Fulltime RV Travel Costs

Cost To Live In An RV Full Time: Monthly Costs From Our 2nd Year On The Road

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This post is all about our cost to live in an RV full time, back in year 2 of our full time RV travels. Last time, we told you about our first year of full-time family travel, buying our truck and fifth wheel, moving out of our apartment, and starting life in our RV full-time. Now we’ll share the cost of full time RV life in year 2 compared to our 1st year. The cost to live in an RV full time can definitely change from year to year, and since we are now part way through year 4 of full-time RVing we have definitely seen this in action over several years.

Watch the video below to hear what year 2 on the road cost us. Then continue scrolling down to read more!

What Does It Cost To Live In An RV Full Time?

We’re sharing our cost to live in an RV full time because we have been grateful when others are transparent about their costs and RV living and we want to share what we’ve learned as well. We hope it helps you or you at least find it interesting!

We’ll take you through each category & overall costs like last time, but now, as we do a lot more awesome travel and exploring than we did in the first year. So we’ll see what our RV full time costs look like from March 2019 through February 2020. Keep reading so we can answer how much it cost us to live in an RV full time in our second year.

Year 2 Fulltime RVing Route

At the end of year 1, we had gone to Florida to establish residency there, and spent the holidays with family and friends. In the New Year we explored all around Florida and at the very end of February, headed to Illinois for the start of year 2 of our travels.

We had discovered a crack in the outside wall of the RV below the master bedroom slide, which required us to take it back to the factory for repair under warranty. So we headed to my sister’s during that time. The need for repair was unfortunate but it was a super nice visit. When the repair was complete, we checked out Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa which was really neat, explored Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and surrounding areas, went to Custer, South Dakota, one of our favorite places, and back to Denver for a bit for a wedding and to visit friends.

Then began our trek to the northeast for fall colors, through Ohio and Cuyahoga National Park, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Vermont and New Hampshire especially surprised us and we’ll have to go back someday to see even more. Our final northeast destination was Maine, and Acadia National Park, rocky shorelines, lighthouses, and a lobster boil were fun adventures had there.

Then we headed down the east coast, stopping in Boston, Hershey PA, the D.C. area, visiting others in Virginia and North Carolina, all the way back to Florida for the holidays again. In the New Year we took some road trips to Savannah, GA & Charleston, SC but mostly explored Florida, and wrapping up year 2 with a Full-Time Families Rally event.

The Numbers

Excluded Costs

There are various items that are not included in the monthly RV costs or in the grand total costs. These include:

  • Our Truck and Fifth Wheel: We used money from the sale of our townhome back in the D.C. area & savings to pay those outright so there weren’t any monthly payments. But we shared what those originally cost us in our Year 1 video.
  • Keeping a home or rental: We don’t have another home we maintain or rent out. We sold our townhome a few years after we left the D.C. area originally and were only renting prior to starting full-time RVing.
  • Storage fees: We don’t have storage fees we personally have to pay, but we do store some items with Christine’s Dad.
  • Laundry: We don’t have any laundry fees since we have a washer and dryer built into our RV.
  • Firewood: We bought a propane fire pit this year.
  • Savings & investments, charity, business expenses: We don’t include these in what we’re sharing here.

So if you have any of those, keep that in mind for what additional costs you may have.

Why RV Costs Can Vary

Also keep in mind that RVing costs vary drastically from person to person depending on the size of your family, how you’re living, what you’re doing, how fast you’re moving, and many other factors. We just want to show you what this cost our family. It may cost you more or less.

Included RV Costs

So here we go, our average RV living cost per month for each category and their annual totals. We’ll tell you a bit about each category in the bullet points. Then check out the table for average monthly costs and total annual costs for year 2. We’ll give you the grand totals of everything combined at the end.

Groceries

This is food, drinks, and anything else we buy at grocery stores. We’ll share restaurants and additional general merchandise separately. This cost increased for us in Year 2 which doesn’t surprise us because our kids were eating more and grocery costs just seem to keep going up.

