Welcome to the Monthly Vanlife Expenses June 2023 edition! It felt like another whirlwind of a month, with van projects, another conference (this time close by in Toronto) and a bloggers’ networking event (also in Toronto), picking up a few extra supply teacher days with the school board, lots of family time, the first vanlife meetup of the year, an unexpected tow thanks to some rain, and a few day trips around Ontario. Not to mention teaching my private language students and trying to keep up with the blog, though perpetually feeling behind with it, if I’m honest.
Throughout June I spent a lot of time with family. There are a lot of us to coordinate and we finally gathered to learn how to make cabbage rolls from my mother. It’s a delicious tradition that is a part of our family’s Polish and Ukrainian heritage. I’ve long enjoyed my Baba’s (grandma) cabbage rolls, but holy hanna I had zero idea they were this much work! Talk about pouring love into the food you make for your family!!! The day was an absolute blast, both in terms of quality time spent together and in learning important skills.
The fridge was fixed with some helping hands. All it needed was to reconnect the wires. It’s most likely that they had come apart while I was driving on bumpy roads. Now that I write this, I think there’s an even better fix to keep them together than the one we implemented. I’ll report back if I try it… Speaking of helping hands, I was fortunate to share some of Murray’s time again in June to fix a couple of carpentry puzzles. What took me multiple unsuccessful and aggravating attempts on my own was completed in about 20 minutes with the right tools and a couple of expert tips from Murray. He helped me with 2 speed bumps this month: carving out a hole for one of the water tank’s fittings and drilling a hole in my kitchen counter for the water filter tap. Thank goodness for community and kind people!
If you haven’t met Murray through my Instagram stories, he runs 4RepairKW at the University of Waterloo. It’s a phenomenal organization that teaches students and community members how to fix a wide range of household items – for FREE! They have every tool imaginable, from soldering stations, to shoe repair kits (who doesn’t want to channel their inner Geppetto?), to sewing machines, computer repair tools, and on and on. Not only do they have the workspace and tools for anyone to use, but they host walk-in sessions and community workshops.
Despite the raging wildfires and unbelievable travelling smoke across most of Québec and Ontario, I attended the first Vanlife Community Canada meetup of 2023. Thankfully the visibility had nearly returned and the air quality warnings had subsided to much safer levels. If anyone in Canada is reading this and lives or travels (or wants to someday!) in a campervan, schoolie, or other fun rig, they should definitely check out the Vanlife Community Canada Facebook group. It’s such a welcoming and wonderful community. It’s also where I met all of my vanfam at my first meetup in 2022.
This year 25 rigs showed up at Cobourg East Campground for a weekend of food and fun, catching up on the past year and talking plans for the upcoming one. There weren’t any campfires due to the nearly province-wide fire bans, however we still managed to sit and chat until the stars came out. I reconnected with several friends and met even more vanlifers. All in all, it was a fantastic gathering and I can’t wait for the next one!
Back in KW there was some much needed rain. Unfortunately, Betty was not impressed. The Monday morning after the vanlife meetup, I was on the way to supply teach at a school when Betty passed out. I knew something was off the moment I opened the driver’s side door. Despite the vehicle being turned off, it sounded like the air conditioner was running. Before you jump to conclusions, I always turn off the radio and air conditioner before shutting off vehicles. Perplexing situation then, no? I tried to turn on the vehicle and had a feeble response on the dash. Then she completely conked out a few minutes later.
Long story short, my dad saved the day and drove me to work. I had to get the van towed to the shop, which was a whole other saga (there’s a pattern here). Oh, did I mention the lovely leaking ceiling area above the dashboard? Yes, there was that too. It turns out that leaking Promaster roofs are a common issue, thanks to loose lights or antenna. After consulting fellow Promaster owners and my mechanic, we deduced that the ceiling leak (which was dripping onto the AC controls), triggered the AC even with the vehicle off, causing the battery to completely drain. Once at the shop, it was confirmed that the battery needed to be replaced. A relatively affordably and uncomplicated fix, if you will. I said I would do the caulking of the lights and antenna myself since that’s another relatively easy fix. I also want to know how to do it in case I run into this delightful disruption in the future. June has not been a dry month sooo I still haven’t gotten around to it yet. I will though!
After all of the craziness, I was thankful for the KW Power Yoga Canada studio reaching out and gifting me a yoga class at their brand new studio. It was bliss to get back to the mat and lovely to try a new spot. It was even enjoyable, and dare I say much needed, to commute 1 hour via public transit and with a half-hour walk each way. Nothing like nature and slowing down to help reset and chill out. I have 4 passes, a water bottle, and a Lululemon towel to give away to some lucky Travel with TMc readers and viewers, so stay tuned to the newsletter!
