A query which we see asked, and are asked frequently is how much vanlife costs, or how much money a month do we spend living in a van. Providing accurate costs is a rather difficult task as everyone lives and travels in different ways. However, the purpose of this post is to help you make a start on calculating your own costs for living on the road full time. For anyone considering moving into their van fulltime and travelling, we would advise populating a basic spreadsheet or note with the various costings and getting an estimated total of your monthly/annual monetary requirements.
Living in a van, camper or motorhome is no different to living in a house. You have a range of fixed (known/recurring) costs and you have variable and unknown costs. To start budgeting we advise looking at your fixed costs and understanding if they transfer from your existing lifestyle into vanlife. If you pay for some items annually we suggest blending these into your monthly costs. For example, if you spend £800 on your van insurance, budget £66 a month for it (£800/12 months). By blending your costs throughout the year you should allow yourself to go under/over budget slightly as your travel style fluctuates month to month for example. Month 1 you book a ferry to mainland EU, you might not have this cost again for 11 months.
For this section, you want to include costs that are known to you, are stable in terms of amount and will often be recurring monthly or annually. We'll use our own details for the below - These are effectively recurring charges on direct debit/standing orders.
- Mobile phone
- Van Insurance
- Travel Insurance
- Vehicle TAX
- Breakdown Cover
- Amazon Prime
- Dog Food
Let's say our total for this section is: £400 a month.
For this section, you want to include costs that are known to you, but are not guaranteed as stable in terms of amount. They are likely to still be recurring monthly. We include diesel in this section however the costs can fluctuate dramatically from month to month depending how, and where we are choosing to travel. We'll use our own details for the below.
- Food shopping
- Eating out
If you are unsure how much you would need for Diesel we suggest using a fuel calculator which will use the MPG of your vehicle, the fuel prices in the location you are visiting and the amount of miles you estimate you'll be driving.
Let's say our total for this section is: £700 a month.
For this section, you want to include estimates or at least considerations for unknown spending. After starting your travels some of your unknown costs may become variable or fixed costs.
- Van Maintenance
Let's say our total for this section is: £150 a month.
We now have a list of costs which we can aggregate:
Fixed costs: £400
Variable costs: £700
Unknown costs: £150
Monthly total: £1300*
We now know that we need around £1300 per month to live and travel within the context of our own requirements. As with all budgeting, the goal is to always spend less than your income. Whether you are working on the road with regular income or planning to live off savings we hope you've found the above examples useful in order to calculate how much vanlife costs - FOR YOU.
*Please note these values are examples for the purpose of budgeting and do not reflect our personal costs.