You all may remember a post I did on Six of my Favorite Campers. I went in and really researched what is out there that I could use if it were just me traveling. Now, keep in mind, I do hope to live in one while working from the road. That is my goal once my daughter graduates high school and college, then moves on with her life. Although, you know mother and daughter relationships. She tells me now, “Don’t let me stop you. Go. Have fun.” Gee. Thanks kiddo. 😛
Well, I had received a comment from my brother that you have to have money to live in a camper and travel. Well, yes and no. It’s actually cheaper to live in a camper than it is to live in an apartment or home. When you purchase a camper, it qualifies as a home. You can get a mortgage on it. I was surprised by that revelation. Thank you to my friend Karen who brought that to my attention when she and her husband were researching and ended up buying their own fifth wheel. Obviously you have to have money to live. Food, gas for your car, RV camp location fees, (unless you’re boon docking. Which we will discuss in another post) other day to day expenses and if you took out a loan on your new home, your SMALL mortgage payment.
As a single woman, my expenses won’t be as high as those of you traveling as a couple. So, if you have a single male friend who loves to travel and will support someone working as a freelancer? Send him my way :).
Here is a breakdown
FIXED COSTS – Six Months – May 1 to Oct 31, 2014
I anticipate my fixed costs for the six months between May and October will be:
- Food & Household Items – $300
- Car/Camper Insurance – $150
- Communications – $125
- Propane – $50
- Laundry – $25
- Miscellaneous – $50
- Mail & Postage – $35
- Car Registration – $40
- Personal Care – $40
- RV Dumps – $5
- Health Insurance – ?
Total Fixed Expenses: $820
Food & Household Items – $300 / month
This section covers all groceries, household items, toiletries, laundry detergent, OTC meds. These items are usually going to be found at grocery stores or “super” department stores such as Walmart, Target, etc. This number does not count any extras such as DVDs, new appliances and other things that are not part of monthly fixed expenses.
Car/Camper Insurance – $150 / month
This will include both SUV/truck and full-time RV insurance. This will vary depending on the state you have your vehicle and camper registered as each state has their own pricing strategies.
Communications – $125 / month
This section includes Cellphone and WiFi. If I end up boondocking, I’ll need to have my own WiFi access. If I connect into an RV Camp for several months, I’ll have access to that sites WiFi and will be able to cancel my service until needed again. I will need to look into other options to see if there is anyway of getting that amount down.
Propane – $50 / month
Prices for Propane are widely varied, depending on where you are. This is an item that I will need to have all the time, but, will buy as needed. I anticipate, based on my research, that I will use approximately 15 – 20 gallons a month. Maybe a little more during the winter months when I have to run the heater, and obviously less in summer. If I stay in an RV park that offers electric hookups, I will use a lot less propane than this. If you have hookups and don’t have metered electricity, you can save on propane in the winter by using an electric space heater.
Laundry – $25 / month
Researching this, I would make sure to do laundry at RV parks as full time RVers say that their laundromats tend to be less expensive than going to a local laundromat. If I have a set up at a park, and I’m stationed there permanently, I would most likely use the washing machine and then line dry shirts and pants during the warmer months.
Miscellaneous – $40 / month
It’s not always a good thing to have a Miscellaneous section because anything can be dumped in here. But, this would be more for smaller things at a gas station/convenience store such as a drink or quick snacks while driving to your next destination.
Mail/Postage – $35 / month
This would include both the mail forwarding service and monthly mail delivery as well as postage that is bought to send letters and packages. I’m not so sure about the letters as with technology, email, texts and messaging on Facebook keeps you in constant contact with your loved ones.
Vehicle Registration – $40 / month
This will be paid annually, so, just showing the monthly breakdown. The cost is approximate as with the Insurance as it will vary depending on your “home” state.
Personal Care Services – $40 / month
This section is an overall estimation for anything from hair cuts, to manicures, pedicures, massages, etc. This amount may change if I choose to do that once or twice a year. Or, do one each month instead of all of them.
