One of the first questions people want to know when considering living the RV life is, how much does it actually cost to live in an RV full time?
There’s a common misconception about RV life being a very cheap way to live. It can be, but it can also be very expensive. It all comes down to your lifestyle and this article is going to help you understand all of the expenses associated with RV living.
Looking for an easy answer? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. Living full time in an RV can range anywhere from about $2,000 a month to $10,000 a month. And, there are even people out there who manage who do it for less (and more) than that!
However, while there isn’t any hard research I can quote on this, after talking to many full time RVers about their monthly budgets, I would be comfortable saying that a majority of full time RVers budgets come in somewhere between $3,500 – $6,000 a month for all expenses.
RV Living Costs
If you’re considering making the jump into full time RV life, chances are you’ve already started thinking about how different it will be.
No more costly mortgage or rent to pay…
No more property taxes or HOA fees…
So, what WILL you have to pay for? Here’s a list of expenses that are special or different when it comes to RV life and that you may need to consider for your full time travel budget:
- Campground fees
- RV/Truck payments
- Fuel (yes, you probably spend money on fuel now, but you’ll most likely be spending more)
- RV & auto insurance
- Camping/RV club memberships
- Dump/water fees
- RV maintenance
- Mobile Internet
See What WE Pay To Live Full Time in an RV
We’ve been tracking our expenses meticulously (every penny!) since 2022 and share our monthly RV living costs every month. We put together a video that explains how much it costs us to travel full time in our RV for an entire year. You can watch it below.
If you are interested in a more month by month breakdown, you can see those here on Instagram. One thing you’ll notice is that our monthly costs while living full time in an RV can vary quite a bit month to month, so it’s important to have some money set aside for those fluctuations.
RV Living Costs Calculator: Estimate Your Costs
The easiest way to know how much your RV lifestyle would cost you is to plug the numbers into a budget planning calculator! You can get a copy of ours for FREE by entering your email below.
IMPORTANT: Be Realistic & Consider ALL Expenses
I see people often make the mistake of thinking that when they “get on the road”, they’re going to drastically change their habits. This usually leads to being unexpectedly over budget.
If you eat out a lot now, you probably aren’t going to suddenly start cooking every meal at home. Maybe you will for a week or two…but old habits die hard.
And, it’s important to realize that many bills will follow you once you get on the road. Debt, health insurance, phone bills, your Netflix subscription…none of those expenses are going away just because you live in a home with wheels now.
Before we hit the road, we sat down and wrote down every single bill and expenses we had and then we estimated what they would be once we started living and traveling in our RV.
If you download our budget planner above, you’ll get an automatic calculator where you can just plug in your expenses and see how it affects your totals, but if you want to do this more manually, here is a list of monthly expenses to get you started (I’ve included the RV living specific items from above as well):
- Campground fees
- RV Payment
- Truck/Car Payment
- Auto Insurance
- RV Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Cell phones
- Monthly subscriptions (Netflix, etc.)
- Storage facility
- RV Upgrades/Projects
- Eating out
- Household/Personal Care
- Pet Food/Care
- Sewer Dump/water fees
- “I want it” (This is a category we like to include for when we just…want stuff)
I know, that looks like a pretty long list of expenses. Some of them may be small, but they all add up. And planning out a realistic budget is your first step towards making sure that you know what to expect when it comes to your cost of full time RV living!
Have an RV Emergency Fund
Before you hit the road, I highly encourage you to have an emergency fund set aside for unexpected expenses (ones that aren’t on the list above!). Tire blowouts, breakdowns and costly RV repairs are, unfortunately, something that you can expect living on the road full time.
Here are a few examples for you from our first year on the road. We had a slide system stop working on our old RV and replacing it cost us $2,500. Another time we had to put the RV in the repair shop, which means we had to stay at a hotel and that cost about $500. When we had to replace all four tires on the truck it cost about $1,800.
How To Live Cheap in an RV Full Time
Our biggest expenses each month are fuel, food and our truck payment. After living and traveling full time in an RV for over two years, I’ve discovered some of the best ways to live in an RV for cheap (if that’s your goal).
Tip 1: Travel less.
We tend to move every 1 – 2 weeks and this definitely plays a role in our higher fuel and food costs. More towing and driving means we’re spending more on diesel fuel and we’ve found that when we travel more, we eat out more. Staying in one place for longer can help in several ways:
- You’re usually driving less, so you save on fuel costs
- If you’re at a campground, you can get weekly or monthly rates
- You’re able to establish a routine and things like meal planning and cooking is easier
Tip 2: Get a smaller RV
We have a 35 foot fifth wheel camper, which means we needed a large truck to tow it safely. Larger RVs and larger trucks are more expensive, which means higher monthly payments. Smaller rigs can also get better gas mileage and so you can save on fuel costs.
You might even consider a van, Class B or Class C, which can serve as your “home” and “vehicle” all in one. We also know several RVers who carry a motorcycle as their second vehicle, which can greatly reduce fuel costs when driving around a destination.
Tip 3: Learn to live off grid (boondocking)
Campground costs can add up exponentially. Nightly rates usually range between $35 – $55 for an “average” campground, which can easily add up to over $1,000 every month. Nicer RV resorts can easily cost $65 – $100 a night! Getting weekly or monthly rates can help cut down on those costs a lot with monthly rates usually ranging between $500 – $900, depending on location.
If you want to live on the beach in California or Florida…you can go ahead and double or triple that!
But, if you boondock, you could reduce your campground costs to $0! Boondocking is when you stay in your RV with no hookups (no electricity, water or sewer hookups). You can do this in places all across the United States on public lands. If you want to learn more about everything there is to know about boondocking, check out our Beginners Guide to Boondocking here.
Need help planning your full time RV living budget?
I don’t have a degree in finance, but I did study financial therapy during my Master’s degree program and even published a number of papers in journals on the topic…So, I do consider myself fairly experienced when it comes to the budget planning process. And it is quite a process! There’s a reason why most people don’t do it.
You can get an exact copy of the template we use to track our expenses every month by filling out your information below!