In this article we’ll share our expenses for the full 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.
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.
If you’d like to learn more about purchasing an RV, budgeting for the RV lifestyle, earning an income on the road, and saving money while traveling full-time check out our book, Full-Time RV Finance.
We stay exclusively in full hook-up (water, 50 amp electric, and sewer) campgrounds. We read reviews and typically stay in those that have good WiFi (to save on our hotspots), pools, and fitness rooms. We are typically near cities with a major airport due to Sean’s work requirements.
This year we stayed in 11 different campgrounds: 4 Military, 6 Private, and 1 State Park. We post reviews of our stays on our YouTube channel. We travel slowly and take advantage of monthly rates when we can. Whenever we only stop for a few days on the way to specific location, we use Passport America to get 50% off our stays!
- Average Monthly Cost: $575
- Highest Monthly Cost: $1500 This was at Fort Belvoir, VA in the Washington DC metropolitan area. While it was an expensive campground for us, we think it is worth it because our oldest son and future daughter-in-law live nearby! 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.
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. In addition, Sean has to travel quite a bit for work and we are typically about 1 ½ hour away from a major airport and have to drive there and back a couple of times a month. For 2018, we plan to keep a separate log of mileage from moving with the Fifth Wheel, driving in the local area travel, and traveling to and from airports.
- Average Monthly Cost: $365
- Highest Monthly Cost: $793 This was in September when we had to evacuate southeastern Florida due to Hurricane Irma. We moved from Jupiter, FL to Valdosta, GA; Auburn, AL; Millington, TN; and finally back to Cocoa Beach, FL in that one month. Luckily we maintain an emergency fund as part of our financial strategy.
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $233 This was in October. We were exhausted from our adventures the previous month and stayed put. The weather was lovely and we road our bikes around the local area and hardly used the truck. We did have to make 2 trips to the Orlando airport.
We also spent $52.76 on propane for the whole year. We stayed at full hook-up campgrounds in warm climates and only used propane for cooking (stove top and oven) on a daily basis.
Our highest grocery month was September. We had a problem with our inverter while traveling and lost everything in the freezer. Conversely our lowest grocery month was when we were at Fort Belvoir near Washington DC. We were right down the road from a fabulous farmer’s market and saved a ton of money shopping there almost exclusively. Our highest dining out month was December when we spent 2 weeks in a hotel in Las Vegas, NV and a week in a hotel in Rockville, MD.
|Average Monthly Cost||$385||$233|
|Highest Monthly Cost||$489||$288|
|Lowest Monthly Cost||$285||$187|
- Average Monthly Cost: $210
- Highest Monthly Cost: $294
- Lowest Monthly Cost: $119
Our highest month was August in Cocoa Beach, FL. We both went on a bioluminescence kayaking tour which was $84. Also Julie got the deluxe adventure package at the Brevard Zoo which included an aerial adventure obstacle course, zip lining and kayaking for $57. We discuss how much fun we had on the Space Coast in our inaugural podcast episode. Our least expensive month was again at Fort Belvoir because there are so many free activities in the Washington DC area (i.e., Smithsonian museums, monuments, and hiking galore).
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 $3,512.10. Here are the major expenses for 2017:
- RV Tires (6 for our triple axle Fifth Wheel) $1,219.13 Although the tread was still in excellent condition on our 2-year-old tires, we made the choice to upgrade to a higher quality radial tire.
- Truck Tires (6 for our dually truck) and an oil change for the diesel engine $1,450.96. These tires were 3 years old and had about 50,000 on them, but the tread was starting to wear and we saw cracking in the sidewall of a few tires. We made the decision to replace all 6 at once. We feel that tires are a high priority because our lives and home are resting on them when we travel.
- Truck Brake System Sensor Replacement $523.51
- Water Filtration System $179.55 Sean built a custom system for our RV. You can read about it 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 monthly average for each item. If the expense is due annually, we divide it by 12 and include it in our monthly budget.
|FL RV Registration (annual fee/12 months)||$3|
|FL Truck Registration (annual fee/12 months)||$9|
|RV Insurance (FL Full-Timer policy)||$135|
|Cell Phone (Family Plan)||$240|
|Streaming Subscriptions (Hulu, Netflix, Starz)||$22|
|Internet (2 Hot Spots)||$172|
|TOTAL FIXED MONTHLY EXPENSES||$1,517|
TOTAL EXPENSES AND INCOME
If you add together our variable and fixed expenses our average monthly cost to RV Full-Time this year was $3,576. We are both working and are fortunate that we are able to live on one income and put the remainder towards debt and savings. Our savings is further broken down into categories for things like retirement, vacation fund, holidays, etc.
In January 2017, we set a goal of being debt free by the end of 2018. In addition to our income, we employed 3 other strategies to help us pay off $91,000 in debt in under 12 months.
To see a more thrifty budget with plenty of boondocking, check out Travel With Kevin and Ruth who recently posted their year-end expenses for 2017. The average was about $1,500 per month (USD). They are Canadian so there is obviously a difference for health insurance, but this average also includes significant travel abroad. We’re very impressed!
Other Articles of Interest:
What Does It Cost Others to Full-Time RV?
As I mentioned above, the cost of full-time RVing can vary greatly based on many factors. Dan & Lindsay McKenzie of Follow Your Detour collected expense reports from different RVers like couples, families, boondocerks,etc. The have a free download that shows multiple budgets and you can download it by clicking here.