It’s been awesome to see the Good Company Productions and Downtown Kitchener summer series kick off. I enjoyed the well-attended Gaukel Block Launch Party, featuring local artists Smackjive, Clarissa Diokno, Ben Rollo, and Alysha Brilla who you might recognize from my Instagram stories or the Monthly Vanlife Expenses March edition. The weather was perfect, the vibes were juicy, the crowd was loving the event. My only criticism was the number of cops in attendance. Other than that, I was so incredibly happy to be outside experiencing live music and community. Post-concert I indulged in the nearby Civil for some fan-freakin-tastic ‘za. Highly recommend, along with their cocktail flights. YUM!
A few days later I made the last minute decision to attend a networking event in Toronto with Travel Massive. If you haven’t heard of Travel Massive before, it’s a global travel network of like-minded individuals who gather worldwide. It doesn’t matter if you belong to the Toronto chapter or the Cape Town chapter, you’re welcome to attend any of the mixers, workshops, and other events. I had been to a few Toronto Travel Massive events pre-covid and met a lot of really interesting and friendly people. The reunion mixer in June was the Toronto chapter’s first since 2019. I’m so glad I went! I got to catch up in-person with my friend and fellow creative, Maiku, and met many more lovely people as well. On top of the great company, I also got to check out a funky new spot in Toronto called Duke’s Refresher near the St. Lawrence Market.
Other than Toronto and Cobourg, I scooted off to Grand Bend for an evening to enjoy the sunshine and a wee dip. As expected this early in the summer, the water was chilly at first. As a non-beach-bum, it was a really lovely way to spend a summer evening. There was live music, good eats at a nearby restaurant, and fantastic weather.
Near the end of the month I connected with fellow blogger, Lindsay when she invited me to a new lavender farm in Ontario. Situated near Newmarket, Lavender Polo Farm is the closest and largest lavender farm to Toronto and the GTA. Even though she was working and I was helping her capture her content, it was a really relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
To round out June, I attended one of the world’s largest tech conferences, Collision, thanks to one of you! A Travel with TMc audience member who I’ve gotten to know over the years kindly offered me a ticket. Last spring when I attended the final TravelCon conference, the founder left us with the advice to attend conferences that overlap with travel. Collision seemed like the perfect opportunity to give this a try and it turned out to be a worthwhile endeavour.
Over 36,000 people attended Collision in 2023. As you can imagine, it was slightly overwhelming to walk into the first day. Picture what it would feel like to walk through a town that’s been condensed into 1 large building, with neon and noise at every turn. Once I got the lay of the land though, it became energizing to speedwalk from stage to stage for talks or up and down the isles of startup companies buzzing with the anticipation of meeting VCs to back their ideas. A few travel tech companies, like the founders of the app Nowy, reached out to me for meetings and I also met many people in food truck lines, at company stands, and at the social mixers. My favourite moments from the conference were randomly running into 3 friends I haven’t seen in a long time, which was nearly miraculous given the event’s massive size, as well as other factors.
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 June 2023 breakdown.
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Fixed Monthly Vanlife Expenses June 2023
Phone & Data = $62.15
In order to have 50GB of data, I increased my phone bill in 2022 from $40-ish dollars to $62.15 per month.
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 June 2023
Gas = $496.37
As you saw above, there was a fair bit of driving happening around Ontario this month. I bopped around Waterloo Region, Toronto, Newmarket, Grand Bend, and Cobourg. Gas isn’t getting any cheaper over the summer months and with each tank costing roughly $120, it’s not surprising that I hit the $500 mark. With that said, June’s tally is double the highest monthly gas spend to date this year.
Vehicle Maintenance & Repairs = $336.07
Oh Betty! What a drama queen she can be when the weather turns grey. After the whole roof leak-battery situation, the fix was thankfully an easy and “affordable” one with a simple battery replacement. The pro side to this is that I now know about another common quirk of Promasters and how to fix it myself.
Van Items = N/A
I like what I see here!
Groceries = $316.56
Oh man. Groceries for one person is not cheap. I can’t imagine what it’s like to feed a family right now…
Food on the Go = $67.50
As I write these monthly expense reports I’m noticing a trend in some of my eating out habits… Namely that I seem to order pizza at least once a month when things are nutty. Timmies is a go-to I’m on the road, but what “good” Canadian doesn’t do that, right?! Other than those 2 crutches, I tried a brand new Indian place in KW this month called Mehman Indian Food and a new (Canadian!) coffee shop chain that’s replacing Indigo Starbucks called Good Earth Coffee. Lastly, I enjoyed a fabulous lunch at local favourite, Cafe Pyrus.
Laundry = N/A
Showers = N/A
Camping / Accommodation = N/A
I attended the first Vanlife Community Canada meetup of 2023 in June but paid the $37.60 in May. I’m curious to know…when you’re calculating expenses like this, do you keep them in the month you paid for them or in the month you did the activity?
TOTAL MONTHLY VANLIFE EXPENSES = $1,442.70 CAD
The total cost of my fixed vanlife expenses in June was $562.27, which was the same as May because that’s what it should be each month! The total variable vanlife costs in June was $880.43, which was $86.55 more than the previous month thanks to road trips around the province and a battery replacement. The total monthly vanlife expenses in June was $1,442.70. 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 in Canada. 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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