Those picturesque instagram photos hashtagged #vanlife may have appealed to you personally. Or, you finally got the courage to quit your job and look for a life of challenge and adventure on the road. You decided to downsize, sell your things, and get a camper you can call home.
It all sounds romantic, straight out of a Krakauer paperback. But then reality hits you. It’s not all about the photographs.
In truth, deciding to live in a camper still entails economics. And properly gauging where you stand in the situation can be the deciding factor in whether or not you will thrive in this kind of lifestyle.
For starters, there are costs to consider before you settle into your new camper home. Many people actually believe that camper life will be cheaper than staying in a traditional house. That’s where most are mistaken. Life on the road can be expensive compared to staying put.
Let’s have a look at the average breakdown of expenses of camper life on a monthly basis.
- Rent for RV park $1,400 or Rent for state park which is $600 including utilities
- RV payments, including financing, insurance, etc. that may add up to over $1,000
- Fuel $400
- Food costs around $400 on average
- Propane $70
- Laundry $70
- Recreation $150
This totals to around $3,490, still higher than the average individual monthly household expense of traditional home settlers of over $2,000. In 2017, the average mortgage cost sits at $309,200 while you can buy a Class B motorhome for just $70,000 to $50,000.
The costs above can fluctuate and can be lower or higher depending on how you structure your budget. That includes maintenance and towing, among others.
Weighing the benefits
While it is true that a camper van may cost far less than a traditional home, opting for one may also mean you don’t get to benefit from the conventional edge of mortgaging such as helping raise your credit score (if handled properly) or getting an escrow on your purchase. Still, that also frees you from the burden of monthly mortgage payments which are becoming more and more expensive with rising home prices lately. And even if you get financing, the total cost would still be lower than traditional homeownership.
A camper can be an attractive option to get away for a while and take the road less traveled, or to settle into as a permanent lifestyle, if the situations suit your needs and your adaptiveness. But like any other significant life decision, it takes careful planning and some serious self-evaluation. Ask yourself some honest questions first before deciding to pack your bags.