Expenses for Van Life

I’m Brian. New to all this and haven’t purchased a conversion van yet. Curious to know how to budget for estimated expenses. I realize most will vary, but wanted to get some kind of idea on following:

  1. What kind of gas mileage per gallon does a Mercedes conversion van get (similar to the Winnebago Revel) ?
  2. What companies and how much expense for good vehicle insurance to expect? (again, based off a van similar to Revel)
  3. Do taxes on van increase since it is your home?
  4. Hidden expenses?
    Thank you! Brian
  1. If you’re buying a Revel do you even need to worry about how much gas costs? The mileage would be whatever a sprinter gets but less due to roof drag, weight, etc.
  2. This will be dependent on your state and if your van is insured as an RV or a van. Insurance can be difficult if it’s DIY so do your research in your state. We pat y~$100 a month for full coverage as a travel trailer (again check your state it was $240 a month pre covid and they dropped prices)
  3. Again dependent on your state. In SC you pay property taxes on all vehicles, for a sprinter it’d be about $700 (maybe 600 depending on the max that year, then $600 the next year and $550 the next year and so forth. Some states you don’t pay tax, just depends.
  4. You will have all the expenses of living at home with the exception of rent. You’re still going to pretty much pay everything you paid before. Need water, it’s not always easy to find clean and free. You will spend a lot more for gas and upkeep on your van as well than you normally would as you’ll be using it more as a home. Maybe a hotel once a month. Sometimes you just need a real shower and a break or get sick and don’t want to weather it in your hot a$$ van. Laundry, this one get more expensive than you think it would and wastes a considerable amount of time. We seem to actually waste more food in our van. It’s harder to keep things in a van. More humidity, less cool dry places and refrigeration does not work as well. You also have much less space.

Pretty much they only thing you won’t be paying anymore is rent. Everything will still be there, just maybe not as expensive.

Greetings & Welcome!

I think it should be noted that many people spend more living in a van than they would in a house or apartment. This can depend on the local cost of living in general. By traveling less frequently, you can greatly reduce your fuel bills while actually seeing everything in a given area. By taking the time to smell the roses, you can really reduce your traveling expenses.

Money is a stumbling block for many, so I always suggest figuring out a reliable income first, along with multiple alternate plans just in case. While I can live on wheels pretty cheap, you can also lose everything in an instant due to an accident or theft, so you need to be prepared for the worst.

Living on wheels isn’t necessarily free, cheap, nor easy. I live and work in my vehicle, not out of it, so having my own toilet & shower, full kitchen, comfy bed, and a comfy living/work area is essential for me, along with good climate control. Being able to control my inside temperatures regardless of the weather outside is very important to me. It can be done cheap & easy, while still being energy efficient, and that includes both heating & cooling.

Done right, you’ll never want or need a motel, and campgrounds will be totally optional. If eating out, I do it at either lunch time, or happy hour, when the prices are cheaper than normal dinner prices. Same food, just cheaper prices…

Dollar stores, along with thrift stores, flea markets, & yard/garage sales are among my favorite places to shop, and save me a ton of money. I use free wifi in cities, from within the comfort of my rig, where I have everything I need or want. My own oasis wherever I might happen to be.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller