What does it cost to quit your job and live full-time in a motorhome for a year? The honest answer is that we don’t know exactly. Nonetheless, here is how we made our estimate.
Living full-time in a motorhome is going to be challenging. Doing so without a guaranteed income makes it seem even more daunting. It is easy, at this point, to become overwhelmed and give up. I’m certainly no exception, as I was the one dragging my feet: it was going to be too expensive and we have debt to pay too. How are we ever going to afford it?
Fortunately, over the last few years, we found some people who have inspired us and have since helped us (me) get beyond the costs.
- First, there are Warren & Betsy Talbot of MarriedWithLuggage.com. They have been publishing the costs of their round the world travels monthly, on RTWExpenses.com. Beyond being a great source of information about day-to-day costs of living on the road, this information has been quite revealing. Through their site, they’ve demonstrated it doesn’t cost a fortune to travel around the world. Yes, you have to make sacrifices (no 5-star hotels, d’oh!), but you also don’t need to deny yourself completely.
- Second, perhaps unbeknownst to them, Jason and Julie from OurTour.co.uk, have become a great source of inspiration. In 2011, they bought a used motorhome, named Dave, and took their life on the road, with their dog, Charlie, for a year. Six hundred days later, they are still going, because they found the cost of living to be cheaper than they budgeted. Like the Talbots, they’ve also kept track of their expenses and shared them on their site.
Interestingly, although both couples are travelling full-time in different ways, their overall costs are very similar. So with these resources we could easily cross-check our spending assumptions.
Estimating the cost of a motorhome
Estimating costs is pretty straight forward, so long as you accept any estimate will be wrong. According to Warren & Betsy’s book, Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers, the point is to make a quick estimate as early as possible and then refine it as you go. For our goal, the scariest bit of the estimate would be the huge initial cost of buying a motorhome.
Since we’d been talking about travelling by motorhome for a while, we went to a motorhome show, in Brussels, early in the winter. It was great to get a sense of the models, sizes, layouts, and prices. This has provided us with some thoughts on what we like and don’t like, but also clarified that we really can’t afford to buy a new one. Time to look at the used market.
Since neither of us is mechanically inclined, despite my father-in-law’s talents in that area, we are not comfortable looking at anything really old. So something 10-12 years old is our target. I’m sure we’ll still need some expert advice when we are looking to buy, so perhaps our budget needs to include a couple of flights from Canada.
Searching for used motorhomes is a bit overwhelming, due to the choice, so we focused on Hymer as a brand. Our primary reason for this is Dave (Jason & Julie’s motorhome) is a Hymer B544, which is pretty close to the model and size we preferred at the motorhome show. We then narrowed the choices down to sizes small enough to drive on most roads in Europe, meaning less than 3500kg in weight. With these criteria we found most motorhomes were somewhere between €20k and €30k. So, taking the mid-point, we are estimating the cost of a used motorhome to be €25k +/- €5k, depending on options and any extra work we may need to do.
Twenty-five thousand Euros is a big chunk of money, but, considering it will become our home, it is important to get the best we can afford. If we only did a year of travel, a €25k motorhome would be equivalent to €2083.33 per month in rent. But stretch that to two years or more and you can see how the savings build up. Plus we can sell it at the end and recoup some of our investment.
Day-to-Day Living Costs
Having estimated the cost to purchase a used motorhome, we turned to the cost of day-to-day living. One clear benefit of a motorhome is having our own kitchen, so we can prepare a lot of our own meals. However, we also have to pay for gas (both petrol and cooking) and find a place to camp for the night. This is where the spending information posted by Jason & Julie is really helpful.
Looking at their 600 day spending report, Jason & Julie averaged €46.50 per day on their travels so far. In their post, they split up all of their costs into various buckets, such as supermarkets, eating out, diesel, repairs, and more. Likewise, Warren & Betsy have also broken out their costs into categories, allowing us to easily compare the two couples.
Roughly speaking, they both spend about the same amount per month on food and alcohol. Jason & Julie don’t break out alcohol and Warren & Betsy don’t separate costs for eating out. However, putting the categories together you end up with $601 and $670, respectively, on food and alcohol per month. Knowing our own proclivities for food and drink, we shall assume a slightly higher monthly budget.
Beyond food and alcohol, we’ve decided to use Jason & Julie’s experience as a guideline and we built the rest of our estimates based on that. So here is what we’ve estimated:
|Food||€ 400||€ 4,800|
|Alcohol||€ 200||€ 2,400|
|Diesel||€ 250||€ 3,000|
|Repairs||€ 150||€ 1,800|
|Campsites||€ 150||€ 1,800|
|Other Travel||€ 100||€ 1,200|
|Phones/internet||€ 75||€ 900|
|Tours etc||€ 75||€ 900|
|Overnight stops||€ 50||€ 600|
|Clothes & Laundry||€ 50||€ 600|
|Supplies||€ 50||€ 600|
|LPG||€ 25||€ 300|
|Cats||€ 50||€ 600|
|Tolls||€ 15||€ 180|
|Other Miscellaneous||€ 10||€ 120|
|Souvenirs||€ 10||€ 120|
|Parking||€ 10||€ 120|
|Total||€ 1,670||€ 20,040|
As you can see, we’ve used round numbers, but we will have opportunity to refine them as we plan and decide how (and where) we want to travel. Will we drive more or less than Jason & Julie? Will we be able to find as much free camping? Will our motorhome have as many issues as they’ve needed to sort out? Some of these questions we can’t begin to answer until we start on the journey itself.
So at a high level, we now have our budget. To be able to travel for the first year, we need to save approximately €45k plus pay off our existing debt. How are we going to do that? We have some ideas, but that’s the subject of another post.
What do you think? Did we miss something in our estimate? How do you plan out your budget for travel?
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