Our Experience Living Out of an RV for 3 Months

On August 27, 2020, we bought a used 2019 Coachmen Leprechaun 27QB “Class C” RV from El Monte. After buying supplies and moving in, we set off on the morning of September 1 to start living full-time out of the RV.

Since then, we have spent around $9,000 living out of the RV, driven almost 4,200 miles, and spent 72 nights camping at 23 locations in 4 states.

Here’s a summary of our experience living and working out of an RV for the past three months.

How Much It Costs to Live Out of an RV

We have spent $8,989.80 in the just over 3 months since purchasing the RV.

This excludes the purchase price of the vehicle and all expenses that aren’t relevant to living out of the RV (e.g. taxes, health insurance, pet food/vet, future travel, credit card annual fees, charitable donations, etc.). These types expenses are going to vary from person-to-person.

Here’s how that total cost breaks down, with all costs rounded to the nearest dollar.

One-time costs ($1,898)

Inspection ($565): As part of the purchase, we paid for a certified RV inspector to come to the dealer and inspect the vehicle.

David from Miles From Monday was incredible and exactly what we needed for this. He checked that all of the systems worked. Plus he spent hours teaching us all about our vehicle and providing tons of tips. He even offered to help us over the phone/text as we got going.

Class C Coachmen Leprechaun

Equipment ($844): We have spent just over $800 equipping the vehicle with electronics, equipment, and supplies that we only need to buy once. This includes everything from a cordless drill to sewer tubes. Most of these were under $50 individually. Items over $50 included:

Household items ($489): We also made many one-time purchases to equip the bedroom, bath and kitchen of the RV — such as a pillows, pots and pans, silverware, towels, trash cans, storage bins, etc. Again, most of these were under $50 individually. The two $50+ items were:

Annual Costs ($1,039)

Then there are the items that we paid for during the first few months that will last us a year.

Insurance ($814): We paid upfront for a full year of insurance (collision, comprehensive, and liability). We have most of our insurance through USAA, but USAA doesn’t issue RV insurance directly. So, we’re insured through Progressive as part of USAA’s partnership.

Memberships ($225): We purchased three annual memberships:

  • $131 for AAA with the RV add-on
  • $65 Georgia State Park pass (including a free night)
  • $29 Good Sam Club membership

Ongoing expenses ($6,053)

Once you eliminate the one-time and annual expenses, it has cost us about $2,000 per month to live out of the RV over the past 3 months.

  • Lodging ($2,314): see breakdown below
  • Food/Drink ($1,961): this includes fast food and takeaway restaurants, as well as alcohol
  • Gasoline ($826): 470 gallons after discounts. See the breakdown below.
  • Cell phone service ($449): for two unlimited Verizon plans that includes tethering — which we use as a data connection for work
  • Household Supplies ($176): toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo toothpaste, contact solution, cleaning products
  • RV Supplies ($124): toilet chemicals, water filter, roof sealant, silicone spray, antifreeze for tanks, tank treatment

The final $204 are minor expenses under $50:

  • Parking ($49): 7 nights at the Parking Spot during our Istanbul trip
  • Tolls ($40): buying a Uni toll pass plus a $20 load
  • Activities ($32): snorkels for Blue Spring State Park
  • Wash ($24): a wash at a truck wash after spending couple of weeks near the beach
Blue Beacon truck wash
  • Tire Air ($22): filling our tires with air: $20 to a truck stop maintenance guy (long story) and $1.75 for a machine at a gas station
  • Propane ($21): we’ve only needed one propane tank refill so far
  • Laundry ($16): give or take a few dollars since we haven’t tracked this perfectly
Digital nomads working in an RV

Where We Have Camped the Past 3 Months

From leaving Tampa on September 1 through November 30, we camped 72 nights in 23 different locations in 4 states:

In these three months, we have experienced a wide range of camping — from private campgrounds to “boondocking” in Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots:

  • Army Corps of Engineers: 25 nights at 5 campgrounds
  • State Parks: 15 nights at 5 campgrounds
  • Private Campgrounds: 13 nights at 5 campgrounds
  • City Park: 6 nights at Hanna Park Campground in Jacksonville, FL
  • County Park: 5 nights at James Island County Park, SC
  • 4 nights “driveway surfing” (i.e. parking in a friend or family member’s driveway)
  • 4 nights “boondocking” (i.e. parking for free somewhere)
Class C Coachmen Leprechaun outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant

We paid a total of $2,314 for those 72 nights, for an average of $32 per night. However, 8 nights were either boondocking or driveway surfing. Of the 64 nights we paid to camp at a site with (at least) water and electric hookups, we paid an average of $36 per night.

As for the other nights in that 3-month period, we spent:

  • 11 nights housesitting my mom’s house while she was away (with the RV parked in the driveway)
  • 6 nights visiting Istanbul, plus 1 night on the plane there (with the RV parked at the ATL Parking Spot)
  • 1 night in a Hilton in downtown Birmingham, AL after my dad’s wedding (with the RV parked in a sketchy alleyway near the hotel)
Class C Coachmen Leprechaun at Parking Spot Atlanta

How Many Miles We’ve Driven and Our Fuel Effeciency

Miles driven: We purchased the RV with 63,970 miles and the odometer is currently at 68,154 miles. So, we’ve driven 4,184 miles since purchasing.

Fuel efficiency: We have filled the gas tank completely 14 times — plus 4 partial fills due to pump or promo limitations. Ignoring the first fill up (since we only got 2/3 of a tank at purchase), we have ranged between 7.7 and 10 miles per gallon, for an overall average of 8.4 MPG.

We try to minimize our gas expenses by stacking fuel rewards, credit card offers, and finding the cheapest gas along our route. In the first three months, we have saved:

  • $48 through Amex Offers
  • $23 through fuel rewards programs (Shell, BP, Murphy’s, ExxonMobil)

Between the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and net gas cost, we average paying 21 cents per mile for gas. However, as the generator runs off of the same fuel tank as the engine, at least some of that cost is from running the generator.

Answers to Your Questions

JT asked on Twitter what questions you had about RV life. Here are your Qs and our As:

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