While Chris and I don’t stress about trying to follow a budget (our life is too variable!), a data geek like me enjoys tracking expenses and analyzing trends. We have a cost log published going back a couple years, and we know that many people have found it valuable to get a real-world example of what it costs to live a nomadic life.
Before going nomadic, we each had more typical households with all their expenses. After nearly 4 years on the road, habits and priorities change. We got out of the consumer spending cycle, not just to save money – but because we had no space to store stuff when living in 80 square feet.
We’ve continued tracking our expenses as we’ve transitioned to a temporarily more stationary lifestyle here in St. John, and one of the intriguing aspects of parking our RV and moving here has been seeing how our spending habits have not changed much while being stationary.
Normally, I don’t report our food expenses on our public cost log – they’re so variable and personalized, that I just don’t feel that our costs will be useful to others. However, the cost of food is one of the major cost of living differences, so I found it interesting to see how our food bill changed.
On St. John, groceries cost roughly 1.5x – 3x the as stateside prices. This markup comes from a combination of everything having to be shipped in (usually via Miami), lack of economies of scale, and it being high tourist season on a destination resort island. We noticed prices in Cruz Bay creeping higher as tourist season peaked.
The cheapest grocery option is to take the car ferry over to St. Thomas and stock up at a warehouse store. However, since it’s an all day affair and costs $48 roundtrip to take the car ferry, you have to do a lot of stocking up to make it worthwhile.
Here’s some examples of grocery prices on St. John:
This red onion cost $4.77!
Can of black beans – $1.95
No matter how much folks warned us about food costs in advance, and even sent us grocery ads, we spent the first couple of weeks here in sticker shock. The only good deal was the rum. As a result, drinks are mixed strong here because the liquor costs less than the mixers!
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