Would You Consider Living In A Camper To Pay Off Debt Quicker?

What would you do to save more money and pay off your debt quicker? One thing that I’ve noticed more people doing is living in a camper in order to save money. Before we begin, I will say that RVing is funny. Some people who don’t RV think that all RVers are trust fund babies,…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

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Would You Consider Living In A Camper To Pay Off Debt Quicker?What would you do to save more money and pay off your debt quicker?

One thing that I’ve noticed more people doing is living in a camper in order to save money.

Before we begin, I will say that RVing is funny. Some people who don’t RV think that all RVers are trust fund babies, and others think the complete opposite, like that we are all truly homeless and have no money.

In reality, living in a camper has a wide range of costs, just like houses that don’t have wheels do. You could live in a $1,000 travel trailer, or there are $2,000,000+ motorhome mansions. Similarly, the budget you keep while living in a camper can vary widely too.

Some people manage to spend just hundreds of dollars a month, whereas others can easily spend several thousands of dollars a month RVing.

While we don’t live in an RV to save money (the house we used to own was actually much less expensive than our motorhome), there are many who have been able to pay off debt, save for early retirement, and more, all by living in a camper.

There are soooo many ways to save money when living in a camper, so I definitely think that if you wanted to pay off your debt quicker, reach financial independence earlier, etc., then RV living may be something you want look into. Of course, though, there are ways to completely blow your budget as well, so you need to do some careful planning before deciding that living in a camper is the right choice for you.

If you’re interested in RVing, check out other RV-related content:

Does living in an RV save money?


Has anyone saved money by living in a camper over a house?

I know quite a few people who have been able to save more money by living in a camper over a house.

Below are several RVers who have found that living in a camper has actually saved them money:

Cheaper living in a caravan than living with roommates – “Living in a caravan in New Zealand is cheaper than renting with 3 people in Auckland. A year ago, I was struggling to save for a house deposit. A caravan seemed the next logical step. I’ve left the city and only pay a third of my old rent and have a place to myself. Heavenly. You can learn more about the break down of my expenses here: http://travellingk.com/cost-of-living-caravan-rv” – Karen

Finding inspiration to downsize We decided to downsize and live the RV life after the birth of our daughter. She was our inspiration to have less stuff in exchange to spend more time as family. Initially we thought we needed bigger and better to grow a family. A bigger house, bigger car, and bigger debt to make it happen. Then we realized, what if we go smaller? I am now able to live my dream as a stay at home mom to our daughter, because of the money we save RV living. We travel the US making memories as a family and teaching her along the way. We live debt free and have more freedom than we ever thought was possible.Marissa

This family cut their expenses in half by moving into an RV – “We cut our expenses in half when we sold it all and moved into the RV. Biggest thing was selling the house and getting rid of the mortgage. The rest of our cutbacks were getting rid of the high truck payment and started using a sharing program for our insurance. We also are very budget conscious when it comes to buying groceries and going out… although this definitely our biggest splurge area as we loooove food! Oh and closing my photography studio and not needing to pay for full time daycare any more were huge as well!” – Alexi

$1.40 a day average campground costs – “I am a single, middle-aged female who full times in an older Class A motorhome with my Golden Retriever, Sully. Before I hit the road I purchased two important items: a New Mexico State Park Pass for $225 and a campground pass to the Southeast through Thousand Trails (got it on sale for $285). I figure if I travel between New Mexico, all the way over to Virginia over the course of the next year, my campground costs will average $1.40 a day (and it’s already prepaid). Here’s how: I can stay in New Mexico state parks for free, but they also have hot showers and clean restrooms. (If I want to spend $4 per night, I can get water and electric there.) And with Thousand Trails, I stay in their parks in Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia for free for up to two weeks in a row. Then I have to be out of their system for 7 days, so my plan is to boondock in between stays (in some areas that will mean Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots, but it’s free!), and I have dozens of friends who have asked me to come and stay in their driveways, as well. Before hitting the road I was paying $610 (I know that’s still cheap!) per month to rent a small trailer. Now I get to see the world AND save money!” – Shelley

