The Full Cost of a Year on the Road
Last year, 2017, was our first full year living a nomadic lifestyle in either our Hymer motorhome or on our Dutch motor cruiser. Because we needed to drive to some clinics for Cynthia, and because we had to wait for upgrades and repairs to be completed on the boat, we spent most of our nights on wheels rather than water.
We enjoyed one hundred and eleven nights, nearly four months, on our boat. Here’s the cost of living in a motorhome for the remaining eight months.
We drove 10,748 miles through ten countries; England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Austria. Much as we enjoyed exploring new countries and cultures, I often felt that the driving was too tiring and far too stressful. We are driving less and relaxing more this year.
Another cause of stress for me was regular breakdowns and an expensive bill caused by my motorhome driving inexperience. Driving onto a ferry to cross Lake Constance from Switzerland to Germany, I concentrated so hard on avoiding two top of the range BMWs either side of us I didn’t notice the Hymer’s rear end swing into a ferry railing. A new bumper cost us £1,000.
Our repairs last year included a new alternator, welding a broken battery terminal, a replacement a water pump, a replacement for the replacement water pump when we realised the French fitter had cocked up and then correcting the wiring for the water pump which he’d also bodged. We fitted new brake pads, two new leisure batteries, repaired the cracked shower cubicle, sealed a skylight leak, and replaced the galley tap… twice. The first replacement tap fell apart after six months. It was fitted by the same guy who did such a marvellous job on our water pump. Hooray for French fitters and two-hour liquid lunches.
Campsite fees can increase annual expenditure enormously. A single night at a well-appointed campsite can cost a fortune. Our bill for two nights at a campsite overlooking a beautiful alpine lake at Lucerne in Switzerland last February was an eye-watering €86 (£76.50). Fortunately for our budget last year, campsite stays were rare. We stayed just sixteen nights on campsites, compared with sixty-eight nights on aires, official overnight motorhome parking with facilities, and one hundred and seventy nights wild camping. We like wild camping best. It’s free and nearly always offers more tranquil and aesthetically pleasing surroundings than paid overnight stops.
Here’s last year’s breakdown.
Repairs and Maintenance: £4,442.96
Diesel: £2,408.51 (10,748 miles @ 22.4p per mile)
Campsite Fees (including aires): £869.80
Train: £280 (return Eurotunnel trip to the UK)
Vehicle Tax: £165
I recently found a motorhome forum post discussing the cost of living full time on the road. One guy claimed that his total weekly budget, including food, booze and cigarettes, was just £50. I can only assume that he lived on rice and water and didn’t tax, insure or licence his predominantly static vehicle. Much as I dislike spending money, I don’t think we could live like that.
Despite what many motorhome full-timers would consider excessive expenditure, our annual costs are still a fraction of those endured by the owners of an average house in the UK. According to The Telegraph in this article, the annual cost of a mortgage and household bills is £20,000.
Granted, our home can’t be considered an appreciating asset and working from an ever-changing location is a challenge but, for us, the advantages of a nomadic lifestyle far outweigh the disadvantages.
A little light relief. It has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of living on the road.