2016 - By the Numbers!

4 Feb, 2017;  Dome Rock BLM; Quartzite AZ

If it wasn’t for photos and spreadsheets, I’d hardly remember my own life

I put my house on the market and moved into my trailer last year in March – I had a rough travel plan (which like all plans, turned to jello almost immediately) and an equally vague idea of what my expenses would be.  I keep a spreadsheet to track some things so now, after my first 10 months, I have a much better handle on costs.

Brand new - ready to go!

I haven’t included costs for groceries, entertainment, internet, phone, clothing etc because I think these costs are not unique to full-timing and should follow pretty much whatever I spent when I had my home.  The one exception is groceries; I find that the food selection is poorer and the grocery costs can be significantly higher outside of big cities.  So, stock up before you head out for those scenic locales.

Eastern Washington State - pretty lake

So, in 2016, this is what I tracked:  (If you don't care, just enjoy the pictures)

  • Trailer Miles: 6,775 – A little more traveling than I had expected.  My Mom passed away in August and that sent me on an unexpected trip to San Antonio, Tx for a bunch of extra miles (Texas is a really big state!). 

Wallowa Lake near Joseph OR

Beautiful sunset near Chief Joseph Memorial, Joseph OR

  • Gasoline: $2,014  -  I get about 15mpg while towing – so fuel is a major expense.  While camped, I have the car to drive around for errands and sightseeing, so I go through some gas that way too.  When I’m not towing, the Honda gets about 22-27mpg.   Gas prices vary from place to place – I use the Gas Buddy app on my phone which really helps me avoid stupid errors (I try to be careful about where I gas up – especially near state lines where prices can vary by $.75/gallon from one state to the next!).

Eastern Oregon

  • Total nights: 311;  My percentage of dry-camping and boon-docking was significantly less than I had planned.  Mostly this was due to the extremely hot summer weather and the need to be further South sooner than planned (the side trip to Texas).  With daily temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s, finding sites with hook-ups so that I could use the air-conditioning was essential.
    • dry-camping nights(no hook-ups): 133 (about 57%); 
    • Boon-docking nights (free on public lands): 57 (about 18%).  

One of many armadillo at LLano St Park, Tx

Part of an abandoned homestead in Big Bend NP, Tx

  • Length of stay:  My preferred method of travel is to have short travel days with multiple nights at one location (ideally 1-2 weeks).  I like time to really explore each new area.  Didn’t really work out that way this year. Over the 311 total days, I was moving on 56 of them!
    • 1-3 days: 62%
    • Over 3 days: 35%
    • Over 6 days: only 21%

Finally in Red Rock Country!

  • Campground Fees:  $4,907, for an average of $16/night.  Luckily, I had budgeted $20/night, so all the days with full hookups didn’t break the bank.  And, some of the RV Resorts I stayed in near Tucson and Phoenix came with swimming pools, hot tubs, and all sorts of other delightful amenities!!  Still, I had expected my per night cost to really be lower; and it probably will be in 2017 when I can include costs for Jan/Feb which are usually boon-docking months in the Southwest.

Sunset over the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend NP, Tx

  • “Utilities” (propane, sewer dumps, fresh water, laundry) – My costs for propane and laundry were just about what I had expected; but dump fees and fresh water costs were much lower than I had expected.  Primarily, this was because I spent so much time at RV parks and campgrounds that included dumps/water in their camping fees.
    • Propane: $108 (usually $10-12 to fill a 20# tank)
    • Laundry: $78
    • Dump fees: $29 – anywhere from $5-10 every 2 wks if not included in campground fees.
    • Fresh Water: $22.  Usually, in the Southwest, you can buy 5 gallons of Reverse Osmosis fresh water for $1.00.  Deep well filtered water is available for 5 gallons for $.25-.50.  Sometimes I get the Well water (it tastes OK but has minerals and salts that I’m not too sure about) but usually I spring for the RO water.  I think I use between 30-40 gallons every 2 weeks.

Love the sunsets!

  • Misc Full-time Costs:
    • Mail service and mail-forwarding:  I have a UPS Personal Mail Box that costs $120/yr.  They will forward my mail to wherever I happen to be.  An envelope or a box and USPS priority mail usually cost around $15 and I try to get mail forwarded monthly.  I was on the road traveling so much, I got my mail forwarded only about 4 times last year – I was back in Portland a few times throughout the year and picked it up in person then.  So, I only paid about $158 total for mail forwarding and box rental.

    • Storage Unit:  When I sold my house, I put some things into storage.  I have a 10x10 locker and paid $1,558 in 2016 for it.  One thing about storage units – the monthly rental fee just keeps going up!  Mine has gone up 22% in the first year!! 

Who knows where the wind will blow me in 2017

1 comment:

  1. We know what you mean about lowering costs.
    Next year we'll save money by getting the Seasonal LTVA pass in Quartzsite and use it around Southern Arizona and California. If we stay in La Posa South we have free Trash disposal, Waste Tank dump out and Drinking water we use for bathing and cleaning dishes. This year was cold so our Propane cost was higher. Also going to invest in a Wind Generator together with our Solar Panels should almost eliminate the use of the Generator. Count yourself lucky as the fuel goes, pulling our Home our MPG is lower. When we get back to Canada we plan on Downsizing our Storage Room to cut our costs.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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