This couple reduced their expenses 40% by living in a camper – “My husband and I worked full-time, corporate jobs for many years, and thought we were living the traditional American Dream. But it seemed like we were always chasing our paychecks instead of living a fulfilling and meaningful life. We used to joke, ‘Let’s quit our jobs, leave everything behind and travel’ and then one day we finally did! We walked away from our corporate jobs to travel in an RV and see our own beautiful country. Living and traveling in an RV is more sustainable than you’d think. We learned how to work remotely, and discovered that RV living is much less expensive than owning a home and paying a mortgage. We’ve reduced our expenses by roughly 40% of what we were paying before and now we have more fun and freedom too! We learned how to work remotely, and discovered that RV living is much less expensive than owning a home and paying a mortgage. You can read more about remote work here https://www.morethanawheelin.com/6-ways-ive-made-money-since-leaving-corporate-america/.” – Camille

This person saves over $1,700 a month through RV living – “When I was 45, I started to wonder if it were possible to retire at 50. I just didn’t want to wait another 20 years to start checking items off my bucket list. Plus I wanted to find a way to create more time in my life to pursue my passion of writing, I knew there was no way my savings would be enough to cover my monthly living expenses, not to mention the health insurance coverage I’d be losing if I left my job. I considered many options from working part-time, to moving into a tiny home but ultimately decided buying an RV was the best option. Not only did it dramatically lower my monthly cost of living expenses (for example I paid $2200/month for my mortgage/utilities and now I can stay a campground for about $500/month), I get the added bonus of traveling around seeing this amazing country.” – Debbie

This person is saving thousands of dollars a month by full-time RVing – “We left behind a mortgage of approximately $2200 + about $600+ a month in utilities. Car loans and motorcycle loans near $1200 a month. Now we cover our mortgage with rent from a tenant, and all the other bills have gone away as we downsized. We still have a loan on our RV, we own our Jeep and pay about $1000 a month some months for campsites. But that includes utilities! So overall we are saving in the thousands every month. We have paid of credit cards and other bills. We didn’t RV to save money necessarily but it is a great side benefit!” – Sonya

Living in a camper means a difference of $15,000 a year for this couple – “We were parked on the shore of Lake Ohau in New Zealand when we had the epiphany that we could continue to live a nomadic lifestyle much cheaper than when we were living in the house we own. Backpacking and living in a van in New Zealand had us spending around $64ish dollars a day for that amazing lifestyle…all in (gas, food, beer, campground fees, wifi, insurance). We crunched the numbers and our lifestyle in Colorado had us at a sunk cost of around $35 dollars a day just to have the house. So, that means we had to make $35 a day just to have the living structure. Then, you had to make more for the food, wifi, beers, gym memberships, etc. Our number for our Colorado lifestyle had us around $105 or so. $105 – $64 = $41*365 = $15,000ish…means you had to make $15k more just to live the Colorado, home lifestyle the way we wanted to. We could take the $15k and pay down debt or choose to work less. We paid down our debt before we started traveling to be honest. We view the cost savings through the lens of having to work less hours. Living the RV lifestyle makes that number a much smaller number which means we ultimately have to work less hours…which means we get to play more.” – Adam


How you may save money by living in a camper

Now that you’ve read those real experiences from people choosing to live in an RV, I want to talk about the many different ways you could possibly save money by living in a camper over a “normal” home.


Purchase an affordable RV.

If you want to save the most amount of money, then this is where you can really do some damage to your debt and get rid of it quicker.

The average house is somewhere around $200,000, and depending on where you live, it may be well over $500,000 for a normal house.

But, with RVs, you’re paying specifically for the RV, not for any super expensive land like with a “normal” house.

To save money RVing, many people purchase older RVs and remodel them, and they save a ton of money. Or, they purchase smaller ones that don’t cost much money.

If you wanted to, you could buy your next home for less than $10,000! This can mean a great amount of savings over your current rent or monthly mortgage payment.

Now, typical expenses related to your actual RV include the RV you buy, sales tax (this can be quite high in some states!), license and registration fees, property taxes, and maintenance.