RV Dump – $4 / month
This item is apparently a regular part of the boondocking lifestyle every two to three weeks. Research showed me that RV dump stations are usually free, but if you have to go to an RV park to dump the tanks because there aren’t any free ones nearby, it can cost between $5 and $15.
Health Insurance — ?
Health insurance costs are totally individual, and the coverage for everyone varies. As I will hopefully be working as a freelancer, I’ll be able to get insurance based on a “Company of One” rate. As I tend to have medical issues such as hypothyroidism and high cholesterol, I will need to make sure I have insurance to cover blood work and medicine. Although, as a heads up, make sure to check Rite Aid out. They have a plan for some medications that allow you to get cheaper 90 day medication than your insurance plan. I’ve been getting my Levothyroxine through their plan for the past 5 years and it never touches my insurance.
Variable Costs between May 1st and October 31st include:
- Supplies and Tools
Entertainment can include a random movie theater at the location you’re in. Monthly Netflix charge, if you sign up for Sirius. This can also include sightseeing that you may do in a new location. However, most locations have so many free things you can do, it may be better to stick with that.
As you don’t have a lot of storage in your camper, you cannot keep a lot of clothing. A two week rotation should be more than sufficient for warm and cold weather seasons. I’m only keeping this expense in because you will most likely need to replace your shoes more than you will your clothing. If you do a lot of walking, hiking shoes will be your best friend. And you will want good ones. Not the cheapest you can find. As a side note, I found from reading other RV blogs, if you get a credit card from Cabellas, REI or another outdoors store, and put all your living expenses on it, and pay it off each month to avoid interest charges, you can use the points each year to get your hiking shoes or other camping gear for free. Ummm, yes please!
I don’t anticipate going into restaurants a lot. Probably only if I’m in a location I have friends in and I meet up with them. I prefer to cook my own meals to save money. Another time I may go to a restaurant is at a location that there is a MUST VISIT place. You know. Mystic Pizza in CT, Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC. I suppose if I hit a local brewery for a drink as well just to have people around me.
Unlike Maintenance & Repair costs which have to be done, upgrades are entirely optional. These upgrades can include adding solar panels to your rig, installing a vent free heater or keeping a generator for back up. I’m leaving this one blank because until I know what kind of camper I’m getting, I couldn’t even guestimate what I’ll need to do.
Maintenance & Repair
This item is hard to predict. This section would include things like, oil changes, replacing tires, etc.
This includes both annual memberships for state parks and magazine subscriptions.
Supplies & Tools
This category includes all the tools and supplies used to keep the rig in good shape. If you are handy, this will also keep other Maintenance and Repairs costs down. So, if you are downsizing to the RV lifestyle? Don’t get rid of your tools! You don’t want to have to repurchase everything. Or, if you did, hit the second hand shops first! Or, build up as you go.
Fuel costs will vary depending on how much or little you travel. It can be as little as $0 if you stay in one place and use a bike to get around the town your in. Or, if you travel from Alaska to Connecticut or Georgia, this cost will take most of your budgets!
For the variable costs, I didn’t include amounts. Just because, for myself? I can go a year or two without replacing clothing. Shoe replacing would be maybe every six months. Oil changes and replacing tires, is a wide variable because I may live somewhere for six months and not have to do either. In this section? My biggest expense will probably be the restaurants. Hitting local pubs or cafe’s when I’m in the mood for human interaction :). You know what though? This may be my bigger expense because I could also be on the move every two weeks or a month.
So, looking further into it and researching these expenses. It is actually CHEAPER to live as a fulltime RVer than it is to live in an apartment or a home. RV Park rates can vary depending on location. They can vary from $300 to $900 per month. Arizona and Vermont being among the most expensive places to stay. If you decide to boondock, that is free. Locations in each state will be covered in another post :).
Have you looked into living the RV life? Or, do you do it? What costs would you say you incur monthly? Are my amounts above logical or not high enough?