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Live Full-Time in an RV- Simple Budget

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How Much Does It REALLY Cost to Live and Travel in a Class C RV Full-time? 

Are you thinking about taking the leap and becoming a full-time RVer? If you are thinking about hitting the road in a Class C RV, Class A Motorhome, Skoolie or Van, you are probably asking yourself, How much does it really cost to live and travel in an RV full-time?

Whether you are planning or curious about RV life and affordability, this will help establish a budget for expenses.

Reminder, my experiences are a guide – or a template – to help build your budget for RV living and travel. My expenses reflect services or conveniences I am willing to pay to have. You might find your budgeted expenses to be less or more, based on your preferences. The goal is to give you a starting point to begin planning your budget for nomad life. Ready to dive into some real-life necessities and expenses to live full-time in a Class C RV? Here we go… 12 items for Nomad budgeting (and a bonus tip at the end!)

Expenses you NEED to Plan For When You Live and Travel Full-Time in a Class C RV

Emergency Planning: If you do not have an emergency fund for major repairs and unplanned events, you are not ready to start your full-time nomad life just yet!  This is step #1…period!

Monthly Savings for Emergency Fund: ($300 – $500 per month): Take it from me with five years’ experience on the road and purchasing two used RVs-you NEED to have at least $3000 to $5000 saved for emergencies at all times! You need to save $300- $500 a month to have this on hand or to replenish if you use it. I cannot stress enough how important this is! I spent more than $10,00 on repairs my first year on the road!

Fixed Expenses – Must Haves

Remember, I’m listing necessities to live in your Class C RV while traveling full-time. Some expenses listed don’t apply and have a lesser dollar amount with stationary RV living. This example is for NOMAD life…so travel away!

Medical Costs and Personal Care ($350 per month): You need medical insurance.  As a full-time RVer, Prices vary for each person/family, based on your income. Study the plans and be realistic about what type of care you need and how often you use medical services. This includes prescriptions, haircuts and other personal care items.

Routine Maintenance: ($235 per month): This is the second most important expense you need to plan for.  Maintenance is something you will need to structure into your budget. Monthly maintenance for me includes oil changes, black tank treatment solutions, water filters, and minor repairs costing about $135 per month. My maintenance expense may seem high at $235. Here is why: I set aside $100 into a  Maintenance savings account separate from my emergency savings, which will take care of the oil changes, brakes, and new tires when the need arises, so it doesn’t bankrupt me for the month when I have to dish out a large amount all at once.

Insurance and Road Side Assistance: ($175 per month): You can get a policy for your RV that is like having a homeowner’s policy to help protect you in the event of an accident, injury, or theft. Be sure to ask for “Full-Timers Insurance.” Not all auto insurance companies carry it so you may have to shop around. I also pay for roadside assistance, which is handy when stuck in sand or having a flat tire.

Laundry ($15 a month): As a solo female RVer and traveling most of the time, I do not need to do laundry often. I typically do laundry once a month at a local laundromat. For myself, I’m able to do one or two giant loads. I don’t even bother with sorting colors anymore, lol, no need! 

Variable Expenses – Must Haves

Gasoline and Propane Tanks: ($400 per month): Next you will obviously need to plan for gas money and powering your RV. I love to travel and move around! Freedom to travel is the best part of RV life, right?! I usually track about 1000 miles per month in driving. It costs about $375 for the month to fill up my gas tank. I use propane for my cooking, fridge and heat, which costs a bit more in the winter. This also includes the extra gas to run my portable generator (click here to see why I carry an outboard generator) when I do not have enough solar power stored, costing about $15 to $25.

Groceries/Necessities/Pet Supplies ($580): Everyone has different dietary needs and preferences, so this expense is specific to my lifestyle. I prefer a vegan and gluten-free diet due to health reasons. I am careful about what I eat and eat all organic fruits and vegetables. Eating a vegan diet, I also take supplements to ensure I get the nutrients and vitamins I need. I typically spend about $430 a month on food and supplements. There are also pet needs like food and possibly medicine and vaccines. Pet needs cost about $100 a month.

