We have now gone past our second year of fulltime RVing. Actually we have lived in our motorhome for 30 months but these numbers only reflect the time we have actually been traveling (25 months as of Nov.)
While we researched the possibility of living a fulltime RV lifestyle we found it very helpful looking at what others experienced cost wise while on the road. So we try to pay the favor back by sharing some of our expenses while on the road in hope it might help others that are researching this way of life.
You will notice there are no insurance costs,, health or auto listed in the update because they can vary way too much from person to person. Lucky for us we have not experienced high medical costs at this point. But that certainly needs to be taken into consideration.
Diane’s health insurance is covered through the VA and I have a high deductible ($7500) individual plan that we pay for month to month.
Unfortunately my insurance does not cover vision and I needed new glasses this year so even though it will not show in the numbers it was an expense that hit us to the tune of around $600 with exams and glasses. My last pair served me well for 2 years and I’m hoping these will do the same. And the VA does not cover dental and Diane mustard up a $400 dental bill this year after an exam and a filling. Both expenses we didn’t have during our first year on the road.
You will notice that the categories we have listed we consider areas that everyone will have while on the road. But you should think about storage fees, a maintenance fund, License and registration fees, clothing and entertainment, vet bills and food if you travel with a pet and the cost of any hobbies you may have. All of these are also way to variable from person to person so we won’t list our expenses in these areas.
RV Fuel ,, First year = $3787
Second year = $3287
Jeep Fuel,, First year = $2310
Second year = $2109
Food in,, First year = $4420
Second year = $4893
Eating out,, First year = $2639
Second year = $2890
Campground fee’s,, First year = $8515 (1 month at Lazy Days with no campground fees)
Second year = $6487 (3 months at Lazy Days with no campground fees)
Average cost per night,, First Year = $23.32
Second Year = $17.77
Direct TV,, First year = $760
Second year = $1014.89 (We switched to HD plus lost a $10 per month discount we
We were getting in 2013)
Phone & internet,, First year = $1764
Second year = $1873.80
Mail service,, First year = $210
Second year = $200
On the actual spreadsheet we keep for all of our expenses we have columns for storage, Prius Insurance (in storage), Prius registration, Jeep registration, Jeep maintenance, Jeep fuel, RV/Jeep insurance, RV registration, RV maintenance, RV fuel, Health Insurance, Propane, Direct TV, Food in, Food out, Phone/Internet, Campground Fee’s, Campground Electric, Misc. Health/laundry, Mail forwarding, RV clubs, Motorhome goodies, Clothing, Entertainment, Household and Other.
You can see why we don’t share the numbers in some of those areas because they are so individual. For example we spent $564 on clothing in 2014 and only $343 in 2013and really didn’t need to spend THAT much. But how can you compare people’s tastes or wants in clothing?
Taking into account ALL of the categories we keep track of we were $3627 over our budget for the year. The main culprits that caused that were the unexpected brake job for the Jeep, a new printer, our new Keurig coffee pot, our new Strong-back camp chairs, our new Green Mountain BBQ/smoker, our new wheel and tire covers and the unplanned medical expenses.
Some of those things we really didn’t need to spend the money on but others were a must. Without the ones that we “really” didn’t need to buy we would have been pretty close to budget.
A few comments
1st year comment: We have a washer drier on board our RV so that helps with laundry costs. Even though I didn’t list the cost of soap ECT. Some of the laundry mats are pretty proud of their machines and charge accordingly. Plus they are a hassle in our book.
2nd year comment: No change here either. We would not own a RV without a washer and dryer. But that’s just our personal preference. A lot of people would rather have the added storage space and less weight. We would rather have the freedom to be taking a walk, watching TV, chatting with friends or anything while cloths are washing rather than going to a laundry mat and being tied down. Plus the thought of using machines that have been used for who knows what is not appealing to us.
1st year comment: We treat this as a life style and not a vacation. If we treated it like a vacation I’m afraid we would be broke pretty fast and our fulltime RV lifestyle would come to a premature end.
2nd Year comment: No change here. We don’t go,, do things,, every day. We have our share of stay home days. If we are in a place we find interesting for a week we might tour for 3 or 4 days and stay home the rest. But staying home always include walks and bike rides and the occasional social hour. And touring does not always have to cost much money, there are lots of things to do for free.
1st year comment: We travel pretty slowly. We feel it allows us to really experience an area while we are there. So our fuel costs may be a little less than those that like to cover a bunch of miles each month. When we hit the road we budgeted 1 tank of fuel in the motor home per month on average and have not gone over that. In fact we are well under that on average.
