Living the RV life gives you that sense of freedom, but it also comes with a price. Setting a budget for your full-time RV travels is a personal plan depending on the individual. For a fair monthly budget, $3,000 is a good starting price, especially for those who will be venturing RVing for the very first time. This comprehensive budget guide is ideal for solo or couple travelers.
Make a solid list of your needs and wants, namely your fixed and variable expenses, to determine your spending priorities. Also, allocate a contingency fund for emergencies. Once you have set your budget plan, keep an eye out for discounts to reduce your expenses. Always consider cheaper or free alternatives.
Planning your RV budget is pretty much like owning a house. You have your daily food, power consumption, water expenses, and all those other personal and domestic necessities you need to cover. In this article, we will be giving you a simple list of fixed and variable expenses for your RV travels. And, using this knowledge, teach you how to make a solid budget plan to live comfortably on $3,000 a month.
A $3,000 budget is sufficient for monthly RVing. However, keep in mind that all these expenses are still subject to change, based on your lifestyle, preference, and travel habits. Our goal is to give you a good idea of what to include in a standard $3,000 budget plan, give or take.
RV registration can go from $40 up to $187 in the estimate. The fees vary per state depending on your permanent residence, as well as the size and weight of the RV. For example, in Alabama, they no longer require the registration of RVs that are over 35 years. In a different state, RVs that weigh 3,000 pounds no longer need to be registered. In general, motorhomes are registered the same way as cars. On the other hand, RVs and towables differ in the category, which requires different registration processes.
RV loans are usually applied to RVs that cost between $10,000 and $500,000. The average cost for RV loans per month is between $225 to $650. Most RV loans allow a repayment term between 10 and 15 years, which requires a higher monthly payment but a shorter period to pay. This can also last for 20 years, which is more affordable on a monthly basis but also imposes higher interest.
RV insurance is essential to have in place to cover damages, injuries, liabilities, and losses that occurred near your RV. Essential coverage options include liability coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage.
The cost varies per state and depends on your rig. For motorhomes such as Class A, B, B+, and C types, insurance can cost around $500 to $2,000 with an average of $1,250 annually or $100 monthly. For full-time campers, there is the “full-timer’s RV insurance”. On the other hand, campers who travel sparingly can ask for “storage options” to reduce coverage when the RV is not in use while still keeping the rig and the things inside protected.
Your health insurance plan primarily depends on your age, location (state), and lifestyle. Health insurance companies are a stickler when it comes to the individual’s lifestyle. For example, a tobacco user can be charged a higher premium than those who do not smoke. You can get health insurance from various companies and agencies including the Health Insurance Marketplace, private health insurance companies, and health care sharing ministries. The monthly premium costs around $250 to $400 per individual, depending on the plan.
As a camper, you have three main sources of Internet connection for your personal or work needs. There is a smartphone, mobile hotspot, and public wifi. In other cases where you need a good connection 24/7, you have satellite wifi as an option.
With a basic smartphone, you would likely spend around $35 to $60 for the Internet alone, other phone expenses aside. Although some data plans may already include unlimited talk/text. For your mobile hotspot expense, this includes the unit at around $100 to 600 for a one-time purchase, and the monthly Internet use cost averaging $60.
On the other hand, satellite wifi gives you a secure internet system 24/7. This is ideal for boondocking. Tripod-mounted satellite wifi costs $1,000 to $3,000 to install, while you would be shelling out $6,500 up to $16,000 for a rooftop mounted satellite wifi, which stays put wherever you go. Overall, the average Internet consumption for satellite wifi is $150 per month.
Your fuel consumption depends on your gas mileage while on the road and on how often you stay in campsites. It would also depend on the type of rig you have, and if you use gas or diesel. You also want to consider whether you will be boondocking or staying at campsites more.
The average mileage for RVs is 5,000 miles. From $60 to $600 per fill-up, a gallon is $2.50 to $4, while a fuel tank has 25-150 gallons, depending on the rig type. A Class A RV can run on 4-7 mpg, a Class B RV on 10-25 mpg, and Class C on 8-10 mpg.
For a fair amount, you can set aside $330 for fuel expenses. But to save even more, boondocking is the way to go. Spending a month or two out in the boonies with just short trips here and there can help significantly reduce your fuel consumption.
