Before we get too far into 2017, we thought we would share what our first year major categories of expense were while on the road in 2016. Granted, that we have only been on the road since July 1st, but our figures have been calculated to reflect monthly expense in each category. Our purpose for this recap is twofold. First, we want others who are considering a full-time RV lifestyle to benefit from our real numbers as they plan for living the dream. Second, seeing our actual expenses in writing will help us set goals toward cutting costs where possible.
Our travel route took us from Southern California, up the eastern side of the Sierras, into extreme northeastern California, up the eastern side of the Cascades to Bend, Oregon, then over to the Wallowas of north eastern Oregon. From there to Lewiston, Idaho, to Missoula, Montana, to Kalispell, Montana, and on north to Glacier National Park. From Glacier, we headed west to Whidbey Island and the San Juan Islands of the Washington coast for a month, then south through central Oregon and west to the Oregon Coast. From there, we traveled north once again to the mouth of the Columbia River, east through the Columbia River Gorge to Pendlton and Baker City, Oregon and on southeast to Moab, Utah for a couple of weeks, then southwest to St. George area for a month, and on south to Quartzite, Arizona.
RV Fuel – $346.50 per month.
Our motorhome runs on unleaded Regular fuel. Fuel prices have been less than $3.00 per gallon once we got out of California. Sometimes significantly less. As low as $2.05 in our travels in one area. At our present location in Quartzite, Arizona, although it is 2017 as this is written, Regular is $2.19 per gallon.
Jeep Fuel – $144.38 per month.
As with the motorhome, our Jeep Liberty runs on Regular fuel. The jeep is our transportation when we are camped. But that does not mean it is used a lot. It depends on where we are, and what we want to see and do. Sometimes it’s sightseeing, exploring back country roads or just local shopping.
Groceries – $592.83 per month.
Although others in our lifestyle might consider this typical, we think we can do better as we go forward. As it is, this is our greatest monthly expenditure. We think it is high, and our goal is to reduce it by at least $100 per month. For reference, most of our grocery expenditures are at Wal-Mart.
Dining Out – $248.61
This calculates out to about $8.25 per day for two people. Not bad. And, of course, we don’t “Dine Out” every day. Except for special occasions once or twice per month, it’s mostly breakfast or lunch, meaning McDonald’s or Subway.
Camping – $504.83 per month / $16.83 per day
Actually, we’re pretty proud of this. Although we HAVE spent as much as $50+ for one night in a RV Park with full hook-ups, we have tried to keep camping costs down. We did this by staying overnight free, or nearly free, when it made sense either by boondocking on BLM or National Forest land, or parking at Wal-Mart’s or Indian Casinos, or dreaded truck stops (too noisy). But, we also did it by staying in a RV park for longer periods to get a special monthly rate.
Laundry – $30.25 per month
Although our motorhome has a cabinet and is plumbed for a washer dryer combo, we do not have one as yet. But we’re thinking about getting one. The investment would be about $1200 when all is said and done. But it would be more for convenience than anything else. And even then, it would be most suitable for use when hooked up to a sewer. From a practical standpoint, that means being in an RV park.
Propane – $31.21 per month
In our motorhome, and presumably in most motorhomes, propane lasts a long time. Our propane costs have been as low as $.99 per gallon, to over $3.00 per gallon. Right now, we’ve most recently paid $2.10 per gallon. Our tank will take 20 gallons. We can generally go 3 weeks or so depending on temperatures.
Mail Service – $25.22 per month
We use Traveling Mailbox for mail service. For $19.99 per month, they send an email whenever mail is received at our selected address in San Diego. We can view the envelope online and then instruct to open and scan it for further viewing, shred it, or forward it to an address of our choosing. If they forward it, there is a nominal charge.
Phones -$109.28 per month
Our carrier is ATT. We have two phones and share a 5GB data plan. It suits us, but we probably/maybe could do better. This is the monthly rate. We never have any surcharges.
Dish Satellite – $80.83 per month
We generally have a flat monthly charge of $80.02 but good old Utah makes satellite companies pay extra for the privilege of operating in their state. So, we had one month where we paid $5.00 extra while in Utah.
So, that’s it. We don’t include our personal bills or other things like personal purchases, etc. Although we DO track them, every penny. Such is life married to a bookkeeper, for which I’m grateful. Yes dear.
I’m learning. 🙂