Whether you buy a new or old RV, many are purchased by taking out a loan, and RV loans are a little different from car loans. You can often get an RV loan for 15 or 20 years. So, I always recommend that you are careful, because a 15 or 20 year loan can make an RV seem more affordable when in reality it is not. Remember, you’re trying to save more money!


Stay in one place longer to save on fuel when living in an rv.

A big expense when RVing is fuel. RVs have notoriously bad fuel mileage.

So, if you really want to attack your debt and/or save the most amount of money, then you may want to move more slowly (we know many people who may only drive their RV 100 or 200 miles a month), or possibly not at all.


Be smart when choosing where you’ll park.

Your nightly stays when RVing can vary widely. There are a ton of awesome places to camp for free in the United States, and then there are RV resorts that can charge $150+ a night.

If you want to save the most amount of money, then you will most likely either want to find free campsites, stay at state/national/city/regional parks, or stay monthly at campgrounds because that’s how you will receive  much more affordable rates.

Can you imagine how much money you may be able to save if you were to get an affordable camper (as described above) AND camp for free or super cheap?

To find free camp stays, I recommend searching Campendium, All Stays, Free Campsites, and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. We love free camping because you can usually find some amazing places with beautiful trails close by. Plus, you may also get a large amount of area to yourself. Free camping can include something like parking at a Walmart (this is for when you are trying to get somewhere and just need a place to rest and/or sleep) to staying on amazing BLM land in national forests. While there are no hookups, many RVs are fine for a week without hookups anyway. To learn more about finding free places to stay, please read How To Camp For Free, Even In Beautiful and Desirable Places.

Campgrounds at state and national parks can vary widely. I’ve been to a state park in California that was $50 a night (California has the most expensive state campgrounds I’ve seen so far), and I’ve also been to beautiful campgrounds for $8 a night in Colorado. There’s also the great New Mexico deal, which is explained in Shelley’s story above.

If you plan on staying at a lot of RV parks, I highly recommend getting both a Passport America card and Good Sam card. They usually pay for themselves in just one or two uses and are well worth it. Also, think about staying longer so that you can get the weekly or monthly discounted rates.


You’ll buy less as you’ll have less room to store junk.

Living in an RV means that you’ll have to downsize. While some people dread this, getting rid of nearly all of your stuff is extremely liberating.

When we sold our house and moved into an RV, we donated and got rid of a lot of our belongings. At first it was difficult to get rid of so much, but it became easier as time went on.

These days, all we have is what we have with us. We have a small amount of everything, and we like it best this way.

We are much more mindful of what we buy, we waste hardly anything, and this is allowing us to save money as well.

It’s pretty simple, you just can’t buy as much when you have nowhere to put it all!

Would you start living in a camper if it meant you could save more money and/or pay off debt sooner?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I must to admit I’d live in a camper only for save and only for determinated time…but I admire who choose to live in a camper forever:D

  2. Good morning Michelle,

    I’m glad to see that you virtually posted another blog with no delay. I think this is a great way of getting organized and staying organized; something you do best. So the first question of your blog post is referring to a person saving money and paying off debt quicker. My personal feedback on the first question of your blog post is if you were personally asking me that, things I would do to save money and pay off debt quicker is fine things around my residence to sell online. I’m quite confident in saying this because I believe in feel everyone has something in their apartment or house or condominium that they no longer need and could sell for a few extra dollars. This could also turn out to be an excellent side hustle for people looking to earn a few extra dollars online or turn the side hustle into a full-time business in efforts of achieving more than saving money and paying off debt. So yes, I would sell things in my residence to pay off debt quicker and perhaps have a few pennies left in my pocket. That’s just one of many ways I and other people would save money and pay off debt. Hopefully that makes sense. L 😛 L

    So you say you noticed more people living in a camper as a way of saving money. That might be true. I noticed many people passing through Dover, Delaware with mobile homes and RVs. And they’re very beautiful looking as well. The RV life in my personal opinion is very relaxing especially if you don’t want to be confined to one location. Rving in my personal opinion will allow anyone to explore America and never have to worry about renting a hotel room or having a place to lay your head. The only thing I wonder about rving is if you still have to pay somewhat of a property tax. What’s the deal on that?

