The Cost of Van Life: Reality Check

Cost and Labor

The Cost of Van Life: Reality Check

We are tracking our van life cost below. The goal is to give you a starting point for planing your own trip; your reality could be totally different than us. So use your judgement and adjust to your own needs!

Notes:
– The amounts shown are for 2 people.
– We excluded the mountain biking/snowboarding gear and maintenance.
– Prices are in USD (we converted from CDN to USD using the actual exchange rate).
– Travel Medical Insurance is complementary to our free Canadian medicare.

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2017

Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Total
$2704
$2239
$1819
$2017
Auto Insurance
$136
$136
$136
$136
Gas & Fuel
$8011
$497
$340
$281
Craft Beer & Wine
$117
$204
$140
$262
Groceries
$706
$594
$734
$473
Restaurants
$65
$95
$18
$218
Travel Medical Insurance
(complementary to free Canadian medicare)
$202
$202
$202
$202
Activities
$84
$131
$23
$235
Campground
$45
$20
$0
$0
Showers
$0
$0
$6
$8
Laundry
$28
$37
$31
$25
Van Maintenance
$45
$0
$0
$0
Everything Else
(cell, pharmacy, laundry, Netflix, etc)
$4752
$3233
$189
$177

1 Crossing USA from East Coast to West Coast.
2 Verizon activation fee + hotspot device.
3 Rogers cancellation fee.

2018

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Total
Total
$3847
$2420
$2384
$1918
$2449
$1911
$2026
$2911
$2476
$2965
$3003
$3805
$32115
Auto Insurance
$136
$136
$136
$136
$136
$136
$136
$136
$133
$133
$133
$133
$1620
Gas
$494
$500
$386
$360
$479
$340
$425
$537
$492
$584
$513
$560
$5670
Propane
$0
$7
$0
$17
$0
$16
$0
$8
$0
$12
$0
$15
$75
Craft Beer & Wine
$154
$299
$206
$179
$297
$168
$155
$246
$386
$313
$280
$379
$3062
Groceries
$669
$570
$615
$560
$745
$583
$701
$714
$567
$851
$551
$652
$7778
Restaurants
$230
$108
$120
$149
$159
$113
$104
$281
$276
$383
$109
$328
$2360
Travel Medical Insurance
(complementary to free Canadian medicare)
$202
$202
$202
$202
$202
$202
$202
$202
$182
$182
$182
$182
$2344
Activities
(lift tickets, bike shuttle, music shows, etc)
$16751
$332
$483
$0
$93
$74
$53
$295
$65
$258
$131
$62
$3521
Campground
$40
$0
$0
$0
$27
$0
$0
$1192
$0
$0
$42
$0
$228
Showers
$0
$22
$26
$6
$17
$6
$0
$2
$0
$7
$0
$30
$116
Laundry
$7
$22
$15
$35
$28
$7
$30
$11
$40
$32
$37
$31
$295
Van Maintenance
(oil change, tires, brakes, etc)
$49
$0
$0
$88
$0
$0
$0
$0
$75
$0
$7884
$11885
$2188
Everything Else
(cell, pharmacy, haircut, Netflix, music, books, etc)
$191
$222
$195
$186
$266
$267
$219
$3603
$260
$210
$237
$245
$2858

1 We bought two Maxpass for a total of 1,550$. That gave us access to over 44 mountains in North-America, 5 day tickets at each mountain. https://www.themaxpass.com/
2 We spent more time than usual in campgrounds, because friends of ours were visiting 🙂
3 We took the ferry twice that month. Going to Vancouver Island isn’t cheap, but worth every penny!
4 New rear brake pads and rotors on the Transit van. Axles have to be removed to change the rotors. so it’s an expensive job.
5 New tires.

2019

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Total
Total
$2140
$2026
$2684
$2209
$2726
$1809
$2816
$2540
$2798
$2557
$2383
$2335
$29023
Auto Insurance
$133
$2151
$215
$215
$215
$215
$215
$215
$215
$215
$215
$215
$2498
Gas
$275
$448
$453
$430
$419
$200
$328
$9004
$369
$450
$236
$359
$4867
Propane
$0
$15
$0
$8
$0
$18
$0
$0
$5
$0
$0
$15
$61
Craft Beer & Wine
$225
$128
$216
$284
$130
$151
$278
$76
$165
$378
$453
$171
$2655
Groceries
$554
$423
$630
$562
$800
$611
$701
$470
$401
$570
$440
$513
$6675
Restaurants
$119
$209
$158
$70
$137
$201
$366
$253
$86
$382
$331
$415
$2727
Travel Medical Insurance
(complementary to free Canadian medicare)
$182
$182
$02
$0
$0
$37
$0
$92
$125
$130
$126
$130
$1004
Activities
(lift tickets, bike shuttle, music shows, etc)
$192
$0
$319
$307
$0
$0
$361
$160
$203
$152
$266
$215
$2175
Campground
$0
$0
$3543
$0
$6293
$0
$84
$0
$0
$0
$0
$0
$1067
Showers
$31
$49
$33
$31
$7
$11
$0
$14
$0
$0
$6
$415
$223
Laundry
$39
$21
$14
$45
$14
$20
$22
$8
$0
$0
$25
$16
$224
Van Maintenance
(oil change, tires, brakes, etc)
$92
$0
$0
$0
$0
$94
$0
$0
$965
$0
$0
$0
$1151
Everything Else
(cell, pharmacy, haircut, Netflix, music, books, etc)
$298
$336
$292
$257
$375
$251
$461
$352
$264
$280
$285
$245
$3696
1 Welcome to BC! Auto Insurance is more expensive…
2 Now that we are BC residents and plan to stay only in BC for the next months, there is no need to pay for a traveling insurance (aka medical).
3 Not technically a Campground expense, but friends came to visit us and we shared their AirBnB.
4 Crossing Canada from West Coast to East Coast.
5 We are now Planet Fitness Members for 23$/month, mainly for their showers! But hey, it’s good to cross train too 😉