Same as the fuel, your RV maintenance cost would depend on your vehicle and your travel habits. You should also consider personal lifestyle, preference, and the condition of the rig when you acquired it.
Generally, maintenance includes checking your tires, oil, filters, and fluid, among others. Set a monthly maintenance cost of $850, give or take. But keep in mind that this is not a monthly requirement. Some maintenance work can be done every couple of months to a year. Your maintenance cost could go even lower if you know a thing or two about RV repairs or your rig type needs minimal maintenance. An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure, so be sure to keep your RV in tiptop shape to prevent unnecessary repairs.
We tackled solar panels earlier. But before all those fancy alternatives, there were electrical hookups. Most RV parks do not charge solely for electricity consumption. They already include this in the camp fee. But on the off-chance that they charge for electricity, this would depend on the size, length, weight, and model of your rig.
When staying in a campground, you are looking at $35 to spend weekly or $140 monthly. RV parks charge per daily estimated kilowatt usage, so it would depend on your lifestyle, your charging needs, and how much you consume and when.
Travel and Camping Fees
Some campers prefer to hop from one campsite to another. Others prefer to boondock. No matter what your preference is, it is best to add campground fees to your list, just in case you decide to stay in an RV camp for a while. On average, an RV campsite charges $25 to $80 per night depending on the location, space, and amenities offered. This costs an average of $1,575 for a solid month.
On the other hand, boondocking will help reduce this expense to half. You just need to have a solid plan in place, but this is a small price to pay to enjoy nature while saving on those tiny expenses that accumulate over time.
Driving around in your RV probably means hopping from one state to another. This involves toll fees that range from $0.35 to $10.25, depending on the state. Depending on your location, you may pass through expressways, bridges, turnpikes, skyways, tunnels, or parkways. You can use toll calculators to look up the specific rate per toll, so you can be prepared even before traveling. For smooth driving, RV TollPass covers the majority of toll roads in the USA. It charges lower electronic rates than cash or video toll rates. It only requires a one-time registration for your convenience.
Propane is a great source of heat and energy. This can do wonders for you when you are out boondocking in an isolated land. They are also cheaper than gas and with a multipurpose design. You can use them for cooking, grilling, powering appliances, providing central air and heating in the RV, heating water, etc. Common places to get them include gas stations, hardware stores, and RV parks. For traveling, sizes come in 20, 30, and 40-pound tanks. It costs about $12 to $25 to fill a propane tank.
Your food expense would highly depend on your food preference, cheat meals, go-to ingredients, and tolerances. It would also depend if you prefer cooking inside your RV with fresh ingredients or buying ready-to-eat dishes. Your monthly grocery run would most likely cost around $500 to $1,000 for one to two persons. This would go much higher if you often eat out or buy ready meals.
Whether you love staying inside your RV or you prefer to go on outdoor adventures, you need to do your laundry come what may. Some campers turn to laundromats for convenient washing, which can cost $15 to $25 weekly, amounting to $60 to $100 monthly.
Some campers have self-contained rigs that have a good lavatory inside, equipped with everything you need to keep your clothes fresh and stain-free. In this case, your top priority is keeping your water tanks filled to the brim for your washing needs. Your water source may include dump stations, BLM ranger stations, national parks, and rest stops such as gas stations. You can get this for free or for a very small amount, somewhere between $5 and $10.
Play & Leisure
This part of the variable expense highly depends on your personal interests. This mainly includes your hobbies and social life. Like how frequently you would visit pubs, get together with friends, etc. Sort of going back to civilization and taking a break from the whole RV lifestyle. This costs around $300 to $500.
Your leisure expense can go even lower if you settle for free activities. Your hobbies and interests might also require maintenance and accessory expenses. The first few months in your RV lifestyle would feel like a vacation. But keep in mind that money can run dry fast if left unaccounted for, so be keen on the “fun” part of your budget.
Making a structured budget plan can help allocate your resources properly and reduce your travel expenses in the long run. By setting one’s spending priorities accordingly, a solo or couple traveler can comfortably live off of a full-time $3,000 RV budget, or even with less. Ultimately, proper budget allocation, discounts, and intentional purchases can all contribute to comfortable and care-free full-time RV living. To follow a cliché remark but practical advice, “Spend wisely.”