    I don’t know about RVers being trust fund babies. I’ve never heard of that one. And I would fail to believe that people who own RVs are homeless and have no money because you can never doubt anyone’s ability to do anything. And one can never judge a book by it’s cover either.

    I personally know that you don’t live in an RV to save money because you’re already a blogging millionaire. People who look at RV owners sideways in my personal opinion or judgmental and they don’t deserve to be around people like you and I. I come from humble beginnings and I know what struggle is like and I can’t stand being around judgemental people.

    I’m unmarried with no children and love to get up and go as I please. That’s not to say that I don’t want to be married someday with children. with that said, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired to downsize or save money by living smaller. Living in an RV and being a side hustle bloggers is good for business and here’s why. You have a piece of mind knowing everywhere you travel to makes great content for your blog. Additionally, you can take pictures and record video and upload it to you YouTube channel with links pointing to specific pages in your blog post showing people how different places in America look. Looking at the bigger picture from a side hustle bloggers point of view, it’s a win-win for you because it’s pretty much creating money out of thin air everywhere you travel too. I’m so proud of you, Michelle! 🙂

    I’m glad you’re one of those side hustle bloggers and entrepreneurs that don’t care about what people think or have to say about you. I don’t care personally would anyone negatively has to say about you living in an RV or whatever. I’m in your corner positively supporting you 100% every step of the way. Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t change a thing! 🙂

    Lastly, Please feel free to shoutout Drewry News Network from Brooklyn, N.Y. next time you’re on Reuters, CNN, Forbes, or NASDAQ online magazines as a featured blogging side hustle success story. Peace & love. 🙂

    Your internet marketing friend,

    Drewry 🙂

  3. I would totally support living in a RV to save money- we are going through getting rid of my mother-in-law’s apartment because she passed away recently, and unfortunately she had accumulated so much stuff… so we kinda joked (my husband and I) that we would sell all of our stuff and live in a RV so that when we pass away, there is nothing to sell and not as much pressure on our kids. I actually want to start living in a RV and go traveling. I need a business that will support it!

    1. Oh yes, we see this a lot with the older RVers – they find it hard to get rid of their stuff but are happy to do so to make life easier on their family.

      1. Kathy

        Hi Michelle, I am a single 65 yo woman with my best-friend dog! I would love to live in an RV! I have a degree in Outdoor Recreation and have worked as a seasonal Park Ranger! I live on SS and work part-time! Was in a car accident 12 yrs ago; so life financially changed for me; much lower income! How can I do it if low income and not good credit? I would want to make extra income as a Camp Host! Is it safe for a single older female to live in an RV?? Please help me! I would love ❤️ to learn!!
        Kathy M

        1. Hey Kathy! I recommend joining an RV group on Facebook, such as Women Who RV 🙂

  4. Laura

    We retired and sold the big house and now travel fulltime in a Motor Home. We did not do it to save money, but find that we are spending less all the same. We are living well on our social security and a small pension. We haven’t touched any of our investments and are just allowing them to grow. We find that we don’t waste anything in this lifestyle whether it is food or anything else. It is also amazing how many free things there are to do and take advantage of. It is also a wonderful feeling to be content with what we have and not care about stuff.

  5. It’s certainly an option we’ve considered, but haven’t sat down to do the actual figures to work out if it is cheaper in Australia. We are quite an expensive country 🙂 And free camping seems to be much more restricted here.

    1. Yeah, the USA has a lot of free camping which can making RVing much more affordable.

  6. Sheila McVicar

    Good morning! We spent 35 days in a rented motor home which included the “loo’ with a shower
    and a kitchen with a gas stove top and microwave. We have been talking about living in a smaller home (under 1000 sq. ft.) with a large garage (in Canada this is necessary to store shovels, lawnmower and more) with perhaps an Airbnb. We loved being in the camper and would be happy to live in one. We are over 60 years of age and semi-retired with 3 businesses that we just started. We have been in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada, going back and forth. We sold our house, down sized and donated our car to charity in the fall of 2015 and are debt-free. Are we rich? No. But we are frugal. Living free of debt after struggling for years…priceless. Living small is a great adventure!
    I enjoy reading about your adventures, Michelle. Thank you for the information over the last few years!

