Full Time RVing Costs: Van Life Edition – May 2017

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission on the products or services you purchase using the links. There is no additional cost to you and the earnings help keep this website running. Read the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission on the products or services you purchase using the links. There is no additional cost to you and the earnings help keep this website running. Read the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

What does it cost to live out of a camper van full time? Well, we calculated the first month of van life expenses and we’re fairly happy with the numbers. Continue reading for a detailed breakdown of costs.

For a six month average, watch the video below.

Full Time RVing Costs: Van Life Edition – May 2017:


Total Miles Driven: 1,375
MPG: 14
Nights of Paid Camping: 7 (Rincon Parkway, Red Rock Canyon Campground, Elks Lodge)
Nights of Free Camping: 24 (Harvest Hosts, Street Camping, Driveway Surfing, Dispersed Camping)
Meals Eaten Out: 2

Variable Costs Breakdown:

Food $357 – groceries and dining out
Gas $252
Campground Fees $143
Gym Membership $22
Dog Food $30
Misc $178
Total Variable Costs: $982
Cost Per Day: $32

Free camping helped keep campground costs to a minimum. If you’d like to learn more about how to find free places to stay, check out our post on How to Find Free Camping in National Forests.

Miscellaneous costs were higher than we anticipated because we had to make several “getting started” purchases.

Fixed Costs

Costs such as cell phone plans, health insurance, vehicle insurance, club memberships like Costco, Escapees, Harvest Hosts, and Elks are not included. The reason for this is we’ve found that fixed costs for RVing can vary dramatically depending on your situation. Below are some examples for reference.

If you pay cash for a used RV, you won’t have an RV payment and insurance will be lower on an older vehicle.

We pay about $150/month for an unlimited cell phone plan that we need for all the content we upload. You may only need a pay as you go cell phone or not even need one.

If you work for a company that pays for health insurance, you won’t have that as an added cost. Since we work for ourselves, we pay for our own health insurance.

Being avid readers, we have the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription which runs about $11/month. There are other subscriptions and services that you may choose to have that can increase fixed costs.

We did share our fixed cost when we started out. If you’d like to get an idea of what those costs were for us, head over Cost of RVing in a Motorhome for One Year.

To view more van life reports, Cost of RVing.

Cost of Living Full Time in a RV

Leave a Comment

14 thoughts on “Full Time RVing Costs: Van Life Edition – May 2017”

  1. Good morning Joe and Kait,
    My wife and I talk a lot about doing what you and Lait have done. Up until last week we didn’t have any debt. We just bought a new travel trailer. We are looking into work camping . I’m at a job I’ve been at for 24 years, good money and benefits but we are worried about the health insurance. Could you give some insight as to what y’all do and the average cost for health insurance? We love your YouTube channel. Be safe out there.
    Al jones

  2. Hi Kate, Joe and Leo,

    My wife Emma introduced me to your videos a couple of months ago; she was absolutely excited to see you as a family actually living a dream we were never sure was possible. We are both Veterans and we have an amazing 13 y/o Italian mix breed named Bison. I just wanted to say you have absolutely inspired my wife and I as well as Bison that our dream is really not too far out of reach.
    Thank You Russos,

    Paul, Emma and Bison.

    • Thanks for reaching out Paul and so happy we’ve inspired you and Emma! Leo is about 12-13 and although he’s slowed down a lot, he still loves getting to new places and “guarding” the campsite while he watches everything go by.

      If you haven’t seen it yet, we also wrote a book about how we went from our 9-5 jobs to life on the road. You may find it equally inspiring and may give you some great information: http://amzn.to/2gDNR6m

  3. Hi guys, I’m following you since a few days. I was wondering if you still hitch the Jeep behind the RV since you have the van.

    Keep it up

  4. I am looking hard into the boondocking life style. I am planning for a start date for late 2018 when I retire. This is something I have wanted to since I was young. Sharing the costs of doing so is helping me in the planning process. The more you break it down the better. One of the biggest questions I have regarding the type of Motor home that I want to get regards gas efficiency versus fresh/grey/black water capacity trade offs. Your information makes me think that gas consumption should be given more consideration. I have watched many of your videos and appreciate your content. I will be checking back. Thanks. Boondock Scott

    • Hey Scott! That’s a tough call…tank capacity vs fuel economy. I think the big consideration is if you plan to boondock for longer periods (7+ days) then you definitely need larger tanks. If you plan to move more and longer distances, then fuel consumption should be a bigger concern. You can also get tanks like this one: http://amzn.to/2vp2Zuz to help supplement your capacity.

  5. I’m just now learning of this travel lifestyle. I’m very anxious to see if this is something I can do one day. Just doing the research right now. I would love to be able to travel the country and not have to worry about living arrangements. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

    Thank you

  6. I’m really interested in how you guys get along in your Class B. I really like that idea more than the A or C and while I am a ways away, I am learning now from you guys, so keep it up! Many of your articles from your former vehicle don’t really apply any more…or do they? Like Costco I see is still a fixed cost. But how the heck do you keep food in that tiny space? What about household items, etc?

    • Hey Tim – Most of the costs from the Class A still apply, but we pay less for things like gas since we’re no longer driving around an RV that gets 6 mpg. We also have not hooked up since we’ve been on the road with the van which means less reliance on RV parks. So in general, similar costs, but lower with the van.

  7. Thanks for sharing this guys! I’m glad that you are happy with the new costs and that everything is going great.


Leave a Comment