2nd year comment: We still prefer to travel 100 to 200 miles and spend a week however after leaving Florida we did pick up the pace a little in order to reach Oregon by June for doctor appointments. And we did stay put longer in one spot while visiting family and friends while in Oregon and only moved 5 times between June and October.
Our fuel costs for the 2nd year was under what we spent the first year by just a little and we attribute that to sitting still more while visiting family and friends in Oregon. But we did drive from Florida to Oregon between April and June.
1st year comment: Just like while living in a house and working you can only spend what you have so budgeting is important unless you are one of the lucky ones with unlimited income,,, we are not LOL. And we only live on the income we have each month. We have made the decision to not touch any of the money we have in investments and to leave them in place for when we want or need to get off of the road.
2nd year comment: No changes here. We still have not touched our investments to support our traveling life style yet.
Here are some interesting tid-bits.
* The 1st year on the road we stayed at 57 different camping spots.
** The second year on the road we stayed at 36 different spots. Between being stuck in Florida until April of 2014 and staying in Oregon as long as we did visiting family and friends the number went down some but felt good.
* The 1st year our shortest stay was 1 night and our longest stay was 17 nights.
** The second year (not counting our stay at Lazy Days while buying our new coach), our shortest stay was 1 day and our longest was 60 while visiting friends in Oregon.
* That makes our average stay in one spot after 2 years 8 nights. We have been talking about doing more 2 weeks stays while down south during the winter months this year.
* The 1st year our cheapest stay per night of course was while boon docking at $0 cost and our most expensive was 60.96 while visiting Nashville. And it wasn’t even the nicest park we stayed at (location, location, location).
** The 2nd year our cheapest stays per night were boon docking at a $0 cost (I guess that goes without saying). And our most expensive was $65 in Borrego Springs, Ca. (Our New Year’s treat to ourselves) and the second highest was $51.55 while visiting New Orleans. And once again neither were the nicest place’s we have stayed (location, location, location holds true yet again).
* At the end of 12 months our average cost per night was $25.52. We are pretty happy with that I guess. We budget $25 per night. Campground fee’s in the eastern states are way more expensive than the western states.
** The average cost per night of our second year on the road was $17.84. And our overall average cost per night for the 2 years on the road is $20.69. When we first hit the road we set a budget of $25 per night so I guess even though we have certainly been over budget many months our primary goal is to be at or below our budget at the end of each year. And we have so far been able to do that with a mix of boon docking, staying at the average campgrounds and throwing a few resort type spots in for the now and again pampering LOL!!
* 1st year comment,, We have found state parks to be our favorite places to stay. And they are best mid-week when most everyone has gone.
** 2nd year comment,,, We still like state parks the best but we have certainly found a couple privately owned parks scattered around that have been very very nice. And we do like a good mix of little or no creature comforts and the more plush parks. If all we did was one or the other I think we would get tired of the life style pretty quickly. Variety is the spice of life they say. And if they don’t we do LOL!!
* Large RV parks with all the bells and whistles mixed in with the park model type structures have been our least favorite places to stay. We just don’t use or need all that stuff. And being mixed in with all the park models takes away from the feel and look we like. We are talking places with 400+ sites with the lap siding type park models (No offence meant to anyone, it’s just not for us). But we have found that we like the more pampered feel now and again of a resort setting. When we first hit the road we just wanted to boondock and live as cheap as we could. But we have decided that variety is a key factor to our happiness.
*In our 1st year we found our food budget to be the hardest to control
** In our 2nd year we continue to find that our food budget is the hardest thing for us to stay within LOL!! It could be that we simply didn’t set a realistic budget from the beginning. Or it could be that Diane buys too many name brand products, or it could be I buy too many expensive snack foods LOL!!
- (1st year comment) It’s easier to say follow the weather than it really is. But within reason,, doable.
** (2nd year) No change to this comment. You’re still going to get caught in some rain or a storm now and again but just knowing that overall you can stay in areas with good weather is priceless.
* (1st year comment), We are extremely happy we have a washer and drier onboard!!
** (2nd year comment), We still feel the same. Everyone has their own ideas on this topic but for us we would not be without a washer and drier in our RV.
- (1st year comment) We don’t miss all the,, stuff,, we had while living in the house for the most part. Diane does miss working in the yard,,, WHATS WITH THAT!!!
- (2nd year comment) The same holds true now but I certainly do not hear Diane say she misses the yard work as much now.
- (1st year comment) We packed way to many cloths to bring with us.