  7. Wally

    I believe the author of the book Early Retirement Extreme lives in a camper! Not a bad idea really!

    1. I live in a camper too 🙂 It’s a lot of fun!

      1. Wally

        Maybe I’ll give it a try too someday! You influenced me to start my blog and maybe this is next! hah

  8. I see the appeal for people getting out of debt or trying to save money, but I wouldn’t want to live in an RV full-time. Truthfully, I’m not willing to sacrifice enough to live in an RV to reach my goals. I’m sure it’s not as bad as I’m imagining, considering how much you seem to love it, but I still don’t think it’s for me. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing so many interesting stories!

    1. Traveling full-time definitely isn’t for everyone – just like a house! 🙂

  9. Zona Stueben

    We moved into our travel trailer a month ago. we are saving just over $400.00 a month. We are currently stationery in one campground; Our plans are to eventually travel full-time.

  10. The Curious Frugal

    I would consider living in a camper just for fun! Our friends sold their house and are traveling around the world in their westfalia. We have one too but just use it for shorter/summer trips for now.

  11. We never moved into an RV to save money – we both managed to remain debt free our entire lives. It was to explore our wanderlust and still be at home. For a dozen years it’s been wonderful for us, and no doubt cheaper.

    We’re no longer maintaining a home base to travel from (because we were traveling a lot). And the costs are so variable and containable. And our experiences so much richer.

    I used to think retirement was not possible for our generation and being self-employed, and I was cool with that. I love the work I do and already had a knack of combining a quality life in with my career.

    But because of the money we’ve been able to save over the past years – **EARLY** retirement is well within reach now when we choose to. An incredible feeling to work by choice, not need.

    So not only can RV living pay off debts, it can get you to financial goals you didn’t think possible.

    1. Your story is amazing Cherie! RV living is amazing 🙂

  12. Stefanie

    I would love to do this! I tell my husband I want to all the time. But with 3 kids and two of them in school, it just doesn’t seem possible. And just thinking of selling our house and getting rid of all of our stuff sounds exhausting! Where are all the people who downsize and live in an RV with kids? I want to know how they do it.

  13. Emily Butler-Meadows

    Hi Michelle, interesting post!

    Last year my husband and I moved into our converted school bus, where we live in England, thinking naively that it would be next to free to live, but of course, there are always still costs! Plus a big ass bus in tiny England has been an experience! hehe… I imagine that there is a lot more space for big RV’s in America?

    Love camper life though 🙂

    1. Yes, the USA is much, much bigger 🙂

  14. The Addy’s

    We just moved into a one bed/one bath apartment from a tri-level duplex, and it’s been a shock. We have down sized tremendously, and will be saving over $800 per month. Our debt will be gone before we know it, and our student loans shortly after that! I appreciate the knowledge and information that you provide us!

  15. Yes, I would consider living in a camper! My husband and I actually did talk about it for a bit, but ultimately decided not to. I love how well it’s worked for others!

  16. Kris

    If I were trying to pay down debt I would consider living in a RV for a while. It sounds like a whole lot of fun driving around the country and checking out the national and state parks. My wife and I are considering doing this for a month or two when our kid gets older so we all can see how it feels to live the RV life.
    I follow you through instragram and watch Steve from Think Save Retire on his vlog page on youtube and it’s so cool that both of you are living the RV life and having a blast. All the parks and the hikes you guys on looks so fun.

    1. Thank you! Life is good 🙂

  17. I think the only way I would consider doing this is if I was doing it alone. With that being said, I have seen girls doing this on their own in small RVs or other vehicles they have turned into a living space and I worry about their safety. I get that you can lock your door, but it just doesn’t seem super safe to me. People are nuts!

    1. People live on their own all the time 🙂

  18. Deanna

    We live in our camper full time and I love it! It’s fabulous having no mortgage and it’s great learning how to live well with less.

