How much does it cost to full-time it?

Brrrr!  Very cold this morning!

The crew and I sleep late after a false start that sent us back under the covers.  Last night before bed I put the heater on for about an hour.  By morning the BLT is very chilly.  The wind blows us right back inside from the necessary morning run.

Mid-morning I drive us over to Sunset View Campground.

I want to fill up some of my empty water jugs.  I expect to see the campground crowded like when we first arrived at Navajo National Monument.  It’s deserted!  Not one camper . . Hmm . . . I know it’s cold, but no one is here?

I stop at the restrooms to look for the water spigot.

Mystery solved . . . A sign explains, “Water turned off due to cold.”  Oh, maybe that’s why no one is here.  Well, I can get more water in Kayenta tomorrow on our way to Monument Valley. 

Another reason for driving over to Sunset View Campground is for the three of us to absorb the sunny warmth of the PTV, rather than turning on the heater in the BLT.  I am cheap, you know.  More about that in a little bit.

Bridget, Spike, and I stroll around Canyon View Campground.

I’m surprised to find about twenty vacant tents down at the group site.  All the other sites in the campground remain empty.  Back at the BLT I open up the laptop and dive into my financial reports for 2012.  Here it is May and I’m finally getting around to adding up the figures!

How much does it cost to full-time it?

Well, for me, it costs less than $13,000 a year!  Total dollars spent for calendar year 2012 comes to $12, 867.91.  That’s for everything.  In 2012 the crew and I traveled through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and California.  We went from the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, forty miles from Mexico, to the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Pacific Ocean and back to the Sonoran again.

Camping fees paid for the entire year?  $788.82  — The highest camp fee was $20 for a tent site for one night at Harris State Park on the Pacific Coast in southern Oregon.

Mostly we camped for free!

Sixty-nine percent of the days of 2012 we paid no camping fee (252 days).  I’ve been on the road since August 2011 and I can positively say that it is possible to camp for free every day of the year.  We’re fortunate that we don’t have to do that, but it’s good to know it’s possible.  I’m very pleased with these figures.  We are “living on less and enjoying life more!”

This afternoon the crew and I attempt Aspen Trail.

We don’t go far before it becomes apparent that this trail is too steep for the crew.  Bridget is the first to look at me with a face that pleads, “Can we go back, please?”

I put the crew in the PTV and hike the trail by myself.  It’s an exhilarating hike that gives the long view of Betatakin Canyon.

Aspen Trail

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Tomorrow the crew and I are back on the road!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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43 Responses to How much does it cost to full-time it?

  1. Henk says:

    Hey Sue I follow your journey every day! I find it interesting about your comment about being able to park free every day! do you think a person could do that even though they have a 40ft motorhome?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, Henk, that’s out of my realm of experience. It would be more difficult, I think, but I’m not going to say it’s impossible.

      • Kay says:

        YES… it can be done in a 40′ if you’re willing to do all boondocking and supplement with places like Wal-Mart, Cabellas, Cracker Barrell, Lowes,… there are lots of places all over where the big rigs can park. Now you may not be able to stay more than a couple of days but it can be done.

  2. TexCyn says:

    Wonderful! It’s probably nice to hike solo by leaving the dogs from time to time so you can really absorb it all in. Plus makes it easier to take photos too. Thanks for sharing yet, another wonderful day on the road!

  3. Mitchell says:

    Thank you, RVSue for publishing exactly what it costs you to live as you do. I know that is probably hard for you to do but I want you to know it is appreciated. It really helps us who are wanting to do the same.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yes, it was difficult to post that first monthly report on how much I spend and what my income is. I was brought up that money isn’t something to talk about publicly. In the end i realized what a service it could be to people who want this kind of a life but don’t have a whole lot of money. Thank you for acknowledging how hard it was for me to be this open. Best wishes to you in realizing your dream.

      • Mitchell says:

        Thank you for the best wishes. Actually, I think my dream is getting a bit closer… my house just flooded two weeks ago. No moans necessary …I think it was a good thing in disguise. No flood insurance but I always wondered how I was going to get rid of all the crap I had. Crap is what it was. A house full of it. But not anymore …50 to 60 garbage bags to the curb last week and another 50 or so this week. Also made 4 trips to the local donation-type store with things that were salvageable and still good. Now I just need to work on the money part and I’ll be on the road. 🙂

        Thank you for your blog, Sue.

  4. Rita from Phoenix says:

    Yes, I remember those switch backs. Part of the trail was washed out so couldn’t go all the way down. Beautiful photos…the Bridge and Spike look adorable.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I like the way the trail is designed. It looks like it follows natural ledges, even though it probably doesn’t. I could almost imagine myself being Navajo or Hopi in the 13th century in that environment.