Fuel

This includes diesel fuel for our truck, gas for our generator, and propane. Even though we traveled more, this category cost us less than in our first year when we were semi-stationary in Denver initially. It might be because we kept moving and traveling shorter distances at a time, compared to several long haul trips in Year 1 back and forth to the west coast, IL, and then to FL to establish residency. And if you remember, we had sold our second vehicle and now no longer had the Subaru fuel costs in Year 2 either.

General Merchandise / Miscellaneous

This includes things that aren’t food and drink but we also couldn’t just buy at the grocery store. Things like clothes, presents, toys & games, other supplies, postage, ATM withdrawals that we didn’t tie specifically to other categories, essential oils, electronics, etc. It also includes RV related things which in year 2 were items like new camp chairs, a propane fire pit and additional propane tank, a dog crate that doubled as bench seating, cushions, an outdoor rug, and a Togo router. This cost went up a bit from the year before, mostly because we needed to buy a new laptop this year and a new phone. While we had to buy a lot for the RV in year 1, these costs in year 2 were mostly non-RV related

Medical/Dental/Vision Care

Since we were working while traveling, we were covered through my company and an HSA.

Entertainment & Travel

This category includes the things we do for fun. We find a lot of free or cheap things to do when we can. This year at times paid for things like state parks passes, Wisconsin Dells activities, Custer SD area attractions, hiking permits, an outing at a local rock climbing gym, community center access, a gondola ride, museum entries, the Mount Washington cog railway in NH, attending a Renaissance fair, a hayride, mini-golf, Bush Gardens, Fulltime Families Rally, Savannah Trolley ride, Patriots Point tour, and of course our National Parks Pass, plus other things.

Travel would typically include any flights, rental cars, or hotels, but we didn’t have any of those costs this year. This category also includes any parking and tolls which were minimal. So our overall costs in this category went down from year 1 to 2, but since we didn’t go to Germany like the year before, and did a lot more things for fun as we were traveling, our entertainment costs definitely increased.

Restaurants

Our restaurant costs only went up slightly this year, and considering we started having to buy more for our kids to eat as we went out, that’s pretty good. It’s definitely fun to check out local places to eat and drink as we travel the country.

Recurring Costs

These include truck and RV insurance, phone & internet connectivity, mail service, legal shield and long-term care insurance. In March we still had the truck and RV rolled into a single USAA plan but then switched the RV to Progressive. Our phone and internet costs increased from the year before for several reasons. Last year the cost was just Christine’s phone on a Verizon unlimited plan, but later in the year she switched to Google Fi like Kevin, and his phone plan also stopped being a business expense later in year 2. Finally, we got an AT&T unlimited plan for the Togo router and paid that up front for one year in September. That was a really awesome deal, so we had to jump on it. Our mail service was still through St. Brendan’s Isle in FL.

Vehicle Maintenance Budget

Maintenance needs increased from last year. These included routine maintenance as well as repairs plus any RV projects. For the truck this included: a new DEF pump which was the most expensive thing in the list, oil changes, transmission flush & brake fluid, tire rotation, fuel filter, power steering & brake fluid, front and rear differentials, CCV filter, yearly registration, 2 new batteries, and a cord for the block heater. For the RV this included: water filters, a weigh-in, a vent repair, caulking & a caulking gun, roof sealant, a new microwave after the original died, repacking our bearings, new tire jacks and a new fuse. Our recommendation continues to be, budget for maintenance and expect things to happen that need to be repaired, because they will.

RV Rent

Several things changed for us in this category in year 2. In year 1 we spent a lot of time in CO state parks, which were cheaper back then, a lot of time moochdocking with family, parked on their properties. Near the end of the year we had bought our Thousand Trails camping pass membership and had started getting use out of it in FL, about 6 weeks of use total. We told you all about TT in the last post so you can check that out if you’re not at all familiar with them, but now let us tell you what changed with our membership in year 2.

