Van Life Australia Monthly Budget Report – November 2020

Welcome to another Van Life Australia Budget post, where we open up completely about our expenses while travelling and living in our campervan full-time. This is our monthly breakdown for November, 2020.

It’s that time again where we dive deep into exactly how much we spend on this van life Australia dream.

Our aim is to break down the secrecy that goes with #vanlife budgets, so we can help as many people as possible prepare for hitting the road in their campervan.

As always we have tracked every single dollar we’ve spent this month. So if you’ve ever wondered how to live in a van in terms of costs, you’ve come to the right place.

You can read our last monthly budget posts here:

Want to know what we spent in November of 2020? Read on…

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!

Van Life Australia Budget – November 2020

What you’ll find below is just how much we spent living in a van full-time for the entire month of November.

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, 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, unless it falls into the current month we’re documenting.
Whitsundays Views
Hanging out with our friends in the Whitsundays before heading south. What a beautiful place.

WHAT WE GOT UP TO THIS MONTH

October was spent on Magnetic Island, before ending the month in paradise, hanging out in Airlie Beach with our friends on a day cruise of the Whitsundays. Sounds amazing, and it was! But November wasn’t exactly as luxurious or beautiful as October.

We drove up to Townsville to give Marlee a (very expensive) pampering. We had her booked in for a front-end service, suspension upgrade, new tyres and to have a campervan awning fit on her.

First was the ball joints and brake pads/disks at the front. This wasn’t urgent, but because we had found a great Mercedes mechanic in Townsville (shout out to Marty at Doyle Star Motors), we decided to let them get Marlee up to scratch.

Then it was an upgrade to the rear shock absorbers and adding a Timbren kit to minimise the amount of body roll we had when going around corners. Another shout out to John at Big Wheels Truck Alignment for that.

Next was getting our new awning fitted by a fabricator. Because Marlee has a fibreglass roof no caravan or motorhome dealer wanted to touch her. Not an issue for Justin at Ironhide Customs, who took on the challenge. Granted, a 3-hour job turned into an all-day thing due to Marlee being quite lopsided, but it’s done now and Justin’s team did a fantastic job.

Finally was getting 6 new tyres fitted to Marlee. These tyres were free thanks to us being brand ambassadors for our sponsors Continental Tyres, but we decided to pay for a full wheel alignment afterwards, because tyre safety is no joke.

Truth be told all of this was optional stuff, and if we had have known just how much money we would have spent before agreeing to it all we may have been a bit more hesitant. But hey, Marlee is our home and we want to look after her.

Marlee with the Awning
We finally got an awning on Marlee. Doesn’t she look great?!

After we got all our vehicle maintenance done we bombed it down to the Gold Coast. We had some appointments with builders near Brisbane and it took us two big days of driving.

Due to domestic borders opening up I (Alesha) decided to fly over to Western Australia to see my family while I could. My pop was quite sick, and I managed to get there just in time to spend his final days with him, which I am so incredibly grateful for.

While I was gone Jarryd stayed in the Gold Coast with Marlee, catching up with friends down in Byron Bay and working lots.

All in all November was probably the least-fun month of van life we’ve had, but there were lots of important things we had to do, and that’s the nature of this lifestyle.

And that’s what we want to share – the good and the not so good. Trust us, van life isn’t just what you see on Instagram.

Total Kilometres Driven: 2282 km

Sunset Session Byron Bay
Jarryd got to catchup with new friends and have a sunset session in Byron Bay.

WHAT WE SPENT

Well this month is all about vehicle maintenance. That means this month’s budget is quite abnormal.

Let’s dive into the breakdown of everything.

Note – All prices are in AUD.

ITEMS$$$
Fuel$326
Food (Groceries)$308
Food (Dining Out)$396
Accommodation (Campgrounds)$0
Coffee (Take-Away and Beans)$149
Alcohol$57
Phone Bills$86
Laundry$0
Health/Medical$17
Van Maintenance$3469
Van Registration and Insurance$620
Entertainment (Spotify, Netflix, etc)$30
Attractions / Activities$0
Other (Postage)$19
Total Cost$5447
Van Life Australia Budget November 2020 Pie Chart

So there you have it! For the month of November 2020, we spent $6253 on van life in Australia.

This month was way over budget for us, but this was due to all the work being done on Marlee, last-minute flights to Perth and van registration and insurance being due.

If we removed the non-essentials (the maintenance and flights) then our real van life budget is actually $1978 for the two of us. Minus the van rego and insurance, then it comes down to $1358.

Anyway, we digress. Let’s break down each part for you guys.

FUEL – $326

This month we had a big drive from Townsville down to the Gold Coast, and Marlee being a thirsty girl meant it cost us a bit despite not doing any sightseeing.

Jarryd also filled the tank before and after his trip down to Byron Bay.

FOOD (GROCERIES) – $308

We didn’t spend much money on groceries this month. We still had food from our big shop last month, and I bought some of my own food when I went over to Perth because I hate my family paying for everything when I’m there.

FOOD (DINING OUT) – $396

This month we had a van life meetup at a great Japanese restaurant in the Gold Coast which was amazing. There’s also a delicious Indian restaurant across the road from where we stayed in the Goldy, and we’re not ashamed to say we splurged out some curries more than once!

We also had another catch up with some friends we hadn’t seen in years. So this month’s dining out budget was totally worth it.

