Welcome to the Monthly Vanlife Expenses April edition in 2023! It has officially been 1 year of sharing with you my vanlife expenses, both on and off life on the road. It’s wild to think that a year has already flown by with Betty White. This month I bopped around Ontario, seeing friends, working, and attending events. I also started to work on the plumbing system in the van with my friend, Katie. You may remember her and her husband, Dan, who’ve lent a hand with the van in the past. I’m excited to get back into van renos as the weather warms up!
To kick off April, I visited my blogging friend Lindsay in Hamilton. We checked out the street art, ate delicious food, went to the Art Galland visited a secret speakeasy!
I caught some of the beautiful cherry blossoms in Toronto and my sister and I tried a female-owned brunch spot in Toronto called Hugs and Sarcasm. Not only do they have unreal Smores Pancakes, but their menu and tuck shop are full of Irish and British goodies. I’ll be back to try their Chicken Fillet Roll, a classic post-pub choice when I lived in Dublin.
Also in April, a few blogging friends and I met up in Elora. We live in different cities and this is the second time we’ve chosen this quaint town for our meet-ups. With cute cafés, fantastic gelato, and a plethora of outdoor trails, it’s no surprise we keep returning there.
The last southern Ontario road trip in April brought me to London for an Ontario Southwest Tourism event. My friend and colleague, Meg, invited me and I gladly accepted her invitation. It was held at a really unique venue called 100 Kellogg Lane, named after its life as a factory for the popular cereal. The iconic London landmark is metamorphosing into a massive tourist destination – 1 million-square-feet of attractions, shopping, and activities, to be exact. You could spend days at 100 Kellogg Lane and still not experience everything it offers. For example, The Factory is a 170,000 square foot indoor playground with ziplines, trampolines, an arcade, VR rooms, and the largest indoor ropes course in the world! In 2023 they’re hosting the delightful Immersive Disney attraction and the venue also holds an annual art competition. There’s a children’s museum, a brewery, a distillery, restaurants, shops, and a whole lot more. To date, it was the most unique venue I’ve been to for a work event.
What Currency Is Used in This Series?
All dollar amounts will be listed in CAD. I’m doing this for a few reasons: 1) I’m Canadian and that’s the currency I spend my money in, 2) anytime I do research online, whether it’s been for the van, travel, or anything else, I always end up bummed out because everything is in USD and after converting the figures, it’s sometimes downright depressing, and 3) the majority of you reading this are also Canadians so it just makes sense! If you’re American and reading this, you’re welcome for the happy dance you’ll do when everything will turn out to be less money than you originally read. It’s a win-win, folks!
Why Am I Sharing My Vanlife Expenses Online?
As I mentioned above, some of you have been showing interest in learning about the nitty gritty details of vanlife. As someone who’s interested in personal finance (you’ll see finance books sprinkled through my annual goals posts), I’m also a curious person who wants to know more, regardless of the subject. In addition to the curiosity, I really believe topics like health, money, sex, politics, and so on shouldn’t be taboo. How do we make that happen? By talking about them! More often than not, what we see online is filtered with rose-coloured glasses and romanticized to no end. I’m all for rainbows and butterflies to set our sights high and inspire dreams, but it’s the information and the details that allow us to make them happen.
There’s a a concept used in education called “backwards design” to reach goals. First, identify the goal, then figure out the steps required to get there, and last, put the plan into action. A common problem that can occur is that the end goal is muddy, unknown, or misleading, thus the steps to get there won’t be of any use. On the other hand, if you have concrete information to help guide your decisions, you’ll be one step closer to the finish line. My goal with these expense reports, inspired by others like Kara and Nate‘s that I’ve read online and found helpful, is to provide you some insight and information on your financial/travel/life journey.
How Much Does a Campervan Cost?
The short answer is “it depends”, which is just about the worst answer anyone can give (and truest more often than not). However, if you want the deep dive on this answer, check out the post I wrote on the cost of my Dodge Ram Promaster campervan.
What’s Included + Budget Tools
There are some monthly expenses that won’t be included, such as gifts, business expenses, investments and so on because they’re not relevant to the series. However, if you are interested in learning more about budgeting and personal finance, I’ve written a few blogs on why you should have a budget, how to create a budget, and the most common budgeting mistakes people make. I also put together a mini personal finance and budget guide on Instagram.
In these monthly expense reports, you’ll find a mix of fixed and variable expenses. In the fixed category you’ll find storage, insurance, the van payment, and my phone bill, which I try to keep consistent but sometimes has spillover data charges. In the variable category I’ll include gas, vehicle maintenance, items for the van (both fun and necessary), groceries, dining out, showers, laundry, and accommodation. I might include entertainment as well, but I haven’t decided yet. Is this something you’d be curious to see as well? Let me know in the comments at the end of this blog post.
Okay, without further ado, here are the Vanlife Expenses April 2023 breakdown.
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Fixed Monthly Vanlife Expenses April 2023
Phone & Data = $71.47
This month’s bill was a little higher than usual due to……….. Typically the cost is around $62 with tax and includes 50GB of data so that I can tether to my computer when necessary.
Storage Unit = $84.25
I have an apartment, which could house the items in my storage unit, but then the apartment would feel like a storage unit. I’m not crazy about this expense, but it is what it is for now.
Insurance = $78.45
Nice and simple. The insurance cost for the van is pretty affordable.
Van Payment = $337.42
This feels a bit like an experiment since I’ve been debt free for several years and never make purchases unless I have the cash to buy items outright. While I did have the money for the full price of the van, and on principle I hate paying interest, the math worked out to go this route this time. It’s been a mental adjustment for me to wrap my head around doing things this way, but what’s life without a little experimentation?
Variable Monthly Vanlife Expenses April 2023
Gas = $225
Considering how much I bopped from city to city in southwestern Ontario this month, the cost for gas isn’t too bad in April.
Vehicle Maintenance & Repairs = N/A
Nothing to report here, which makes me a very happy campervan owner!
Van Items = $166.43
One trip to Home Depot for plumbing supplies this month.
Groceries = $291.73
Still contemplating whether or not I should be including this in these posts since I haven’t been living or travelling in the van, but here we are.
Food on the Go = $60.17
The month began with a delish dinner at a local Indian restaurant in Uptown Waterloo called Masala Bay. It was a bit of an indulgence, and an enjoyable one at that. A stop at Timmie Hos and 2 others at Pizza Pizza rounded out the month for a lacklustre outside dining month.
Laundry = N/A
Showers = N/A
Camping / Accommodation = N/A
TOTAL MONTHLY VANLIFE EXPENSES = $1,341.92 CAD
The total cost of my fixed expenses in April was $571.59, which was $9.32 more than March because of an increased phone bill. The total variable costs in April was $743.33, which was $168.85 more than the previous month thanks to the plumbing hardware. In sum, the monthly vanlife expenses in April was $1,341.92. How does this compare with what you spend in these categories over a month, whether you’re in a van or a traditional home or apartment? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re curious to learn how much my converted Promaster was, check out the post I wrote on how much campervans cost. If you want to start reading the series from the very beginning, here is the very first blog in the series, the 2022 April Vanlife Expenses post.
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