Cost of living in a van per month

As I have mentioned  before I have been living in and out of  vans for a number of years, one of the most common comments I get is "you live for free!”or the polite version,  “how much does it cost to live in a van?” 

And yes it is cheap but definitely not free, and everyone has there own budget and personal preferences on how much  disposable income to lavish on themselves.

This is a very rough break down of what I spend, (I am conservative with my spending at the moment).

Around   425 0r  $460.

Here is the breakdown (Pun not intended)...

In this article:

Context and comparison I am not alone, seems everyone is in cricis with working unhealthy amount of hours just to stay out of debt and I am very grateful I have no responsibilities and I can adapt my behaviour to facilitate  a different lifestyle.

When I live in rented accommodation I had the epiphany that my career did not sky rocket as much as inflation, I was a blue collar worker with little to no savings and have huge guilt over any superfluous paid activities such as a take away or cinema once a week so living in a van slashed my out goings, I was quickly able to transition to part-time work and eventually to remote work :)


My actual cost 

320 Fuel costs

50   Vehicle  insurance…

35   vehicle tax

30   Breakdown cover

140  Food 

40   Data

32   Van life Laundry

80  Attractions, Museums and  the obligatory cafe


These cost may surprise you but these are an average of my costs.

Fuel can vary from vehicle to vehicle and  you may be on a slow journey and use less fuel or plan to cover many miles in which case fuel is a large expense.

Vehicle insurance can vary wildly depending on various factors such as age, registered address, years of driving and no claims discount, It is well worth shopping around.

I normally pay our vehicle tax monthly for ease.

Break down cover is not essential but for peace of mind comes at a cost.

Funny thing is I had break down cover in the UK but not europe, In the UK if  you break down on the motorway you must get recovered within a short time limit or the police will arrange for you at your expense (they dont use the cheapest), yet the cost of break down for europe was exponentially higher, so I went will the idea that I could get a tow to the nearest garage and stay there until done.

Food is an essential but it is easy to get carried away with buying your favoourite comfort food and there are times we did indulge, having a budget goes a long way to keeping track of your spending as well as buying local in season vegetables.

We all need Data for planing, discovering and netflix on rainy days, some van lifers work on the road so need to be sure we have enough, changing network providers every time you change country can be a real pain. (insert link) I do recommend having separate networks to maximise coverage. 

Laundry, I see lots of pictures of vans in Europe with clothes sprawled over them (to dry), this is very bad and should be avoided at all cost, the locals and police take umbride to it, (insert link) there plenty of laundrettes in Europe and should be taken advantage of, I sometimes go to a campsite to utalise all the facilities including receiving mail and meeting new people.

It really is no fun living in a van full time if you dont visit some Tourist attractions, thats all part of the reason I am in a van, but be aware the costs really quickly add up and before you know it you've spent a hundred pounds.

I generally decide a budget before I go out and get carried away in the magic of the moment (usually me acting like and excited little boy at the fair ground).

Final thoughts

It really seems obvious to try before you buy and rent a campervan for a minimum of two weeks and yes you will be in honey moon period for the entire time, but after you get home and reflect you may have some fore sight and dwell on some of the issues that plague van lifers such as: parking, repairs and money issues.

Im not trying to put you off but help you realise the transition is not to be taken lightly it can be stressful, you really need a strong motivation to pull you through the dark times, for me it is truly worth it and it has given me the opportunity to travel, the bonus part is if i want to go to another continent I can sell the van and use the funds for starting off in another country like Asia. 


How Little Can You Live On? Me personally can live on about a hundead  a week, this is not fun and i did not go far in fact if you try to live on a very small amount then it can get very dismal very quickly. I would not recommend for more than a month or two.

Do you have back up or support? Kinda, I have family and friends but money is rarely exchanged more moral support when im feeling down. I highly recommend having a financial safety net (mine is usually about 50 pounds)  a thousand is what I suggest.

Do you have van life friends? Yes, there is a community in most areas some I have found to be very private but most are accommodating to my inquisitions and a great source of information and entertainment, often people from your own country (while abroad) are very welcoming.

What is travel slow? Travel slow is literally just spending more time in each location, the advantage is you save on fuel cost and wear and tear on your vehicle plus you spend more time to really get to know a place, a key benefit to the community is you spend more money in turn helping the local economy.

Related articles

living in a van and working full time

pros and cons of van life

The toilet dilemma

Tales of the Laundrette 

Further resources


How to live the dream

Falcon guide

Van life, your home on the road


Van life monthly cost

The real cost of Van life in the UK

The cost of Van life


How much does living in a van cost UK

How much does it cost to live in a van

Van life costs