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All Things RV,  Newbies,  Preparing to RV,  RV Budget

One Year Full Time RV Living Costs

Are you wondering what one year of full time RV living costs would be? We just hit our second year of full time RVing, and we are happy to share a breakdown of our expenses throughout our second year. I hope it helps you to budget for life on the road. 

Full Time RV Costs Vary

When researching full time RV living you will find a wide range of budgets from many bloggers and YouTubers. There are many reasons for the huge difference in expenses. Below are just a few things that can vary from RVer to RVer that will have an impact on costs. 

  • Type of RV
  • Size of Family
  • RV Living Style
  • Preferred Type of Camping
  • Camp Hosting
  • Frequency of Boondocking
  • Income
  • Debt
  • How Long You Stay in Each Location
  • And so much more!

RV Goals

Before we hit the road, we knew our travel goals. We wanted to see and do much of what our country has to offer. Our goal was not to live off nothing! We wanted to experience as much adventure as possible within our personal budget. You could live full time in an RV and spend less than we have or you could easily spend more. There are many RVers on both sides of the spectrum. You will find what works best for you once you hit the road. 

The video below breaks down our first year of expenses. We were nervous about boondocking during our first year. Once we were no longer afraid to boondock, we were able to reduce campings costs.

Find out what we learned Our First Year Full Time.

Our First Year on the Road including some start up costs!

Sharing is Caring! Please, feel free to share this picture on Pinterest!


Expenses Not Included

Some of the expenses we did not include are groceries, cell phones, eating out, clothing, RV depreciation, streaming platforms, gym memberships, medical insurance, etc. These costs vary so much from family to family. Our costs in those categories will not help you create your RV budget. My recommendation is for you to use your current costs in those categories, as many will carry over to RV life. Besides, how much I spent on my socks last month won’t help when you make your budget. 


One Year Full Time RV Costs Video

Our Second Year as Full Time RVers

Miles

FULL TIME RV LIVING COSTS FOR THE YEAR

What We Spent

Activities

Our activities include tickets, admission fees, and any other costs of fun activities. It did not include food or drinks at any venue. 

*Ticket prices are total cost, not the cost for each ticket.

Disney Magic Kingdom

Fuel 

Our fuel cost includes diesel and def for the RV. It does not include fuel for our tow car. We were able to start saving huge chunks of money on our fuel costs once we signed up for the TSD RV Fuel Savings Card. (Click the link for full details on how to save money on fuel!). If you use diesel you need this savings card! It is free to join and only costs you 10% of your fuel savings. So other words it will cost you NOTHING!

  • Year $2753.33
  • Monthly Average $230
  • 7 Purchases with TSD Fuel Card
    • Gallons Purchased 286.57
    • Saved $142.70
    • Saved Per/Gal Average $2.00
    • Saved Per/Purchase Average $20.38
    • Price Range with TSD $1.71-2.74 per/gal
Ziplining the Gorge in North Carolina

Propane

Our propane costs include onboard propane only. We use propane for the stove, heater, and the water heater if boondocking. It does not include propane for the portable tank we use for grilling and our firepit. I am sorry to say we did not keep adequate records to add that in our costs. 

  • Year $187.62 
  • Monthly Average $15.64
Turkey Hill Ice Cream Experience in Pennsylvania

Tolls

Last year we traveled throughout the northeastern part of the country. As you may know, there are many many toll roads up there! We avoided whenever possible, but sometimes it was cheaper to hop on. Being routed 100 miles out to save $20 on a toll will cost more in the long run. Be sure to check your options before automatically saying no to a toll. By the way, it was worth every penny to explore the New England area.

  • Year $318.35
  • Monthly Average $26.53
Mt Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire

Transportation And Parking

This category includes any fees we paid for metros, commuter rails, parking, subways, or any other way of getting around an area while exploring.

  • Year $226.37
  • Monthly Average $18.86
  • Transportation $110.20
    • South Boston Commuter Rail $20.00
    • New Jersey Commuter Rail $47.00
    • Penn State Commuter Rail $10.50
    • Misc $ 32.7
  • Parking: $116.17

Rally

We love rallies! Every rally we have attended has been amazing! Last year we attended the first ever Escapees Hangout in Swanzey, NH. We watched the town of Keene commemorate their history with murals painted by the world renowned Walldogs. But the most fun was the Amazing Race that Escapees set up for us! You have got to see all the desperate things we did to try and win the race while touring that little part of the country! Did we win? Check out the video to find out!

We also attended the RVillage rally last year. It was amazing! We had the best time and met so many wonderful people! We were guest speakers at the rally so we were able to attend for free.

Niagara Falls State Park

Internet

These days everyone uses the internet. Most of us stream YouTube, movies, and regular TV. Many of us also check email and bank online, so connectivity is a must. When uploading large videos, occasional park wifi won’t work for us. We need a reliable, fast internet plan.

