The cost of rent and mortgages for properties has become unaffordable for many people and trap you in long-term contracts that limit your freedom. A motorhome can seem like an ideal alternative for building your future, allowing you to travel and own a mini home. But what is the true cost of living in a motorhome? We’re going to break down everything from buying the vehicle to maintenance, and those hidden expenses that catch you by surprise.
To live in a motorhome there is a minimum upfront cost of £5000 to buy one. Other costs include utilities, maintenance, fuel, parking, and general living expenses, which amount to £7,100-£9,600 per year on average.
Motorhome cost breakdown
|£40,000 – £100,000+
|£5,000 – £30,000
|Insurance and vehicle tax
|Up to £600 per year
|£20 – £50 per week / £2,000 annually
|Maintenance and repairs
|£500 – £1,000 per year
|Parking and campsite fees
|£3,000 – £4,000 per year (depending on location and facilities)
|£1,000 per year (depending on mileage, vehicle spec, and fuel prices)
|Other living costs
|£100 – £200 per week
Buying a motorhome
The cost of a motorhome can vary greatly depending on the size, age, and condition of the vehicle. A brand new motorhome can cost between £40,000-£100,000 or more, while a used one can be bought for anywhere between £5,000 to £30,000. The low end of the budget will only get you an old refurbished transit van, which isn’t very comfortable for living. Invest at least £20,000 for a motorhome with a more spacious lounge area, kitchen, wash room, shower, toilet, oven, hobs and grill, heaters, and a fridge freezer. You’ll also need insurance and vehicle tax to make it road legal but this is no more than £600 if you’re 25+ with a clean driving record.
Motorhomes typically have onboard water tanks. Up to 150 litres may need refilling every few weeks and you can source free water from outside taps but sometimes it’s easier to pay a small fee at campsites or service stations. This shouldn’t cost more than £50 a year. Other utilities such as gas for cooking and heating, and electricity for lighting and charging devices can also be used. These costs are lower than houses and flats because you’re living in a small space but on average, expect to pay around £20-£50 per week – £2000 annually.
Maintenance and Repairs
Just like any other vehicle, motorhomes require regular maintenance and repairs to keep them running smoothly. This includes oil changes, tyre replacements, and repairs to the engine or other mechanical components. Make sure you budget around £500-£1000 per year for maintenance as a starting point. Occasionally you may incur a major problem with slide outs, levelling jacks or the engine. In these rare cases you could be looking at a £2000 one-off charge and likely even more for a full engine replacement.
Parking and Campsite Fees
The cost of parking and campsite fees fluctuate based on the location, facilities, and time of year. On average, a campsite can cost around £20-£40 per night. There are also options for free overnight parking, but it’s important to be aware of local regulations and ensure you’re parked in a safe and legal spot. Ultimately it comes down to your lifestyle. The UK is very restrictive when it comes to overnight parking and most land is private, meaning you need permission from the owner. You can sleep in lay-bys but as long as you move on the next day. Countryside areas like the Peak District offer more quiet road sides to tuck yourself away for free. But again, if you overstay your welcome you’ll draw unwanted attention.
Of course, the safest bet is to park in your drive but the benefit of a motorhome is the freedom to travel. Caravan sites come with amenities like water access, drainage for waste, electricity outlets, and sometimes even Wi-Fi. You get to enjoy the camping lifestyle sitting outside by the fire. If you stayed all year it could cost around £7500 but some places offer member discounts that could slash the price by up to 50%. You can also negotiate fees with some farms for just £10 a night. Another option is £10-15 a night at service stations. Assuming you move between different types of location, the annual cost of parking is £3000-4000.
Fuel is a big cost living in a motorhome because of excess weight. Consumption could range between 10-35 mpg but even 25 mpg is generous for the vast majority. Buying a diesel engine will help but the flip side to that is expanding emission regulations that slap old diesel vehicles with a fine when driving through certain zones. Obviously if you’re stationary most of the time then fuel costs are minimal but the average motorhome travels 4000-5000 miles each year so you’re looking at just over £1000 depending on your vehicle spec, driving efficiency, and prices at the pump.
Other living costs
There are some other costs to consider when living in a motorhome, including shopping, entertainment, phone contracts etc but budgeting around £100-£200 per week should be sufficient for most people. Use a standard budget planner to break down your typical expenses and then remove any you will no longer need if you were to go ahead with a purchase.
Overall, living in a motorhome is substantially cheaper than a house or flat given that average monthly rent in the United Kingdom has increased to around £1000. But a more affordable lifestyle comes at the expense of convenience. If you have a busy lifestyle and work a lot, the never-ending battle of finding places to stay along with upkeep of the RV can become quite tiresome on top of that.