Updated: July 31, 2023
Full time RV Living can be the best thing you’ve ever done but… it may also be the worst thing you could ever do. The reason I say that is there are many people who jump into the full time RV Living lifestyle without truly understanding what it will cost them.
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Be honest in your expectations when planning to live full time in your RV
The dream of “Full-time RV Living” can be that – just a dream, unless you have a plan in place as to why you want to live full time in your RV and it isn’t just a pipe dream.
Are you planning on full-time RVing because you want to live the RV lifestyle? Is the reason you’re choosing this lifestyle due to financial, retirement, travel plans, family commitments, or?
So be clear to yourself as to why you want to become a full-time RVer. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – this is your plan for your reasons. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are – they’re yours and important to you.
Why do you want to start full-time RV Living?
The reason why I ask you – “Why do you want to full-time RV?” is because it will impact what your costs and budget will be.
If you plan to do a great deal of travel, live in one spot for months at a time, travel for work, or follow the Nascar circuit it will definitely affect your costs while living in your RV full time.
Still not sure – check out the Pros and Cons of full time RV Living in Canada.
Now that we know why you wish to become a full time RVer and you can reasonably say why you are doing this and should have a fairly decent idea as to what your needs are in the way of the RV or accessories you should know what the cost of the RV will be. If not check out The 10 Most Popular RVs for every budget.
Initial RV Costs - create a wish list
The very first question is about your RV. Do you already have the RV or know what kind of RV you need? Will you be buying new or used? What is your budget for purchasing an RV for your new full time RV lifestyle?
I quite often suggest that buyers create a wish list – why not list absolutely everything you could dream of. Then, once you get that out of your system – start to get realistic and whittle that list down to what you really need. What you need and what you can afford have to line up – if not you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even get started.
Financing your RV vs Paying Cash
Let’s face it – not everyone can pay cash for their RV. It’s okay! Just be clear as to what you need and how much you will spend – thus creating a payment plan you can work with.
Negotiate the best deal you can and once you know the cost – keep that number to the side so we can add it into your monthly fixed expenses.
Fixed monthly expenses stay the same every month regardless as to how many kms you travel or what you’re doing.
RV Essentials and accessories
Now the fun part starts!
You should probably read this as part of your planning: The Ultimate 10 RV Accessories Categories RVers Need.
Yes, there are definitely basics like sewer hoses, water hoses, levelling blocks, jacks, fire extinguisher but you can also get creative when you’re packing other essentials.
These other items will include kitchen essentials, bedding, bathroom items such as towels and personal toiletries.
We do the majority of our cooking outdoors even in the rain and don’t travel without a campstove, a barbecue, lawn chairs, outdoor mat, and a washbasin to start with.
I know many full time RVers use a pressure cooker (Instant Pot), coffee maker, crock pots, or any other favourite cooking tool. Currently we are in a Pleasureway Campervan so space is limited and we manage without the bigger cooking utensils. That’s not to say I don’t wish I had my Instant Pot with me a few times.
Before you get carried away on loading up your RV let’s move on to the other expenses you will definitely have while full time RV living in Canada.
RV / Vehicle Insurance - for full time RV Living
Insurance for your RV and/or vehicle you’re towing or towing with must have insurance. You can’t not have it. You must be aware that if you’re living full time in your RV in Canada you will have to be resourceful in locating full time insurance.
I’m not going to say it’s impossible to find full time insurance but it’s not easy.
You have to protect your investment and personal belongings in the event of an accident, fire or vandalism. If your RV has been financed the bank or finance company will require it and ask for copies of the documents.
NOTE: if you don’t declare that you’re living full time in the RV and there’s a need for a claim you may find your insurance is void.
Each vehicle must be insured separately. For example if you have a truck and fifth wheel you will need separate coverage. The same goes for a motorhome and a towed vehicle. Separate coverage.
This cost can be broken down into a yearly cost or monthly. For our purposes mark it down as a monthly fixed expense.
Medical Insurance and Prescriptions
In Canada some provinces have free basic medical but if you happen to live in one that doesn’t put that cost down as a fixed monthly fee. That goes the same for prescriptions you purchase regularly. We won’t take under consideration one-off prescriptions we have filled once in a while.
This is separate from Travel Medical Insurance and will only be needed if you’re traveling outside of your province or Canada.
Remember thought that travel insurance is recommended. It covers you in the event of illness, hospitalization, trip cancelations and other trip related issues. If you’re traveling within Canada but outside of your province you should have travel insurance as well.
