Snapshot: A Year of Full-Time RV Living & Costs

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Want a quick snapshot of our RV Lifestyle? Curious about how many miles we drove, our expenses and the places we stayed? Here, we hare a visual snapshot summary in this fun infographic “A Year of Full-time RV Living” based on our experience during our first full calendar year of living full-time in our RV in 2015. 

While this data can vary widely depending on how and where you like to stay, how far you travel and how reliable (or costly) your RV is to maintain – we hope this infographic will give you a bit of a feel for of OUR RV Lifestyle, travels and expenses. Enjoy!

new-piktochart_2015

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Mileage

Our course, one of the big questions we get is “what mileage do you get?” and the way we view mileage and fuels costs is by combining our driving across both the RV and MINI. Individually, the RV gets on average 7 mpg as long as we stay under speeds of 60 mph. After that, the RV sucks the fuel down like crazy and we’re in no hurry, so we just stick to driving in the sweet spot of 55-60mph. The MINI gets around 28mpg on average and as you can see, we do around two thirds of our actual driving miles in the MINI as that’s what we go out exploring in.

Of course, the cheap fuel prices of the last 12-18 months have been fantastic for people like us who like to drive a lot, and fuel is a variable expense. If you want to spend less on gas, you simply stay longer in one location and don’t drive so far to the next one! But while gas prices are cheap, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to see as much of the country as we can!

Camping

We’re really more glampers than campers but we aren’t afraid to spend the night in a Walmart parking lot to break up a cross-country drive or hang out in the middle of the desert for a stint of dry camping either! However, we prefer to mostly stay in campgrounds with hookups and as you can see, we stay within the Thousand Trails (TT) network as much as possible to keep our campground costs down. We don’t stay in TT exclusively – we enjoy staying at higher end places in popular locations (like Niagara Falls) as well, but the way we see it, our cheap (free) TT stays help to offset the more expensive campground rates, which brings our average nightly fee down substantially to just $15 over the course of a year.

Other Expenses

We recently shared the details of what it has cost to keep our RV running and taken care of in our blog post 2 years of RV repairs and service costs. We haven’t included expenses such as eating out, entertainment and groceries in this infographic as that’s such an individual thing, depending on what, how much and where you eat!

We also haven’t included our RV payment as again, that will vary widely depending on the rig you choose and whether you pay for it outright or have a payment on it. But our RV payment is substantially lower than what our mortgage, HOA and utilities cost back when we had a stick and brick home.

We hope this snapshot gives you a good sense of the kinds of expenses to consider and just how affordable the full-time RV lifestyle can be – if you plan according to your preferred travel style and budget 🙂

How about you?

  • What is your preferred style of RV camping?
  • How many miles do you travel?
  • How do these costs compare to what you spend – or expect to spend?

We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below

Related articles:

How to get the Best Deal on a Thousand Trails Zone Pass?

All About Thousand Trails Membership Upgrades

Is a Thousand Trails Zone Pass Right For You?

2 Years of RV Repairs and Service Costs

29 Tips for Successful Boondocking

Boondocking Recap: Usage and Costs

The Day We Went to Mexico for Dental

13 thoughts on “Snapshot: A Year of Full-Time RV Living & Costs”

  1. I found this artical on Pinterest. So new to all this, how do I get to your blog? What you have here makes since to me. I would like to read more about your journey. If this is your blog just smile and know I am smiling also. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Hi Julie,thanks for your posts, what type of rv do you have and what would you recommend?I’m hoping to transition to full timing myself

