Welcome to the Monthly Vanlife Expenses March edition! At the beginning of the month I worked with my first Airbnb client to create a Travel Guide for their guests. It was such an awesome experience and I’m really looking forward to working with future unique and creative Airbnbs in the future! If you want to learn more about the Old Church Riverside Guesthouse in Fergus, Ontario, here’s a blog post I wrote about the converted historic church and here’s an IG Live tour I gave while staying there. I also put together a little reel on what to see, do, and eat in the quaint town. If you love unique places to eat, then you’ll want to check out The Vault Café!

Main Bedroom in Church Guesthouse in Fergus Ontario
The Master Bedroom in the Former Choir Loft!

The next weekend was a go-go-go and eat-eat-eat adventure. I spent time with family in Toronto where we devoured tacos at a delicious Mexican restaurant called Playa Cabana Cantina. I ordered the pulpo (octopus) tacos and they were fantastico! Definitely worth re-ordering. In the same weekend I met up with a good friend to partake in a class Toronto custom: brunch. She brought us to another restaurant I’d never been to before called Aviv Immigrant Kitchen where they feature dishes from around the world. When I think of what “brunch” looks like as a restaurant, it’s Aviv’s dusty pink walls, round lights, and cheery servers. I ordered the Shakshuka and it was delicious!

Right after brunch, I drove to Hamilton and met up with my blogging friend and former running buddy, Lindsay. She also loves a good restaurant adventure, so we headed downtown to check out Undefined on King William Street. I love a good surprise and seeing that the restaurant specialized in cocktails, I went with the Secret Handshake which is whatever the bartender feels like whipping up! His spin on the Mai Tai was fabulous, however the serving was teeny tiny. I could have sipped on 10 more of them! I also ordered Wild Manitoba Board Dumplings which were out of this world. Delicious spot, very cool decor, service was alright.

Other highlights during the month included a few more music gigs in town: Kitchener’s own Alysha Brilla and Mandippal for one of the free Downtown Kitchener Live events at The Museum and another night with Cambridge-born Conor Gains and northern Ontario’s insightful and funny Aysanabee, another amazing secret pop-up concert (this time at a barbershop and tattoo parlour!) put on by Good Company Productions featuring psychedelic Ontario bands SHEBAD and MOONBEAN, and a boppin’ brassy concert by the Robin Jessome’s Birth of Cool Orchestra at The Jazz Room in Uptown Waterloo.

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.

Instagram vanlife questions for TwTMc

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 March 2023 breakdown.

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Fixed Vanlife Expenses March 2023

Phone & Data = $62.15

Well, I’m rockin’ and rollin’ with a lot more data than I need now (50 GB!), and even at a cheaper price than I was paying before. It has actually been really useful to have the extra data for the times when my laptop won’t connect to public wifi or if I’m out and about and there’s no wifi available at all.

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

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 Vanlife Expenses March 2023

Gas = $211.01

With one trip to Toronto and another to Hamilton, I’d say this isn’t too bad for gas costs for the month.

Vehicle Maintenance & Repairs = N/A

I’d like to keep this trend going as long as possible, however in April I’ll have an oil change, summer tires to swap on, and a general servicing that need to be done. It’s been nice while it’s lasted!

Van Items = N/A

Three months in a row with no spending in a category! I like the sounds of that. I think that will change in April, and if not then, definitely in May.

Groceries = $348.57

Still contemplating whether or not I should be including this in these posts since I haven’t been in the van, but here we are. I ramped up cooking time this past month, filled up a couple of dry items that were running low, and treated myself to $30 worth of fancy tea as an indulgence. I also purchased more meat this month than I typically do. Not that you care? I share this all in the name of data!

Food on the Go = $14.90

Boom shakalaka! As you can see from the grocery amount above, I’ve been busy in the kitchen! To clarify, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t eaten out in restaurants. I have with friends a couple of times throughout the month, but that goes under my Entertainment category. This is for food on the go when I’m too lazy to cook or have too many things on my plate and feel I can’t divert time to (ironically necessary) activities like cooking.

Laundry = N/A

Showers = N/A

Camping / Accommodation = N/A

In Conclusion


The total cost of my fixed expenses in March was $562.27 which was $4.24 less than February because my phone bill went back to normal. The total variable costs in March was $574.48 which was $197.52 less than February thanks to not eating out much, no maintenance or repairs needed for the van, and keeping my driving to a minimum. In sum, the monthly vanlife expenses in March was $1,136.75. 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 2022 April Vanlife Expenses blog post.

Stay tuned to all things vanlife and travel by subscribing to the (nearly) monthly newsletter and joining the adventure on Instagram. Thanks for reading!

About TMc


Me having a seat in front of one of the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes in Australia!

Heya! I’m Tara (Tar-ah)! Welcome to Travel with TMc where you’ll find quirky language tidbits, travel hacks for Canadians, and stories from the road. I hope you enjoy!
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