Our campervan parked under the starts

A Detailed Monthly Van Life Expenses Breakdown in Australia – August 2022

Welcome to our blog series, where we transparently and openly bring you all our monthly expenses while living in a van. You can check our previous month’s breakdown here.

Below you will read exactly what it cost us to live full-time in a van, travelling around Australia during our fifth month – August 2022. 

We hope you enjoy it, and please remember we are always open to any feedback, so leave a comment if you have anything to say! Thanks for reading, and feel free to share this blog post with anyone if you think this is of interest to you.

As always, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. This only includes what we spent in a particular month, and it doesn’t include our initial start-up costs (like buying and building the van itself).
  2. The totals are van life expenses for TWO people.
  3. We did not include any business-related income or expenses. 
  4. We are conscious of our money but do not restrict ourselves too much and go out for coffee and food when we feel like it. We are not actively trying to save money and will not miss out on paid adventures if we want to.
  5. We track our income and expenses weekly and combine them every four weeks into a month.
  6. All amounts are in Australian Dollars.

Our cost of living in a van – August 2022

Below is a table with every dollar we spent in August while travelling around Australia in our self-converted campervan. Underneath the table, you will find detailed explanations for each item.

Accommodation – $76.50

In July, we only paid for five nights of accommodation. 

We spent $10 to sleep at the Ravenshoe Millstream Country Club on the first paid night. This was a great place to stay and explore the area. The caretakers were very friendly, and the hot shower was good. 

The second paid night was $20 for a powered site at AAOK Moondarra Accommodation Village in Mount Isa. The site was great, and we decided to stay here because the campsite offers free laundry with your accommodation. We did 3 or 4 loads of washing and could dry our clothes on their clothesline. If we were to pay for this many loads at a laundrette, we would spend almost the same amount, and we got a safe spot to sleep with it. 

Mount Isa in the background with Dani's head in it.

Then we paid for three nights at a non-powered site at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs. The total cost for the three nights was $45.00. We spent another $1.50 on something else there, but I can’t recall what it was, and I had this cost included in the accommodation; so sorry about this. We had heard stories about how Alice Springs was unsafe at night, and to not sleep on the streets there, so we found a cheap accommodation option on Wikicamps and headed that way. The campsite was dusty but safe; it had hot showers and laundry available for $6 a load if needed.

We avoid paying for accommodation at all costs and only really pay if there are no other options or if we feel unsafe sleeping on the streets.

Alcohol – $115.96

As you would know by now, we are not heavy drinkers and usually only drink beers or red wine, depending on the weather. If it’s hot, we will usually share one or two beers, and if cold, one or two glasses of red wine.

Wade and Dani sitting in their camping chairs in front of a firepit with the moon in the background.

Diesel – $ 1,416.78

WOW!! Although diesel is always one of our most significant monthly expenses, in August, this cost was more than double our monthly average!! 

We spent so much on fuel in August because we drove 5,088km from Gordonvale, in Queensland, to Coober Pedy, in South Australia, while also going through the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs and Uluru. 

It was a big month of driving for us, hence the very high cost of diesel. 

For context, our monthly average cost with diesel was $609 for the first four months of van life

Entertainment – $299.00

This was also a significant expense for us this month compared to previous ones. 

Here is the breakdown of where this money went:

  • $36 for entry tickets to the Mount Isa Underground Hospital & Museum;
  • $24 for entry tickets to Standley Chasm in the Northern Territory;
Dani at Standley Chasm - two massive blocks of rock with an opening in the middle where Dani is standing.
  • $120 for two bikes that we hired to do the Uluru base walk;
  • $2 for a bag of food for emus at Erldunda Roadhouse Desert Oaks;
  • $11 for a Vehicle Entry Permit for the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park;
  • $30 for tickets to a self-guided tour at the Old Timers Mine in Coober Pedy;
  • $76 for 2 Adult passes valid for three consecutive days at Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park.

Food (Groceries and Eating Out) – $1,030.71

Before moving to the van, Wade and I would always meal prep on Sundays and then again on Wednesdays. We would do that to eat healthier and spend way less money than if we were to buy take-away food every lunch and dinner.

We decided to stick to this strategy while living in the van and successfully did so. The only difference is that we have to meal prep more often because our fridge is much smaller than we had when living in a unit. Instead of meal prepping twice a week, we now have to cook three times.

We always choose healthy and nutritious meals and do our weekly shopping at Aldi whenever there is one available. We have noticed a big difference in costs when going somewhere else.

Our campervan parked at a campground that is made of red dirt and looks like the desert.

Gym – $48.90

We have always been active members of gyms but signed up with Anytime Fitness just before starting vanlife so we could access their showers.

We pay $16.95 each for a weekly membership, allowing us to access over 500 clubs around Australia. Another benefit of Anytime Fitness is that all their gyms are open 24/7, so you can work out (and shower) whenever suits you.

For this month, however, once we were not on the east coast anymore, we knew there would be no Anytime Fitness gyms for a while, so we decided to freeze our membership for a while. We still pay $2.50 per week to keep our membership frozen. 

Internet & Phone – $246.68

This cost includes one of our Iphones, which is on a payment plan for $47.18.

We spent $199.50 on internet plans if we removed the phone cost.

We both have phone plans with Optus, using data pooling for 510GB, and we recently bought an internet dongle to stop using our phones as hotspots.

This month, however, we had to recharge our Telstra sim twice while in Central Australia and Queensland Outback. There was no Optus reception, and we needed internet to work. 

Please note this is a business expense and was included here because most people will also have a phone and internet expense but might need a lot fewer data than we need for our online businesses.

Dani smilling looking at Uluru during a sunrise

Laundry – $6.00

We saved a lot of money in laundry this month because we booked a caravan park in Mount Isa that offered free laundry with your accommodation, as explained in the accommodation section of this blog post.

Others – $48.98

This item includes any one-off purchases or things that don’t fit in the other categories. Below is a breakdown so you all know what’s included here:

  • $11.99 for our Spotify subscription. 
  • $36.99 for a jerry can at BCF Mount Isa.

Van Maintenance/Decoration/Items – $184.71

Below is a list of what this line item includes:

  • $9 for a few hose connectors (Wade keeps forgetting these at public taps)
  • $83.96 at Bunnings Alice Springs; not sure what we purchased there, sorry;
  • $50.50 for 1/4 of the cost of our diesel heater (we paid with Afterpay);
  • $41.25 for 1/4 of the cost of our water filters (we paid with Afterpay).
Wade and Dani with their hands up and on top of a bike in front of Uluru

Total – $3,474.22

This was our second most expensive month!! 

We have a budget of $700 per week. In August, we were well above this. Our total weekly cost came to $868.56!! However, for the five months, our total monthly average is $717.95, so I consider this an excellent result.

What do you think?? Too much or reasonable?

We hope you enjoy this and please leave a comment below if you have any questions. Keep an eye out for next month’s breakdown! 

Make sure you follow us on Instagram and Youtubeso you don’t miss our adventures. Thanks!!