Welcome to our new series where we are going to open up completely and dive into our monthly van life costs and budget here in Australia!
One of the topics that gets brought up the most in van life communities and groups is just how much money people spend while living on the road.
Surprisingly though, very few people actually give away their numbers honestly about everything they spend.
Not us though. We have no concerns at all about being completely transparent with the community and sharing the nitty gritty on just how much we spend.
For the last 12 years travelling the world we’ve gone through phases of trying to keep track of our costs on the road.
In Central America, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Europe we were extremely diligent and monitored every single dollar we spent, and just what on.
Over time though we got a bit slack when it came to our personal costs. We still recorded all our business expenses of course, but when it came to our day-to-day lives, we forgot to keep track.
Once we bought our van in April of 2020, we decided to start up a budget again to see just how much it would cost us to live in a van in Australia.
We were having dinner with a bunch of friends the other day and someone asked how much it costs to live in a van. We pulled up our spreadsheet and showed them, and were surprised by the positive remarks we got about it.
Don’t forget to follow us on social media, where we share the real story of what it’s like travelling and living in a van full-time!
But why just keep this information to our friends, when we can share it with the world to maybe help other people if they are wondering the same thing?
This will be an ongoing series, and we’ll happily share how much we spend, and what on.
Van Life Australia Budget – June 2020
What you’ll find below is just how much we spent living in a van full-time for the entire month of June.
First up, a few notes:
- This budget does not include any of our business expenses or income.
- Some things in here are not necessarily van life-related, but we decided to include everything anyway in the interest of being transparent.
- We don’t splurge out, but we definitely don’t try to live as cheaply as possible.
- We are vegetarians, so we save money on meat, but we also eat healthily, so our food costs are higher than some people might spend living on the road.
- This is the cost for two people.
- The budget doesn’t include things like car registration and insurance, which we pre-pay yearly.
What We Got Up to this Month
We were in Sydney, New South Wales when travel restrictions eased on June 1st. That morning we hit the road at 6am.
Our rough plan was to head south, and we started off by visiting some friends in Cronulla and spending the night there.
Afterwards we drove to Kiama, where we immediately fell in love with the place and ended up staying about a week, taking photos and exploring the nearby national parks.
As hard as it was to leave Kiama, we did eventually make it to Jervis Bay, which is one of the more popular beach destinations in the state.
We spent about 5 days here as well, then made our way inland and back up towards Jarryd’s mum’s place for a night or two, via the cool town of Berrima.
When we finished up there, we drove north to Newcastle to see Jarryd’s dad and brother, then headed inland to the Warrumbungles National Park for some hiking.
Once we had finished there we came back to Port Stephens, where we finished off the month on a 4-day campaign with Destination New South Wales.
Because of our job at the end of the month, we had no costs for the last 4 days of June, as the client covered everything for us.
Total Kilometres Driven: 2327km
What We Spent
That’s what we got up to. Now let’s get into the costs.
Note – All prices are in AUD.
|Food (Dining Out)
|Coffee (Take-Away and Aeropress)
|Entertainment (Spotify, Netflix, etc)
So there you have it! For the month of June 2020, we spent $2369 on van life in Australia.
Now let’s break down each part for you guys.
Fuel – $361
Marlee is one thirsty girl, and we spent quite a lot on fuel this month, especially because we didn’t do much highway driving.
We also put a fair few kilometres on the clock. We could easily cut this expense down by travelling slower.
Food (Groceries) – $543
As we mentioned earlier, we don’t really go cheap on the food we eat, and we love fresh produce.
We also cook quite a lot in the van, and most of our meals are quite nutritious.
If we wanted to, we could easily cut this down to almost half by eating more canned goods and making simpler meals.
But good food isn’t something we really want to compromise on.
There’s probably also a few non-food items that crept into this total, such as toiletries that we bought from supermarkets and we just never kept the amounts separate.
Food (Dining Out) – $307
This month we ended up eating out quite a bit, as we caught up with lots of friends.
This is definitely an expense we’d like to cut down on.
Accommodation (Campgrounds) – $396
Free camping on the east coast of Australia, and in particular New South Wales, can be quite difficult if you want to be anywhere near the beach or tourist attractions.
As this was our first month living in the van in Australia, we didn’t want to stealth camp too much, so we ended up paying to stay at a many campgrounds and caravan parks.
We’re also up well before sunrise most days to go and shoot, so we wanted to minimise the amount of time it takes to get up and arrive to a location.
This is something we 100% want to save money on. Because after all, what’s the point of spending all this money on a tiny home on wheels if you still end up paying rent?
We managed to find a few free camps (and a few stealthy nights here and there), but we were also fortunate that we visited friends and family who allowed us to park on their driveways some nights.
- Paid Camps – 16
- Free Camps – 14
Coffee – $129
Anyone that knows us knows that we like good coffee. In fact we have something of a gnarly coffee addiction (I type as I sip on my 5th coffee of the day…)
This works out to be quite cheap. But we do still go out for coffee quite a lot.
This is another expense that we’d like to get lower as time goes on, by minimising going to cafes.
Alcohol – $255
Alcohol is one of those things that you always say you’ll save money on, but then you catch up with buddies and the beers start flowing!
While we don’t party like we used to, we still enjoy a drink or 3 with friends, so this added considerably to our monthly budget.
Phone Bills – $82
This is actually a work expense as we run our businesses online and need lots of internet data, but we thought we’d include it in this monthly budget because it’s a common van life cost.
We have two plans with Optus, getting us 180gb of data.
Laundry – $12
After more than a decade hand-washing our clothes in hotels and hostels around the world, we’re absolutely over it. So to us, $12 for laundry is completely worth it.
We washed our clothes at laundries in campgrounds, where the price is usually $4 a load. We don’t pay for dryers, we just hang them out.
We also have a Scrubba travel washing bag, which is fantastic, for when we just need to wash underwear on the go.
Health/Medical – $123
Alesha needed to get some new contact lenses, so this is a one-off expense that will last her a few months.
Van Maintenance/Items – $85
We had to get a puncture repaired on Marlee, which was $35 in Jervis Bay.
Other than that we spent $34 on a bunch of card games for the van, and $16 for some essential oils to make our home smell pretty.
Clothes – $30
Alesha broke her sunglasses, so bought some new ones in Berry.
Total Cost – $2369
Miscellaneous – $1350
One final cost that we didn’t include in the budget as it isn’t really related to van life is that Jarryd bought a new (second-hand) mountain bike.
He loves mountain biking, so he didn’t want to get anything cheap. That being said, I also put my foot down and said he couldn’t get a $5k bike!
Thoughts on our Monthly Budget
So our first month of van life in Australia cost us a total of $2369, which works out to be $1184.50 per person.
Considering that’s for our accommodation, food, transport, entertainment and everything else a normal would have to spend to live, while travelling around Australia full-time, we think that’s pretty good.
There you go everyone – our first monthly van life budget.
You can read all of our monthly budget posts here:
Thanks so much for reading, and we hope to see you on the road one day.
Alesha and Jarryd