In this article we’ll share our 2018 expenses for the entire year of full-time RV travel. We’ll break all our expenses into two categories fixed and variable and show you the average monthly cost of each. We’ll explain what occurred in the high and low months as well.
Watch this video or read the article below to get a complete breakdown of our costs for 2018.
If you would like to see additional descriptions of each category below, read our previous article, How Much Does It Cost to RV Full-Time? where we discuss every line item in our budget.
One question we hear often is, ‘Can you full-time RV for less than $1,500 a month?” The answer to that is yes, you can. However, you may not be able to travel much or stay in campgrounds or go out to eat often. The thing about budgets is that they are very personal. It all comes down to your wants and needs. In this article, we’ll share our expenses based on our preferences. The hope is that they simply provide food for though and help you create your own budget.
Under variable expenses, we’ll cover campgrounds, fuel, food, entertainment, maintenance, and modifications & upgrades.
Except for 2 short dry camping stints, we stayed exclusively in full hook-up (water, 50 amp electric, and sewer) campgrounds. We read reviews and try to find campgrounds or RV resorts that have good WiFi (to save on our hotspots), heated pools, and fitness rooms.
This year we stayed in 18 different campgrounds: 11 Private, 5 Military, 1 Corps of Engineer (COE), and 1 Country Fairgrounds. We post reviews of all our stays on our YouTube channel. We also prefer to travel slowly and take advantage of monthly rates when we can.
- Total Campground Expenses for 2018: $9,139.13
- Average Monthly Cost: $762
- Highest Monthly Cost: $1500
- This was at Fort Belvoir, VA in the Washington DC metropolitan area. While it was an expensive campground for us, it was worth it to attend our oldest son and daughter-in-law’s wedding! You can see our review of the campground here.
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $495 We spent the month of July at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. You can see our review of the campground here.
- For those who don’t have the option to stay at military campgrounds, we’d like to give you an idea of the cost of campgrounds that anyone can enjoy. Our least expensive was a COE campground. They are federally managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and open to the public. We paid $13 per night at Gunter Hill Campground. On the high end of the spectrum, we stayed at the Tucson Lazy Days KOA for the entire month of December. We paid $821 for the month including our metered electricity.
We pull a 44’ Fifth Wheel with our Chevy 3500 HD Truck. We typically stay in place 4-6 weeks before moving which helps keep costs down, but the truck is also our only vehicle for local drives.
- Total Diesel Expenses for 2018: $6,038.28
- Average Monthly Cost: $503
- Highest Monthly Cost: $848 This was in June when we drove from Texas to Virginia for our son’s wedding.
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $301 This was in April. We were in San Antonio where two of our sons live. We didn’t travel much outside of the area and they often came and picked us up when we went places in the local area.
We also spent $298.28 on propane over the year. We stayed at full hook-up campgrounds in warm climates most of the year and predominantly used propane for cooking (stove top and oven) on a daily basis. A few of the summer months we didn’t have to refill our propane at all. The weather was unseasonably cold in Tucson this winter, so in December we paid $67.66 for propane to run the heater every night.
Finally, we paid $228.54 for gas for our generator during the year. Normally we only run the generator 1-2 hours per month according to the regular maintenance schedule. However, we had to run it all day every day for a few weeks in May when we were dry camping during an unseasonably hot spring in Texas.
We have two line items in our budget for this category: Groceries and Dining Out. Although the category is technically food, our grocery costs include everything we buy at the grocery store including toiletries and cleaning supplies. Our total food expenses for 2018 were: $7,305.31.
|Average Monthly Cost||$338||$270|
|Highest Monthly Cost||$398||$464|
|Lowest Monthly Cost||$175||$152|
The highest monthly cost was a good example of how things you might not normally think of in an RV budget can occur. It was in June when we were in Northern Virginia for our son’s wedding. We had a lot of family in from out of town and were taking them out to eat.
Entertainment costs include things like museums, movies, parking, etc. Our total entertainment expenses for 2018 were: $2,663.64.
- Average Monthly Cost: $222
- Highest Monthly Cost: $695
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $62
Our highest month was in September. We were having work done on the RV and stayed in a resort in Orlando. While there we went to Disney and several other expensive tourist attractions. Our lowest month was in February. We spent some time at the beach in Florida and with the State Parks pass parked for free. Then we traveled to Texas for a conference, so we didn’t have too much additional time for entertainment.
An average here is not really helpful because we’ve had months with no expense, but we’ve also had some rather large expenses. Our total for the year was $10,266.57. Here are the major expenses for 2018:
- RV Tires ($585.27) Although we upgraded to a high quality radial tire, we had two different flats this summer. We replaced both tires.
- Hydraulic Level Up Jack ($498.49) We had to replace one of the jacks. We could have used our extended warranty at no cost to us, but we were pressed for time so Sean did the repair himself.
- Hydraulic Line Repairs ($501.45) We’ve had 5 of our lines go out at various times this year. Again, Sean did the repairs himself.
- Preventive Maintenance ($1,204.25) Includes generator, axles, hitch, and tow truck preventive maintenance that Sean performed.
- RV Patio Deck Replacement ($6,542.13) This was the painful one. We had delamination on our side patio deck that was not covered by the warranty or insurance.
Modifications & Upgrades
We had two major expenses under this category in 2018: a remodel of our RV interior and a major upgrade to our power system. You can see itemized costs for both here:
All of our fixed expenses are described in detail in the article, How Much Does It Cost to RV Full-Time? Below is the amount we budget every month for each item. If the expense is due annually, we divide it by 12 and include it in our monthly budget.
|FL RV Registration||$3.11|
|FL Truck Registration||$3.42|
|RV Insurance (FL Full-Timer policy)||$158.00|
|Truck Insurance (FL full coverage)||$161.33|
|Health Savings Account*||$229.86|
|Cell Phone & Internet Hotspots||$260.00|
|TOTAL FIXED MONTHLY EXPENSES||$1,429.38|
*We don’t have a cost for health insurance. As disabled veterans, we use the VA’s Traveling Vet program. However, we do put money aside each month in a HSA for other medical expenses.
** We elected not to put a washer & dryer in our RV. We use the campgrounds’ laundry facilities.
*** We don’t spend this much every month, but put it in savings. Then when we need new clothing or shoes, we have the funds available.
If you add together our variable and fixed expenses our average monthly cost to RV Full-Time this year was $4,022.32.
Don’t Forget Savings
It is also very important to include savings and investments. We break out savings into categories for things like birthdays, holidays, vacation (outside the RV), and emergencies.
Frugal RV Budget
It is possible to have a more frugal budget for sure. For example, we know folks who dry camp the majority of the year. This very low cost and sometimes even free. Many folks trying to cut back on expenses will reduce their budget for dining out and cut out the streaming subscriptions and extra hot spots. It is completely up to you and how you’d like to live.
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