Van Life Australia Monthly Budget Report – October 2020

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

Check out the thousands of posts about #vanlife in Australia on social media and you’ll find lots of content about living your best life, bikini bums, bohemian IG filters and “woke up here” pics.

What you won’t find is people being upfront and honest about just what it costs them to live that life!

Well, that all changes here at Van Life Theory, because it’s our mission to share absolutely everything there is about living in a van full time!

In our budget series you’ll find out exactly what it costs us to travel around Australia in our beautiful Sprinter campervan, Marlee. That’s because we document every single dollar we spend so we can keep track of the lifestyle and see where our money goes.

You can read our last monthly budget posts here:

Ready for the next instalment of the Van Life Australia Budget Series, knowing what we spent in October 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 – October 2020

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

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.
Us Marlee Magnetic Island
Us with Marlee on Magnetic Island

WHAT WE GOT UP TO THIS MONTH

As mentioned in the September budget, we had headed to Townsville to get Marlee serviced, and spent a few nights in free camps around the area.

Just before we had got to town though, our wedding celebrant randomly reached out with an offer we couldn’t refused. Her family had just bought a home on Magnetic Island, and got the keys a few weeks prior. Unfortunately due to the border closures in Australia, she was stuck in Western Australia and couldn’t come over to visit. She thought it would sit empty for a few months while her family waited for things to ease.

By pure coincidence she looked us up on social media for the first time in years to see what we had been up to. She saw that we were in Queensland, and messaged to see if we wanted to go housesit her vacant place for a month.

The timing was impeccable, as we were just getting into Townsville and had been saying how we desperately needed somewhere to park the van for a while to get some work done. Of course we couldn’t say no to the extremely generous offer, and before we knew it we were on the ferry with Marlee and our buddy Matt to head over to Magnetic Island!

Getting off the ferry was so exciting. Instantly we felt relaxed and on a real holiday. There was just something special about this island that we felt immediately. We got to our friend’s house, parked Marlee and set up home for the next month.

Our time went by so quickly. The locals are so welcoming, and we made a lot of friends while we were on Maggie. Our days were spent working from the van, exploring every corner of the island, drinking with buddies and hanging out.

Alesha at Radical Bay
The island is stunning and there is so much to do here.

There’s just so much to do in Maggie – from the beautiful beaches to the number of hikes to snorkelling to all the wildlife, it’s just never ending.

After a few weeks here, we truly fell in love with the island. So much so that we started looking for property. Being nomadic for 12 years we knew it was finally time for us to start putting down some roots, but didn’t know where. Thailand, Vietnam, Canada, Portugal. We never thought it’d be in Australia. But we got that feeling here on Maggie.

It took a week but we found a property and put an offer down. After another week of negotiating we settled on a price and signed the forms. This is going to be an amazing new chapter of our lives. But this doesn’t mean van life is stopping as the property has no home on it and we need to build one. This takes time so we are going to continue to travel around in our campervan.

When we got back to the mainland and headed down to Airlie Beach to do a fun little day out in the Whitsundays for our friends at The Rambler, then we drove back up to Bowen to find good internet to virtually attend my sister’s wedding.

Total Kilometres Driven: 1,162km

Us Mango Parkway Sold 4
We are now property owners. We are not stopping travelling though.

WHAT WE SPENT

This month we spent a fair bit on transport. The ferry over to Magnetic Island was the expense that chewed into our budget and the campervan service and upgrades.

Let’s dive into the breakdown of everything.

Note – All prices are in AUD.

ITEMS$$$
Fuel / Transport$646
Food (Groceries)$974
Food (Dining Out)$285
Accommodation (Campgrounds)$208
Coffee (Take-Away and Aeropress)$200
Alcohol$400
Phone Bills$82
Laundry$0
Health/Medical$76
Van Maintenance/Items$1,918
Entertainment (Spotify, Netflix, etc)$30
Attractions / Activities$0
Misc.$0
Total Cost$4819
Van Life Australia Budget October 2020

So there you have it! For the month of October 2020, we spent $4,819 on van life in Australia.

This month was way over budget for us, but we did do a big van service and upgrade, and spent the month on a beautiful tropical island.

Now let’s break down each part for you guys.

