When I was doing my research prior going lite, there were many topics I wanted to learn more about and I soon realized I wasn’t the only one curious about living in a RV or travel trailer. The biggest subject of curiosity was how much will it cost. I found articles and videos on how much it cost others to make the switch and maintain the lifestyle. Looking back now, nothing really fully prepared me on the true cost due to there being so many variables. There is location, climate, time of year, your preference on what you need to live comfortably, the size and type of rig you want/get to live in and the vehicle you need to tow the rig or the rig will tow.
When we first got our trailer, we had no experience with living in one. My boyfriend had some experience in pulling larger trailers and I had only 3. Yes, I know exactly how many because there were only 3 times that I used a U-Haul trailer to move. However, those trailers were nothing in length compared to the travel trailer so it has taken me time to get use to pulling it. When it came to what we needed to buy for it, what I did know came from research. I also knew that the most you spend on the trailer (besides the cost of the trailer itself), is the upfront cost getting all the accessories for it. And I confirmed it! We already had a vehicle to tow it, so the largest cost upfront was the cost of the trailer and the second was the cost of the accessories. Since then, the cost has been pretty much minimal. However, a year later, we did have one large expense which was we needed to get a new vehicle to tow it. Since we bought a used travel trailer, the new truck (it was still used) became our largest expense. I am not giving any numbers in this area as the cost of the trailer and vehicle to pull it will highly depend on you and your preferences.
As for the cost of the accessories, I honestly don’t even remember. I tried keeping track in the beginning, but that didn’t last too long. I do know the most expensive accessory was the heated hose and this is a perfect example of a “variable” which I mentioned before. If you don’t plan on living in a cold climate, you won’t need to spend the extra cash for it so you will just need to get a standard “drinking” hose. Then you need to get chocks for the trail wheels, a must, there are different styles to consider. Next, stabilizer blocks, not bad in price and you can also use wood planks. We have booth. The plastic blocks are easier to use especially under the tires when you need to lift a side as they stick together better than wood. The wood is nice, we use chopped up pieces from a 2x6 plank, but after 2 years, they are showing signs of “wear & tear” from the weather. Then let’s not forget the fabulous sewer hose which is not a huge expense.
As far as I can remember, those are the mandatory accessories, everything else we got, I believe, are more optional for what we wanted. One example is our trailer came with two 20-lb propane tanks which worked for us, but after experiencing our first winter in the mountains of Colorado, we decided to get a third one as a precaution. It also helped reduce my anxiety from making sure the tanks were refilled immediately when they became empty. This gave us some wiggle room when a tank ran out in the middle of a snow storm, which was nice.
The final cost I want to cover is the cost to place your rig somewhere. This, like everything else, varies. Staying at a RV site for a full month will have a different cost then if you are just going to stay a few days or weeks. Monthly rates will be cheaper than daily or weekly and summer months will cost more than winter, especially in mountain towns or other high demand areas. When we first started, our monthly rates were $425 and over time, it gradually increased. Electricity and propane were separate costs. We are now looking at living in a new area which the monthly rates are around $700. Yes, a lot more! (There was a place a few miles from where we stayed in CO that was asking $1200. Ugh!) I don’t have much info on daily or weekly rates as we have been pretty much doing monthly since we got it. Though, when we first got it, we stayed at a KOA for 2 weeks and I believe the cost was around $600.
I know I didn’t give a great deal of numbers in regards to cost, but I do hope I gave you enough information to give you a good insight into what to expect. However, no matter how much you read or YouTube videos you watch, you will never be completely prepared for going tiny as there are always unexpected events and cost. But that’s life, right? It’s an amazing adventure and you will learn along the way!
If you have any specific questions about living in a travel trailer, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (I will NOT use your email for any type of mailer list or spam!!)
Stay tuned for more blogs as after two and a half years, I’ve got some stories!