July 2019 Cost of Being a Nomad

Ballena Blanca hanging out on the streets of Cabbagetown.

Well, July sped by, didn’t it? And this month is going pretty fast too! I was considering not doing an expense report for July and just combining it with the August report. But our July expenses were pretty good especially considering that we spent lots of money on entertainment living here in the big city. And since our August expenses are shaping up to be rather large I thought I would keep them separate from July so we still look kinda thrifty just a little while longer.

A few notes before we get to July’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 July’s total money spent is:


Not nearly as good as June, but not too bad!

And here is the break down of everything in spreadsheet form:

And now, here is the part where I’m going to talk a little bit about any of these numbers that I think are interesting.

Van Living Expenses

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

The total of all Van Living Expenses for July 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.


A big zero this month, but August will be a different story.

– Insurance


This is our monthly van insurance premium from USAA. Since we upfitted 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. Note to self – put this on your todo list!

In between house sitting gigs we took a little trip out of town. On our way to our first camping spot we stopped at Tallulah Gorge State Park. The park was free but there was a $5 parking fee.

– Gas, Van Utilities, Camping

Utilites: $4.80
Gas: $143.82
Camping: $10.00

I’m lumping all these expenses together because they are all higher this month because we made a little excursion. We had a little 3-day gap in our house sitting schedule so instead of trying to figure out what friend’s house we would crash at for those days we decide to get out of town. We made the van habitable again (after two months of being a work van), filled up our water tank (the $4.80 for Utilities), and headed north. Atlanta is just south of Chattahoochee National Forest so we had plenty of in-the-woods camping options available but we spent a little money ($10) for a unique camping experience and a bit of big-screen entertainment first (see pictures and captions for details). The next two nights were spent at a more traditional camping (and free) experience in the woods. We filled our gas tank twice on our excursion – it was nice to see lower gas prices outside of the city.

From Talluhal Falls we made our way to Goats on the Roof. Goats on the Roof is a typical Georgia tourist trap where you can buy ice cream, knick-knacks, t-shirts, and boiled peanuts.
But the best part of GOTR is the actual goats on the roof.
In case you are wondering why there are goats on the roof – here is the legend. Spoiler alert – THEY’RE DESCENDANTS OF ALIENS!!!

– Van Maintenance, Repairs, & Misc.


Groceries and Booze

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


We are still eating well, $298.76, and winding down in the evenings with a sundowner or two, $104.52.


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

Here is the total for everything in the Entertainment category:


I find this number amazing because it accounts for over a third of our expenses for July. It is mostly a whole lot of little numbers, Friday nights out, drinks out on Thursdays, a special occasion here and there, and a few lazy nights off from cooking with takeout from a burrito wrap place. Those little numbers add up quickly.

I’m always on the lookout for experiences off the beaten path and we found just that with our first camping spot at the Tiger Drive-in Theater. Admission was $10 each for a double feature, the new remakes of The Lion King and Aladdin, and another $10 for camping overnight. Along with us, there was another van, a huge RV, and a group in tents camping at the theater that night. (BTW – the two antique trailers in the picture appeared to be permanent fixtures – perhaps you can rent them out.
Camping also came with a outdoor tent shower with hot water.
On the second day of our trip to North Georgia we met up with some friends and tubed down the Coosawatee River.
I know, doesn’t it look relaxing. It was – until my tube punctured. Besides learning how fragile these tubes can be we learned that they don’t float very well two to a tube.


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:


$27.99 of this is for our phone bill this month! With our Google Fi phone plan, 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 this summer our bill is super low. The other $29.23 is for some personal stuff we needed including our New York Times subscription for $4 a month.

We spent the next two nights boondocking (free camping) in the Chattahoochee Forest.
Flowers on our hike though the forest.
Summer color.


This category is 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 July.

No Manches

This category is for unexpected or unexplained expenses.


And no surprises!

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:

Far Out Ride

Roaming About

Just Call Us Nomads

*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?

2 thoughts on “July 2019 Cost of Being a Nomad

  1. Another good expense month in July! You are now at our monthly average, seen annually, including the extra expenses for camping and entertainment. So, well done!

    Yes, the entertainment category is quite high, but that’s what happens when you stay in an urban environment, around friends (or family), and for a little while. The good thing is that you didn’t have van expenses in July. That’s usually the number that gets us over $1,000.

    I’m so glad to see that you managed to get away and enjoy a bit of traveling, sightseeing, and tubing in between two sits. I hope all your chores are getting checked off the list as summer is nearing the end already! 🙁

    1. I have been pretty pleased with our numbers so far this summer – especially when you compare them to last year. But last year we still had the boat and had quite a few extra expenses dealing with it.

      It was nice to get away. Greg has been working so hard. I have been looking at pictures from previous summers and we used to get away a lot more. This summer has mostly been about work and house sitting.

      My projects are coming along. I really got to get on it, though, we only have a month left before we hit the road again!

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