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Is Cheap RV Living Fact or Fiction?

Is Cheap RV Living Fact or Fiction?

Cheap RV Living: Is it fact or fiction? Can you really live in an RV on a small budget? 

In this article, we take a deeper look at low-cost RV living, Bob Wells and the Cheap RV Living brand, and how you can live in an RV on any budget.

Let’s get into it!

What Is the Cheap RV Living Brand? 

Cheap RV Living is a website and YouTube channel created by van dweller and long-time nomad Bob Wells. His brand teaches aspiring nomads how to live well on the road, regardless of their budget. 

Content on the website and YouTube channel centers, for example, around living well in various vehicles, budget vehicle-dwelling tips, safety tips, minimalism, and more. 

Who Is Bob Wells? 

Bob Wells is a long-time nomad and van dweller who played himself in the recent film, Nomadland, released on Hulu in February 2021. 

After vehicle-dwelling for several years out of necessity, Wells then created the Cheap RV Living brand to help others in the same situation. 

But Bob didn’t stop there. The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) started as a small desert gathering to share information about living on the road. The RTR has since exploded in popularity, with an estimated 5,000 attendees in 2019. 

Bob Wells also helped found the Home on Wheels Alliance, or HOWA, in 2018. HOWA is a non-profit organization that helps seniors, the working poor, and those with disabilities avoid true homelessness.

Can You Really Live in an RV For Cheap? 

Yes, you certainly can live in an RV cheaply. And, the Cheap RV Living resources teach you how to thrive on meager budgets. 

A unique aspect of the RVing lifestyle is how it appeals to many different financial demographics. There are luxury RV resorts with out-of-this-world amenities and a price tag to match. On the other hand, RVers can camp for free on millions of acres of public land across the US indefinitely. 

Many individuals on the Cheap RV Living YouTube channel live on very meager budgets. For example, some interviewees rely solely on small social security or disability payments. 

There are many ways to live in an RV cheaply. In fact, many RVers take advantage of free BLM land for boondocking, a solar system for power, and discount camping programs to save money on the road. 

Is Living in an RV Cheaper Than Renting or Living in a House? 

Living in an RV can be cheaper than renting or owning a house, but it isn’t always. Indeed, the RVers who live on small budgets use a variety of methods to keep costs down. 

Rental and housing prices vary around the country, and so does the cost of RV living. RVing can cost just as much (or more) than living in a house, or it can be cheaper. Below are some tips to save money while RVing.

Cheap RV Living Tips

Own Your RV

One of the best ways to save money while RVing is not to have an RV payment. If you own your RV, then your most significant expenses will likely be gas and campgrounds. 


Boondocking is considered the ultimate in cheap RV living. It’s most often free camping on public BLM land, and you can typically stay for 14 days in one spot unless you obtain a special permit at a long-term location. In addition, you can boondock exclusively or use periods of boondocking and campgrounds to cushion your budget. 

Use Discount Camping Memberships

Memberships like Passport America, Boondockers Welcome, Harvest Hosts, and more can surely help you save a good chunk of change on the road. In fact, the membership fees for discount camping memberships pay for themselves within the first couple of uses! 

Invest in Solar

Being able to boondock exclusively is one of the biggest money-saving methods for RVers. Invest in a solar plan so that you can thrive off-grid!

A solar setup consists of a battery bank, solar panels, a charge controller, and a power inverter. The purpose of the system is to keep you powered up for free with the sun’s energy. Solar setups can be expensive to install but pay for themselves in the long run. 

Pro Tip: Here are the best solar generators for camping.

How Much Does It Cost Per Month To Live In an RV? 

Monthly RV costs vary for every person. Here is one of our expense reports from November 2015, where our RVing costs were under $2,000 per month. 

Tom and Caitlin from Mortons on the Move share one of their budgets here, totaling around $2,800 per month. 

In addition, many other RVers share their expenses online in blog posts and YouTube videos that feature varying budgets and lifestyle preferences. 

Bob Wells regularly interviews individuals living on less than $1,000 per month on the Cheap RV Living YouTube channel. The financial aspects of the RV lifestyle can be very flexible if you use creative thinking and the money-saving resources available! 

Low-Cost RV Living Is Possible

Living cheaply in an RV is possible if you take advantage of this article’s resources and money-saving tips. The Cheap RV Living website and YouTube channel have much information, tips, and how-to’s to learn to thrive on any budget. Additionally, many other RV life influencers, bloggers, and YouTubers freely share their budgets and money-saving tips too. 

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

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  1. Bob says:

    Lol! I don’t remember if I posted previously about this or not. When doing nothing but boondocking I live on less than $1000 a month. I’m solo so a couple would need more for food. On the other hand I buy a lot of high end organic foods. And I do have my daily afternoon beer. I also travel around a fair amount so use more gasoline. In other words I’m doing this because I want to, not because I have too. Even adding on my Medicare and supplement plan I’m still just below my SS. But again I’m lucky as I have more than my SS to live on if needed.
    So what I’m saying is if someone has to be doing this instead of wanting to be doing this it can be done even less than mine by not driving around and buying less expensive food and no alcohol.

  2. Ray Brown says:

    Yep. It is possible, even with a payment. We spend $420/mo on the RV payment, $80/mo on insurance, $70/mo for 1000 Trails w/Trails Collection, $65/mo on Unlimited Verizon. We have income of about $1500/mo and we just make ends meet. We boondock about 1/3rd of time. The key is to keep travel and eating out as low as possible. Our target is 50 gallons of diesel/mo. We have credit cards for emergencies like repairs. Our medical is covered by the VA.