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Living and working in an RV full-time can be a spectacular experience. And people like it for varying reasons: some people just love the feeling of freedom, while others finally receive the opportunity to release the inner adventurer that has been restrained in them for so long.
And aside from an outstanding experience, living in an RV full-time may be able to save you plenty of money.
A question arises: how much does it cost to live in an RV park? For most RV parks, it is going to be around the $30-40 per night mark for private parks and about $20 for public parks. Some beachfront RV campsites are going to cost close to $100 per night as well.
The rig is going to be the biggest cost in your RV journey. While you pay this cost just once in the very beginning, it requires a lot of resources.
RVs can be pretty expensive, ranging from $20.000 for the lower-end travel trailers to $200-500 for the best Class A motorhomes. These would be the prices for brand-new RVs. And because of this huge range of prices, it is pretty difficult to say how much money you will spend on an RV.
If you were to buy a used RV, you could save plenty of money. Buying a 5-6 years old RV, you could pay roughly just half of its original price. This is a big saving, but you’d still need to spend plenty of money on a rig.
You could also finance your rig, which is a good idea if you don’t have the money to pay for an RV upfront. The cost of financing will really depend on its term and the RVs model, but it should be somewhere around the $600 mark.
After your rig, gas is going to be your second biggest expense. However, this cost is going to be recurring, unlike the price of your rig.
Once again, it is pretty difficult to say how much gas will cost you. This will heavily depend on how much you are planning to drive around. Gas prices play a huge role as well.
However, gas isn’t really that expensive. You could expect something around the $300-400 mark monthly, depending on how much you are going to drive around.
RV Campsite Costs
You will be staying in RV parks, right? If so, you will need to include their costs in your budget as well.
Again, the nightly fee for RV campsites varies widely. However, with most of the RV parks, it is going to be around the $30-40 mark for private parks and about $20 for public parks. Some beachfront RV campsites are going to cost close to $100 per night as well.
Private RV camps are more expensive, but they offer a much higher degree of privacy. And besides, you can expect higher service and facility quality from private camps. As for public parks, they are indeed cheaper, but they aren’t guaranteed to have great service.
If you were to camp at public camps, then you’d need to dedicate around $600 per month. As for private RV parks, the number would go up to around $1200 per month.
You could bring these costs down via certain membership programs like Passport America or Good Sam. As of February 2019, Passport America offered 50% discounts at 1800 campgrounds for a yearly $44 fee. As for Good Sam, they offered 10% discounts on camping grounds, as well as discounts on fuel for a yearly $29 base fee.
Whether or not to sign up for such memberships is up to you. However, these memberships should allow you to save plenty of money in the long run.
Food costs are also going to be very, very individual. Everyone has their own diet. Some people can only afford cheap products, while others like to eat out and consume fast food every single day.
Regardless of your routine, your grocery costs will most likely be the same as wherever you are living now. Unless you decide to ramp up your food intake or, on the contrary, save money on eating.
For some perspective, a family of two would probably average at about $400 per month if they were to shop for fresh foods 1-2 times per week. This number may be helpful for you if you don’t know what your costs will be.
However, we would advise you to base your grocery costs on your current costs. That’s the easiest way to go about it.
In addition, you may want to add an additional $200-300 to your monthly eating budget, if you can. When traveling to new places, you would probably want to have a taste of local foods. So why not have some headroom in the budget for such cases?
Phone & internet
Phone & internet is definitely a thing that you should include in your budget. You can’t really rely on the public wireless networks in RV parks because they are very often slow and overburdened. And besides, security may be an issue in them as well.
But how much a phone & internet plan is going to cost you will depend on what kind of a phone and internet user you are. If you will be working online, then you would probably need a bigger plan.
For some perspective, as of February 2019, Verizon’s Above Unlimited plan with 75GB 4G LTE and unlimited talk & text cost $60 monthly per line. Alternatively, a shared plan with 8GB 4G LTE with unlimited talk & text would cost $70 per month. You could base your calculations on these numbers, use your current expenses, or just research what kind of plans are available out there to see which one is better for you.
You will have to do regular maintenance on your RV. There are some basic things that you will need to be doing like changing oil or refilling on propane. In addition, accidents can happen, forcing you to spend quite some money on getting things back in order.
For general-purpose maintenance, about $100 monthly should be quite enough. However, you would also want to have some spare money with you for emergencies. These emergencies could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so you should definitely leave as much headroom as you can in your budget for them.
Insurance can be quite a cost during RV traveling. Depending on your vehicle and insurance package, you may need to spend $500-2000 per year, possibly even more. And you should really opt for better insurance packages if you can.
If you will be traveling in a motorhome, you will need to ensure only it. But if you were to buy any other kind of RV that needs to be towed to your car, you would need to insure both your tow car and the RV. This basically means that you would need to pay double the price we indicated earlier.
Health insurance is a must-have as well. And this can be a big cost. In fact, it is one of the largest expenses nationwide in the US.
Unfortunately, it is pretty difficult to give an estimate of how much it is going to cost you. Health insurance costs change pretty frequently. And besides, your costs will depend on the insurance package, as well as how many people are with you.
A couple of years back – in 2015, to be precise – the average American spent nearly $10 thousand on health care. By 2023, this number is expected to rise up to $14 thousand.
The key word here is “average”. Your actual expenses may be higher or lower.
So what does it all come down to?
Let’s now add up all the costs we mentioned above. We’ll have a look at approximate expenses per month for two people.
- $600 for the rig (if financed).
- $350 for gas.
- $1200 for camping at private parks.
- $400 for groceries.
- $250 for eating out.
- $120 for phone & internet (with Verizon Above Unlimited plan for 2 lines).
- $100 for maintenance.
- About $150 for RV insurance.
- About $1600 for health insurance (for 2 people, if the package costs $10 thousand per person annually).
With this setup, costs would be about $4,700 per month. For some people, this number may be excellent, and for others, it may be plain awful. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to tweak your expenses.
If you don’t finance your rig and instead just buy it, you’ll be able to save about $600, maybe even more if you have a pricey rig.
Instead of camping at private RV parks, you could stay only at public ones, which would bring down the costs to about $600 per month. This would be true if you stayed in an RV park every day in the month.
You may also be able to save plenty of money on health insurance by going for a cheaper package. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to say how much you could cut your costs because health insurance costs are difficult to predict.
These numbers are only approximations. Every RVer is going to have different needs, so you will have to plan your budget accordingly. But if you don’t know where to start, you could use the numbers we provided as a baseline.