Is It Cheaper To Live In A Caravan Than A House? Full Guide


Living a life on the road comes with its own unique perks. You get to watch the sunrise in new places every day, explore different parts of the country whenever you feel like it and don’t have to worry about mowing a lawn ever again. But is traversing the world on a caravan cheaper than living in a house? Let’s take a look.

It is cheaper to live in a caravan than a house when you factor in all the costs associated with each one. Caravan owners don’t have to pay for things like land taxes or property insurance. They also save money on utilities like water, gas, and electricity. And, of course, there is the initial cost of buying a caravan which is usually much cheaper than buying a house.

Now, doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? Before you start putting up the ‘For Sale’ sign on your house, you might be interested in finding out exactly how cheap it is to live in a caravan. In this article, we’ll crunch those numbers for you so that you can decide whether or not a nomadic lifestyle is right for you. We’ll also share tips on saving even more money while living in a caravan. So continue reading.

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Difference In Living Costs: Caravan vs. House

Let’s get right down to cold, hard cash. Take a look at the tables and the graph below to see how much it costs per month to live in a caravan as opposed to living in a house.

Note: These prices have been calculated for two people and are based on averages. Depending on your circumstances and current market prices (such as gas and housing), it can vary quite a bit.

Average Living Cost For A CaravanMonthly CostAverage Living Costs For A HouseMonthly cost
Gas$450Housing$1,050
Propane$50Transportation$819
Campsite Fees$300Utilities$366
Food (Groceries + Restaurants)$600Food$610
RV (+tow vehicle) insurance$160Taxes$784
Repairs and Maintenance$200Other Household Costs (Cleaning, security, furnishing, etc.)$300
Phone & Internet$140Phone and Internet$178
Entertainment$300Entertainment$243
Total$2,300Total$4,107
Table 1: Average monthly living costs for Caravan vs. House.
Graph 1: Total Monthly Living Costs for Caravan vs. House.

As you can see, the average monthly cost of living in a house is around $4,107, whereas the average monthly cost of living in a caravan is only $2,300. That’s a difference of $1,807 per month! And, over the course of a year, that adds up to a whopping $21,684.

Of course, there are a lot of variables that go into these numbers. The cost of living in a caravan will differ depending on where you choose to live, what kind of amenities you need, and how often you move around. Similarly, the house’s cost will also depend on these factors. In general, it is much cheaper to live in a caravan than in a house.

Fun Tool: Would you like to budget how much it would cost you to live in a caravan for a month? Check out this nifty online Caravan Budget Calculator created by the Schlesinger’s, a nomadic couple who have been traveling across the US in their caravan for many years, living the American Dream!

What Are The Major Costs Involved In Living In A Caravan?

Now that we know that it’s cheaper to live in a caravan let’s take a closer look at the costs involved. Below is a breakdown of all the major expenses you’ll need to consider when living in a caravan.

The Cost of Buying a Caravan

The initial cost of buying a caravan is going to be the biggest expense you’ll have when setting up your new nomadic lifestyle. Caravans can range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s important to do your research and find one that fits both your needs and your budget.

According to Ripe Caravan Insurance Specialist:

The average cost of a pre-owned touring caravan is around: $13,500

The average cost of a brand-new touring caravan is around: $28,064

The average cost of a brand-new static caravan or lodge is around: $51,500

The average cost of a pre-owned static caravan or lodge is around: $33,578

There are also much cheaper options. It is very popular nowadays to buy an old or classic caravan and remodel it as a fun project. Or you can expect to pay $100,000 if you want to buy a very luxurious brand-new Airstream.

Fact: According to this article, the median price of buying a home in the US is $428,700. This is much higher than even the most expensive caravan!

Gas and Propane

If you want to be able to move your caravan around, then you’re going to need to factor in the cost of gas and propane. You’ll need gas to power the engine and propane to run the fridge, stove, and heating. For most caravanners, these two costs will be their biggest monthly expenses after the cost of their caravan payment.

Depending on the mileage of your caravan, the current price of gas and propane, and how often you plan on moving your caravan, your gas and propane costs could range anywhere from $300 to $500 per month.

