When we were getting ready to hit the road, I did a ton of research trying to figure out how much this life was going to cost us, and could not find very much information. Lets face it, no one likes to talk about money. But I’m gonna suck it up and share a little info about our budget as a full-time, traveling family.
Fulltime RV life is very similar to S&B in that everyones budget is different. There are those making over $100,000 a year who live paycheck to paycheck and those making $30,000 who do a great job of managing their money and make it work.
For us, our budget items are similar to what they were before though many of the payments are substantially less. This has to do with the fact that we had a large mortgage plus utilities and cost of living in NorCal is on the pricey side.
Food/Household item: $1,600 month
Our grocery/eating out bill is about the same as it was before. Some places it is a little more, and others less but that really depends on the cost of food in the area we are visiting. Food in California, Yuma and Las Vegas was pricey, Utah and northern Arizona it was cheap. Our family of 5 (keep in mind we have no “littles”) averages about $300 a week in groceries and household items and then another $100 a week eating out.
Fuel: $100 per 300 miles of travel or $100 per week when stationary
Prior to life on the road we had 2 cars. On average I filled my minivan 1x a week and Brady filled his truck every 10 days. Now we budget on 1 tank of gas ($100) per week when we are stationary and 1 tank per 300 mile travel day. We average 10 mpg when towing and 15 mpg when not towing. This year during May and June we only had 2 travel days, so gas was cheap, the next few months we will be moving A LOT so it will be more.
Campgrounds: $160-$1,110 month
We no longer have a mortgage or regular utility bills. Instead we have RV park fees, campground memberships, laundry, propane and occasionally electricity bills. We pay a monthly payment of $160 for our elite TT membership (a 3 year loan.) We try and stay primarily at TT parks, but that is not always feasible. We have found RV parks range from $25 to $90 a night, with the average being around $35-$45 (if you pay per night.) If you pay per week you will usually get 1-2 nights free and monthly is your best bet. The typical monthly rent, we have seen, is $350-$550 plus electricity. Our summer electric has been $100-150 a month. One thing to be aware of is “child tax.” Many parks only include 2 people in their fees and they charge an additional $2-$5 per person per night. During our stay in Yuma monthly rent was $550 plus electric ($110) plus $5 per night per child, bringing our monthly rent payment to $1,110… OUCH!!!
Annual Discount Passes: $74 per year
We also pay annually for Good Sams ($25) and Passport America ($49) for additional discounts on RV parks.
Laundry: $100 month
We do 5-6 loads of laundry a week. On average we spend $15-20 a week on laundry then double that 1x a month to do all the bedding. RV park laundromats are always cheaper than the one in town. The one time we did laundry in town cost us almost 3x what we usually pay.
Propane: $40-100 month
Propane averages about $40 every time we fill our 2 tanks, which is every few weeks when its chilly and very rarely when its hot out.
We rarely use our generator except when we are boondocking and then gas for the generator becomes part of the budget as well.
Cell Phone: $300 month
This costs about the same as in our S&B. I did increase our data limit so its $20 more than we used to pay. With 5 smart phones it’s expensive no matter how you look at it. We are on the Verizon network since they have the best coverage when in rural areas.
Internet: $89 month
We use Millenicom for internet coverage, and try to use free wifi as much as possible. We pay $89 a month for 20gb, with no contract. If we go over our 20gb they charge us another $89 and give us another 20gb. It zeros out and renews on the first of every month.
RV Insurance: $52 month
Our auto insurance is a little cheaper than in S&B because we moved our residency to a cheaper state. We insure the RV through Blue Sky RV Insurance, and have full-timers coverage with full loss replacement and $20,000 of personal belonging coverage. Our payment is $52 a month.
Entertainment: $200 month
We bought a annual pass to the National Parks, I think it was $90 and it paid for itself after 2 parks. We also go to state parks, the occasional amusement park, as well as rent redbox and go to the movies. In addition to this we have Hulu, Netflix and Audible accounts. We spent a similar amount of money in entertainment on the road as we did in our S&B, it’s just one different things. We do more state parks and museums now and fewer movie theaters and ice-cream outings. Brady also buys a fishing license almost every state we visit which can range from $50-100 each.
Renovations: varies depending on project
My husband thought when we sold the house his list of honey-dos would vanish…. sadly he was mistaken. Though our RV was new when we bought it, it still needs some remodeling to make it home. Our budget includes money for building lofts, putting in new curtains, replacing wallpaper and building out new cabinets. Eventually I would like new furniture and to extend the countertop on the island though I have a feeling that will not make it into the budget anytime soon.
We bought both our truck and RV new and purchased extended warranties. So rather than having a monthly repair budget we make payments. This category will vary depending on your own situation.
I think thats about it. If you are thinking about hitting the road full-time, let me know if there is anything I missed that you are wondering about.