Can You Budget for RV Life? 10 Costs to Consider

Wondering the TRUE cost of living in an RV? Check out these examples!

woman sitting outside her RV in an RV par

The allure of full-time RV living is growing as more people seek freedom from the daily grind. However, making the leap to life on the road comes with its own set of financial considerations.

If you’re contemplating the RV lifestyle, one essential factor to consider is the cost. How much does it really cost to live in an RV full-time?

You’ve come to the right place to learn more. In this guide, we’ll detail the various expenses involved in RV living, helping you understand what budget you might need to make your road-living dream a reality.

1. How Much Does An RV Cost?

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Campervans

To help us calculate the costs, we enlisted an RV owner’s help. This RV owner lives in a 2021 Sunset Park RV Sunlite Classic 18RD

Here are their average monthly costs:

  • Vehicle Insurance: $188
  • Vehicle Payment: $500
  • RV Insurance: $100
  • RV Payment: $300

Before any additional expenses, the Total Monthly RV cost is roughly $1,188

Of course, your monthly baseline will differ depending on your choices regarding RV type and insurance provider. It’s also important to remember this is just the baseline. 

You will incur additional costs, too. Let’s look at those next…

2. What Are The Additional Costs Of RV Life?

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Now we’ll discuss all the additional costs you can expect after your RV-related expenses. Here’s a list of all the other things you need to factor in if you decide to live an RV lifestyle:

  • Campsite Fees
  • Gas
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Recreation
  • RV Repairs and Maintenance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Miscellaneous

Let’s take a deeper look into each factor!

3. Camping Fees

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After purchasing your RV, you need to find somewhere to park it. Generally, camping fees are the most considerable additional cost of RV living.

The average cost to park at an RV campsite is $25 to $60 per night. However, luxury sites can cost up to $100. 

Therefore, the cost for RV site rental for a month is approximately $500 to $1,200.

You can cut the costs, though! For example, investing in a portable generator will allow you to camp without a hookup. Alternatively, camping with friends can minimize costs.

This is what our RVer had to say about this:

“I’ve helped cousins with home renovations from San Diego to Tennessee in exchange for a free place to camp. Sometimes, they even offered a roomy shower or a night in a non-RV bed!”

4. Gas

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Your fuel expenses will vary. Your costs might range from almost nothing to thousands. The most significant factors to consider are how much you travel and gas prices in different locations.

Regarding gas, your best bet is to use GasBuddy to find affordable prices. You can also keep fuel expenses low if you keep your RV in one location.

Our expert RVer told us:

“I’d recommend overestimating how much you might spend on a road trip. When I plan long trips, I always round up to the nearest dollar when estimating fuel costs, primarily because they fluctuate so much from state to state.”

5. Food

woman cooking on her campervan kitchen
Photo Credit: Danielle Campbell @stumblinguponserendipity

Our expert RV owner sets a monthly budget of $300 to $400 for food and drink. However, your situation might be very different. 

If you travel with a partner or children, you can expect your food budget to be bigger. On the other hand, if you travel alone, you might spend less. Of course, you need to consider your unique diet and eating habits.

You can also expect to spend more if you shop in smaller farmer’s markets and local stores instead of large-chain supermarkets.

6. Utilities

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Potential utility costs for RVs include propane, internet, phone expenses, and full hookups at RV parks. It’s also worth noting that some RV parks may or may not include electricity.

Some RV parks charge for electricity based on how much you use, which is usually added after the rental fees. As expected, costs can vary massively. 

When we asked our anonymous RV owner how much he spends on utilities, he said:

“Adding everything up, I spend between $150 and $200 on utilities each month. Most of that is my phone plan and propane, as I tend to utilize free Internet at campsites or coffee shops as much as possible.”

7. Recreation

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Of course, you need to budget for fun activities as well. Your budget will depend on what you like to do. For example, one person might budget for outdoor activities such as kayaking and boating, while others might spend their money on tours and museum visits.

Our RVer usually allocates $150 to $300 a month for recreation. Depending on where they travel, this might change, but they also budget for more than they hope to spend, so there are no surprises. 

8. RV Repairs and Maintenance

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On average, RVers spend $100 to $200 monthly on general RV repairs and maintenance

Having an emergency budget is also important in case something unexpected goes wrong. Take these words as a warning:

“Within the first six months of towing my single-axle trailer, I had both tires blowout on the interstate. Luckily, the blowouts didn’t cause any additional structural damage, and replacement tires for my small camper aren’t expensive. But it was still a cost I didn’t expect when leaving Texas in mid-July.”

9. Medical Insurance

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If you work for a company that provides insurance, you don’t need to factor medical insurance into your budget. However, if you aren’t so lucky, you’ll have to find a suitable plan for your needs and requirements.

Unfortunately, we can’t offer a specific budget for health insurance because it differs so much from individual to individual. However, you could read our Health Insurance Guide For Full-Time RVers for advice.

10. Miscellaneous 

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Adding more to your budget for unexpected costs is always a good idea. Adding approximately 10% to your expenses should be enough for any unforeseeable needs.

When we talk about unforeseeable needs, we refer to things like extra tools you need, souvenirs you want to buy, and additional camping supplies you might need to purchase.

11. What’s The Total Cost Of RV Life?

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So, now we’ve been through all the additional costs, what is the total cost to live in an RV? Drum roll, please…

After additional expenses, the total monthly cost of living in an RV is approximately $1,600 to $4,000.

It may surprise some that the cost of RV living can be similar to leasing an apartment in some US cities. However, RV life does offer more flexibility for keeping your budget down.

Let’s also not forget how much freedom comes with RV life. You can move around the country whenever you like, and you’re never tied down to a lease agreement.

12. Our Top 3 RV Budgeting Tips

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To help you keep track of your budget while living in an RV, we’ve compiled a simple list of our 3 best tips. Here they are:

  • Stick to your monthly budget. It sounds pretty simple, but many people don’t do this. Laying out everything so you know exactly how much you’ll spend helps you keep within your budget. It also lets you calculate how much you have to put towards other expenses. It also gives you a target to stay under, which can help encourage you to spend less.
  • Track your other expenses. There’s nothing worse than going to pay your taxes and realizing you haven’t saved enough throughout the year. Luckily, you can use this Google Sheet to track all your monthly costs so you know exactly where and when to cut back. 
  • Stay away from takeout food. As delicious as takeout food is, it’s an absolute budget killer. Avoiding takeout food on a road trip can sometimes be difficult, but RVs have a kitchen for a reason. Cooking your own food is an easy way to keep food expenses down.

13. How Do You Make Money Living Out Of An RV?

Photo Credit: @van.there

Did you know you can live and work out of an RV? You can, and there are more possibilities than you can imagine!

Thanks to remote working opportunities, RV life is now possible for millions of Americans. There are thousands of companies offering remote working roles, and there are countless freelance and self-employed opportunities to make the most of.

Here are some of the best jobs you can do if you want to work remotely and follow an RV lifestyle:

  • Freelance writer
  • Photography
  • Campground host
  • Virtual Assistant
  • Podcaster
  • Travel Nursing

So, what do you think? Is the RV lifestyle perfect for you? Or are you going to stick with stationary life? The decision is all yours!

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