Family of 5 standing in front of the travel trailer they live in full time.

How Much Does Full-Time RV Living Cost? For Us, A Lot

When you’re in the research phase of full-time travel, I’m sure one of your first questions is how much does RV living cost? It was definitely our first question. The big-picture answer is, of course, that it depends on your choices.

Everyone’s circumstances, reasons for living this lifestyle, and family situation are different. So to give you the best idea of how much it costs to RV full-time, we’ll share our experience. We also provide you with some details and numbers from two other couples who traveled without kids, and two RV families with kids.

By providing the costs from different families, I hope you will have enough information to better understand the potential costs you would incur based on your interests, needs, and family situation.


How Much Does Full-Time RV Living Cost?

The costs of traveling by and living in an RV full-time can be as much or as little as you’d like. There are various factors that play impact the overall cost. These include the size of your family, if you took out an RV loan, how fast you travel, and whether you are set up to boondock, among other items.

In the following examples from full-time RVers, you’ll see that it is possible to RV on the cheap. In doing so, you could save thousands of dollars to pay off other debt or school loans.

We also provide examples that illustrate how an RV lifestyle can cost more than living in a house. This is especially true when the goal is about maximizing experiences on the road rather than saving money.



Our RV Lifestyle Cost A Lot

Our Personal Experience

In an effort to be transparent, we wanted to share a little about our experience and situation during the 17 months we spent full-time RVing. The bottom line for us was that we didn’t choose the RV lifestyle to save money. Okay, Todd initially hoped it was possible to save money. But he quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen.


So, I’m not going to put our specific expenses out there. We did spend more than when we stayed stationary in a house. On average, it cost us between $800-$1,200 more per month to RV full-time than to live in a house.

It feels a little awkward to put that out there, but it’s the truth.

We decided to do this for an adventure our family would never forget. We did it because it was time for a change for all of us. We were in it for experiences, not to pinch pennies. Can you have amazing adventures and experiences with your family that you’ll never forget and not spend a ton of money? Absolutely!

Glacier National Park

Why it was Pricey

Here’s why full-time RVing was pricey for us:

  • We traveled quickly. Traveling slower would have saved us money on RV parks and gas. One piece of advice we give full-time RV newbies is to travel slower.
  • I live to eat. While Todd eats to live, I live to eat. Which meant every time we were in a new destination, I was looking at restaurants. And I don’t regret for a minute all the money spent on ice cream, pizzas, hamburgers, mussels, and butterbeer.
  • Grocery bills were higher. Before, I would shop sales, clip coupons, plus a number of other things to cut corners on our grocery costs. But when it came to grocery shopping while RVing full-time, I shopped on the fly.
  • We spent a ton on airline tickets. Between flying our college student to wherever we were, flying her back, flying me to Texas to move her into her dorm (twice), a family emergency which required a last-minute ticket purchase, and blogging conferences, we spent plenty on airline tickets.
  • Our destinations were located on the east coast, west coast, and in Canada. Staying on the west coast would have been more cost-effective, but again, we wanted to see as much of the USA and Canada as we could. We had no idea how long we would be doing this full-time RV thing, so we squeezed a lot in.

How to Cut Full-Time RVing Costs

Now, we’re not complete boneheads when it comes to full-time RV living and cutting costs. We definitely found some great ways to save money. 

Todd thought about a number of different ways to cut costs while full-time RVing. There were three that helped us out the most.


These are the three things we did to cut costs while living a life on the road:

  • Used campground memberships such as Thousand Trails and campground discount cards such as Passport America and Good Sam
  • Took advantage of fuel savings
  • Took precautionary measures to avoid an expensive (and potentially damaging) tire blowout on our travel trailer

RV living cost

Would We Change Anything?

We’ve definitely asked ourselves this question from time to time. The answer? Yes and no.

This is a hard question to answer. Now that I look back on our time, I am so glad we visited as many places as we did, even if traveling slower would have saved money.


We’ve also said that we wished we’d been set up better to boondock more, which would have saved us money. Although in all honesty, when I look back I think “would we really have boondocked more?” I mean, aren’t I more of a full hook-up girl? (I’ve been told not to say that out loud. Apparently, it sounds weird. But you RVers know what I’m talking about! :P)

And instead of saying “man, I wish we would have eaten out less“, I catch myself regretting some of the restaurants we skipped. But remember, my name is Julie and I live to eat.

