June 2019 Cost of Being a Nomad

Ballena Blanca in Cabbagetown.

We just finished up our first of four months of house sitting in Cabbagetown. For those who haven’t been following along for very long, every summer like migrating birds or nesting sea turtles, we journey back to the small neighborhood called Cabbagetown near downtown Atlanta where we used to own a house. There we house sit our friend’s pets and Greg resumes his house painting business with his partner Paul and we make a little more traveling money.

House sitting can be a great way to save/not spend as much money. We have been doing it for 8 summers now but this is only the second summer that we have been tracking our expenses. Last summer we still had our sailboat and spent a bit of extra money doing improvements for Ballena Blanca. So I’m pretty excited this summer to see just how much house sitting actually saves us when all we have are the normal expenses.

A few notes before we get to June’s total:

  • All expenses are in US dollars.
  • We drive a 2015 Ford Transit Cargo Van upfitted for living in. It gets anywhere from 17 to 19 miles to the gallon.
  • We are vegetarians and we cook – eating little packed or prepared food.

Total Money Spent

And now for June’s exciting total of money spent:


Wow! This is our lowest expense month ever since we have been tracking!

If you are wondering what we spent/didn’t spend in June here is the break down of everything in spreadsheet form:

And now I’m going to talk a little bit about all these little numbers.

Van Living Expenses

These are all expenses relating to the van itself, living in the van, and traveling in the van.

The total for our lowest ever Van Living Expenses in June is:


Here is a breakdown of some specific van expenses:

– Van Upgrades

These expenses are for things that improve the van. I am constantly thinking of ways to make the van more comfortable and more efficient.


Hardly worth mentioning but after driving down so many bumpy roads our sliding drawer cabinet where we keep our pots and pans finally lost a few screws and had to be fixed. Considering all of the rutted roads we drive down I am surprised that our whole van build hasn’t rattled apart by now.

– Gas


We only bought gas one time in June. When we are in Cabbagetown we can walk to most places (with the exception of the various grocery stores I shop at) we want/need to go. In fact, most of Greg’s painting jobs are in the neighborhood (although in June he did do a job in the next neighborhood over) – so little gas is burned for that except for the sometimes daily/multiple times a day trips to Lowes, Home Depot, or Sherwin-Williams.

– Insurance


This is our monthly van insurance premium from USAA. Since we up-fitted the van on our own it is still insured as a cargo van. This summer I plan to look into whether we can insure it as a camper instead.

– Van Utilities, Camping, Van Maintenance, Repairs, & Misc.


We are living in houses for the summer, drinking city water, cooking with real stoves, and using the indoor plumbing! This makes our expenses for van utilities non-existant. We will probably have some van maintenance and a few upgrades later in the summer.

While we are living in houses I am experimenting with some new van food recipes. Here is my attempt at pressure-cooker tamale pie. It turned out pretty good.

Groceries and Booze

This is food and alcohol we buy a grocery or liquor store as opposed to in a restaurant.


$319.17 of this number is for groceries. I thought our grocery bill would be super low since we are back in Atlanta and have regular access to my favorite cheaper grocery stores, but this is our highest monthly grocery expense this year! I’m blaming this on the Pepsi and potato chips that seem to be vital fuel for painting houses. But really this only comes to about $5 per day per person so a few potato chips here and there isn’t that bad.

The other $98.51 is for booze. For a while, I stopped remarking on our booze number, but I have read a few other blog expense reports lately and have decided that we aren’t quite the lushes that I thought we were. Actually, we are quite sober and if you look at past numbers our temperance seems to be on the rise.

Free Entertainment! Our favorite Atlanta band, W8ing4UFOs played for free at the Cabbagetown Reunion Festival.


This category is for eating and drinking out, live music, museums, and attractions.

Here is the total for everything in the Entertainment category:


I have been on a mission to keep the expense for Friday night date night under $40. I was successful twice in this endeavor in June. Unfortunately one of those places closed the next week after we ate there. Our other cheap date night was at our favorite pizza place. It is easy to come in under $40 when pitchers of beer are $4. Unfortunately, this place is just a little too far to walk on a Friday after one has been painting houses all day and after $8 worth of beer, we need to be walking home.

More free entertainment: And then W8ing4UFOs played again in Cabbagetown Park. This time we threw in a few dollars when the hat was passed.


This category is for anything related to our health, dental work, medical issues, and just maintenance/medicine cabinet stuff.


Luckily we are basically healthy! No big expenses here!


These are the same kind of household expenses that you might have even if you didn’t live in a van or on a boat. Like toilet paper, clothes, personal items, laundry, and phone/data plan.

Here is the total for everything in the Personal/Household category:


Most of this number is our phone bill at $73.10. If you look at totals from previous months you will see that it has gone down a little. This is because with our phone plan with Google Fi we only pay for the data we use up to 6 gigs (after which data is free up to 15 gigs). Since we are living in houses with wifi now – this bill should be going down drastically in the months to come. Also included in this month’s Personal/Household expenses under personal is a little bit of an indulgence, a digital subscription to the NY Times (only $4 a month).


This category if for expenses outside of usual van travel expenses like the extra costs of traveling to another country, plane tickets, tolls, public transportation expenses, and parking.


No special travel expenses in June.

No Manches

This category is for unexpected or unexplained expenses.


And no surprises!

Cabbagetown garden.

Besides being really pleased with June’s low numbers we are also coming in under my monthly expense average goal of $1500 this year at $1412.65 a month.

To see all of our expense reports, click here.

If you are interested in reading other expense reports from people living on the road, check out these links:

*All pics are click to enlarge.

So what do you think? Do you track your expenses? How does this compare to your sticks and bricks expenses or your traveling expenses? Are our expenses less or more than you would have expected?

4 thoughts on “June 2019 Cost of Being a Nomad

  1. I think you will save insurance when you change your cargo van registration to an RV registration.
    You may even look at changing states you are a resident of, like Nevada or where ever it makes the most sense….

    1. Yes- this is on my todo list this summer. I’m sure we can save a bunch of money. Not sure about changing residency yet – although we really don’t have any reason to go to Florida ever again it is closer to family and friends than any place out west. We will see. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. Yay! Congratulations, you two! That is an awesome number for monthly expenses and you still managed to eat out a few times as well. Plus, the added bonus of lowering your monthly average is nice as well! We are still high with that average, because May was extremely expensive, due to paying our insurance in full. Hopefully, our summer will be affordable as well. But, we are meeting friends this Friday for an evening out… We all know what that means. 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning our blog!

    1. Thanks! It is hard to not spend money when your friends are around all the time. We have probably already (this month) doubled our eating out expenses from last month – but we have had some good times.

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