This is a personal preference and I’m not even going to pretend to tell you if you need life insurance or not. The one thing I can say is if you are traveling and have travel insurance make sure your coverage includes death benefits if you should happen to die. For more details on this check out this post at Write for Travel.
Communication - TV, Wifi, Cellphones/Mail forwarding
Once again this is a personal choice and will depend on whether you’re stationery, traveling a great deal or what your personal needs are. Do you travel and work and need internet? Do you use hot spots at a coffee shop? How much TV do you watch? I can’t tell you what this will cost you but if it’s a monthly charge add it to your fixed expenses.
When we travel internet is number 1 importance to both of us but I could care less about having TV coverage while my husband misses it if we don’t have it.
Our camper van currently doesn’t even have a TV which comes up in discussions regularly. LOL
You may have Good Sam Membership, 1000 Trails, Excapees, RV Life Trip Wizard, or any other of the hundreds of memberships you have joined. These may be monthly or yearly fees. Adjust your budget accordingly.
If you’re interested in learning more about campground memberships you should read this: Warning: Campground Memberships Might Not be the Best Thing for Canadians.
Fixed Expenses for full time RV Living
Below are potential fixed costs expenses you may have every month. They won’t change unless you change the policies or terms.
- Cost of RV-monthly payment
- RV/Vehicle Insurances
- Medical Insurance & prescriptions
- Life insurance
Note: I have not included RV parking because if you’re traveling this will be different every month. If you are sedentary and know what your parking costs
Fuel - Gas / Diesel
Another personal cost. If you’re driving a big diesel motorhome and pulling a vehicle behind you then you need to figure out your mileage costs for both.
These expenses will be determined by the number of kms you drive – whether you’re traveling regularly or stationery and only driving locally – maybe back and forth to work.
If you’re traveling a lot then your fuel expenses will be higher – sorry, it’s a fact. But, that may be the price you pay for doing the type of traveling you enjoy.
RV Parks /Campground Fees
RV Parks and campgrounds vary from free to hundreds of dollars a night, a week or month. If you stay for longer periods of time in each place your RV parking fee should be less than if you moved locations every night. Ask for their long term rates, spend a bit longer in each place and get to know the area. You see more in depth and save money! It’s a win!
Utilities - Power, Water, Sewer & Gas
These costs will be determined by where you’re parking – in an RV Park, campground or if you’re boon docking. The reason I added these is because some RV Parks charge for power, water and sewer. If you’re boondocking then these costs may not be relevant.
Propane for cooking and heating – once again it’s depending on your usage. If you’re in a cold climate and the furnace is on a lot then your propane costs will be higher. If you’re in a warmer climate and only use the propane for cooking and heating your water then the expense won’t be as high.
Groceries while full time RV Living
Your grocery bill should be similar to when you were living in a regular house, except your refrigerator is probably much smaller so you will be buying in smaller quantities. By eating out your expenses will increase but by meal planning ahead of time it’s possible to keep your food budget under control.
Entertainment and Activities
This includes eating out, movies, entrance fees to any activities or events you attend. I probably add in newspapers, coffee shop stops, and anything else you do for enjoyment.
Maintenance & Repairs for RV and Truck/Car
Why wait for something to happen – have an emergency fund that you put a set amount into each month. This way “if and if means probably” you have an emergency you’re prepared and won’t have to take the $$$ from your food account.
RVs are the same as houses and regular vehicles – they need to be maintained and repaired.
Toiletries and Personal Care
I include toilet paper, shampoo, bandaids, sunscreen and anything else you can think of that you need. As you use them, each item will need to be replenished.
There has to be a miscellaneous section for everything else not listed above. It will cover absolutely everything else!
Conclusion - What Will Full Time RV Living Cost In Canada?
I wish I could tell you your full time RV Living cost in Canada will be $1000 per month. I can’t say that because everyone of us has different expenses and travel differently. It’s the same when we are living in a sticks and brick house – your expenses are not the same as mine.
With the breakdown above of the type of expenses you can expect you should be able to have a fairly good idea of what to expect if you should choose to live the full time RV lifestyle. By knowing how often you’ll move, what the climate is, the mileage traveled and your fixed expenses you should be able to make an informed decision whether full time RV Living in Canada is for you and whether you can afford it.
Please share on your social media accounts and if you see there is anything missing please add them in the comments section – your input is really appreciated. We are all here to help each other!