Well, August 1st marked the anniversary of my first year of full-timing. It's been great, and it's also been educational to say the least.
For the 2 years prior to full timing... I used to just look at the map, pick an area, find a campground, make reservations, and go. Really didn't have to worry about the costs, because I was only going out for a few weeks at a time.
These days, I've had to amend that a bit... as just going 'willy-nilly' gets a tad expensive after awhile.
Let's start with the basics:
1) Campground Rates:
I figure the average daily rate of a 50-amp, full hookup RV site around the country is $45-$50/day. Some lower obviously, and some higher... especially if you want to 'chase the weather', or visit popular tourist areas.
An example of that is, I wanted to travel up to Glacier Nat'l Park in northern Montana this year... but I was floored when the average rate of everyplace I called within 50 miles of the park was over $75/night! I mean... it's MONTANA for God's sake, not coastal California! But then you figure, the campgrounds & RV parks up there only have a 4-5 month window to make their nut for the year... so you begin to understand why the rates are higher.
Anyway, back to the math. At $50/day x 30 days... that's $1,500 per month for your RV site.
Now, you can get significant discounts with weekly and/or monthly rates... but I'll tie that together after the next segment.
2) Fuel Costs:
This is a 2-part question:
A) How often do you want to move?
B) How far between locations do you wish to travel?
It goes without saying that... the more often you move & the farther you travel, the more fuel you will burn in your tow vehicle.
If you move 200-300 miles every 3 or 4 days, that's going to be 6 or 7 tanks of fuel per month. (figure your own costs based on your vehicle)
So, tying both Rates & Fuel together... if you stay in one location longer... you get better rates, and you burn less fuel.
Except at the more popular resort places... even if unadvertised on their websites, most campgrounds & RV parks will offer weekly and monthly rates if you call them. But note: they usually won't extend the Good Sam, KOA, Passport America or other discounts on weekly/monthly rates.
As such, weekly rates normally won't save you that much... the normal being, pay the normal rate for 6 nights and get the 7th free.
But monthly rates will normally save you HUGE amounts of money... in most cases, around 40%... and in some cases, well over 50%.
Case in point: the place I'm staying in now in Montana, for my pull-thru, 50 amp, full hookup site is $50.89/night. Multiply that times 30 days = $1,526.70 + tax. My monthly rate was $500.00 flat. I'm basically paying for 10 days, and getting 20 free.
Last month in Wyoming was similar, except it worked out to me paying for 13 days and getting 17 for free.
Now, most people would initially ask... why would I want to stay in one place for a month? Well, I'm in no hurry. I'm full-time! I get to ride my motorcycle & tour the entire area at my leisure, and get to really know the place.
Now, do I stay a full month everywhere I go? No, of course not. But when I find a place that's centrally located amid places I want to visit... it sure does help the budget.
Unless you like eating PB&J sandwiches often... its been my experience that my total food costs are about 30% higher than what I was spending when I owned a home. I'm not necessarily eating more (in fact, I think I'm eating less)... but I am eating out a bit more often. Plus, for the groceries I do buy to cook in the RV... because of the smaller refrigerator & pantry space, I can't buy most things in larger containers/bottles/boxes or in bulk. And, being a single guy... I tend to buy things that are simple to cook. Like steak. LOTS of steak.
4) Misc Household & Laundry:
One great part about full timing is that you won't need near as many clothes. Besides underwear, my wardrobe consists of 5 t-shirts (1 long sleeve), 1 sweat shirt, 3 polo shirts, 3 pair shorts, 2 pair gym shorts/swim shorts, 2 pair of track pants/sweats, 2 pair jeans, 2 pair khakis... and just in case: 2 dress shirts, a pair of dress slacks, and a sports jacket.
That's it, and since I usually only wear about half of it, even that's really too much. I live in shorts & t-shirts. If I go out to dinner, jeans & a polo shirt.
But having fewer clothes means doing laundry more often. I tried depending on laundromats for awhile, and that REALLY, REALLY got old. Some places have great laundry facilities, most don't. It's the "unknown" factor that makes it bad. Some machines work well, some don't. Some charge outrageously high prices to use... some machines eat your money... some dryers don't dry... and if you don't spend 2 hours or so staying with your laundry, sometimes it gets gone.
It was expensive, but one of the very best purchases I made for my rig was my combo washer/dryer. Yeah, it takes up a few cubic feet in my garage, and it can only handle small loads... but the convenience factor just can't be beat. I usually do laundry every other day... 2 t-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts and/or jeans, and maybe a polo shirt if I dined out one day. When I need to wash towels & such, they go in a separate load.
5) Repair & Maintenance:
When you use your rig more often, things are going to require repair & replacement more often.
If you're handy with tools, and aren't afraid of getting to know your rig, and trying to do things yourself... you'll save a bit of money. But sometimes, you'll have to break down & call that mobile mechanic to figure things out. If you're still under warranty, or have an extended service plan, that'll help.
And even though you may be handy, and think you'll be able to do most of the regular maintenance yourself... you really won't. Why? Because, with the exception of emergency repairs, I have yet to find an RV park that will allow me to do any exterior maintenance on my rig, my truck, or my motorcycle. Not even an oil change. Which means I usually have to pay a shop to have those things done. Same thing for washing my rig, my truck, or my bike. Most parks will allow you to wash off the front cap of your rig upon arrival, but forget washing the whole thing... which means paying a truck wash to keep your rig clean.
6) And finally... Phone, Internet, and Satellite TV:
Ok, this is kind of an optional area. It's easy to do without any or all of 3 of these when you're just out for a few days and/or weeks... but it's something you're probably going to want if you're in your rig full-time.
The phone is essential. If you don't already have an unlimited plan, you may want to check around for rates on that with different carriers.
Internet is becoming more & more essential... and while most campgrounds advertise free WiFi, you'll find it's probably woefully inadequate for your needs. It's either only available in the clubhouse, or it's very unreliable. And even when you are able to log on, you may find that it's like tuning into a radio station with no music. It's so slow you'll be longing for the 'lightning fast' days of AOL dialup service.
That brings me back to the phone service. You may want to research prices for being able to use your phone as a WiFi hotspot for your computer... as most locations these days usually have decent cell service.
And then there's satellite TV service. Depending on how much TV you like to watch, whether you have favorite shows you dont want to miss, or whether you're a sports fanatic... you may want to research this.
Most campgrounds usually include some type of cable TV service at their full hookup sites... but this varies quite a bit from place to place. Some parks only give you the very basic channels (usually 7-10 channels), while others provide 35-40 channels. But even then, many of them are news channels, shopping channels, informercials, etc.
And I know you may be thinking... well, I'm going to be out enjoying nature, sightseeing, touring, etc. But also think about what happens on those days when it's raining all day for 2 or 3 days straight? What about after the sun goes down? Would you really not have a decent TV package in your sticks & bricks home?
Ok, that's about it. I'm sure there are many other factors & things that I didn't mention here. If you've got any specific questions, feel free to ask.