Three Factors Affecting Winter’s Cost of Full-time RVing

Everyone who’s thinking about hitting the road wonders:

What does it cost to live full-time in a RV?

free abandoned truck stop boondocking
Perfect overnight RV accommodations are free.

The answer to that is, it depends. The following three areas will greatly affect your full-time RVing costs:

  1. Where do you like to park? On public lands or in RV resorts?
  2. How far are you going travel?
  3. What kind of RV do you haul? Are you paying for filling up two fuel tanks or one?

The cost of full-time RVing is all dependent on your lifestyle choices, from groceries to pet food. For most of us, our buying habits aren’t that much different than before hitting the road. Jim and I are frugal but some things we’ll spend money on, like good liquor (life’s too short for the cheap stuff!) and our dog Wyatt (he’s still cheaper than kids!).

three-legged German Shepherd Dog Wyatt
Wyatt Ray Dawg, Tripawd Extraordinaire

Our living expenses for Winter 2014/2015

With the exception of investing in our solar electric power system, this has been an exceptionally low-cost winter for us for a couple of reasons:

  1. We took a workamping job in exchange for free rent between Thanksgiving and the end of January
  2. In order to offset the cost of paying for our new solar electric power system we vowed not to spend a dime on campground fees for 130 nights.
Hemet RV Resort workamping
Workamping in Hemet, California

Here’s what some of our basic full-timing costs looked like between Halloween and March 30th:

  • $357 Rent
  • $63 Propane
  • $2101 fuel ($1,308 less than last winter!)

Some words about:

Fuel Costs: This is our biggest expense but ours are still lower than many full-timers. That’s because we get killer MPG with our Dodge Ram 2500 diesel and 27′ fifth wheel. Although we added a couple hundred pounds with the new solar electric power system, our fuel mileage only dropped a couple of points afterward.

Most of our full-timing fuel costs were racked up between October and December, when prices were higher. Last year, we spent $1,308 more because we drove to remote Big Bend and meandered around Texas.

Dodge Ram 2500 mileage when towing our 27′ fifth wheel

Dodge Mileage Towing Fifth Wheel
Does your RV get mileage like this?

Rent: Our RV park rent costs were all incurred while traveling to California, before workamping and getting the solar system. Now that we’re detached from the power grid, we won’t pay a dime for RV park rent until we make up for the cost of the system (only about 68 more nights to go!).

Frugal RVing at its finest, Slab City USA

Slab City RV boondocking
Boondocking at Slab City, CA

As painful as it was to pay cash for that solar power system, there’s no greater feeling than knowing 1) that it’s paid for, 2) we don’t have to workamp again (unless it’s a killer arrangement!), and 3) we can pull over wherever, whenever we want and be completely comfortable in our sweet home on wheels.

2 thoughts on “Three Factors Affecting Winter’s Cost of Full-time RVing”

  1. Can you elaborate on your solar power system, how it is attached to your RV roof, how the wires are connect and the feed, etc?


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