Unfortunately, the company we were using went out of business during COVID. We paid for the year upfront and lost a few months of service when they went belly up. We are now searching for a new plan that will work for us. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel if you want to see what we choose.

  • Year of AT&T $700 (paid in full in November)
  • Monthly Average $116.67 (only received 6 months)
Washington DC

RV Insurance

Insurance is another item in the budget that has many factors that contribute to the overall bottom line. Some of those factors include the age of RV, type of RV, the insurance company, full time or PT status, zip code, and personal driving record. Your insurance costs may be much less or more than ours.

Some insurance companies will not cover any type of recreational vehicle while others will as long as you are not full time. Shopping around annually is a must! We have used Progressive the last 2 years.

  • Year $2121 (paid annually to reduce costs)
  • Monthly Average: 176.75
Touring Boston, Massachusetts

RV Maintenance

Our RV maintenance costs have been much less each year than I expected. But again, this will vary from rig to rig. Remember keeping up on your monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual maintenance will save you money in the long run. Don’t ignore those maintenance items. We have a free excel maintenance spreadsheet to help you get started.

Tiffin Service Center Hose Repair with Cost Break Down

RV Upgrades

I thought when we sold our sticks and bricks and moved into the RV we would stop the upgrades. Boy, was I wrong! Last year we upgraded to Battle Born Lithium (GAME CHANGER). This year our big upgrade was solar. Of course, I have a few more ideas for updates to the RV this year! So, I guess it never ends! 

RV Memberships

We have several RV memberships that we use all the time! We could not RV without these them! Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts have provided us a free year because we have created several videos about their amazing memberships. You will see how often we use them both a little further in the blog!

My FAVORITE RV Trip Planner!

Mail Forwarding

Mail forwarding is still one of those necessities. Although all of our bills are paperless, we still occasionally have snail mail. I have looked at Escapees’ levels of mail services and the lowest tier is still the best option for us. But you can choose the tier that works best for you, including envelope scanning. The cost below only includes the postage to have our mail sent to us.

Oh, and it would have been cheaper if Phil had not sent an Amazon order all the way to our domicile address! Of course, it included several boxes including a case of RV toilet paper (cheapest on Amazon).

  • Yearly $142.95
  • Monthly Average: $11.91
Balloon Festival in Stowe, Vermont

Full Time RV Camping Costs

Now the moment you have been waiting for!! Our actual camping costs.

  • Overnights: 3 nights FREE (Walmart, casino)
  • Disney Fort Wilderness
  • Tampa RV show
  • Volunteering with A Year to Volunteer: 8 nights FREE
  • Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds
  • Florida Water Management land: 15 nights FREE
  • Boondockers Welcome
    • 22 nights
    • Paid Hosts $30 for electric
    • Nightly Average $1.36
    • Save on your membership with the code: YMRV
  • Driveway surfing: 25 nights FREE (THANKS FRIENDS AND FAMILY!)
  • Harvest Host
    • 29 nights
    • Golf Course Membership Add On $26
    • Nightly Average $0.9
    • Save 15% with the code: YMRV
  • Camp Host: 32 nights FREE (many hours of work!)
    • Thinking of becoming a camp host? Find out everything you need to know including how to find a camp host gig in our camp host blog post!
  • Military Campgrounds
  • National/State/County/City Parks
    • 44 nights
    • Total $1238.05
    • Nightly Average $28.14
    • One of our favorite state parks is Letchworth State Park. Check out their 3 waterfalls in our video.
  • Private Campgrounds
    • 107 nights
    • Total $2487.24
    • Nightly Average: $23.25
  • Total Camping costs
    • Year $5813.29
    • Average Monthly $484.44
    • Average Nightly $16

**Camping costs did not include the Escapees Hangout. Rallies are budgeted in a different category for us.

Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine

Thousand Trails

I know what some of you you are thinking we could have saved money with a Thousand Trails membership. We looked into Thousand Trails but decided it was not right for us. Check out our blog post to see why we opted out of Thousand Trails. 


BLM is Not Free

When people think about BLM land or Water Management Land many times they envision living for absolutely nothing! But there are costs many people don’t consider. We discovered this our first time boondocking in Quartzite, Arizona. They may not add up to a ton of money but they can sneak up on you if you are planning for a budget of zero! I have included a few costs to calculate in your boondocking budget.

  • Generator Fuel to Charge Batteries
  • Propane for cooking, hot water, and heat
  • Potable Water Fill
  • Black and Grey Tank Dump
  • Laundry Mat

One Year Full Time RV Total Cost

  • Activities $1830.20
  • Fuel $2753.33
  • Propane $187.62
  • Tolls $318.35
  • Transportation/Parking $266.37
  • Rally $349
  • Internet: $700
  • RV Insurance $2121
  • RV Maintenance $1123.15
  • RV Upgrades $3763.81
  • RV Memberships $248.01
  • Mail Forwarding $142.95
  • Camping 5813.29

TOTAL CAMPING COST: $19,617.08


Track Your RV Living Costs

Wondering how we tracked our living costs over the year? We used an excel spreadsheet created by Christina from Our Epic Field Trip to track our camping costs. It is a great tracker that breaks down your daily costs with graphs. You can download a copy of the Camping Costs Spreadsheet for free!