FUEL / Transport – $646

This month we didn’t travel any crazy long distances, except to Airlie Beach and back. We topped up with fuel before heading over to the island as fuel is much more expensive over there.

The ferry to the island is not cheap. For the 8km trip, it cost us $420 for a return ticket. The ferry company charges by the length of your vehicle and by the weight. We had bikes on the back and had to pay more. Be aware of this when you are travelling over there.

We put $15 in the fuel tank on the island. We then topped the tank up as we headed down to Bowen.

FOOD (GROCERIES) – $974

We did a massive shop before going over to the island. We heard the two supermarkets are very expensive on the island, so we prepared.

While on the island, we realised we could get groceries delivered from Woolworths or Coles. We did a big shop from Woolies and stocked up even more. When we got back to the mainland we did another shop as we were heading straight down to the Gold Coast in early November.

We were very stocked up with all the groceries we did this month, and ate extremely well.

FOOD (DINING OUT) – $285

We dined out a few times on Magnetic Island. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from so we tried a few. You can say we splurged this month but will make up for it next month.

ACCOMMODATION (CAMPGROUNDS) – $208

For the whole month we stayed at our friend’s house on the Island, but we still gave them some money for the bills as we were using their water, gas and electricity. We gave them $150 to cover this.

When we were in Airlie Beach we free-camped on the street outside our buddy’s place (shhh, don’t tell the rangers!), then the other 2 nights we stayed at a caravan park in Bowen.

  • Paid Camps – 29
  • Free Camps – 2

COFFEE – $200

We got a lot of take out coffees this month. We spent way more money than we usually do in this area. But Shaka Cafe on Maggie is just so damn good.

ALCOHOL – $400

This month was a lot of socialising as we were meeting a lot of new people. The alcohol budget exceeded by double this month. We will be watching this one next month. Then again, we say that every month…

PHONE BILLS – $82

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 mostly for.

Jarryd did order a Telstra SIM card while we were here, but didn’t get charged until next month.

LAUNDRY – $0

We had a washing machine at our friends house so we didn’t need to go to a laundromat this month.

HEALTH/MEDICAL – $76

We got some personal hygiene items from Chemist Warehouse before heading over to the island.

VAN MAINTENANCE/ITEMS – $1,918

Nearly $2k on van maintenance and items?!? Yep…

We got to Townsville and visited Big Wheel Truck Alignment, a trucking company that we had been talking to about getting an upgrade of new shocks for the back of our campervan. We had really bad body roll when we went around corners. So bad that we’d take corners as slow as physically possible.

John, the owner of the shop, took Marlee for a drive, did some measurements and recommended some upgraded shock absorbers, as well as a Timbren dampening kit, which is quite popular in North America for SUVs towing big rigs.

It all sounded good to us, so we put down a $500 deposit so he could order the parts. We will get this done early next month.

We also got a few things from Bunnings and Kmart for the van.

Finally we ordered a brand new campervan awning for Marlee for just over $1000. We have been wanting one for a long time and found a fabricator in Townsville that would build custom brackets and fit the awning to the van for us.

We have a fibreglass roof so many awning fitters said they wouldn’t do it. But this fabricator literally said to us, “Mate, I could mount an awning to a shopping trolley”, so here we are, excited to finally get one. It will be installed next month.

ENTERTAINMENT – $30

Our monthly subscriptions for Netflix and Spotify, which we use regularly. Definitely worth it for us and we do not mind paying this monthly.

ATTRACTIONS – $0

We spent no money on attractions this money.

Total Cost – $4,819

Sunset from Hawkings Lookout Magnetic Island
Sunset up at Hawkings Lookout on Magnetic Island were a regular for us.

THOUGHTS ON OUR MONTHLY BUDGET

There you go everyone – our fifth monthly van life budget.

This month was not a cheap month. Actually it was one of the most expensive months we have had in the campervan. But that’s mostly due to getting a few upgrades on the campervan. Guess this is a part of having a home.

They are one-off payments but they sure do dig into the budget. They are completely optional though, so if we were to adjust the total cost for the month without these upgrades, the amount we spent would be $2899.

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)

TOTAL VAN LIFE BUDGET FOR FIVE MONTHS – $17,661

And here’s our November 2020 budget report!

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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