Are you tired of living in the same place day after day, year after year? Do you dream of traveling the country and experiencing new sights and adventures? If so, RV living may be the perfect solution for you.
RV living is a unique and exciting way of life, offering the freedom to travel and explore at your own pace. However, before embarking on this adventure, it’s important to understand the costs associated with living the RV lifestyle. We traveled over 6,000 miles during the summer of 2022. We tracked our costs, including fuel, campgrounds, and more.
In this article, we’ll explore the various expenses involved in RV living, and our total costs, so you can make an informed decision if this lifestyle is right for you.
RV Travel Vs. RV Living
We love RV life and more specifically RV travel. Having a home on wheels gives you the ability to move from place to place and see the country. Another ancillary benefit is also being able to move on If things don’t feel right in the campground. You can pull in the slides, pull up the levelers, and move on to a different campground. Our top video was about a situation where we had to move campgrounds, and the reason why was pretty unbelievable.
Many people ask us how we afford RV life and think this lifestyle is expensive. Others feel that moving into an RV and living the travel life is cheaper than sticks and bricks and living. So what does RV Living really cost?
Is RV Living Expensive or Cheap?
We’re going to share with you our experience. After you see our REAL world numbers, you can determine if this lifestyle is expensive or cheaper than “traditional” sticks & bricks living.
Why We Live RV Travel Lifestyle
We do NOT live this lifestyle to save money on expenses. We live this lifestyle to have experiences, see new places and faces, and explore. And we prioritize our financial resources to focus on these goals. Because our goals, experiences over things, RV Living costs might be different for us than for someone who is stationary.
For example, during holidays or birthdays, we have a small budget for gifts for our children. We forgo giving gifts to each other. Last year we experienced 4 days at Disney with our kids for their Christmas presents. Never visit Disney 4 days in a row, just a word of wisdom from experience!
Experiences cost money. In sharing our 2022 costs, we have a column on our budgeting and planning sheet to track these different types of expenses.
(Not) RV Living Cost
It’s important to note some costs we are NOT going to include in the overall expense report. These are not really “RV Living” related expenses. They are costs you will have regardless of Full Time RV Living or living in a sticks/bricks home.
Some of these “life” expenses are:
- Groceries. You are going to shop for groceries whether you are on the road or not. Your grocery budget will not necessarily change just because of a change of lifestyle with RVing. Whatever you spend on groceries now, you can pretty much expect to spend on the road. Unless you are visiting a very expensive area like maybe Southern California or New York City. The cost of groceries in some areas can be higher.
- Eating Out. This is a personal habit and lifestyle choice. This habit doesn’t necessarily change as you jump in the RV, Bus, or Van. If you realize you are spending too much on eating out currently, realize it’s a personal habit to work on. How often you choose to eat out is really unrelated to a Nomadic Lifestyle.
- Insurances. You will need insurance for your car, RV, life insurance (unless you are “self-insured” via personal wealth), and health insurance. These are “life” expenses.
- Cell Phone/mobile internet. This expense is a “gray area” because you might need a better travel plan for mobile internet. We do have a video where we have shared those expenses along with our mobile internet and cell phone setup. It’s not elaborate and it works. We also have Starlink as a backup option for when our hot spots aren’t getting a very good signal.
The 5 Main Expenses for RV Living
Now for the main costs of living this lifestyle. We have discussed “life” costs vs. RV Living Costs, so let’s go over the true cost of an RV Lifestyle. These expenses can be really broken down into multiple categories. And we are going to share our numbers from our most recent large haul this past summer of 2022.
RV living is a unique and exciting way of life that is rapidly growing in popularity, particularly in the U.S. It offers the opportunity to travel, explore new places, and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of life on the road. However, like any lifestyle choice, RV living comes with its own set of costs. And it’s important to understand these costs before making the decision to adopt this lifestyle.
There are several factors that can influence the cost of RV living. The type and size of the RV, location, duration of your travels, and personal preferences and lifestyle choices.
The Cost of an RV
The cost of an RV is likely to be the most significant expense when it comes to RV living. There are many types of RVs available on the market, ranging from basic campers to travel trailers and low-cost models to high-end luxury vehicles. The type of RV you choose will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and lifestyle needs.
A basic travel trailer can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $30,000, while a motorhome can cost upwards of $100,000. A fifth-wheel trailer is another option, which typically ranges from $18,000 to $160,000. Additionally, there are many different sizes of RVs to choose from, ranging from small, compact models to large, spacious vehicles.
When considering the cost of an RV, it’s important to factor in additional expenses such as insurance, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. These expenses can add up quickly, particularly if you own an older RV or if you plan on traveling frequently. Our Class A RV is a Diesel Pusher, adding to the overall maintenance costs – including oil changes, labor costs, and price for parts.