2020

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr6
May6
Jun6
Jul
Total
$3250
$1805
$2196
$1239
$1369
$1764
$3014
Auto Insurance
$9181
$70
$70
$211
$211
$211
$211
Gas
$466
$279
$7665
$150
$57
$209
$404
Propane
$8
$0
$0
$0
$0
$0
$0
Craft Beer & Wine
$179
$29
$127
$45
$59
$151
$129
Groceries
$2262
$2432
$583
$530
$609
$532
$675
Restaurants
$4132
$3522
$123
$54
$86
$260
$131
Travel Medical Insurance
(complementary to free Canadian medicare)
$131
$123
$85
$0
$0
$0
$0
Activities
(lift tickets, bike shuttle, music shows, etc)
$231
$147
$43
$0
$0
$137
$262
Campground
$45
$124
$97
$0
$0
$0
$21
Showers
$23
$624
$0
$0
$0
$0
$4
Laundry
$22
$9
$5
$0
$0
$0
$30
Van Maintenance
(oil change, tires, brakes, etc)
$72
$0
$0
$0
$0
$0
$8447
Everything Else
(cell, pharmacy, haircut, Netflix, music, books, etc)
$5163
$367
$298
$249
$347
$264
$303
1 We paid a 6 month Mexican auto insurance for ~700$. For more info, read our post about our traveling in Mexico: Mexico Vanlife Guide
2 Well, the plan is to eat a lot of Mexican food! It’s kind of nice to see it doesn’t cost so much considering our Groceries & Restaurants budget stays about the same!
3 Includes FMM and TIP. For more info, read our post about our traveling in Mexico: Mexico Vanlife Guide
4 We kept our Planet Fitness membership while in Mexico (23$/month + 39$ annual fee)
5 Due to COVID-19, we drove from Mexico to Canada.
6 April, May and June were not vanlife months; we rented a place and stayed “home” (NO ACTIVITIES due to Covid-19 in April and May). Still interesting to compare living in a house vs vanlife. Rent not included.
7 New rear brake pads and rotors on the Transit van. Axles have to be removed to change the rotors. so it’s an expensive job.

OK, so, how do we spend this money exactly??
Read our "Tales From The Road" to find out!

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about us

Nice To Meet You.

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

44 thoughts on “The Cost of Van Life: Reality Check”

  1. Superb notes here. A nice reality check to show that full time van life is not actually that cheap. And requires quite an initial investment.
    I’ve been thinking super hard about getting a van and convert it next year, and I’m looking at so many resources. But ultimately, an income (and I mean quite a good income) is still needed to be safe and have some backup just in case. Also not sure how much of a difference there is between costs comparing the US to Europe/UK… So it’s not like I could just quit my job and convert a van and live my life on the road .
    What do you guys use to keep track of your costs? Any app or just a notebook or something?

    Thanks you guys!

    Reply
  2. Hey guys! My name is Sam & have reached out to u before. I wanted to know if u had a vanlife cost spreadsheet that is download able or that is for sale? I’m almost done with my first year living ful time in my Sprinter van & was planning on beginning to keep track this coming up year on everything u guys do. I’m not good with excel spreadsheets. Thanks for ur time.
    Sam

    Reply
  3. Thank you so much for sharing. I completely think that you guys are a blessing. My family and I love to travel and you’ve helped me decide on what van to get for our Van life. Thank you again

    Reply
  4. Hey all, thank you so much for sharing your story! I am just in the early stages of van life (selling belongings/moving out of house) and the information you have provided is helping me immensely in the research for my own van conversion. I appreciate you all and wish you well!!

    Reply
  5. WOW! Thank you so so much for being so transparent and sharing your information to the public. This has helped me immensely and in fact inspired me to try the same adventure!

    Reply

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