Is vanlife expensive???

I get this question ALL THE TIME. So I decided to start tracking all of my expenses. 

I’ve also compared my expenses to the national average because I like data and numbers. 

Average Rent in America: $959


My Average Rent: $198.49-$378.49

  • Gas: $70-250

  • Car Insurance: $128.49

Average Utilities in America: $171

Source: (

My Average Utilities: $85.60-$126.60

  • Trash: $0

  • Water (Gym Membership): $6-$47

  • Water (pay showers at $5 per shower): $30

  • Water (Laundry): $10

  • Phone: $15

  • Internet Coffee Shops: $20

  • Propane: $4.60

  • Electricity: $0

Total American Average Expenses: $1130

My Total Average Expenses: $274.09-$495.09

All this being said, it is a bit of an oversimplification. 

There are expenses to living in a van that I have not included because they will vary from person to person (more than car insurance and gas will). Here's a list of things I did not include which you should consider depending on the type of travel you want to do and how much you want to spend. 

  • Repairs and maintenance (higher for used cars, lower for new cars or cars with a warranty)

  • Park entrance fees (can be bypassed with a National Parks Card or a State Parks Card)

  • Camping fees ($5-$25 per night)

  • Hotels and hostels ($65-???? per night)

  • Health Insurance

  • Groceries

  • Dining Out

  • Misc expenses like going to the movies, Disneyland, or purchasing gifts for friends and family

  • Post office expenses (mailing postcards isn't free!)

I hope this list will be preliminarily helpful to those of you trying to figure out if you can afford vanlife and it's costs! 

My best advice to you would be to learn how to stop shopping for clothes (or other things you don't need), stop drinking (bonus benefit of being good for you), stop smoking (see previous point), stop eating and buying junk food, stop going to the movies, and if you can, stop paying for all of those streaming services! You wont have a lot of time for Netflix or Hulu when you're on the road :) 

Good luck! 

One Chick Travels