Vanlife Pt. 6: A Yearly Budget

A years gone by and we’ve managed to live in our tiny home on wheels while traveling, snowboarding, mountain biking and working. It’s been a year of assessing our wants vs. needs by keeping track of expenses and focusing on a realistic budget most fitting with our income(s) and lifestyle.

To keep it simple, we allocated and organized our spending into 7 categories: Personal, Food/Drink, Fuel/Travel, Accommodations/Living, Vehicle, Sports and Tourism. 


The chart above highlights trends that reflect our spending based on where we were residing.

February-May (2016): Rotorua
Excluding the cost/ purchase of our van.. when arriving in New Zealand and for the first 4 months we decided to stay unemployed with no income coming in and pay no rent by living in our van. We stuck to the North Island for this time tramping, mountain biking, and the occasional touristy adventure. After the purchase of our van, we also invested in upgrading and doing minor renovations of our tiny home on wheels.

Monthly Average Spent (Together): $2460 

June-September (2016): Wanaka
We made our way south for the winter season and settled in Wanaka to work and snowboard in the area. We lived in a holiday park paying weekly rent, while both working at one of the local ski hills (Cardrona) full-time from June to the end of August. We were shuttled to and from work everyday, and trips taken on days off were typically kept to local spots until we left our jobs in September and ski toured all over the south island for the rest of the winter season.

Monthly Average Spent (Together): $2330

October (2016)-January (2017): Christchurch
We decided after finishing up the ski season, Christchurch would be a good central location for our second summer of mountain biking in New Zealand. Mitch began work mid-October, while I didn’t start until December. We had savings from our ski jobs used towards our touring in September and the transition period between jobs. Being that we were in a bigger city with more options, I got a yoga membership and Mitch a gym membership. And by December with us both working full-time, we had the income and with some family help for the holiday’s we splurged for a very necessary new clutch and extended our visas to stay in New Zealand for another year.

To start things off in 2017, while working at a bike shop Mitch got a great deal and used his NZ savings to purchase a brand new MTB. I also did some upgrades to my bike to better suit the surrounding terrain (brakes, tires, bars, etc). We also began taking more road trips again around Canterbury and the West-coast to indulge in the amazing backcountry biking that’s offered in this country.

Monthly Average Spent (Together): $2950

To compare the last 12-months of income made (if any) vs our spending: 


And sum up all the dollars earned vs spent:
Yearly Total Income (Together): $26,570
Yearly Total Spent (Together): $30, 950

Despite where we were residing and whether there was any income made or not, our monthly spending has been fairly consistent in the $2000-3000 range (together). And to show our overall yearly budget based by category, we spent an average each month on:

Personal: $385
Food/Drink: $605
Fuel/Travel: $485
Accommodations/Living: $330
Vehicle: $340
Sports: $365
Tourism: $66


Pie chart showing our yearly budget spent per category (averages in %).

As we break into our next yearly budget, we’re continuing to monitor our spending by adapting to wherever we reside and make an income before the time comes when we’ll move back home to Canada, settle into a different routine, and where our spending and income(s) will adjust based on our new lifestyle.

Posted by Marisa 

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