Van Life Monthly Budget in Australia

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

If you’ve been following us on Instagram, you know that we’ve been on the road for almost five months. And if you’ve been wondering how much money we’ve spent during that time, you’re not alone. That’s the question we get asked the most about our vanlife.

We create reels with the latest month’s expenses every month, but we also wanted a place where these are all combined and easy to find. We get asked how much we spend while living in our van all the time, so we thought we would start a monthly blog post series to keep these organized and share with all of you!

A few things to keep in mind

  1. This only includes what we spend every month and don’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 coffees 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 every week and then combine every four weeks into a month.
  6. All amounts are in Australian Dollars.

Our cost of living in a van – April 2022

Below is the table with the total amounts, and underneath it, we will give you an explanation of each item.

A table showing our cost of living in a van for month 1

Accommodation – $44.00

During our first month of van life, we only paid for four nights of accommodation; all other nights were stealth camping or staying at free camp spots.

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.

Camper van and man working at a beach

Alcohol – $82.50

Whenever we post a reel about our monthly budget on Instagram, we get comments about how little we spend on alcohol or how we do not drink enough. We find these quite funny.

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.

Clothes – $15.00

When I (Dani) packed for vanlife, I purposely left some room in my bag for buying stuff on the road if I found something I liked for a reasonable price.

The third week in and we found this Cotton On outlet in Coffs Harbour with any clothes under $10. I controlled myself and only bought a pair of leggings for $5 and a pair of denim shorts for $10. I have worn them A LOT since then, so I am super happy with the purchase.

Diesel – $ 571.49

We have always budgeted for diesel to be our most significant expense, and we were right.

This cost will vary monthly depending on how much we drive, petrol prices and weather.

During this first month of vanlife, we have driven a total of 2,307 km.

Entertainment – $17.00

We did not pay for any fun activities during April. The $17 cost includes $8 entry to the Diamond Head National Park, a $4 parking in Byron Bay and a $5 donation at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

Dani at beach in NSW

Food (Groceries and Eating Out) – $889.66

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 we wanted to try and stick to this strategy while living in the van and have been quite successful with that. 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 not try to save money on food. But we do our weekly shopping at Aldi whenever we can. We have noticed a big difference in costs when going somewhere else.

We also love to try local food when we visit a new location/state. But in saying that, Australia doesn’t have too much of that, and the whole country seems to eat the same things everywhere you go 🙂

Wade Cooking lunch at the beach

Gym – $135.60

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

Internet & Phone – $131.68

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

If we remove the phone cost, we spent $84.50 on internet plans.

We both have phone plans with Optus, using data pooling for 510GB.

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 less data than we need for our online businesses.

Laundry – $55

I find this amount outrageous, to be honest. We want to decrease the amount of money we spend on laundry.

We have spent so much this month because laundromats are extremely expensive on the east coast. We have paid, on average, $6 for washing loads and $8 for dryers.

We always try not to use the dryers, but we can only do that if we stay somewhere where we can hang the clothes out and wait for them to dry. This was not the case during month one.

We also learned that we don’t need to wash our clothes so often. We now wait a bit longer or plan it better to do washing at a campground or until we find somewhere cheap.

Others – $327.27

This item includes any one-off purchases or things that don’t fit in the other categories, but it probably needs a further breakdown so you all know what’s included here:

  • $300 for an internet dongle

Wade and I had been using our phones as hotspots for the internet, and this was killing the batteries way too fast. We were limited to only having phone and internet reception where Optus was available, so we decided to purchase a dongle. The idea is to be able to purchase a Telstra sim card and change between the two providers when/if needed.

  • $20.28 for a Net Mesh Bag

We needed a fruit basket, and I had always dreamed of having something similar to the below picture. We finally found one at a store in Lennox Head, so we decided to buy it.

  • $6.99 for a Byron Bay magnet

Wade and I have a thing that we try to buy a fridge magnet with the location name for each place we visit. Of course, we usually can’t find a good one, and only big touristy cities will have them. The first one we found on this road trip was in Byron Bay, so we bought it 🙂

Dani feeding grass to a horse

Van Maintenance/Decoration/Items – $234.18

We did a poor job keeping track of what this cost includes in detail, so I will do a better job in the coming months to give you a breakdown of this, similar to what I did for the Others category.

For April, I can say that most of this total amount was spent at Bunnings for bits and pieces we realized we needed for the van.

Total – $2,503.28

We weren’t too disappointed about the amount spent on the van for two people in the first month.

We did spend more than what we had budgeted for, but in the first month, we believe we were in an adaptive mode and getting used to this life. This amount is good considering we are following our dream to travel full time around Australia. This has been our dream for a long time and is more important than money.

We hope you enjoy this and please leave a comment below if you have any questions. As we said in the introduction, we will make this a blog series and bring our monthly expenses to you.

Make sure you follow us on Instagram if you want a sneak peek of this before it comes to the blog!