ACCOMMODATION (CAMPGROUNDS) – $0

A whole month of not paying once for accommodation! That’s partly due to sticking to free camps as we travelled down through Queensland, and partly due to parking up with family and friends.

Jarryd’s grandparents have a home on the Gold Coast in a little gated community and we managed to park up there for almost three weeks while sleeping inside the house. Much to the dismay of the residents as it turns out – multiple complaints were lodged about our campervan being parked there despite us having the permission from the manager! We weren’t even blocking anyone’s way or view. Some people just have nothing better to do than complain.

  • Paid Camps – 0
  • Free Camps – 30
Gold Coast Milky Way
The Milky Way rising over the ocean near the Gold Coast.

COFFEE – $149

We got some more coffee beans and went out with friends for coffee a few times.

ALCOHOL – $57

After having a big October on alcohol, we really backed it down this month and felt so much better for it.

PHONE BILLS – $86

This is standard every month for us. We are both with Optus, and surprisingly the coverage has been fine. We work online so internet data is what we use them for mostly.

LAUNDRY – $0

We were staying with family this month and they had a washing machine. So no spending on laundry.

HEALTH/MEDICAL – $17

Stocked up on some B12 vitamins for us both.

VAN MAINTENANCE and ITEMS – $3469

Marlee got the royal treatment this month! And our wallets are hurting because of it. But she’s a special girl, so we’ll let it slide.

When we had her regular service in September, Marty at Doyle Stay Motors in Townsville pointed out that at some point in the future we would need the front ball joints and brakes replaced. Because he was so good, honest and affordable last time we used him, we decided to just get him to do it before we hit the road again.

Marlee also used to suffer from extremely bad body roll whenever we went around corners. After making some calls we found John at Big Wheels Truck Alignment who recommended we replace our rear shock absorbers and install a Timbren kit, which is very popular in the US but not so much in Australia.

It cost us a fair bit, but holy moly we couldn’t believe the improvement when we drove out of the shop! Marlee was so stable, it was like driving a brand new car! John showed us the old shockies and he could compress them by hand. Turns out they had never been replaced before.

We also had John’s team do a full wheel alignment after we had new tyres put on.

Having the awning fitted was the last piece of the puzzle for Marlee, and that turned out to be quote an expensive problem to solve.

Justin owns a custom 4×4 fabrication shop, and in his words “could fit an awning to a shopping trolley”. When we dropped Marlee off to get the awning fitted, he said he’d be done by lunch.

Well, about 2 hours later Justin called. Turns out the entire roof of Marlee isn’t square. That meant making the custom brackets to mount the awning was taking 3x longer than he had expected. He gave us an option – Cancel the job and he wouldn’t charge us for his time so far (he hadn’t drilled any holes yet), or push on at a higher price.

We negotiated a bit and decided to let him finish up. It ended up being a 9-hour job, but they got it done in the end, and we now have what might be the biggest, most expensive brackets ever used for an awning!

Finally after all this we took Marlee for a wash. We do this every second week to get all the salt and dirt off of her.

Long story short, none of this was essential for our budget this month. But it makes Marlee even better, so worth it to us.

Marlee Getting Awning Fitted
Marlee getting the awning fitted by the guys at Ironhide Customs in Townsville.

Van Registration and Insurance – $620

We pre-pay this every 6 months, and this month our vehicle registration and CTP insurance was due. Marlee is registered as a motorhome so it’s pretty affordable considering how much she is worth, and that she’s registered in Australia’s most expensive state (NSW).

ENTERTAINMENT – $30

Our monthly subscriptions for Netflix and Spotify, which we use regularly.

ATTRACTIONS – $0

We didn’t spend any money on activities or attractions this month.

Miscellaneous – $806

This was for my flights home to Perth. It was an unexpected expense but an important one as my Pop was not well and I needed to get home.

Things like this do come up from time to time, and that’s why it’s important to have money set aside for emergencies.

We have decided not to include this in our van life budget for this month, as it is a personal expense and unrelated to the lifestyle.

OTHER – $19

This was for posting a parcel of our stuff to a family member. We realised there were some items in our van that we never used, so we decided to get them out of Marlee.

Total Cost – $5447

Gold Coast Sunset
We spent some afternoons down on the beach enjoying the sun setting over the Gold Coast

THOUGHTS ON OUR MONTHLY BUDGET

There you go everyone – the latest instalment of our monthly van life Australia budget series.

This month was a big blow out. We knew this was coming so we planned for it. As I said in the last budget post, you need to be prepared for van maintenance expenses.

We keep up with Marlee’s services and maintenance, and if somethings sounds a little dodgy, we get it looked out straight away.

This is the tally of our monthly costs so far on the road. All amounts are in Australia Dollars:

  • 1st month on the road = $2369 (June)
  • 2nd month on the road = $2675 (July)
  • 3rd month on the road = $3460 (August)
  • 4th month on the road = $4338 (September)
  • 5th month on the road = $4819 (October)
  • 6th month on the road = $5447 (November)

TOTAL VAN LIFE BUDGET FOR SIX MONTHS – $23,108

And here’s our December 2020 budget!

If you found this helpful at all please leave a comment below, share it with anyone you think will find it useful, and make sure you follow our journey on Instagram and YouTube!

Happy travels.

Alesha and Jarryd

About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd - Van Life Theory

Hi! We're Alesha and Jarryd, the founders of Van Life Theory! We're currently travelling around Australia in our 2008 Mercedes Sprinter campervan and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow along on our Instagram and YouTube!

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