Monday, May 21, 2012

Cost At Home VS Costs While Traveling

Bill in Nebraska asked how our costs while traveling compare with our costs while at home. I picked an arbitrary 170 day period in 2011 and here are the results. It is kind of a hard comparison to make. We did not use the motorhome at all last summer except as an extra bedroom for guests. I flew out to Ontario by myself to visit my sister in June and show those expenses.

Our entertainment expenses at home are always centered around dinner parties so these costs are hidden in “Groceries”. We entertain quite a bit but very seldom “go out”. Canada has almost zero tolerance drinking driving laws and we are a large cab fare from town. I am limited to one small glass of wine if I have to drive. As a result, our dining out in Canada is mainly breakfasts out.

“I” do not buy much liquor in Canada because it is so expensive. Norma buys more than me but that does not make it into Quicken. The “extras” that Canada Customs lets me bring back from the USA last me through the summer.

At home expenses of course include all the house expenses like repairs, maintenance and taxes. I did not include these because wear and tear happen all year but just get worked on and paid for in the summer.

I did not include ferry costs in any of the columns. It costs us $250 each way on and off the Island with the motorhome and $60 if we just take the car. We hardly ever leave the Island except for our winter trips.

The biggest differences are gas and RV parks (which are much cheaper if rented for the whole season). If we did like most of our friends do and stay in one place all winter, our winter expenses would be greatly reduced!

ITEM 2010/11 USA 2011/12 Mexico 170 Days at Home (2011) COMMENTS (at home only)
Fuel (Car) 494 212 559  
Fuel (Motorhome) 4302 4503 47 Added gas to run generator while parked at home
Propane 113 126 0  
Dining 3770 1843 464 Mostly breakfast out while at home, dinner out on the road.
Entertainment 1077 95 189 Fishing trip with my son.
Groceries (Inc. Liquor) 3606 3896 2463 We used up liquor brought back to Canada We always have leftover liquor from trip.
Groceries bought by Norma (estimate)     800 She sneaks groceries in that do not get recorded in Quicken.
Admissions & Tours 155 26 0  
RV Parks 3080 3077 0 Motorhome stayed parked all summer.
Hotels 422 0 155 Trip to Kitchener to visit my sister
Taxis, buses, Limo Service 68 22 100 Trip to Kitchener to visit my sister
Tolls 5 845 0  
Travel (Other) 808 152 512 Trip to Kitchener to visit my sister
Cell Phone 331 180 184 Pay As You Go 7-11 phone
Heat and Light     1321 Included with RV park costs when traveling
TOTALS $18,231 $14,977 $6,794 $107.25/day in USA, $88.10 in Mexico, $39.97 at home


  1. All this math has my head spinning - I feel like I am going to need to file my taxes now ;-0

    Could you say Mexico is a better deal?

  2. Mexico is a better deal and the advantage of Mexico is that you can make it almost as cheap as you want. If you buy your groceries in the local markets and buy local products you can do like Chris and Kevin and feed two people nicely on under $200 per month. We shop in Sorianna and Mega and buy products that we recognize from home. For this we pay the price. We buy Chilean wine because it tastes more like the wine we drink at home. I do however, like Mexican beer which is reasonable.

  3. An interesting comparison. We feel we actually spend less money while in the States. Our fuel bill drops drastically over the winter, even with the motorhome as when we are home our rural location means we are on the road almost constantly. Our grandkids live 60 or 100 miles in all directions from us so we are seemingly always on our way one way or the other. Food is considerably more expensive here also.

  4. Canadians I see wintering in Mexico that rent a casita and fly down seem to fare the best money wise. They do without a car also (at least in San Miguel) but can rent when necessary.
    It must be a very economical living in Mexico and settling in one place.

  5. JB, I can understand that. If we were to eliminate the fuel costs over and above driving directly to a destination and the higher fees charged by RV parks for short term stays, our costs would be drastically reduced. The years we did remain parked in one place we did not go out for meals nearly as much maybe because we got bored with local eateries and we had much more time to plan and prepare our own meals. Costs were much lower.

    Rick, You are right. Monthly rentals are very reasonable in MX and like I say, food can be very cheap.

  6. Thanks for that comparison Croft. As we contemplate our future travels (one more year to retirement) I rationalize expenses by saying some are common expenses we would have no matter where we were (food, insurance, etc). Also, in theory we would save a bit on utilities not being consumed at home. Naturally, some is offset by travel expenses (fuel, rv, etc) and some do live frugal while traveling. Interesting discussion.
    Bill in Nebr.

  7. Yes Bill, costs can be reduced a lot and we are in complete control. It is human nature to live at the top end of our own budget and the lifestyle can be adapted to live within almost any budget. We compensate for the odd higher RV park fees by boondocking fairly often. We could eat in a lot more and stay put more. Our costs are pretty high while travelling but we compensate by keeping costs down at home. We live within our budget.

    If you read Tioga George's Blog you will learn how to live on a very low budget. You will have to go back a bit because George came into some money recently and is spending far more than he used to but his Blog goes back many years.

  8. I can see the fly and rent. Makes sense for some, easy, quick and much cheaper. Fuel is the monster.

    However, I love my rv, and it is just a matter of managing the miles on the road.

    You just see so many unique and out of the way places, people and things that you have to justify the expense.