Tag: full time rv living

Live Full-Time in an RV- Simple Budget

How much does it cost to live and travel full-time in a Class C RV

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

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!)

Nomad life budget to travel and live in a Class C RV Full-Time

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! 

budget to live full-time in an RV while traveling

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.

earn income when you live and travel full-time in an RV

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!

RVing Advice, YouTube Creator Consulting

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.

And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND. ♥
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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.

Freezing Weather RV Living

Freezing Weather and RV Living

Simple and Affordable Ways to Winterize Your RV for Full-Time RV Living | Camping in Freezing Weather Tips | RV Life Blog

RV in Freezing Weather?

If you are a full-time RVer like me, or perhaps a Van Dweller, you know the beauty of this life is spontaneity in your travels. But what do you do when your plan does not include an overnight in freezing weather? Would you be able to survive the night with just the items inside your rig and stay warm? In this blog, I share simple and affordable tips on how you can winterize your RV for winter nights and stay warm while it is freezing outside.

During one of my travels, I stopped over just outside of Winnemucca, which is in Nevada. During my two-night stay, it snowed. It was gorgeous and cold! If you thought it never snows in the desert, you have never visited the desert in November! The nighttime temperature dropped (and quick!) down to about 20 degrees. While full-time RVing, I usually do not have a rigid plan of where my travels will lead me. However, I prepare for environmental unknowns, and you should prepare as well!

(*Note: I have Amazon affiliate links on my website and in this blog. 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 blog and video.)

Winterizing the RV inside to keep from freezing

Preparing the House of Your RV for Freezing Weather and Cold Nights

Here are some simple tricks and tips to help keep the inside of your RV warm and cozy on freezing nights and cold days too.

  1. Start with the Cab of Your RV.  The first thing I do is cover up my windshield with a reflective sun visor or Reflectix. The visor will insulate the cab windshield.  Heat will remain in this area for a while as the engine begins to cool down.  Remember this first step when just pulling into your campsite. You can trap the heat inside longer by placing the reflective visor/reflectix in the window. 
  2. Insulate the House Opening from the Cab of your Class C RV. Next, once the truck cab has cooled to a colder temperature than the house part of the RV, hang blankets. Most Class C RVs have a storage space right above the cab area. I double insulate this area using a heavy blanket and thermal blackout curtains. You do not need to spend a fortune on specialty items. You can easily find these at discount box stores, thrift stores, or Amazon. First, place the blanket on top of the shelf and weigh it down. Next, make sure the blanket covers the entire entry to the cab. It should be as wide as the opening and length should touch the floor. Lastly, using the installed RV curtain clips, hang full-length thermal blackout curtains. When you close the curtains, they should reach from wall to wall in width and touch the floor in length to provide more insulation.

Don’t like to read?  Watch the video instead on YouTube and follow my channel for more tips.

3. Cover the House Windows.  You probably have curtains that cover your side windows. In addition to closing your curtains, you can put up a lightweight fleece blanket that can cover the entire width and length of each window. I hang the blanket by folding it over my curtain rod. A tip for more insulation is to leave some extra blanket at the top when you fold it over the curtain rod. Doing this creates more of a cushion and filler to seal the top of the window and prevent outside air from drafting in. Remember to cover the small window in the kitchen area as well.

Affordable ways to insulate your RV

Doors can be cold air culprits in FREEZING WEATHER!

4. Cover the Door. The door can be a huge culprit for bringing in cold air. If your weather stripping is old or failing, you need an extra layer of protection against the cold air seeping in. I installed a little curtain rod over my door to hang a thermal blackout curtain panel to cover the doorway. Make sure your curtain is wide enough to cover the whole door and can touch the floor as well.

5. House Battery Compartment.   Next, fill in the area where house battery access is. Mine is right in front of the door. If you travel with a dog as I do, you can place your pet’s bed there to create a barrier on the floor. If not, lay a big blanket or pillows from your sofa in the area.

6. Keep the Bathroom Door Closed.  Yes, this should be obvious. Keeping this door closed will trap the cold air in the bathroom instead of seeping out into your sleeping quarters.