Campground fees are another major expense when it comes to RV living. Campgrounds offer a range of amenities and services, including electrical and water hookups, showers, laundry facilities, and more. These services come at a cost. Campground fees can range from $20 to $80 per night, depending on the location and level of amenities.
Many RVers choose to stay at campgrounds for extended periods of time, which can help to reduce costs. Monthly rates typically range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the location and type of campground.
Our total cost was $2,167.14 It averages out to just under $29/night for the duration of our trip.
We did “moochdock” for almost a month in Colorado. However, we did give our family member $100 for the added utility costs and have included this in our numbers. During this “mooch-docking” stay, we were hooked up to only a household 110 outlet. However, we could run 1 a/c and still run our washer/dryer, etc. This is in part because of Soft Start RV. We did make a video about how Soft Start RV works.
How we saved on campground costs. We did 5 nights of “lotdocking” in parking lots and 1 more night of “moochdocking” at another family member’s house. We LOVE Cracker Barrel overnight parking when we can find it. This is in part because we love having a great breakfast before jumping on the road!
Another way we saved on campgrounds was by finding city-run and county-run campgrounds that were $30/night or less.
Fuel costs are another significant expense when it comes to RV living. RVs are not known for their fuel efficiency, particularly larger motorhomes and fifth wheels. Depending on the size and type of RV, fuel costs can range from $0.10 to $0.30 per mile.
To help reduce fuel costs, many RVers stay in one location for longer periods of time limiting their travel distances. Additionally, using a fuel-efficient vehicle for day trips and errands can help to save money on fuel.
|Total Fuel Cost (includes Jeep & RV||Total Miles Traveled in Our RV|
We used our Generator on the RV from time to time which shares diesel fuel with the RV fuel tank. We used the generator often as this summer was FREAKING HOT! And during travel days we wanted to keep everyone cool – especially the pets. We visited Theodore Rosevelt National Park in North Dakota where it was over 100 degrees. Running the generator while parked was a perfect way to keep all of us comfortable while eating lunch.
How We Save on Fuel Costs
Our TSD Logistics card saved us approximately $400 in fuel costs! The average price we paid for Diesel Fuel was around $2.90/gallon. There were some areas where there were no fuel stations that participated in the program. If you are a TSD member, the open roads app is available to check fuel station locations and prices. Another way to save on fuel is Good Sam members. You can also save .05/gallon for gasoline and .08/gallon on diesel fuel at Flying J and Pilot locations.
Food and Supplies
Food and supplies are other expenses to consider when living in an RV. Cooking in your RV can be a cost-effective option. It’s important to factor in the cost of groceries, cooking equipment, and other supplies.
Many RVers choose to shop at discount stores and buy in bulk to save money on groceries. Additionally, using a portable grill or slow cooker can help reduce the need for cooking equipment and save on propane.
Entertainment and Activities
Entertainment and activities are an important part of the RV lifestyle, but they can also be a significant expense. RVers often enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing, which can be low-cost or free.
However, other activities such as visiting tourist attractions, going to the movies, or dining out can be more expensive. To reduce these costs, RVers look for discounts, and coupons or take advantage of free activities or events in the area
There are a few facts that are important to know: We traveled 6,881 miles in our RV and about 1,000 miles driving in our Jeep. We were on the road (away from our home base) for 76 days (or about 2.5 months). The total during this summer 2022 trip was $8,870 which comes out to around $3,548/per month.
During this trip we did the following activities:
- Went to a St. Louis Cardinals Game
- Visited City Museum in St. Louis
- Visited a State Park in Colorado with our inflatable Kayaks
- Kayak Trip in the Apostle Islands in WI
- Ferry to Mackinac and rented bikes
- Savings TIP! We do a lot of free things like hiking or using our own kayaks on local lakes.
- We had a 4th Grade National Park pass so all of the National Parks we visited were FREE!
These are just the costs of our large summer trip for 2022. We take many other trips throughout the year away from our home base. For example, we’ve recently been to Venice, FL, and visited the Miami area. (We highly recommend Biscayne National Park)!
We purposely moved our home base to Central Florida. This was so we can be in closer proximity to areas that we can visit during an extended weekend, etc.
RV Living Costs Can Vary
Now your costs for RV Life might be different. We’ve seen videos of people sharing their costs for RV Living that are less and others that are higher. Your goal in living an RV Life will make a difference in costs. The less you travel, the lower the costs. The more you travel and the more you do the higher the costs.
Our goal is to have experiences over things. So our costs will be higher than others with a goal of RV Living to save money. We consider living the RV lifestyle an investment in memories.
Costs can vary but we hope we’ve given you a rough idea of what to maybe plan for. Let us know in the comments more about what your goals are for RV Life!