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RV Living in the 21st Century 

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What goes into a

    Fulltiming Budget?


How much money does it cost 



FULLTIMING BUDGET   (Updated 29 November 03)


The following is several of my email answers to the question reference -

ĎFulltiming Budgets and the minimum amount of $30,000í we feel is necessary


Hi Linda and Fred. (Feb 03)
Thanks for all the kind words. With reference to BUDGETS - This is a very personal thing for each Fulltimer. Your camping can be between $350 and $500 Cdn per month and depending where you are in the USA it could be as high as $6-$700 per month --- Cdn exchange will make the regular rate much higher. Usually monthly rent means you must pay your own hydro. However there are ways of stretching campground dollars such as Discount Camping - many are mentioned in RV Living in the 21st Century and through this site. Vol 1 and 2 ebooks and our RV WebLink page offer additional solutions.

 ®       Gas and Diesel fuel costs are rising so you need to figure how many miles you hope to cover and multiply. times the current price, Fulltimers usually travel shorter days and enjoy their time en route. They make getting there half the journey. We have the advantage over part-timers because we usually make one circle each year. Our annual average travel is between 10 and 13,000 miles. Vacationers go to their destination and return home again several times a year clocking up many more miles.

®       Eating out and groceries will be about the same as at home (dollar for dollar many things are equal cost, but while shopping in the USA we Canadians must add the exchange). You should also have $2-300.00 dollars available per month to be a tourist plus reserve cash for emergencies. We keep a zero balanced credit card for unexpected emergencies - when we return home in the summer we redirect funds to cover the new costs. I also recommend RVers set up a contingency fund as well. Clothes may be slightly more economical in the south because the USA sales seem to be lower than sale prices in Canada but if you shop wisely you can find some neat economical attractive casual clothes in both countries.  From groceries to clothes the selection is extensive so you may spend more because of the wide choice. 

®       Our costs include the mortgage on our motorhome and car, cell phone costs, ISP, Express Vu satellite, landline costs, message service and calling cards etc. the same as we would have if we lived in a stationary residence. No we do not pay property taxes or house rent/mortgage but we do pay campground rent and hydro. We also paid sales tax when we bought our unit. We have a storage facility for 'stuff' and we add to our monthly investments.

®       What I am trying to say is figure out a budget of what it costs you now to live --- don't forget to add mortgage and vehicle insurances, out of country medical costs etc.   In an RV you also must allow for routine maintenance of tires, tune-ups, upgrades etc.  Our costs range between $4-$8000 per year.  For instance tires need replacing about every 5 years and they run between $2500.00 and $3000.00 (a portion of our 2004 maintenance schedule). 

 ®       If you play golf or smoke or enjoy other expensive habits your costs will be higher than ours. Those with a dream to venture into Mexico can expect it to be more costly than a USA winter.  Caravans are a great way to get your feet wet in unfamiliar areas, most make for very pleasant memories but they, like cruises, can be a bit on the costly side.  However if you shop around you can find some economical caravans going to a number of unique locations. Begin your search on the RV WebLinks page of under Caravans  Depending on what country you live in or where you hope to travel, these links will give you a place to start.


A similar email answer reference Fulltiming Budgets for RVers wanting to take off for 1-2 years

Second viewpoint  (Spring O2) ---

 Hi Anne and Henry: Thanks for the visit. Be aware that frequently the 1-2 year start-up turns into 10 plus (like us Ėwe are now entering 18). On the other hand some friends didnít last a year, they were not happy unless they had a stationary place somewhere. The RV Lifestyle offers something for everyone. You asked about costs. The general consensus is a minimum of $30,000.00 a year, but that amount is so vague. Your expenses on the road will be the same or higher than they are now. Fulltiming is not meant to live like a pauper. The amount of your costs will be such a personal choice.

Since I donít know what country you call home and most fulltimers spend winters in the south, these figures are in US$'s. Canadian can convert by multiplying the US amount x the exchange rate = Cdn$ while in the USA. When the Cdn dollar is bad for us Cdns heading south, itís a real bargain for our USA neighbours who want to explore the friendly country to the north. 

There is no set amount required to live on the road fulltime. Some general static costs follow

®       Camping will be between $300.00 to $800.00 US$ plus tax depending what state or area you are visiting, the location to attractions, what camping clubs you belong too and if you pay full price. Most Discount Camping Clubs charge $10.00 plus tax per night. (See ebook Vol One).  Cdn rates run between $200.00 and $500.00 per month for seasonal rates, more for individual months. In both the USA and Canada the longer youíre in one spot, the lower the monthly rate. Daily camping rates range from $25-$35.00

®       Groceries run us from $450.00---$550.00 per month  (USA or Cda) for everything we buy in the grocery store. In the USA we still have to add the exchange rate.

®       We eat out about 4 times per month = $20.-$22.00 for lunch (for two)- (higher for dinners) - approx $80- $100.

®       As close as we can figure our total living ranges between $1000.00 to $1200.l00 per month; plus camping (at every opportunity we travel by discount camping clubs---$300. +tax per month); gas/fuel Ė Maintenance for both vehicles is extras is insurance, upgrades, clothes and new equipment such as a computer etc. In reality we spend much more than the $30,000 noted above.

®      Expensive hobbies such as golf, tennis etc. plus if you smoke or drink your costs will be much higher.

®       Allowance for gas/fuel costs --- average 09-14 miles per gal for diesel, less for gas---Cost from $1.20-$1.60 per gal. Price depends on where you plan to drive and how many miles you accumulate.

®       Propane the last few winter has been very high in the USA but it was equally high when we returned this past April.  We try when possible to fill up at Flying Jís because they are frequently less costly.

®       You will want from $300.00 - $400. be a tourist and to buy 'things'.

®       You should have access to about $5000.00 in an emergency fund. We choose not to have cash sitting around collecting dust, instead we set aside a zero balanced credit card to take care of the emergency --- we will rearrange funds when we return to our home location.

..      I also suggest that every RVer set up a Contingency Fund when you buy your unit.  Make regular monthly deposits of a $200-$400 to savings account.  This way when you need to take care of maintenance, or add amenities or replace items that have worn out the cash is there to take care of it.

®       Other things that need to be addressed are listed in the table below. I may have missed some things but the above will give you the idea. 

Phone Cards

Cell Phones

Internet ISP

Mail forwarding

Tax consultants

Tax payment etc

Drivers Licence



Emergency Road Service ERS

Mortgage Payments

RX medicines/

Health Care

Air Ambulance 

Dental costs

Clothing Upkeep

Discount Club Dues

RV Club Dues

Chapter costs

Accumulating costs from keeping the  house

     To figure your costs---use the above expenses as a guide. We know American RVers who fulltime solely on social security OR Cdns who have not much more than
Old age pensions plus CPP. Other friends can't exist on $5-$6 K per month. It seems no matter how much John and I have coming into the bank every month, the last week before payday, the money well is very low in available cash.

     Some fulltimers add to their cash flow as work kampers (work while they travel). Part time work links are listed on under Working on the Road section.  A few jobs are in Canada but legally you canít work in the USA without proper visas, although some Cdns do menial work at parks in exchange for rent. Even in our case, I present seminars, write articles, etc. We will never get rich from these extras but it does help to cover some of our travel expenses.  The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  

     Now it is time to pull out the paper and pencil to determine how much it will cost you to hit the road F/T.  If this is in the cards - don't worry, the time will fly by. The highway will be your home before long. Take care, RV Living - the Freedom Adventure.  P&J