Don’t have Excel? No problem. Upload the spreadsheet to Google Sheets and you can save and edit from Google!

We tracked the rest of our expenses using Quicken. It is a budgeting program you can purchase online or at most major box stores. We have been using Quicken off and on for years. It is very easy to navigate.


RV Living Costs

I hope our annual RV budget breakdown helps you as you work on your full time RV budget. Our budget falls in the middle of most RVers. You can RV for less or you can RV for more. It depends on what your goals for the road happen to be!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hopefully, someday we will see ya on the road!

Virtual Hugs, Phil & Stacy

Author: Stacy, You, Me & the RV, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2020

13 Comments

  • Avatar

    Tom Foster

    Thank you for the information, and for the inspiration. We actually have some things in common and discovering your YouTube Chanel and website has been very helpful.

    I’m an Army veteran and approaching retirement after 25 years in Law Enforcement. My wife and I have been talking about selling the house and full time RVing; purge most things, store furniture, see the country, and along the way keep an eye out for the next place to buy a house. Sound familiar?

    We’ve had Motorhomes for the last 20 years, but plan to pick up a new (to us) RV, similar to yours. Last week we found you on YouTube, and have watched your videos every evening since. The great information and positive attitudes have done much to keep our plans alive. I’m very nervous about the radical lifestyle change, but find comfort in your experience, humor, and positive outlook.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with the world.

    Tom and Lisa

  • Avatar

    Dave Wehberg

    Hi, enjoy following your channel. Do you have a copy of your spreadsheet showing all the costs you track. We are in the planning stage right now and would like to have something to walk through.

    thank you,
    Dave

  • Avatar

    Dana Comstock

    Thank you for such a great breakdown…. so helpful as we plan and determine our budget for going full time. I am impressed with your discipline for sticking to a budget.

    Love your videos!

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      Please don’t be impressed! We bust the budget all the time and then have to chinch in the belt the following month! But it always works out because some areas don’t have destinations to spend money ie state parks for hiking or biking while others rob us blind like Boston! So luckily I find balance along the way. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Avatar

    Doug

    I have a question about activity costs. I know activity costs vary and I get that but, I could see us spending $1,000 a month pretty easily. How do you keep your activity costs down? What do you do for fun? What hobbies do you enjoy? Just looking for ideas. We are considering starting to RV full time in about a year and are not sure if we can afford it.

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      There are plenty of free activities out there to balance with those that are expensive. We try not to live in ‘vacation’ mode. We don’t have to do everything at a location while we are there. We choose a few and stay within budget! Some freebies include exploring small towns, hiking, biking, or kayaking. We also google free activities and use Groupon as much as possible to keep costs down. But you are right you could spend a ton of money while on the road doing activities. You just have to figure out what your budget allows and stick to it! PS No hobbies on the road unless you want to call YouTube my hobby. No time! 🙂

  • Avatar

    Elsa

    Thank you for all the great $$ information. My husband and I follow you on Youtube and are getting lots of god ideas for when we start full time rving. I have a question about your Lectric bike. You mention that you are a bit short and I’m wondering if you have any height issues with the bike. We are thinking of buying two bikes but unfortunately there are no stores that carry these bikes and I am unable to see if the middle bar is too tall for me. Thanks

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      I am 5 ft tall and I don’t have a problem riding the bike or with the height of the bars. Thanks for hanging out with us!

  • Avatar

    Ann Smith

    Hello,

    Just wanted to check in with you guys and let you know how much we enjoy your videos!

    My husband, Emory Smith, has emailed you before. He has asked questions and we have so many.
    I am a high school teacher and will retire in 3 years. We plan to hit the road in an RV when I finally retire.
    My husband is a Marine who is retired from service.

    I have a couple of questions. One is, what was the final total for your year in your RV? We just watched your newest video. Loved it!

    The other question is what program do you use to create your videos? I am just learning to create videos for a education class due to Covid. Your videos run so smoothly! Do you pay for a program or is there a free one?

    Thanks so much for all that you do. You are very encouraging to us. It’s a scary thing…to sell everything.
    We are determined to make it work!

    See you on the road!

    Ann and Emory Smith

    • Avatar

      Youmerv

      Thanks so much for your support and for hanging out with us.

      I use Final Cut Pro to edit the videos. If you have an apple computer you can start with iMovie for free and then move to FCP once you have it down. YouTube has many free how tos.

      I added the total to the blog post but you may have read it before I added it on. Sorry about that. TOTAL CAMPING COST: $19,617.08

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