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They Asked A Taboo Question About The Costs Of Full-Time RV Living – And Got Revealing Answers

Everyone who wants to hit the road wonders what full-time RVing costs. A revealing full-timers survey conducted by Jon and Erin McCartie of Take Me On Adventures shows that the RV lifestyle can be more affordable than most people think.

The McCarties.

full-time RVing costs
Take Me On Adventures

Nobody Talks About What Full-time RVing Costs

If you shy away from talking about your income and expenses, you’re not alone. When was the last time you had a conversation with RVers about what full-time RVing costs, who spends what and how often? It’s a tricky subject to discuss with others, says Jon.

“I think talking finances with people is very taboo in our society. Budgets are based on your income, and no one wants to tell anyone how much money they make. ‘If I make more than you, will you treat me differently? If you make more than me, will I be jealous and see you differently?’ I normally never broach the subject with people until we’ve reached a deep level of friendship and we can both trust that the information won’t change our relationship,” he explained.

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After hitting the road and meeting other full-time RVers both with and without kids, Jon wondered if his family’s expenses were normal, extravagant or below average. To find out, he and Erin asked fellow full-time RVers to anonymously answer a survey about full-time RVing income and expenses.

See What Full-timers Pay to Live on the Road

The McCartie’s full-time RVer survey revealed that families are making up a growing number of full-time RVers, yet more than 60 percent of respondents said they don’t travel with kids. This was a key finding because breaking out the numbers between full-time RVing couples versus families is a useful way for readers to analyze the data. Jon says the most interesting discoveries include:

Nearly one quarter of full-time RVers live on less than $50,000 a year.

full-time RVing costs
Take Me On Adventures

Assuming that the respondents were sharing their Gross Income (pre-tax) figures, that means most full-time RVers are earning salaries similar to non-full-timers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014 the average median income of U.S. residents was $53,657.

Most Full-timers spend $75,000 or more on their RV.

full-time RVing costs
Take Me On Adventures

Buying a home on wheels for full-time RVing is the biggest purchase a newbie will make. Respondents shared some interesting facts about their monthly housing costs. For example: on average, most full-timers with or without kids are:

  • driving newer RVs less than two years old
  • paid $75,000 or more for the RV (including post-purchase upgrades)
  • and have average debt payments totaling around $1,000

Most interesting is that if you take a closer look at the survey you’ll see that 30 percent of respondents carry no debt at all. Jon says he was pleasantly surprised by the debt-free responses. “I’ve lived in communities of people with crushing debt, and I’ve lived in communities of people where ‘debt free’ was preached incessantly,” he explains. “It’s neat to see such a high proportion of people with no debt.”

Do Full-timing Couples or Families Spend More?

One of the most surprising findings was that every month both families and couples spend about the same amount of money on expenses like dining out. The survey showed that on average:

  • full-timers without kids spend $278 a month on restaurants
  • full-timers with kids spend $271 a month on restaurants

“My wife and I have been wondering about this for awhile, whether or not the couples without kids were going out more than us,” says Jon. “It’s good to hear we’re all in the same boat.”

Full-time families pay more rent.

full-time RVing costs
Take Me On Adventures

If you have kids and want to go full-time RVing, you’d better prepare to pay more for camping fees and RV parks. According to survey respondents, families pay about $200 more a month than couples to park their rolling homes. When it comes to their own camping costs, Jon says the McCarties prefer to dry camp, which saves his family money.

The conclusion: Full-time RVing costs for families and couples are similar.

Jon explains that his survey isn’t scientific and is somewhat open to interpretation, but he adds that at least it can give aspiring and current full-timers a chance to see what others spend on the road.

Personally he says he was relieved to discover he and his wife are “incredibly average people” when it comes to monthly full-time RVing costs. When it comes to their lifestyle, however, it’s clear that the McCarties are anything but average.

See all of the McCartie’s survey results in greater detail at

Survey results and photos used with permission.