How Much Does It Cost?

How much does it cost to full-time in an RV? I see this type of post frequently online. I’ve been asked the same question many times since Lorraine and I became full-timers.

You will find some very detailed budget updates online like this one from 2018 by Mortons On The Move. They summarize their costs here:

​Our initial budget estimate was somewhere between $2500 and $2800 per month. We are very happy that we’ve been able to make this lifestyle work at much less, around $2000 per month (not including health costs, business expenses, and paying taxes). We continue to look for ways that we can reduce our overall monthly costs, and are still very frugal about what we buy and when.

We spend more than $2,000 per month USD just on site costs alone when we stay in the states. I applaud the Mortons for being frugal, but we do not spend anywhere near that little on our lifestyle. And, thankfully, we do not need to.

The Low Income Cut-off (LICO) in Canada represents the poverty line in urban areas with a population of 500,000 or more. If your income is below LICO, you are poor.

In 2020, the 12-month LICO for a couple in Canada is $32,270 CAD or roughly $2,000 USD a month.

I suppose it is possible to live the RV lifestyle on that small amount of money and it looks as though some people can do it. We don’t. And most of the people we know that are living this lifestyle don’t.

We see very little difference between our cost of living in a house and the cost of living in our coach. We own our coach and our car free and clear and, if we were still in a house, we would also own the house free and clear.

Our cost of living has been roughly the same across these categories save for federal taxes:

Taxes and Deductions

  • Federal Tax
  • Health/Dental

Automobiles

  • Vehicle Insurance
  • Gasoline
  • Maintenance
  • Tolls/Parking

Discretionary

  • Clothing
  • Dog Care
  • Donations
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Fitness
  • Gifts
  • Technology Hardware
  • Technology Software
  • Vacation

Food

  • Dining/Restaurants
  • Groceries

Housing

  • Property Insurance

Insurance

  • Life Insurance
  • Travel Insurance

Utilities

  • Cellular
  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • Satellite TV

Professional Services

  • Dental
  • Medical
  • Legal

The differences as a full-time RVer? Not much really. Our costs for the above categories would still apply regardless of how we were living in retirement.

In the RV lifestyle we spend more on transportation costs, specifically diesel fuel, vehicle maintenance, licensing fees, site fees and storage unit fees.

If we were still in a house, we would have to allow a budget for property taxes, property maintenance and household improvements.

We did not see a dramatic reduction in our cost of living in retirement except in one area: income taxes. My tax bill is finally reducing as we shift from employment income to investment income in retirement. But that has nothing to do with living in an RV full-time.

If you are wanting to live a frugal life or reduce your spending, there are many ways to accomplish that goal.

I’d suggest you start here: Your Money or Your Life. You can thank me later.

If you are having trouble living within a budget and you think that living in an RV full-time will resolve your budget issues, I’d say think again. You take yourself into whatever lifestyle or situation you choose. If you had trouble managing money in a house, you will have trouble managing money in an RV.

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