Stay warm sleeping in freezing weather

Preparing Your Sleeping Quarters for Freezing Weather

  1. Don’t Forget About the Floors!  If you have laminate flooring in your RV, you will find that they are cold and drafty in the winter, especially if you have an older RV. To combat this, you can place rugs/runners over the floor to provide more insulation. Laying a runner or several runners together along the wall behind the bed can help insulate the seams and keep cold air out. I also use a down comforter to give extra insulation from the floor.  
  2. More Windows.   My RV has three windows in the back in the sleeping quarters. I have two small windows and a large emergency window behind the bed. These many windows can make the sleeping area cold and drafty. Using blankets over the curtains will make a huge difference in keeping the cold out. I suggest using full-length curtains for extra insulation from the walls as well. To insulate the emergency window, you can place a reflective sun visor in the window over the blinds/curtain. Next, place a blanket over the sun visor. I also use extra pillows to line the wall to hold the blanket in place. The extra pillows create a barrier between the wall/window and my head while sleeping.  
  3. Remember Warm Clothes.  If you are in freezing weather, the best thing for you to do to keep your body heat is to wear a hat. Sleeping in a zero-degree sleeping bag is also a great way to stay warm and cozy in your bed.
Alternatives to using a furnace

How to Heat your RV When You Do Not Have a Furnace

Whether you are primarily boondocking or do not want to drain your battery using the furnace, or maybe your furnace quit like mind did, there are other ways to heat your RV.

  1. Mr. Heater Buddy.  The Mr. Buddy is portable and heats up to 200sqft. It runs on propane, so you will need a separate propane tank, hose, and filter to filter the gas going into the Heater Buddy.  I know some of you are gasping: What about CO2?  This heater has a low oxygen sensor shutting it off automatically. The shutoff safety feature keeps carbon monoxide from being produced at dangerous levels. CO2 is the result of not enough oxygen being present in the air. As a precaution, your RV should have a CO2 detector/alarm installed, even if you are not using a portable heater.  My RV is older and very drafty. I can feel fresh air circulating, even with the extra coverings. But, if you do not feel safe with this, keep reading for more options.
  2. Catalytic Heaters.  If you are worried about CO2, a catalytic heater is another alternative.  Catalytic heaters use chemical reactions to produce heat, which means no CO2.
  3. Electric Space Heater.  If you are at a campsite with hookups, an electric space heater is an option instead of using your furnace. Take caution as these can be a fire risk. I suggest finding a model with built-in safety features for shutting off if knocked over or too hot.
Prevent breaks in freezing weather

How to Keep Things from Breaking in Freezing Weather

You will never be able to keep things from freezing if you are indeed in freezing weather, but there are measures you can take to make sure your pipes and tanks do not break. Water in your black and grey tanks will freeze when you are in freezing weather conditions.

  1. Don’t keep your Fresh Water Tank and Waste Tank full in freezing weather.  In case you did not know or did not remember, liquids expand when they freeze. The liquid in a closed container will expand when frozen and create stress on the container and possibly crack it. Foreseeing that I would be spending at least one night in colder weather, I dumped my waste and only filled my freshwater tank about less than half full.
  2. Turn off your Water Pump and Open Faucets.  Water left in your pipes will freeze. Everybody who lives in an RV and dry camps relies on the water pump. Turn your water pump off. Turn your faucets on to empty all of your water, including your shower. Remember to make sure no water is remaining in your toilet. You can pull the toilet lever releasing the remaining water for the flush to drain.
Thawing out in freezing weather

Be Prepared for When Things Freeze

It can take a few hours for things to thaw out. You may not have running water for a while if not hooked up to city water.  

  1. Before you go to bed, fill everything up. I have my Britta Water Pitcher that I I fill up before I go to bed to ensure I have water to drink, water to make coffee and breakfast. 
  2. Keep another gallon of water on hand for the toilet.   You will not be able to flush your toilet if the water is frozen.  Have an extra jug of water on hand to place some water in the toilet for flushing. You can keep it in the cabin with you to keep it from freezing.  

And that is it! Simple steps to survive some freezing nights. Notice I said SOME, as in a few. These are steps I take because I know I will not be in the cold weather for long. The few times that I have had to stay overnight in freezing temperatures, as low as 15 degrees, the steps I’ve shared have worked very well for me. Enjoy your travels! Stay warm, stay safe. And as always…

BE HAPPY, BE FREE, BE KIND.

Check out my list of places you can Remote Boondock in a larger RV.

Curious about Full-Time RV Life? Here are some fun facts >>> Fun Facts of RV Life

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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.