RV Living

Be realistic about budgeting if you’re considering the full-time RV lifestyle

Your budget will depend on your lifestyle

Middle aged couple
Each couple will have different expenses, depending on what their needs or wants are—similar to most people who live in a house. — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis


Every prospective full-time RVer asks the same question when considering this lifestyle: “How much will it cost?” 

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one answer. Each person will have different expenses, depending on what their needs or wants are—similar to most people who live in a house. The cost of the home or RV and whether you live frugally or in luxury will affect how much it will cost to be on the road full time. It’s up to the individual.

Let’s assume the RV has been purchased and there is no debt. That will also apply to everything needed to begin the adventure of full-time RVing including a tow vehicle, gadgets for the RV, bikes, computers, sports equipment, etc. 


No doubt about it, the fuel bill will be expensive and depends entirely on how much actual travelling will be done and the size of the RV. The more you travel, the higher the expense. Having a tow vehicle, bicycles or a motorcycle available helps make sightseeing or running errands much more economical.  When planning a route, calculate the distance against the average price per litre for fuel and you should have a close idea of what the costs will be. Don’t forget to add fuel costs for the tow vehicle and any touring that might be done.

Campground fees

If you stay in luxury resorts, campground costs will be high. If you’re boondocking, they will be almost nothing. Prices may range from $15 per night to $50 per night for most campgrounds, and prices should be less if staying for a longer period of time. Ask if there’s a weekly or monthly rate available. The prices will depend on the time of year and the region. If it’s high season and extremely busy, then prices may be higher. Consider travelling off season when rates are cheaper and the crowds are less. 


How much cooking is done, whether propane is needed for keeping the refrigerator cold or anything else will determine what amount of propane will be used. Thirty dollars a month for propane is probably quite realistic. 

Vehicle insurance and maintenance

This will depend on the type of vehicle and RV. A motorhome pulling a toad will have two vehicles to insure, while a truck pulling a fifth-wheel or trailer will have one vehicle and a trailer to insure. Living full time in the RV will increase the rate and if you don’t inform the insurance company of that fact, you may make the policy void. It’s not worth it. Whether you pay monthly or yearly, average the amount over 12 months to include in the monthly budget. Regular maintenance will prevent major problems and reduce costs overall.


The food bill may be similar to the regular cost when living in a stick house, unless eating habits change when on the road. Keep costs down by using coupons, watching for specials and by having more time for food preparation using fresh ingredients. If the food bill is $400 a month normally, it will probably be close to the same in the RV.


Washing three or four loads per week plus the cost of soap, etc. would be average. Washers can be anywhere from $1.25 to $2 per load and the dryer at least $2 per load and that will depend on what is being dried. 


When it comes to your cell phone, satellite TV and internet, shop around! Look for the best deal and talk to other RVers. This is a very important for connecting with friends and family from home and staying in touch.

Medical and dental insurance/prescriptions

This is also an individual cost and will depend on the medical plan and need for prescriptions. 

Entertainment and gifts

Include dining out, birthday gifts, Christmas and any functions you attend. The amount will depend on the individual budget. 

Personal expenses

This is for haircuts, toiletries, spas, etc.


Not everyone has a pet, but if you do then budget for their food, grooming, inoculations and any other regular expenses.

RV club memberships

RV clubs and memberships can help reduce campground fees or offer discounts on insurance. Shop around to find what is applicable to each individual situation. 

Emergencies and savings

Make sure there is a regular amount placed in an emergency fund and for savings. 

Planning ahead and knowing what things cost will help a potential full-time RVer plan for their a lifestyle. Be realistic so there aren’t any surprises later. It will go along ways to ensuring your adventure is a positive one.

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