Campsite Fees

Campsites are where you’ll be parking your caravan when you’re not on the road. These places will have a variety of amenities like water, electricity, showers, and toilets that you’ll be able to use for a daily or weekly fee. Some high-end, luxury campsites will even have swimming pools, gyms, and laundry facilities.

The cost of campsite fees will vary depending on the amenities you want and the location of the campsite. 

Here are three types of campsites you’ll generally find out on the road:

  • RV Parks: These are campsites that are specifically designed for RVs and caravans. They usually have full hook-ups, which means they’ll have water, sewer, and electricity connections. RV parks can range in price from $50 to $70 per night.
  • National/State Park Campgrounds: These are campsites that are located in national or state parks. They usually don’t have full hookups, but they’ll have water and electricity. National and state park campgrounds can range in price from $25 to $40 per night.
  • Boondocking: This is when you camp in a remote location without any hookups. Most often, you’ll only have access to water (that too if you’re lucky!) if you’re boondocking. This is a great option for those who want to save money on campsite fees. Plus, the privacy and scenery can’t be beaten! Boondocking will usually cost you nothing as you’ll be camping for free on public land.

Note: If you plan on boondocking, make sure to carry solar panels and water-holding tanks with you so you can live off the grid. Some people even boondock 15-20 days at a time before hitting up a campground to recharge!

Food and Groceries

House, caravan, or tent – one thing that doesn’t change no matter where you live is the need to eat! The cost of food and groceries will usually remain the same whether you’re living in a stationary home or on the road – around $300 per month for a single person.

However, most people tend to eat out more when living in a caravan as they’re always on the go and may not always have the convenience of a fully stocked kitchen. This can add a significant amount to your monthly food bill. 

If you want to save money on groceries, then make sure to cook more meals on your caravan’s stove and oven and pack snacks and drinks when you’re out exploring.

Maintenance and Repairs

No matter how well you take care of it, your caravan is going to need some maintenance and repairs every now and then. These costs can range from something as small as fixing a broken taillight to something as major as replacing the engine.

In fact, you can go many years spending next to $0 on repairs and then suddenly have a $3,000 repair bill. That’s just the nature of vehicle ownership! As such, it is recommended to set aside at least $200 per month for maintenance and repairs. This will help you cover any unexpected costs down the road.

Note: Most expert caravanners advise having a reserve fund of $5000 (depending on your caravan cost prize) so that if any big repairs come up, you’re not left scrambling to come up with the money.

Phone and Internet

If you want to stay connected to the outside world while living in your caravan, you will need a phone and internet connection. The cost of these will depend on the type of plan you get and how much data you use.

Verizon has an unlimited data plan for $80 per month, which is a great option for those who need to stay connected for work or other reasons. AT&T has a similar unlimited data plan for $50 per month.

You can get a pay-as-you-go plan from most providers for those who only need a basic phone and internet connection. However, we’d advise you to go with an unlimited data plan so that you’re always connected and won’t find yourself with a hefty bill at the end of the month.

Did you know: Verizon has almost 70% nationwide coverage, making it the best option for those planning to travel? AT&T is a close second with around 68% coverage. You’ll never have to worry about being out of range with either of these two! 

Entertainment

Just because you’re living in a caravan doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite hobbies and forms of entertainment. Whether it’s Netflix, movies, or video games, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained on the road.

Entertainment doesn’t always have to be expensive, either. There are plenty of free or cheap options, such as hiking, picnicking, and visiting state parks. The key is to find what you enjoy and make the most of it!

On average, you can budget around $300 for entertainment each month. This will give you plenty of room to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank.

Insurance

If you’re going to be living in your caravan full-time, you need to ensure it’s properly insured. Although it’s not compulsory (like car insurance), we highly recommend it as it will give you peace of mind knowing that your home is protected in case of an accident or theft.

Depending on whether your caravan is designed to be a touring caravan (used for occasional holidays) or a static caravan (used as a permanent residence), you will need to get different types of insurance. 

On average, you can expect a payment of about $120-$130 per month on caravan insurance. 

