Full Time RVing Costs: Van Life Edition – September 2017

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What does it cost to live out of a camper van full time? In this post we share the fifth month of variable van life costs for full time travel. Continue reading for a detailed breakdown of costs.

For a six month average, watch the video below.

Full Time RVing Costs: Van Life Edition – September 2017


Total Miles Driven: 1,521
Avg. MPG: 14
Nights of Paid Camping: 0
Nights of Free Camping: 30 (Rest Area, Truck StopStreet Camping, Driveway Surfing, Hosted Campground Stay)
Meals Eaten Out: 2

Variable Costs Breakdown:

Food $553 – groceries and dining out
Gas $304
Campground Fees $0
Gym Membership $22
Misc $265
Total Variable Costs: $1,144
Cost Per Day: $38

Food costs went up 50% compared to last month. A large portion of that was due to us splurging on fresh salmon in Oregon since it was in season. We also stocked up on local beer and coffee before leaving the Pacific Wonderland which, coincidentally, is also the name of one of my favorite Oregon beers.

Since we decided to drive down from Oregon to the CA RV Show in Pomona, fuel costs also increased significantly.

Kait’s goal to keep our miscellaneous costs below $100 each month was crushed in September. We spent the majority of the $265 on teeth cleaning and a massage for my neck.

Thanks to a hosted stay, we didn’t spend any money on campgrounds in September, which helped offset the increased food, fuel and health care costs.

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 costs 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.

View More Van Life Cost Reports or click on the banner below.

Cost of Living Full Time in a RV

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12 thoughts on “Full Time RVing Costs: Van Life Edition – September 2017”

  1. Since you like to read, can you get a library card? Or possibly use one from one of your parents since you probably need a permanent address. I use one of two apps, Axis360 (I like this one best) or Overdrive and with my San Francisco Public Library card, I can download up to 15 books at a time, including most current best sellers, and read them on my iPad. You can keep books for 3 weeks and renew them if no one else is waiting for them. You can also download the audio versions of most books, but I prefer reading so I haven’t borrowed any audio books. Also with the library card, you can use the Kanopy app and access over 30,000 films, all for free.

    I’m retired and have no wish to travel around in an RV, but I love your You Tube blogs and I just finished reading your book (which I bought, not borrowed from the library!) and found it a very entertaining read. You are a very gifted writer.

    • Thanks Claudia! We have a permeant address in Texas and could get books through the library system there but we haven’t enjoyed that process. There is always a waiting list and when the book is ready, we’re in the middle of another one and aren’t able to read the second one fast enough.

      Thank you for buying the book and so happy you enjoyed it. If you have a moment and haven’t done so already, please consider leaving a review on Amazon.

  2. Just curious why your time with the Hymer is up in May. Is the Class B too small for the three of you?

    I ask since I am seeking a larger trailer than my Casita for my 50lbs of fun canine and myself and was told to consider a Class B rather than a larger fiberglass or Airstream trailer. The current search led me to your Hymer information.

  3. I think your monthly $11 for your kindle membership is fine, but why not buy books as you travel? Just about every library has book sales, so a 25cent paperback will last a few days!!

    • True but I much prefer reading on a Kindle since I’m usually up reading while Kait is asleep. Since we live in a van, putting the lights on to read can be pretty disruptive to the other person if they are in bed.

  4. Are my assumptions right? I estimate the cassette toilet saves $50 to $200 a month. $50/mo if use dump station or $200/mo for one day a week stay at a full service campground. So, assuming weekly visit to a campground, a black tank might cost a FT RVer $50 a week * 52 weeks = $2600. That monthly amount is more than the water, trash & sewage bill at my sticks and bricks house. Also a good bit higher than my highest electric bill. PS, finally getting a cold front! Yay!

      • Thanks Joe. I never would have guessed that dumping could be free 100% of the time but I guess it was evident since it never appeared in your monthly expenses. What I thought was an incentive favoring a cassette toilet has disappeared. Is your time with the Hymer coming to an end? Any idea what your next camper will be? I like the way the back doors open & give the great view (possibly) from the bed.

        • The incentive for the cassette is not having to worry about finding a dump station. Because of it’s ease of use, we prefer the cassette over the black tank – especially the small tanks that come with most vans. Our time with the Hymer is up in May and no idea what’s next yet.


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