Tuesday, March 24, 2015

$500 A Month For Shelter...Where You Stay Is Up To You!

Free camping at Walmart
In the past I've made comments that you can spend your month on the road traveling, or stay parked in an RV park for generally about the same amount of money. Conservatively in the neighborhood of $500 a month. Of course if you're into luxury digs, obviously you can surpass that figure a couple times over quite easily.

If you refer to the title of this blog, I'm on a modest budget. $500 is in my comfort zone and allows me to live within my means. My motor home consumes diesel at the rate of about 10 MPG. At today's average price, $2.90 a gallon, that means I can drive on the highside of 1500 miles per month on my allotment assuming I camp somewhere for free every night. That usually means I hop from one Walmart or truck stop to another keeping my daily driving distance in check so that I don't exceed that 1,500 mile mark during a given month. My voyage from Minnesota to Arizona last summer substantiated this theory quite well. The nice part is this relaxed rate of travel is more pleasant and way less tiring.

Campground in Phoenix
My other theory was that if you plan on spending time in an RV park, stay a month! Way more economical because most places will give you the whole month for what the daily rate would eat up in two weeks. No point rushing off.

I stayed at a very clean and quiet park 15 miles north of Denton TX for a month last fall that all told came to about $400 for the month including electricity. I spent another month on the north side of Phoenix shortly after that for just a few dollars more, but well under the $500 mark. Again just a month ago I stayed west of San Antonio well within my $500 budget.

I spent the winter boondocking in the Arizona desert in Quartzsite. I bet your wondering how that measured up financially? The permit to stay on BLM land for the whole winter was $180. I had to drive to dump my waste tanks and fill my water tanks once a week. Total fuel for the month, $30.
I needed propane every month, $40. About once a week I had to drive to the next town north for
Boondocking on BLM land in Arizona
groceries, $50 a month for gas in the Jeep. Running the generator used about $100 of gas a month as well. I will round this up some to $250 a month to sit with no amenities in the Arizona desert. Sure it was a modest savings, but at what cost. I had to fold up camp once a week to drive to the nearest dump station, a trip of about 10 miles round trip.

Don't get me wrong, if privacy and plenty of space combined with a good deal of isolation is what you are looking for, this may be just the way you want to live. You can pretty much do your own thing, and there are social opportunities throughout the winter so there is no need to be a hermit if you don't want to be.

This Spring I'm living a different life. I'm on the East Coast, right smack dab in the middle of tourist heaven. Micky Mouse is down the highway a piece, home to our space program isn't too far away, and everything is lush and green. OK, it took a bit of online research, but once again I've secured a spot within my $500 budget.

East Coast mobile home/RV park
Right on the coast the average cost per month is from $500 to $1,000 plus electricity depending on how luxurious the accommodations. You can also find really spartan digs here for as low as $350 a month, but you will be right on the highway in a run down place with only unmaintained dirt paths between sites. By searching more than months ahead of time, and making use of Google Maps "Street Level" I not only found a clean respectable park for less than $400 a month plus electricity, I took an online tour of the complete +55 community that consists of primarily mobile homes with about 10% of the occupants being in RV's.

Life is good, right on the East Coast!
Of course there is a longer term lease involved, but I haven't spent any time on the East Coast in 45 years so why not. Every conceivable retail establishment is 10 minutes away, as is a wide range of restaurants. If you can give up some of the conveniences and go inland a ways, the price comes down accordingly.

All I can say is many times over I have proven that $500 a month in shelter costs is adequate to take you pretty much anywhere in the country. Some are spartan, but on average, if you do your homework, you can find very satisfactory places to stay everywhere.


  1. Way to go or stay a while:)

  2. That is some good information and very doable for most people. Thanks.

  3. I enjoy reading your blogs, Curtis, keep them up!

    1. Thanks Marsha, I hope all is well with you!

  4. Interesting. By the way, We winter not far from Quartzite in a rv park..... $275/month. Incs: FHU (so much elec inc. We pay overage. Also Par 5 hole golf course.. green fees Inc in lot rent. Not fancy but decent.

  5. I like people who find ways to do things without getting shafted or being suckers. Good job.