  19. I love that you highlighted so many people who are doing this! It’s important that people know there’s always a way out and a way to pay off debt…they just have to change their lifestyle a bit. I would not live in a camper to save money, but I would live in a van 🙂 And the sailboat I live on right now helps me save. I think my perfect lifestyle would be a sailboat AND a van.

  20. I had no idea so many people lived in RV’s until I read this article. I’m always watching those tiny house shows on tv thinking I’d live in one. I’d even live in an RV and love that but I know my husband would not. He loves living in the country, growing hay, feeding the cows, and working in his workshop.

    Still, the idea is great and saves a ton of money!

  21. Taylor @ Not Quite an Adult

    My family has had a bunch of campers over the years and I’d love to think I’d be able to live in it full time to save money, but I don’t think I’m cut out for it haha. It does sound like an awesome way to save money and see the world at the same time though!

  22. Janita

    I thought my husband and I were the only ones thinking about this. When he brought up the idea I thought he was crazy. We plan to sell the house and live in a camper. We have two small children so it might have to wait but these tips will definitely make the transition easier!

  23. Sara Michaels

    Thank you for sharing the great info and resources! Through these blogs it inspired my husband and I to minimize, travel fulltime, and camp (upgrading to a camper soon)

    We’re saving SO MUCH MONEY ((without counting any extra earnings!)) and are able to invest more into our family, making memories, and building our future! It’s great to build from a debt-free foundation and do what we can with what we have and get out of the “stuff” mindset!


  24. Linda Ramos

    I’m newly divorced and have been thinking about RV living for sometime now. Family and friends think its a crazy idea and unsafe. Ive decided 2019 would be a year to decide.
    Im currently living in a;
    $2,350 2 bedroom apartment a month
    $300 car gas
    $300 California toll road expense
    $65 internet expense

    Any suggestions on the size of first RV

    1. They’re all going to be smaller than a house or apartment – it just depends on what you want.

  25. McKenzie Allyshia

    A few months ago my husband and I sold our home and bought a 28′ pull behind. We are saving well over $1,000 just from doing so. I absolutely loved reading this article and seeing how much others have saved as well. We were really lucky in the sense that my grandma is letting us use the back four acres of her property for free. We were able to hook up to a well, sewer, and power also.

  26. LargeEventPlanner

    My husband and I lived in our 40′ RV just for the heck of it. We were between houses and couldn’t find one that suited us. That said, the problem with this movement is finding someplace to live. Parks, campgrounds, etc. are sold out. Dispersed campsites (boondocking) are getting harder and harder to find. I can see this trend quickly ending due to governmental regulations, and simply because people are frustrated with locating a place to stay. I have camped all my life and unfortunately, it is harder than ever to do so.

  27. Darren

    Just read all the comments of people doing what I fell into by luck, my job involves me moving around a lot but I get paid LOA problem was I was maintaining a home a was never there to enjoy it so I moved into my 29’travel trailer 3years ago and haven’t looked back since. I’m parked on 200+ acres with a shop on it that I use to build my mining equipment and I’ll be working in the southern Vancouver Island area for rest of this year, I have medium sized placer gold mining equipment in the Quesnel area that I go and play gold miner for a couple months of the year and am thinking of getting another but older RV to park up there and do away with motels and the driving to and from my mini mine. I absolutely love this lifestyle!

  28. Jennifer Leonardo

    Living in the RV fulltime may cost less than living in a traditional home but the saving are may not enough to pay debts. RVing is more about enjoying travelling and creating cherished memories. Reconsider your options and make an informed decision.

  29. To save money and based on what I know today about the internet concerning affiliate marketing and side hustles, I would live at the YMCA or in a New York City housing project while building my online business. I would look past where I’m living at the moment. I would look at the fact that what I’m doing in terms of building my online business is working and eat the fact that I’m living in a less than satisfactory place. What I might be doing in the moment to build my business is working, and willing to grit and bear my living conditions for the next 2 to 4 years.

    So yes, if my online business strategies are working, I would definitely look past where I’m living and continue building my business online in secret to the point of faithfully looking to the future to be a side hustle millionaire.