  5. We also publish our expenses in order to let everyone know how easy it is to live a full life traveling, Whether by RV, or any other means. We’ve found that if you have your life properly organized and if you have simplified you life by getting rid of unnecessary “stuff”, it’s fairly easy to travel all over the world for very little money. In fact, our last fiscal year, we spent a total of about $13.500 and that included visiting the UK, Europe, Iceland, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. And that’s for two people!

    • Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

      Sue, Thank you again for posting your financials. I know I’ve said it before but it really means a lot to me because it give me such encouragement. (Funny, I went through your money postings and averaged it out last night. If I had just waited a day…) Also, thank you for posting your photos of the places you visit. This also gives me the oomph to keep trying to get my butt out there! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        So it was YOU! I picked up your psychic energy, Donna . . . Hmmm . . . I should write a summary of 2012 finances.

        You’re welcome, welcome, welcome for the info and photos. My pleasure!

  6. Lynnzie says:

    Thanks Sue,
    I will take that route next year. I avoided it on the way to Quartzsite last December thinking it just might be too hilly to tow my trailer with my mini van. So as soon as I get a new used v8 something I will take that route its so lovely thanks for sharing the photos. So basically for a little more that 1000. a month you have enjoyed a fabulous year. .

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s right, Lynn. Of course, one should consider that I didn’t face any major repairs, necessary replacements, or medical problems. That’s why I don’t spend all my monthly income. Always want to be ready for the ‘rainy day.’

      I’m happy to hear I opened up another route for you.

  7. rvsueandcrew says:

    Kevin and Ruth… I’ve tried 3 times to reply to your comment and WordPress says I’m making a duplicate comment. (?) I want to say to you . . . Outstanding!

  8. dawnkinster says:

    Wonderful place to took us to, that’s for sure. Safe travels tomorrow! Can’t wait to see where it will be! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the financial stuff…it’s made me realize it’s possible on way less then I thought I”d need…if I’m very careful. You are inspirational!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you, Dawn. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to be ‘careful’ because I’m frugal by nature. I could win a multi-million dollar lottery and I’d probably still be boondocking in the BLT. I spent less on clothing in 2012 than some people spend on one shirt!

  9. Phyllis L says:

    As soon as I get home from work every day, I check my email and read your blog. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. I have always preferred camping w/hookups, but your blog has changed my mind about that. Next time we go camping, we’re going to try a free campsite with a view. I look forward to reading about your continued travels. (love hearing from the crew too!)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Phyllis… Nice to read your comment. Free campsites are great when you have solar power, your own bathroom, kitchen, internet, etc. I see young people here in a tent and I think … uh-oh, not for me!

  10. My RV style is a little different from yours, but I too enjoy sharing what a typical trip runs us because I feel we live so darn big in our RV on so relatively little, at least compared to other forms of travel. I know our cost sharing has led others to consider a move in the same direction, and that makes me very happy, because there are few things that can compare with the serenity being somewhere beautiful in an RV delivers. I think the world would be a much better place, in fact, if more people ventured out into our beautiful landscapes!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      As long as not TOO many “venture out into our beautiful landscapes.” 🙂 I know what you mean. Once you experience this kind of living it’s hard to understand why everyone doesn’t live this way!

  11. jeff says:

    sue not a bad chunk of change you saved for april. congratulations

  12. Penny/Texas says:

    Thanks Sue for posting your expenses, it gives us great encouragement! I continue to follow you daily and I always seem to leave with a smile.

    I do have a question, I’ve noticed in your conversations with us that you’ll mention going to get gas, water and dump the tanks…now you’re out in the middle of absolutely nowhere (most times), how do you find that the little store down the road has a dump station? Are there signs out by the gas pumps or the water faucet? I’m curious to know if dump stations are more accessible than the average “Joe” realizes.

    BTW, retiring next year then hitting the road!! Yay!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Penny,

      Finding dump stations and fresh water involves several methods. Websites listing dump stations are helpful. (Just search online.) Word-of-mouth is another method. When I meet a fellow RVer, I say, “Hey, I’m Sue, nice to meet you,where can I dump around here?” (Well, maybe not quite so soon!) Pilot, Flying J, Love’s, Conoco, and RV parks often have waste places and water faucets, as do campgrounds, of course.

      Finding water spigots where I trust the water is a bit more of a challenge. That’s why I drink water from vending machines. I don’t have to wonder what someone has done to the spigot previously. Tank water is for washing and flushing.

      No, there isn’t always a sign. You develop an eye . . . An RV off to the side of a gas station is a clue. Sometimes dump/water stations are near easily-seen propane tanks. You’re right. The average “Joe” doesn’t drive around with dumping on his mind.

      One year to go… Hooray for Penny!

