Our First Month’s #Vanlife Cost

Honestly, my favorite “home office” I’ve ever had!

In January, we finally gave up our beautiful 650sq ft one bedroom apartment for an awesome and beautiful 20sq ft (maybe more? maybe less?) van to live in and travel with on a full-time basis.

For the past 4 years of traveling with the girls, we’ve lived in two cities: Phoenix and Seattle. In 4 years, we spent approximately $72K living in 1 bedroom apartments. When we lived in Seattle, it was pretty expensive. Around $2K/mo went towards rent and bills there for a 1 bedroom apartment – excluding food and parking. In Phoenix, the cost of living is less of course (I paid $1k/mo and that solely went towards rent, utilities, and internet) for our 1bd apartment.

On top of living expenses, we traveled quite a bit. Since living in Arizona alone, we’ve traveled approximately 17 months in the span of 24 months – mostly flying to different cities. As traveling and living expenses started to add up, I knew that something had to change. I began thinking about full time traveling a little over a year ago going from wanting a Class C to a travel trailer and when I had my mind set on really doing this, I began saving money for the right rig for us. Once I saved enough to buy a trailer I had my eye on (2018 Jayco 174BH), I was SO EXCITED! Unfortunately, some unexpected things occurred. After helping someone I knew out and my job cutting hours because the client failed to pay, I had to re-think my entire plan though I knew that I still wanted us to travel full-time once my lease ended. Once I have a plan for something, I intend to accomplish it though sometimes things may work out differently than how we plan.

Thankfully, we found out about #vanlife. I looked at this as a blessing in disguise because it allowed us to still travel and save again for another RV. Plus I still had so many questions about RVs. I kept thinking “Can someone please explain towing capacity to me in terms I can fully understand?” and “What type of vehicle can I really tow this rig with?” As you can see even after a year of looking into RV living, I still don’t truly know much about RVs…well the towing aspect. I look at it like this – for 4 years, I really hadn’t fully owned a vehicle. I sold mine when we relocated to Seattle because it was $150/mo per vehicle to park your car in our garage. Thankfully, we lived close to both downtown Phoenix and Seattle which meant we lived along their light rail systems and close by grocery stores so owning a car really didn’t matter. By the time I did own a vehicle again, I traded it for the van which bought the cost for the van down. Also, I don’t know much about solar either (which both RVs, skoolies, vans, and even tents can have), but what I do know is how to drive a vehicle. Honestly, the van worked as I can have my tiny house in my tiny van and I can feel comfortable driving it.

So when I decided to go the vanlife route, I wondered, “Could vanlife be cheaper than apartment living”? After one month of living in the van, I found that it is – at least our first month is. Below is a comparison of what our vanlife and apartment expenses were/are.

Apartment Expenses:

Rent: $813.29
Utilities: $150
Food: $450
Phone: $60
Internet: $70
Car Gas: $100
Car rentals: $100

Total: $1,743.29

Vanlife Expenses (Feb 2019):

Rent – $234
Gas – $200
Food – $300 – we don’t have a fridge so I’m not buying meat to store as I did in my apartment
Phone/Internet – $60

Total – $794

Difference – $949.29

Honestly, that’s not too bad and I although I do understand that having a vehicle comes with maintenance and insurance, but regarding insurance, I pay mine upfront for the time fame my insurance company quotes me so I don’t have any monthly insurance payments. Regarding maintenance, I look at it like I did when I owned a smaller car. Things happen so it’s always best to have funds availables and a backup plan. Should anything happen, I have some options of what I can do and some savings.

For me, I don’t worry about what could happen as anything can happen literally anywhere. As the Bible says in Luke 12:22-34

Jesus said “Do not be anxious about your life (food, money, living, clothes, people’s opinions, job, etc). The birds and flowers are feed and clothed by God and if God takes good care of them, how much more is he going to care for his children? Worrying about life won’t add any extra hours to it. Instead, seek God’s kingdom and he will add what he wants at his timing. Don’t store treasures on earth which will fade, but store your things in heaven. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

(paraphrased from my sticky notes)

So that’s it! Next month my expenses are changing a bit. We’ve been testing out BLM land living (there’s a app that I found out about called iOverlander that shows you all sorts of campgrounds and BLM sites which I prefer over staying at WalMart parking lots or truck stops). I also had to get a different hotspot service as the 30GB on my plan didn’t last a week haha but all in all that’s our total expenses for our first month of full-time travel, a snippet of why we really got into vanlife, and my thoughts/convictions on things and living in general.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jorge corujo says:

    Love your video.

    Do you have a youtube channel?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tiffany says:

      Thank you so much for watching the tour! I don’t have one yet, but I am in the works of putting a channel together that’ll also document our travels, homeschooling, and tiny living. Once it’s up it’ll also be called Tiny Time Travelers just to make it easy for anyone that’ll want to find up and join us on our journey.


  2. Christine C. says:

    Hi , I like your blog and think that Vanlifing is a great idea. I am kinda liking it for me and my daughter but have to research more and save. I did want to tell you of a youtube family that does fulltime RVing that might help with the tons of questions you have about RVing. They are fulltime RVers. The channel is Keep your daydream on youtube. I hope this helps on your journey of upsizing eventually.


    1. Tiffany says:

      Aww thank you! I definitely commend you for taking your time & doing your research! When you have to factor children into full-time traveling, you definitely want to make sure the space is suitable for your family and that the kids will be happy in whatever it is.

      For me, car seats was a huge concern as my children are both toddlers. Because I didn’t see too many families in vans (I know that there are a lot that live/travel in RVs & btw I also follow Keep Your Daydream on YT 🙂 ) I was looking at several different layouts where the girls could put their car seats. Thankfully, our van came equipped with the bench that converts into the bed as that’s pretty standard for actual conversion vans.

      If you’re interested in vanlife in particular, here are some other families that I follow that are traveling with a child or multiple children:
      – rosenesontheroad
      – lifeofkuhl
      – fitetravels
      – maxandivyontheroad

      Hopefully, that info helps and you’ll have enough info to help you start your own journey with your daughter! 🙂


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