We live in our tiny home full time during the winter months, far away from the constant grey skies and biting cold of northern Europe. The climate here is far from tropical, but the slightly higher average temperature makes a BIG difference. Ours is an idyllic life, as long as we can cope with a living space smaller than an average UK single car garage, but how much does it cost?
Here’s our motorhome expenditure for January 2018. I’ve left out the personal stuff. Everyone spends differently. Good quality organic food is usually our highest monthly purchase. Cynthia needs to follow a strict diet to stay healthy. There’s a plentiful supply of well-stocked organic food stores here on France’s Mediterranean coast. Sometimes we have to drive twenty or thirty miles to the nearest store, or to an alternative store which stocks Cynthia’s specific products. Because of that, our diesel consumption is slightly higher than for those happy to use the otherwise excellent supermarket chains such as Carrefour and Intermarche.
Diesel: Our highest motorhome expense last month was for fuel. We drove 872 miles. We did three hundred of them on a mad dash from France’s rain-soaked Atlantic coast to the much drier Mediterranean. £186.59
Campsite Fees: We don’t often stay on campsites. Even if we wanted to stay on one, they’re usually closed at this time of the year. In addition to campsites, our campsite fees category includes aires, official motorhome parking areas, and an occasional supermarket motorhome service point.
Most of our campsite expenditure in January was for the aire at Peyriac-de-Mer. This delightful spot is on the outskirts of the village, a stone’s throw away from a network of saltwater lagoons surrounded by rocky hills. The aire is on the grounds of Stade Municipal d’Alès de Boscaud, the local rugby and tennis club. We often have several acres of scrubby grass to ourselves. After a day of torrential rain last year, when the rugby pitch flooded, we were joined by a flock of pelicans and a handful of white egrets.
The facilities are very basic here. The potable water tap doesn’t have a screw thread. To fill our ten-litre jerry can, I have to wedge the container underneath the tap and then lean on its spring-loaded top for an age. I need to repeat the exercise ten times to fill our one hundred litre tank.
There isn’t an official chemical toilet disposal point at the aire. A kindly official has wrapped a six-inch length of wire around a bar in the middle of a heavy manhole lid covering the rugby club changing room’s sewage pipe. I have to remove the manhole cover every two days to access the sewer and tip in the smelly contents of our toilet cassette. We have to carefully reverse the Hymer over the same sewer to empty our grey water.
Facilities are basic, but the location and the village are perfect. £57.66
Gas: LPG, GPL or autogas as its known. It heats our water and our living space. When we’re not hooked up to mains electricity, or using the engine, our onboard supply also powers our fridge.
One of the best decisions we made when we bought the Hymer was to have a Gaslow system fitted. Instead of trying to find replacement cylinders, we can use any fuel stop which sells fuel for gas-powered cars. We now have a plentiful and easy to use gas supply at a much-reduced cost compared to the price of replacement cylinders. Last year we paid £0.61 compared with £2.07 per litre for the 13kg propane cylinders I used on my narrowboat.
Our average consumption per day in January was 2.82 litres. We were blessed with some very good weather last month; daytime highs of 60°F and rarely less than 45°F at night. £54.59
Road Tolls: We don’t usually spend money to drive on French A roads. We prefer quiet and scenic routes between towns and villages. However, last month after increasingly long and frustrating periods of heavy rain on the Atlantic coast, we decided to drive as quickly as possible towards dry and sunny weather on the Mediterranean. Hefty fees to use the arterial routes were a small price to pay for better living conditions. £45.34
Petrol: We live a comfortable lifestyle in our little box. We have most of the technology and appliances we need, including a smartphone each, a tablet, laptop, Bose Soundlink speaker for movie watching, compact food blender, coffee grinder and hairdryer. All of these devices and appliances need powering. We can charge our technology through the van’s 12v system but, with no inverter on board, we have no power on board for our appliances unless we unleash our secret weapon. It’s a Honda 2.0i petrol generator.
We need to run the generator for an hour or two each day. Because we try to wild camp as often as possible and drive as little as we can, we can’t use mains power to run our appliances or use our engine to recharge our batteries.
We have a 100W solar roof-mounted solar panel. It produces up to 5amps in the summer, but rarely more than 1.5amps in the winter. It’s 10 a.m. as I write this post. The solar input is currently 0.3amps. It’s not enough.
We have to think carefully before running the Honda. For a suitcase generator, it is very quiet, but it’s not quiet enough for many motorhome owners, dog walkers or nature lovers. We try, wherever possible, to run the Honda where people are not. £30.05
Total motorhome expenses for January 2018: £374.23
There you go. Let me know if you have any questions about our expenditure. I’m off for a walk with Abbie