Thousand Trails Upgrade

Several months later, we decided to upgrade our TT camping pass. We had been getting more use out of our TT membership, and we knew in the summer and fall we’d be traveling up near the great lakes, into the NE, and down the east coast back to FL with lots of opportunity to use and save money with TT. With our current camping pass, we would have been able to stay up to 2 weeks in each campground, but then we’d have to be out of the system for a week unless we stayed for less than 4 days per park. We’d also have to purchase 2 additional zones to add onto our membership, since we only had the southeast zone at the time.

Our upgrade was to an Elite Basic membership, and it cost us $5,995. It would now allow us to stay 3 weeks at a time, and go park to park, in any of the zones, as well as book further in advance to make sure we could secure our reservations especially in popular areas during the busy seasons (120 days in advance rather than 60 days previously). Our fees are $74/mo. which also included the add-on of the additional Trails Collection campgrounds we could use, and an annual assessment fee of $65. We used our TT membership for a total of 164 nights in Year 2. We expected we’d continue to use it over the years as we knew we’d continue RVing, so it was an investment of sorts into lower camping costs in the long run.

Harvest Hosts

This year we also joined Harvest Hosts, which is an awesome membership where you can stay overnight at wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and other types of locations participating in the program. You get a place to park your RV at no additional camping cost, but in return you support the business in some way, by purchasing some of their products for example. We love it because they’re typically pretty nice places to park and you get a fun experience at the same time. Go into a winery and do a tasting or a brewpub and get a drink and some pizza and then walk a short distance and you’re back at home.

We’ve parked in an apple orchard, at a distillery, next to a vineyard, and near donkeys and sheep. It’s really fun but the way it works out for us doesn’t typically equal cost savings. It’s more for the convenience and experience for us. Our membership rate is $67/year, but factoring that in with what we spent at the locations, came out to $56 per night. Other people might spend less but we like to get a bottle of wine or have dinner, stock up on local cheeses and things like that. Then we get to enjoy being there, and eating and drinking our camping fees is more fun that just spending them on a gravel spot in a campground in our opinion.

Dump Stations

RV rent costs also include dump station fees which were again very minimal this year.

Nights By Type

Here are the number of nights stayed in various types of locations:

  • 52 nights Moochdocking
  • 164 nights Thousand Trails
  • 8 nights Harvest Hosts
  • 141 nights other campground types

Total RV Rent Costs

In the cost table below, we’ll give you the total RV Rent costs both factoring in our TT upgrade, and the costs without it. Since the total cost with the TT upgrade isn’t an entirely accurate picture since it lumps all of the cost of the TT upgrade into this year with only some of the savings, we’ll also show you the numbers with the $5,995 were removed. Though we think it’s fair to say our costs would have been a bit higher than the lower amount because of having to find additional campgrounds between some TT stays. We’ll have a separate video in the future where we talk more about what our average night cost through the TT membership has been and if looking back it has been worth it or not!

RV Costs Table

Grand Totals

So with the TT upgrade, that brings our grand totals to $4,785 per month for our second year as full-time RVers, and that cost us a total of $57,416. But again, since the upgrade skews the numbers, if we were to remove it, that would have been a bit more than an average of $4,285 per month and $51,421 for the year. So, though we were able to reduce costs in several cost categories, the overall totals are a bit up from year 1. Though considering this was a year of a lot more travel, sightseeing, and exploring, it makes sense!

So now we’ve shown you our cost of full time RVing for year 2 of our family travels on the road. We hope this info is helpful to you!

Stay tuned for our next RV cost video and blog post. We will talk year 3 which includes a fun RVing event near the beginning of the year, a battery upgrade & RV solar system install, big plans and then big changes when the pandemic blindsided everyone.

Free RV Budget Resources

We also post our current monthly RV expense reports that are very in depth. You can check those out monthly. You can even download the spreadsheets and graphs and charts that we use to track our budget.

Additionally, we’ve been posting our high level current monthly RV costs on Instagram if you want to check it out in that format.


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If you’d like to read about our current monthly RV costs, then check out these posts :

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