- (2nd year comment) Even after purging a few times since we have been on the road we STILL have cloths with us that we have never worn. How can that be??
* (1st year comment) we like small town America compared to larger cities
** (2nd year comment) This is probably even truer after spending some time on the east coast.
- (1st year comment) We put too much stuff in storage. Need to purge some.
- (2nd year comment) After our 1st year we condensed down from 2 storage units to one. We probably STILL have too much stuff in storage but we are content with it at this time.
* (1st year comment) We don’t seem to,, want,, stuff like we used to. We don’t just buy because we can.
** (2nd year comment) Still holds true even though we seemed to loosen our belts a little and not be so tight with our money. For example we bought our new motorhome, we bought the Quad-Copter, we purchased new tire and front windshield covers and we bought our new Keurig coffee maker.
* (1st year comment) We meet some great friendly people while traveling. We have met less grumpy people in the year we have been on the road than I would deal with in just one month while I worked. Or maybe we just don’t pay the grumpy people any attention now LOL!!
** (2nd year comment) Still holds true. Most people we meet in campgrounds are like minded and are just trying to enjoy life and are not wound so tight.
* (1st year comment) I wish I had left work sooner instead of waiting around trying to make life easier for others. The world moves on with or without you.
** (2nd year comment) No change of heart here!! I will say that even though I was plagued with thoughts of my old job far longer than I thought I would be once we hit the road, I very seldom think about the place now. And when I do I don’t think my blood pressure rises as far as it used to LOL!!
* (1st year comment) we miss our family and friends but think they are all happy for us.
** (2nd year comment) This still holds true and it was great getting back to Oregon for our visit after being gone for 18 months.
- (1st year comment) I didn’t take into account that keeping a blog would require a more expensive data plan to accommodate pictures being uploaded. This may or may not affect you depending on the campgrounds you stay at. However a lot of the places we stay do not provide Wi-Fi.
- (2nd year comment) Still holds true, in fact even more so now that I have been messing with video’s taken by our Quad-Copter
** (2nd year comment) If you are a recycler and travel around you could become frustrated with the lack of recycling in some parts of the country. And if one person of the pair is more of a recycler than the other be ready for the possibility of conflicts LOL!!. Diane is the big recycler between us. I will recycle but it needs to be convenient. If a park does not participate in recycling I have no problem tossing stuff in the garbage. Diane however is more inclined to bag things in hope that our next stop may recycle. So if I start finding recyclables hidden I get frustrated which in turn creates tension. It is what it is, I don’t like clutter and Diane wants to save the earth.
I don’t think, no I know that we could only live this life style as long as we stay in motion. Meaning we keep traveling like we have and not staying put in any one spot for extended lengths of time.
I could see us spending a month or maybe even 3 or 4 in one spot during the winter when the nice weather (we consider nice weather as warm) is restricted to the southern states. Or even 2 or 3 months while visiting family and friends back in Oregon. But if we had to stay put any longer than that I’m afraid we couldn’t do it. That feeling might change in the future, who knows.
We are pretty happy that we really for the most part have stayed within our planned budget since hitting the road. But I’m afraid if we didn’t keep a spreadsheet keeping track of expenses like we do it would be very easy for us to get carried away. It’s a simple tool that keeps us in check and one we didn’t use while still working so it didn’t come naturally.
Before we hit the road while talking or reading about people that had been on the road fulltime for 2, 3, 5, 8 or even more years we thought, how the heck could you do that!! But now that we have been on the road for over 2 years we understand how. Time really does go by quickly and there are so many great things to see and experience.
And while planning the life style we thought long and hard about being away from friends and being loners while traveling but it is amazing how many new friends you make along the way. And it’s even more amazing at how often you run into the new (traveling) friends in different parts of the country. And it’s a snowball effect, the longer we stay on the road the more and more friends we gather which in turn increase the chances of seeing them where ever we are. We have used the term, it’s a small world, more times over the last 2 years than we ever used it in our previous life style.
Yep, it’s a pretty darn good life. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can stay put, live off of solar power in the middle of the desert, eat cheap and stay away from people if you want. OR you can move around all the time, stay in high end resort type RV parks, drink expensive wine and eat steak every night and attend every type of social event known to man. Or do as we have and mix a little of everything in. I’m sure this life style is not for everyone, and we are darn glad it’s not because we would have one heck of a time finding a spot to camp LOL!! All I can say is don’t knock it if you have not tried it.
To put it simply, if you have a desire to fulltime and the means we would certainly recommend giving it a chance. You only live once with no guarantee just how long that will be.