Our first year full-timing in a motorhome – how much did it cost?

Our first year full-timing in a motorhome – how much did it cost? Here’s a look at the costs, annual and daily, associated with our chosen lifestyle choice. 

(4th September 2016 – 3rd September 2017)

It’s been a full year now since we took the plunge, leaving our professions, friends and family behind for life on the road.  We thought it might be useful to others who may be considering a similar lifestyle change to see, for their planning purposes, how much we’ve spent over a full year, and on what.

Of course, what we’re happy with on the road may not suit you, and vice versa, so we should say first that our spending levels are absolutely personal to us.  Our costs are at a level we’re comfortable with, and they suit our current financial situation; but everyone is different.  If required it would be possible to live on much less, with patience and frugality.  And it would certainly be very easy to spend much more too, if eating out, guided trips and expensive attractions are what interest you on your travels.

We like cooking, so eating out only very occasionally is fine for us.  Most of what we really enjoy doing is free, like hiking in the mountains, wild swimming, cycling off-road or running trails.  The one big exception to this is skiing, which is definitely an expensive week (or two) whatever way you look at it, even if bringing your own accommodation helps reduce the costs a little. We like seeing cultural sites too, but we’ve learned to be selective, as paying into every church, museum, fort, gallery or other attraction we pass would be exorbitant.  We have occasionally volunteered our time at WorkAway projects and these social, volunteer efforts offer a variation that invigorates us, offers a welcome change of scene and keeps our costs for that time at a minimum.  We also have a few winter house-sits coming up which will enable us to live a more rooted, normal life for a time, and allow a more detailed exploration of specific portions of rural France.

General Overall route – Europe map:  (red – first six months, blue – current Scandi tour)Route map - all trips

More detailed country Route Maps: (paper maps marked up by hand)

Our travels during our first year were split into two long trips of roughly six months (France, Spain & Portugal) and five months (Northern Europe and Scandinavia) respectively. We had a month or so in between where we returned to the UK for servicing, maintenance and a catch-up with friends and family.  We sneaked in a quick two week trip to Scotland (no map) during this time too. The Scandinavia trip is still on-going as our ‘one year on the road’ anniversary has fallen mid-travels.

We have tracked all our costs and distances as we travelled, noting down spending and mileage counts at driver changes or stops as they occurred.  We added these to a bespoke spreadsheet set up to record, count and analyse our activities month by month and county by country.  Synopsis tabs with some complex formula then collate each category into, hopefully, easy to understand tables or charts, for a quick overview.  Yes, indeed we do have too much time on our hands.

France / Spain / Portugal trip:

COSTS - FranceSpainPortugal

Scotland Trip:

COSTS - Scotland Tour

Scandinavia Trip:  (note: still on-going)

COSTS - Scandi tour

After the completion of our first six month trip we tweaked the spreadsheet categories a little, adding in new columns to allow for a more accurate breakdown of our spending. This meant the spend percentages between each portion of the trip were not perfectly aligned, but the spend totals remain unaffected and it’s these we have used for this post.  We also added in a column for type of accommodation, to track where we spend our nights.  Here’s a typical (actually, untypically expensive) month from our current spreadsheet (June 2017) , for interest.  (note our serious lack of cycling in Norway!)

COSTS - June 2017

FACILITATING COSTS:
Outside the daily costs of living on the road we also had many one-off or annually reoccurring costs that enabled the trip to proceed initially.  (note: these are all included in the totals and are shown here purely as examples of other costs that you will / may incur)

COSTS - Facillating

This doesn’t include purchasing our Benny (a new Benimar Mileo 201) in the first instance, so the cost of your chosen van, whether new or used, should also be factored in here.  All our ferry costs to and from mainland Europe, or within each country are included within the daily cost totals under the category ‘transport’.

We tracked everything in euros, as this was the predominant currency of our first six months and it made sense to continue with the same base.  All Scandinavian currency spends were recorded in euros at a fixed exchange rate, that of what it was when we first entered the country, so there may have been some fluctuation in value during our time (in either direction) that we didn’t capture.

Our annual totals by portion of year:

COSTS - synopsis table

 This equates to (at current exchange rates) an approximate spend of £13354.00 for our first year travelling in Europe, or an average spend of £36.59 per day, all in for us both.

On the Road spending pie:

COSTS - On the road spending

FOOD – Food from a supermarket/shop. Includes wine & beer, but not eating out
FUEL – Diesel for Benny
LPG – Propane gas for cooking, heating and running the fridge when not on sites
TRANSPORT – Tolls, vignettes, ferries, bridges, public transport & day parking 
EATING OUT – Eating & drinking in restaurants & bars (includes snacks & ice cream)
OVERNIGHT STAYS – Cost of sites, aires or parking overnight, where a cost applied
CLOTHING – This includes personal items such as clothes & shoes and laundry costs
ENTRY FEES– Entry fees for museums, galleries, castles, cathedrals and other events etc..  
MISC. – All other items not separately designated (from stamps to ski passes)

If we removed all the up-front facilitating costs and only looked at expenditure on the road, we are spending under €950, or £870, per month, and for the incredible experiences we’re having and the beautiful places we are seeing, this seems like a very good deal to us – long may it continue.

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7 thoughts on “Our first year full-timing in a motorhome – how much did it cost?

  1. Chris and Peter

    Hadn’t noticed you updated this page. Very informative! I hope we can stay within your spending limits, then we should be ok for our Scandinavia trip! Many thanks for sharing this! We could learn a few bits from you on how to note down our costs. Suppose you have some excell formulas…

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  2. Paul

    Enjoying your blog. Plan to go full timing in the next couple of year, just starting the planning of what to do with the house, early retirement that sort of stuff. Your writing is both informative and inspiring. Enjoy the road

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  3. Chris and Peter

    Indeed very interesting! I think we can do it too! oh, well, we are going to try to get away for long periods. Thanks for sharing this information!

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  4. Aaron Hill Post author

    Hi Peter, we’re glad the information is of help to you, It has surprised us how cheaply it is possible to live in some countries, especially in the summer months. God luck with all your planning! A

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  5. Peter Cotton

    Thank you so much for sharing this detail. I know some people keep this stuff private but for us, its great information. We are planning to retire next year and so need all the help on finances we can get. This lifestyle is very new to us and so have no idea how to plan. But your information helps give us comfort in that we can afford long breaks, like you, abroad. Our Bumble (were we found your link) did a similar thing, so if we follow your two then we should be ok!

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