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    • Hi Christy – we have a 2012 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 35QBA bunkhouse model – we converted the bunkhouse into a separate dedicated office. We have many articles on our website about our RV, why we chose it etc so feel free to explore and learn. It is virtually impossible to make a recommendation to you without knowing anything about you, your lifestyle, needs, preferences, budget… but I would recommend you start looking around to see the options available, the amenities you need, what size will suit you… we spent hundreds of hours over about 8 months researching and narrowing down to determine the best fit for us, which is why it is such a much bigger and more complex question to answer in a simple email… perhaps go to a local dealer and have a browse to get a feel for what feels like it may be a good start to explore more and go from there… we will be sharing more info on how to do this over the coming months so keep an eye out in our emails. We hope to make an announcement by the summer, with something to help you answer this for yourself. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  3. My wife, Renee, and I just finished a 7 week trip to New England. Our home is in Charleston, SC, where summer heat is stifling, so going north made sense. Unfortunately, the heat followed us to Maine, where the normal summer temps should be 75. While we were there it went into the 90’s, along with high humidity.

    We just purchased our first 2013 Class A Thor Challenger with 10,000 miles, about 6 months ago.

    We stayed mostly in Good Sam campgrounds, because they seem to be everywhere. Even with the 10% discount, we were paying upwards of $40 a night for full hookup. All were supposed to have wi-fi, but not all did. Not being connected to the world is frustrating. Using data proved to be expensive.

    I have already planned a trip West next spring. I’m using the Good Sam Travel Planner, which uploads the whole trip to my Good Sam GPS. I’m trying to plan on driving only a maximum of 4 hours a day. Maybe staying at a Walmart would permit me to drive more since it would eliminate the setup time in a campground. Are you in agreement with this? How long do you drive in one day?
    Thanks for what you are doing. We newbies appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Hi Bob, goodness 90s in Maine for summer and humid too? That would be uncomfortable. Thank Goodness for Canada, eh? Might need to head further north next time! OK so we have a few comments that may help you. 1. You will save a LOT of money on campground fees with a Thousand Trails membership – whether you get a zone pass or a resale membership upgrade, you will save thousands of dollars each year on camping fees so I highly recommend you read closely our (many) blog posts about that on our website – under camping options – also some links from the home page). Yes Good Sam parks are everywhere but a 10% saving isn’t much and still adds up. You could consider staying at campgrounds for one month at a time and that will be a much lower rate, look into quarterly as well if you don’t mind longer stays. But the TT resale membership lets you stay 21 nights for free and most all campgrounds on the east coast have full hookups (some on the west coast don’t have sewer at all sites but often offer a ‘honeywagon’ service. Campground WIFI – yes we all need to be connected these days and because we rely on the internet to allow us to work fulltime, we have our own WIFI hotspots – we NEVER rely on campground WIFI as it is just too unreliable and slow for our needs and also not as secure as having our own networks. We have a comprehensive blog post on that as well under Tech, Work & Gear. You would definitely benefit from getting a MIFI jetpack (we recommend Verizon as it has the beat coverage overall nationally) and depending on how much data you use, you may want to look into getting a rare and coveted unlimited data plan – read the blog post post for more tips on that. We prefer to drive 2-4 hours in a day but there are times we will put in much bigger driving days/weekends. For example we had a 9 hour drive this past weekend from Grand Tetons to Bryce Canyon. We put in about 5 hours on Saturday afternoon, pulled up at a Walmart for the night, and continued driving early the next morning for another 4-5 hours. The good thing about Walmart is they are right off or near interstates, you can find them in the ALLstays app which can give you an indication of whether they allowing overnight parking or not. You don’t need to waste time finding a campground, checking in, setting up etc – it’s literally a place to pull up, get some sleep and supplies, and keep driving the next day. So our drive days do vary from 1-8 hours but the latter is rare. The number of hours is personal choice, the main things is being well rested, safe, alert and comfortable and don’t push yourself – especially with a gas coach which cause more fatigue on long drives than diesels (and moreso in windy conditions). Hope all that helps – I think you’ll find the articles help answer your questions and get you a better setup for your needs/lifestyle and budget. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Thanks for posting this! It’s very helpful. My wife and I are working on making the transition to full time RV living, hopefully late this year or early next. I’ve been reading your blog and watching your videos (including catching up on past posts and videos) for a couple of months. Really great stuff! Thanks again.

    Reply

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