  13. bythervr says:

    Hi Sue,
    I am excited for you. I am especially happy you have allowed us to compensate you through our Amazon purchases. Your blog may be a labor of love but labor it is. You spend as much time maintaining your blog as anyone working a part time job and you should be compensated for it. Have you every considered writing an eBook to share the many interesting experiences you have shared with us over time? You could also offer it through Amazon. At your current pace your Amazon income will soon cover all of your normal expenses.

    It may be the camera angle but… is Bridget losing weight?

    All the best!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Barrie,

      Several people encourage me to write an e-book. I consider it and then put the idea back on the shelf. Our travels and keeping this blog going take up a lot of my time and energy as you so thoughtfully noted. I don’t want to write a duplicate of this blog. It would have to carry some value.

      It’s kind of you to consider my Amazon income as compensation for the work that goes into this blog. I am extremely grateful for that income. I don’t have a huge bank account for an “exit strategy.” I entered this way of life confident that if His eyes are on the sparrow, they’re on me also, and He’ll take care of me at the end.

      Bridget’s weight fluctuates. One day she looks like she’s going to explode, the next she’s trimmed down. Females! 🙂

  14. Bee says:

    While you are talking about money, was there a reason you decided to buy a new trailer and not a used one?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Bee!

      I decided to buy a new trailer because it was easier for me to save the extra money needed (since I’m low maintenance!) than it was to find a used one I liked. I was working full-time and couldn’t run off and catch a used Casita fast enough (what with all the retired people looking for them!). Whenever a used Casita came up for sale, it was several hours away from my home in Georgia.

      I bought new because the Casita would be my home for a long time. I wanted the options like high axle, big tires, bigger tanks, etc. for full-time living in secluded places. Plus almost all the big items in my life have been used (I’ve never bought a new car, for instance). Buying my home-on-wheels was a crowning moment in my life, and I was willing to practically starve myself and live in a carton in order to buy new! That’s why I look so happy in that photo of me and the crew at the Casita factory — It took a lot of determination and sacrifice to get there. It was worth it!

  15. susan in dallas says:

    Your photos look like they could be postcards! What beautiful scenery. I had to smile at your “math teacher” expense summary. I did a similar thing before I retired so I knew what to expect with fixed expenses. Have a safe journey to your next home.

  16. Ed says:

    How much does it cost to full-time it?
    The short answer is: How much do you have to spend?
    It has been my observation that FullTimers spend just about the same amount as they did when in a stick n bricks. IF they spent their total monthly income before then they are going to do the same thing as a FullTimer. However, if they were ‘savers’ before hitting the road then that same saving habit will carry forward.
    Why does no one ever ask ‘How much does it cost to live in a stick n bricks’? They don’t ask because everyone lives a different life and do it with different incomes. FullTime living is not any different, most reasonable thinking people adjust their lifestyle to match the income they have available.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Ed….

      Your points are valid. There is one thing I’d like to add. Some people, whether due to divorce or retirement or business failure or whatever, find themselves with a substantially reduced income. Therefore, they have no choice but to break away from lifelong habits and adapt to their new financial situation.

      That’s where I come in. By posting my day-to-day expenses through the narrative of my blog, readers see how I live with less. Then the figures I post have relevance. They can look at my lifestyle and ask themselves… Can I live like that? Can I give up restaurants 3 times a week? Can I be happy without all the activities of a stationary life in a community? etc.

      You’re right. Spending and saving habits are formed early in life. Some folks face a new reality. I hope my blog helps with the adjustment.

  17. SSI john says:

    All I can say is WOW. I remember very early in your travels and you began mentioning trying to keep up with the cost to give us readers an idea what it would take to live a similar lifestyle. Wow, look where you are today! Even figuring out the expenses for the entire year. Great job, and I for one really do appreaciate it.

    I still have a couple of years to go before I retire (have to get my twin boys thru college). But when things are getting me down I take a peek at your latest monthly summary and know better times are coming!

    I pray you continue to live the life and enjoy all the beautiful scenery. Take care of yourself and the crew.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, John…

      Your comment was the first one I read upon opening my laptop at our new camp in Utah. Your praise of my progress has me feeling good! It gives me pleasure to read about my blog helping people envision a new life. Those boys eventually will get through with college!

      Thank you for your kind wishes. God bless you for being a father.

  18. mockturtle says:

    Wow, I’ve GOT to go there! Thank you for sharing this place with us.

  19. Lois Joy says:

    Sue–I absolutely love your blog!! I once had the dream to get a camper & travel but I did not take the iniative to do it–I can live my dream through your blog. Your photography is incredible & love your financial reporting also. I so look forward to seeing what comes next. PS: Love your “talking” dogs!!

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