Cost of living in a Caravan / RV - Travelling K
Guests & dog staying in caravan
February 6, 2018
cooking in caravan
Cooking Meals in a Caravan Kitchen
February 20, 2018

Cost of living in a Caravan / RV

My big question before starting the mobile lifestyle was how much living permanently in my caravan was going to cost me in New Zealand.

Would it even be possible for me to afford?

Three months into this journey I calculated how much I had spent so far. Now I've been living in the caravan for over a year and have a better grasp of the costs. I am spending less than I did flat sharing in Auckland. Rent has dropped an insane amount.

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Note: The prices are all in NZ dollars.

Accomodation Cost

Cost for camping spots are all completely different. The highest I've paid is $50 per night in Auckland. Since getting my solar panel, I've started staying at more free freedom camping spots too.

My current spot is on a farmers property that has some sites for RV's. It's a very basic set-up with one toilet and shower for everyone. I enjoy these types of sites as they feel more homely.

Auckland was tricky to find a good campground to stay at while working in the city. The closest are crazy expensive and not very nice. The ones in lovely settings by the beach took forever to drive into work. Eventually I found one in Northcote that worked for me.

Below is a breakdown of the general campground costs per night.

Current spot $10
Best Auckland camping ground I found $30
NZMCA parks $3
Traditional camping grounds $16-$25
Freedom camping Free
DoC campgrounds Free-$18

Total spent on Accomodation

Accomodation for the year


Accomodation per day


I was expecting it to be a lot more because of the expensive accomodation in Auckland. But there were a few months with free accomodation when I was staying at friends or family that even it out. I'm happy with $9 a night as it's less than a third of my old flat sharing cost and I have a place to myself.


I personally find food in New Zealand expensive compared to other countries. Which is odd since we grow so much of it here.

I don't feel like I spend a crazy amount on food in my day to day shopping. No spending money on top meat, bottles of wine or fresh herbs. My extras would be quick meals, fancy yogurts and buying my lunch occasionally... if there is an option nearby.

Total spent on Food

Food for the year


Food per day


Funnily enough, it's basically the same as what I worked out a year ago!

Fuel, RUC & Gas Bottles

I started adding up all my petrol station visits in my bank receipts then realised this would also include gas bottles I've swapped.

My car is diesel, so I need to pay Road User Chargers on top of my gas cost too.

I've had patches where I've driven longer distances and patches when I've stayed in the local area.

When not plugged into the power and using the hot water, I usually need a gas bottle every 2 weeks. If I'm not running the hot water, it can last for 3 weeks or more. The price fluctuates depending on where you fill it up. I've also recently been told to take it to proper gas refillers to get better quality gas AND it's cheaper.

Fuel & gas for a year $2,542
Fuel & gas per day $7
Gas bottles per swap $35
Road User Chargers (RUC) for the year $1,181
Road User Chargers (RUC) per day $3

Total spent on Fuel, RUC & Gas

Fuel, RUC & Gas for a year


Fuel, RUC & Gas per day


This cost has come at a real surprise. I hadn't realised I've been spending this much. When I travel fast I know I race through the petrol. When I'm towing, the fuel cost suddenly doubles. But looking at my fuel cost from my previous blog post, it has dropped in cost. And I've included a large RUC bill which includes the 3 months of racing around the South Island.

Anyway, with this lifestyle you're suppose to be moving around a lot!


Monthly / Yearly Bills

These are my usual monthly or yearly bills. Lots of insurance costs and a good chunk toward internet and Adobe software to be able to work on this blog. It's made me wonder if I really do need to get AA insurance too... another cost.
Car insurance - 3rd party, Fire & Theft (per month) $24.48
Caravan insurance (per month) $68.67
Phone (per month) $19
Internet (per month) $99
Health insurance (per month) $54
Adobe software (per month) $96
NZMCA renewal membership (per year) $90
Car Warrant of Fitness (every 6 months) $45
Car Registration (per year) $202
Caravan Warrant of Fitness (per year) $35
Caravan Registration (per year) $35

Total spent on Bills

Bills for the year


Bills per day


They all add up. I usually find I'm doing ok money-wise then all the big bills will come out of my account at once.

Grand Total

What I've found I'm doing is spending about $300 a week, then I'll have a painful bill pop up. From these calculations, I now know I've been off by $50!

EXTRAS | Caravan & Car Maintenance

Then you've got the surprise costs for maintaining the caravan and car.

I've spent a lot on my car this year. I guess driving a lot has put more pressure on it than normal and I have been trying to keep it running well as the last thing I want to do is have a break down while towing the caravan.

The biggest mechanic cost has been for checking why the car over-heated. I bought my car for $5,000 and do wonder if it would have been better in the long run to buy a more expensive car.

For the caravan maintenance, a large chunk of the cost was getting solar panels added. These were double what I was expecting and took a big chunk out of my bank account. But they have been worth it! Not more paying extra for powered sites. More freedom with where I can stay.

I also have big caravan costs coming soon with adding a grey water tank, awning and getting a better battery before winter.

Note: I haven't included the cost for updating my curtains and sofa covers.

Mechanic Bills for the year $2,854
Solar Panel added $3,300
Mitre 10, Bunnings and other car & caravan accessories $1,066

Total spent on Caravan & Car Maintenance

Caravan & Car Maintenance for the year


Caravan & Car Maintenance per day


I can't believe this is more than the fuel & gas! In theory this cost should decrease with time as everything has been fixed in the car and the caravan has all the extras I want.

What do you think of the overall costs? Is it close to what you expected? Is there something you would have more or less? I'd love to read it in the comments below.

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