Websites where you can compare different caravan insurance policies
– https://www.comparethemarket.com/caravan-insurance/
https://www.ripeinsurance.co.uk/caravans/ When you’re in the UK

As you can see, living in a caravan comes with its own cost. However, it’s nothing compared to that of a traditional home. When you factor in all the savings, you’ll be making by living in a caravan. You’ll see that it’s actually quite affordable!

Tips for Saving Money When Living in a Caravan

How do you save even more money on an already affordable lifestyle? Check out our handpicked caravanning tips below:

  • Keep your caravan as light as possible: The heavier your caravan, the more fuel it will consume. This means that you’ll need to spend more money on petrol/diesel. To save money, only pack the essentials and get rid of anything that you don’t need. This tip becomes even more important the longer you’ve been living in your caravan, as you’ll naturally accumulate more stuff over time.
  • Travel during off-peak times: We recommend avoiding peak times if you’re planning to travel a lot. Campsites charge an arm and a leg during the summer and school holidays, so it’s best to travel outside these times if you want to save money. In general, the shoulder seasons (between winter and summer) are the best times to travel as there are fewer people on the road, and campgrounds tend to be quieter. Or you can book a seasonal pitch at a campsite you love, which saves you a lot of money, and you can stay en entire season (mostly from April – October).
  • Cook your own food: Investing in a good caravan stove will allow you to cook your own meals on the road. This is a great way to save money, as eating out can quickly add up. Plus, it’s usually healthier and tastier to cook your own food! Make sure you shell out some money for proper refrigeration and food storage solutions, as this will help keep your food fresh for longer.
  • Get a solar panel: If you plan on doing a lot of traveling, we recommend installing a solar panel on your caravan. This will allow you to generate your own electricity and save money on power bills. Solar panels are also great for the environment, so it’s a win-win situation!
  • Regularly service your caravan: Just like a car, your caravan needs to be regularly serviced in order to keep it running smoothly. This includes things like checking the tires, brakes, and fluids. You can avoid costly breakdowns and repairs down the line by keeping on top of maintenance. Remember those surprise $3000 bills we mentioned earlier? Yeah, those are the kind of things you want to avoid!
  • Don’t wing it. Plan ahead: One of the worst things you can do when living in a caravan is to wing it. This lifestyle requires planning and organization. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of money. Before you go on a trip, map out your route and plan your accommodation in advance. This will help you to avoid costly mistakes, such as getting lost or ending up in an overpriced campground.
  • Join a caravan club: If you’re serious about living in a caravan, then we recommend joining a caravan club. This will give you access to exclusive discounts and offers, avail reduced prices at campsites, as well as allow you to meet like-minded people. Some of the best clubs in the US are Good Sam, Passport America, Escapees RV Club, Boondockers Welcome, and Harvest Hosts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about living in a caravan and the costs involved.

Q.1. How much does it cost to live in a caravan?

A. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to spend around $2,000-$3,000 per month on living expenses, depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences. This includes things like food, gas, power, insurance, and maintenance.

Q.2. Can I live in a caravan permanently?

A. Yes, you can live in a caravan permanently if you wish. However, it’s important to do your research first and make sure that you’re prepared for the lifestyle change. We recommend speaking to other full-time caravanners and getting their advice before making the switch.

Q.3. Do I need a special license to drive a caravan?

A. No, you don’t need a special license to drive a caravan in the US. However, do check with your local DMV to see if there are any special requirements in your state. We also recommend taking some time to practice driving with a load before hitting the open road, as it can be quite different from driving a car!

Final Thoughts

Caravans can offer you a life that you’d never have thought possible – one full of adventure and freedom. While a traditional home can provide stability, a caravan can allow you to explore the world and see new places. Plus, it’s cheaper than you might think, so why not try it? We love living in our caravan because we get to be outdoors much more often, and we save money which gives us a lot of freedom in life. So get out there, start up your caravan, and start exploring! Remember, the world is your oyster!

Léon Kopijn

Léon Kopijn works and lives as a Digital Nomad. He travels the world with the love of his life and writes about inspiring cultures and practical travel tips. Find out more about Léon on his about page!

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