience, and only eat out at restaurants 2-3 times a month. We also included the cost of dog food because well, they are our children and that means there are 2 extra mouths for us to feed!
Cell phone: $177
We get our cell phone service through Verizon, which includes 20 GB of data.
We pay for an AT&T hotspot with unlimited data. Our jobs rely on good internet so we can’t risk not having a good signal using an RV park’s wifi. We know some RVers who just use their phone’s hotspots but we prefer to have a separate one. While we could use wifi at local coffee shops, we prefer to work from our RV and not have to spend money while we are using a businesses wifi. Library’s are a great way to get free wifi, but they aren’t always easy to track down or close to where we are parked.
We usually just use the laundry facility at the RV parks we stay at, but will occasionally drive to a laundromat. Typically, it costs us around $5.00 a load. We each have our own load of clothes, plus a load of towels and sheets. So we spent around $15-20 per laundry day and normally do laundry twice a month.
We mostly love FREE outdoor activities. But, we also find a few things to do in each place we visit that requires money. We enjoy visiting breweries in every city we go to, we’ll also rent kayaks, get ice cream while we walk around cities, and will sometimes splurge on doing fun tours and other typical touristy activities.
Our total amount of monthly RV costs: $3,033
Costs will vary greatly from RVer to RVer. For example, whether or not you choose to finance a brand new RV or pay cash for an older one will greatly impact your monthly expenses. Likewise, an RV that is 10 or more years old may require more monthly maintenance costs. Also, you can find free parking all over the country or choose to enjoy amenities at RV resorts.
You may have read our expenses and thought to yourself “it would look way different for me or my family”. Maybe you have children, or plan to travel much less, or perhaps you are a serious foodie who loves trying new restaurants.
That’s why we decided to survey 7 other full-time RVers who have completely different lifestyles than us!
We asked them to tell us how much they spend monthly on a variety of RV life related expenses.
You’ll notice that none of these RVers, nor us, shared how much we pay monthly for other items, such as debt (student loans, mortgages if we still have property somewhere, credit cards, etc.), medical supplies, car and RV monthly financing payments, clothing and other personal purchases, memberships/subscriptions (RV memberships as well as Netflix, Spotify, etc.), and business/work expenses.
Those items vary greatly from person to person, so we simply wanted to show how your lifestyle, family size, and other factors impact your RV related expenses each month. We felt this would give you the greatest understanding of how much it costs to full-time RV…aside from what debt you have, how much you put into savings each month, or how you choose to spend your extra money.
To protect these RVer’s identities, we decided to share their information as “anonymous profiles”. As we mentioned before, we only asked about their RV specific bare necessities for each month.
Here are the following RVer profiles we collected monthly expenses data from:
A Solo Traveler
This 35-45 year old solo RVer travels by them self in a 2017 travel trailer and typically stays at RV parks and campgrounds, rather than dry camping (boondocking) for free. This solo RVer travels often and is hittin’ the road every few days. The activities this RVer enjoys is outdoor activities, as well as checking out local restaurants, bars, and cafes while exploring new cities.
This RV couple is in between 35 – 45 years old and also lives in a travel trailer. They both quit their jobs and are currently living on saved up money, which requires them to boondock as often as possible to cut costs. They aim to to find free spots to park at least half of the month. When they arrive in a new destination they like to stay anywhere from 2-4 weeks. They enjoy both outdoor activities and exploring cities.
Baby on Board
This future RVer and his 20-35 year old parents live and travel full-time in their 2014 Class A Motor home. They enjoy boondocking occasionally and find free spots about 1 week each month. Their stays are typically 2 weeks long before they are back on the road and somewhere new. This young family is always seeking outdoor adventure to share with their little one. They also love doing fun tourist activities in each place they visit.
This family loves RV life with or without the travel aspect. They’ve found a wonderful spot to park their 2006 5th Wheel for the long-term for work purposes. They’ve minimized their life to maximize experiences and pursue their passions, which will lead them to traveling soon. Outdoor activities where their young, energetic daughter (and dog!) can run around and play are a necessity. They also enjoy family outings together to kid friendly places.
Two adults, four children, and a dog all living in a 2006 class C motorhome!! Now, that’s downsizing! This adventure seeking family stays busy by traveling every week to 2 weeks. As you can imagine, they keep busy running a business on the road, enjoying kid-friendly tours and attractions, and lots of outdoor activity. They try to cut costs by utilizing their RV park memberships and boondocking a few days a month. However, that’s a lot of mouths to feed!
Their kids are raised and living their own lives now, so this couple is living it up now! They are what you’l consider luxury RVers and they are proud of it. They travel and live full-time in their beautiful and spacious Fifth Wheel Toyhauler with their spoiled cat. This couple still works from the road and finds time to enjoy outdoor adventure and tourist activities.. They typically stay in one place for a month, which gives them a much better rate at the RV resorts they stay at. They have no desire to boondock because they love the convenience of full hook ups and various amenities. Now, that’s the life!
This RV couple is semi-retired but can’t put the entrepreneur spirit inside of them to rest quite yet. They live in a 1999 Class A motor home, which often needs repairs. However, that is no problem for the mister who is an RV mechanic. Their travel style is very flexible and go with the flow. They typically like to be on the go and tend to travel far and fast, with plans of someday slowing down. They enjoy boondocking as much as possible, particularly where they can enjoy the land and nature and meet interesting people. They love activities of all kinds – outdoor, tourist, city exploration, etc. They are clearly young at heart!
If you want to read how much each of these RVers spends per month on the items we listed, fill out the form below and we will send you a FREE copy of:
7 FULL-TIME RVER’S MONTHLY EXPENSES: YOUR GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING HOW MUCH RV LIFE COSTS.
We hope this helps you with the planning and transition to RV life. More importantly, we hope this shows you that RVing full-time IS possible!
We LOVE helping people navigate their way to full-time freedom! We also LOVE talking about money because we managed to pay off $100,000 in debt while saving $25,000 in 3 years, which has allowed us to do more of what we love…TRAVEL!
In fact, we created Finance Your Detour, a 4-step budgeting program to help others implement a budget in order to afford to travel more, or really, do whatever it is that makes YOU feel more alive! The program includes a budgeting tool that we designed, video tutorials on how to use it, as well as video lessons and worksheets to help you understand how to budget successfully in order to reach your financial goals. You can check it out here.
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