The exciting time in my life has rolled around again! 6 months have passed (can you believe it?) since we put our boat Sundowner on the hard in Panama and flew back to the United States to take advantage of the low gas prices and do an RV tour of North America. Now I’ve compiled all of the numbers and want to compare our monthly RV costs to our monthly sailing costs.

I track all of our expenses on my phone with a free app called “Spending Tracker“.

I tried to pick a variety of categories that would encompass anything we could spend money on and plan to keep these the same throughout the trip. They are sorted in a more logical order based on type instead of just alphabetically. I have added a few examples for each one to help give an idea of what is included:

  1. Alcohol – bars, grocery bought and sometimes restaurants if a large percentage
  2. Eating Out – restaurants
  3. Grocery – food or household items
  4. Books – kindle unlimited, ebooks, physical books
  5. Entertainment – tours, park entrance fees, horseback riding, movies
  6. Gifts – presents for family and friends
  7. Tobacco – Tate’s pipe tobacco and accessories
  8. Water Sports – snorkel gear, spearfishing gear, wetsuits
  9. Video/Communication – Upload costs, equipment, Delorme InReach, internet, phone, postcards, blog hosting
  10. General – miscellaneous items for household
  11. Laundry – pay laundry service on shore
  12. Medical – doctor’s visits, dentist, medicine
  13. Travel – taxi’s, buses, ferries, planes, cars, hotels
  14. Marina/Anchoring – marina fees, mooring fees, dinghy docks
  15. RV park/fees – Insurance, entrance fees, nightly fees, parking
  16. Maintenance – RV upkeep, boat products, parts, labor fees, boatyards
  17. Fuel – diesel, gasoline, propane

I’ve separated costs such as Boat storage, RV and motorcycle purchase, and the heavy refit and one off costs for the RV and motorcycle since these things are highly subjective and will vary from person to person. We don’t include our boat cost or refit in our monthly cruising costs either. The Subtotal 1 costs are what I consider “true living costs”.

  1. Boat storage – Cost to keep the boat in Panama out of the water
  2. RV purchase – Total cost including taxes, title and registration
  3. RV refit – Upgrades like new tires, solar panels, led lights and one offs like the Brake repair
  4. Moto purchase – Total cost (trailer) including taxes, title and registration
  5. Moto Refit – Upgrades like 2 new tires

RV vs Sailing monthly cost comparison
6 months RV living costs:
$10,060 (average of $1,676 a month)

6 months Sailing living costs:
$10,891 (average of $1,815 a month)

Now there is still the RV purchase/refit and the motorcycle purchase/refit which totals to $25,227 but we plan to sell everything (RV, motorcycle and trailer) this fall when we head back to the boat.

I’m actually REALLY surprised that our RV living costs are cheaper than our sailing costs, though not by much. At the end of the day after we sell everything I think we will have spent just as much as we would have on the boat (which was the plan all along:)

One of the things we had hoped for and also have found to be true is that there are TONS of free and beautiful places to park in the country. TO DATE WE HAVEN’T PAID FOR A SINGLE NIGHT STAY ANYWHERE ALONG THE TRIP. We have stayed legally at no cost in the National Forests, Bureau of Land Management areas, Boondockers Welcome houses, Walmart and Truck Stops (only a week total), and also Blog/Vlog followers property. It’s been enlightening and we are now challenging ourselves to never pay for parking through the end of the trip. We’ll see how it goes.

See below for the tables for our 6 month RV costs and then below that for our 2015 sailing costs. If you want more info please see our COST PAGE as well as our post (linked below) back in January where we discuss in detail our reasons for leaving the boat for a year.
DETAILS OF THE BIG CHANGE.

2016 RV ACROSS NORTH AMERICA COSTS

January through June 2016
States visited: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington

2016 CategoryJanFebMarAprMayJunTotal
Alcohol193521784893052191,436
Eating Out791985315061194735
Grocery4111614704969374482,923
Books---10--10
Entertainment----24-24
Gifts-20
----20
Tobacco-28843829107286
Water Sports-------
Video/Comm253-10712013797714
General206220118246822601,132
Laundry17--128-37
Medical-------
Travel----302050
Marina/Anchor-------
RV parks/fees68140127175124115749
Maintenance360-----360
Fuel491192096003372701,584
Subtotal 116369381,3462,3362,0741,73010,060
Boat storage1,1193063063063063062,649
RV purchase11,010-----11,010
RV refit5,16737856776--6,836
Moto purchase--4,100--254,125
Moto refit-----607607
Subtotal 217,2963435,2621,08230693825,227
TOTAL18,9321,2816,6083,4182,380
2,66835,287

2015 SAILING THE CARIBBEAN COSTS

January through December 2015
Ports: Key West, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Panama

2015 CategoryJanFebMarAprMayJunTotal
Alcohol34138114069168521,151
Eating Out6312933681733922252,082
Grocery180561783032901981,205
Books20101351011010295
Entertainment7113179---281
Gifts416--218-238
Tobacco150467--259-876
Water Sports360----152512
Communication1998461846385576
General20--973268217
Laundry--139--22
Medical---14--14
Travel-193136-29057676
Cruising Fees-143220-78142583
Fuel184310219-10300
Maintenance28-411247-191
Marina/Anchor54280----334
2,0762,0971,3441,1811,8471,0089,553

2015 CategoryJulAugSepOctNovDecTotal
Alcohol195130104115104272920
Eating Out18139263244279601
Grocery399332266794274571,960
Books1010101011010160
Entertainment-8---3543
Gifts--305-2052377
Tobacco----132477609
Water Sports1,410512-554744643,014
Communication22176102107106106718
General3120663042829461,775
Laundry-------
Medical-----554554
Travel10----4858
Cruising Fees--37060--430
Fuel-30106-3012178
Maintenance261-85--358704
Marina/Anchor-----128128
2,7181,3431,3801,2611,3294,19812,229

Why do we spend the money for these things? Check out some of these memories from along the way:

Blueridge Parkway NC.


Devil’s Whip in NC with my Uncle.

Wisconsin.

Mount Rushmore, a classic.

The Badlands.










The Black Hills.

Glacier National Park.

Holland Lake and Montana.

Idaho.

National Forests in Washington

Sailing in Tacoma.

Chihuly glass.