Related Reading: What is Boondocking?

Make Your RV Lifestyle Your Own

I guess the point in sharing our pricey full-time RVing experience with you is to say, that was one family’s experience. When you RV, you do you.

If you have the financial means, desire, and time to just go for it, then do it! When you need to pinch pennies in order to make this dream a reality, that’s ok, too. Or, if your sights are set on paying down debt, then planning to move to a full-time RV lifestyle can be an incredible way to achieve that goal.

Are you up for a challenge to see how little you can spend? I love it. Teach me your ways. (Or at least teach Todd. He will probably pay more attention.)

PEI blue mussel cafe
A charcuterie board from the Blue Mussel Cafe in Prince Edward Island, Canada

RVers Share the Cost of Full-Time RV Living

Now that our personal experience is out of the way, let’s see some real numbers shall we?

Full-Time RV Living Costs: Couples


This is probably the best summary I’ve seen on full-time RVing costs. Alyssa broke it down so well and gave so many details, it seems she didn’t leave anything on the table.

To give you the cliff notes version of Heath and Alyssa’s story, they started full-time RVing just four days after they got married. In one year, they saved enough money to pay off $13,000 of student loan debt.

In this post, they shared the numbers for their situation, which adds up to about $2,500 a month to live comfortably.

Alyssa also wrote a fantastic, and highly rated, book titled “A Beginner’s Guide to Living in an RV: Everything I Wish I Knew Before Full-Time RVing Across America.” We highly recommend snagging a copy of it.


The McKenzies travel full-time and work from the road in their RV named Wanda. 

In this post, they list things like the bare necessities needed to RV full-time, plus a breakdown of each. RV parks and campgrounds are their biggest expense, followed by food, gas and health insurance.

I love this quote from them:

“Many people think you have to make a lot of money to travel full-time, but that’s not the case. In fact, full-time RVing can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose.”

It cost them a little over $3,000 a month to full-time RV. They also share how much full-time RVing costs other RVers, from solo travelers, staycationers, an adventure family, and empty nesters, among others.

ziplining in asheville
Our son Aaron zip lining in Asheville, North Carolina.

Full-Time RVing Costs: Families with Kids


Wand’rly, a family of six which includes a mom, dad, grandma, and three kids have been on the road since 2008. I’d say they know a thing or two about this full-time lifestyle.

I really enjoyed this part of their article:

“It can be difficult living this type of full-time traveling life, and the planning and mundane tasks are certainly a part of it all.

The rewards are innumerable though. Seeing your children’s first step, when they learn to ride a bike, or you being the one who shows them how to read.

I just can’t imagine a different way of life I’d prefer, and so I prefer to not image and just live it instead.”

They shared numbers just a bit differently, choosing to compare living expenses over 15 years between RVing and home ownership. He works through a lot of different calculations, from rent, utilities, and gas, to interest rates and insurance. All in, he estimates a savings of about $1,250 per month when living in an RV compared to a house.

To see those numbers, read Save Money by Traveling.


Jill shares how much it costs her family of six (mom, dad, and four young kids) to live and travel full-time in an RV. 

One thing she points out is that when going into this, you need to know that your expenses will fluctuate depending on where you’re traveling. We definitely found this to be true.

Expenses will fluctuate depending on where you are traveling.

She broke down the general categories her family spends money on every month. The items include cell phone bills, RV loan payment, groceries, Netflix, and other living expenses. She then chose one month and gave actual numbers.

All in, the monthly total was just over $4,500. The four highest expense categories were groceries at $1,200, RV loan payment at $709, medical insurance at $600, and campground fees at $600. To learn more, read Full Time RV Budget Costs.

RV Living Can Cost as Much or As Little As You’d Like

We hope these numbers and information left you with some of the answers you hoped to find. If you have your own experience and monthly costs you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.

Feel free to drop them in the comments below or email us directly. We also love hearing our about cost saving ideas and the luxury items you wouldn’t do without!

RV living cost

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