Water and Tank Dumping: ($30 a month): In my travels, I find most cities and full-time living RV parks offer dump stations. Fees can range from $5 to $25 to dump. About every two weeks I dump my tanks. Usually, I can fill up my water tank at the dump stations as well. I can get 10 to 14 days out of a full tank of water. Occasionally, I have to supplement my water with jugs at a pay water station, grocery store or rest area.

Personal Preferences: Additional Expenses to Live and Travel Full-Time in an RV

The expenses that I’m going to share next are things most people would want. The dollar amount reflects personal preferences for how often used or services you would rather have. This budget is an example based on how I like to travel and live. The goal is to get you thinking about what you can and not live without.

Fixed Expenses- Personal Preferences

Cell Phone and Internet: ($225 a month): I have a Verizon cell phone and an ATT Cell phone that, combined, provide me 130 gigs of Mobile Data. I use Mobile Data to connect my computer to the internet no matter where I am. If you do not need the internet for work or entertainment, your expense will be lower. Mine is higher based on the data usage I need for working and uploading large videos to YouTube. Check out this video for more details about the internet on the road. >>> 

Mail Box and Mail Forwarding: ($35 a month): While living and traveling in an RV full-time, you don’t have a permanent address for mail to be delivered directly to you. I rent a mailbox from the UPS store. I can call to have my mail forwarded to me, where ever I am. Why the UPS store and not a PO Box with the post office?  Great question! Check out this video for more details on the why and how to have mail service when you are a full-time RV and traveler! Watch Now>>> 

Variable Expenses – Personal Preferences

Entertainment/Eating Out/Clothes/Miscellaneous ($80 per month): I love being out in nature, the truth is I still have movies and shows I like to watch, especially in the winter months when it’s cold out and get’s dark early. I have streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (including 2-day shipping). Streaming is about $40 a month. Eating out, grabbing a coffee, and clothes I budget around$40.

RV Parks: ($30 per month): If you get tired of boondocking, you might find a state park or decide you want to have hook-ups to electricity and internet, so you stay at an RV Park or Campground for the night. I typically do not spend more than about $30 a month on RV Parks. I love boondocking, but occasionally I need to reset and have some amenities available.

Bonus Tip: Earn Income While You Travel and Live in Your RV Seeing the World!

Web Hosting for Website: ($15 a month): A website might seem like a business expense instead of a personal expense, but it is both. Many have asked how to earn income or side income while on the road and living in an RV full-time. You can earn extra income by blogging and using sponsored affiliate link, like Amazon. To do this, you’ll need a website. There are free web host options available, but they don’t usually allow affiliate links.  (Not sure how to go about this? Contact me for a business consultation! I offer services for Full-Time RVers, those wanting to start a YouTube channel, or in need of marketing advice. View my services here. You can also check out the videos I’ve made about How to Earn money while RV Living: and some Weird and Wacky Out of the Box ways you can earn too!

Can YOUR BUDGET Work for RV Life?

So, there you go! I live comfortably in my RV as a full-time nomad for about $2500 a month, including saving $300mo for an emergency fund.  Can you make this work for your dream of RV Living? I hope this guide helped you to begin planning live comfortably in a Class C RV full-time. Remember, the numbers provided reflect my personal preferences and lifestyle. This is just a springboard to help get you started. You can watch this video on my YouTube channel.

DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for your no-BS post. I’ve never believed that doing research on the subject will give me a figure of what I need. Instead, it’s important to know the types of expenses to prepare for, and your post helps anyone do that. Thanks for a no-nonsense look at living on the road!

  2. Ahh. Thank you for that! I wrote it (Carolyn) but my assistant Faith posted it and set up the page, etc. Thank you. We’ll make sure to get it changed and corrected for future posts.

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