Is RV living cheaper than other living arrangements? I wish I could say “Yes” or “No”. Unfortunately it is completely dependent on your personal needs, spending habits, and location. Let’s take a look at RV living costs.
Updated April 18, 2017
The costs of RVs varies greatly. You may buy yours outright and not finance. If you finance, your monthly payments will vary depending on down payments, interest rates, etc. Also, do you need a tow vehicle? Do you need to finance that? If you’re not sure whether buying new or used is the best option, read about the pros and cons here. In our case, we financed both. We went with a new 26 ft travel travel and an almost 10 year old truck. Even though the RV was new, it was about $20k and our truck was about $15k. Our monthly RV costs are $543. Our insurance for both is about $150/month.
The costs of campgrounds and RV parks also vary greatly. We try to keep these costs low – generally staying below $500/month. When looking for places to stay, make sure to ask how much for your stay, does it include electricity, are there sewer hookups, laundry facilities and how much, etc. For more details on this, check out Finding the Right RV Park. We usually stay at RV parks for a month or more at a time and we stay at parks that include electricity and have on-site laundry facilities. If you are looking to save on RV sites, there are various clubs that offer discounts, boondocking/wild camping (which tend to be free), and workamping (you work in exchange for a few site).
Food. Our food costs increased greatly on the road. We have a tiny fridge and a pantry that has to double as toy storage and paper towel/toilet paper storage. This means we can’t stock up when prices are low or during BOGO deals. We work really hard to eat at home as much as possible, but we tend to eat out during travel days. In recent months, we have been able to plan a bit better before our travel day and we have stocked up on some of our favorite snacks and easy to manage lunches. This way we can stop and eat in our RV instead of hitting the truck stops and blowing the budget. We had been spending $800/month of food…about $200 more than when we were in a traditional home (As of April 18, 2017, we have been able to bring this cost down by at least $100).
Fuel. Yeah, we have a big diesel truck. It gets thirsty…especially on travel days. We have only one vehicle now though, so we aren’t fueling up two vehicles, but still. Diesel isn’t always cheap (varies by region) and we go through quite a bit of it. If you are going to be boondocking/wildcamping, you will save on RV sites, but you will need to factor in the cost of fuel if you will be running a generator. We have found that running the generator is still costing us less than $7/day and we would not find a RV park for that amount, if they even exist.
Propane. We use our stove and oven a lot, so we use propane all year long. In addition, we use it when we are boondocking/wild camping to keep our fridge and freezer operating properly. We use the most propane during the winter months since the heater is also propane. We try to cycle between the propane heater and some small electric heaters. This helps use save on propane some. We can go months without refilling our propane tanks during the summer/warmer months (this is especially true if we are at a RV park with full hookups).
If you’re considering the full time life, or have already been on the road for some time, creating a realistic budget and keeping track of RV living costs will help you plan ahead and avoid nasty surprises.
Thank you so much. Please let us know if you have any questions about RV living costs or anything else. We are happy to answer any and all questions. Sign up for email notifications and never miss another post.
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I’m a blogging, YouTubing, RVing, roadschooling mama of two who is married to the fantastic Robert (the other half of Exploring the Local Life).