A simple search of #vanlife on Instagram will bring up tons of pictures of a life that looks like a dream come true. The epic renovated VW vans that they live out of paired with tons of travel photos makes most people green with jealousy and it’s for good reason. Those living, working and travelling out of their vans will tell you just how much they love the van life. However, there are things to think about before you jump into this unconventional lifestyle.
Before you drastically switch up your life and hit the road, you need to make sure you’re ready for the van life. As much as those living in vans will tell you how much they love it, they’ll also be quick to tell you it’s not just sunshine and rainbows. It it hard? Sometimes. It is worth it? Yes.
These are five things you should consider before living in a van:
1. Think about the space (or lack thereof)
You may think your overpriced bachelor apartment is small, but compared to a van you’re living large. One of the most important things to think about before moving into a van is if you’ll be able to enjoy living in such a small space. You’ll have to downsize like you’ve never downsized before and even then you may feel like you have too much stuff.
The van-living motto is experiences over items, which is true because you want to travel and have new experiences in your van and also because you really can’t bring that much stuff. Once you get into the habit of having few possessions and get used to the size of your van, it won’t be a problem. It’s just the initial adjustment that may be harder than you thought.
2. It may be lonely
Living in a regular home, working a regular job and doing regular activities means you’re always socializing with different people, even if it’s just a “thank-you” at the coffee shop. However, being lonelier than anticipated was another common complaint from those living in vans. Like everything, it just takes getting used to. But if you’re a social person and used to common interactions with other people, it may be a big adjustment for you.
You won’t have a wi-fi connection 24/7 to be in constant contact with friends and family, you won’t live in a normal neighbourhood and establish relationships with neighbours and you’ll spend lots of time driving, which can result in a lonely lifestyle. Staying busy will fight off the loneliness. That can mean reading, writing, exercising or exploring.
3. Think about the costs
It’s common for people who choose to live in a van to save up beforehand. But even if you save up, you’ll probably still need a source income depending on how long you’re staying in the van. Maybe you plan on parking your van in one spot for months to work the odd job or maybe you’re freelancing or working remotely on the road. Whatever your plan is, make sure you’e thought about how you’ll afford life on the road.
4. Think about the logistics
Things that are easy in your regular everyday life won’t come as easy when you’re living in a van. Laundry, showering, going to the washroom and cooking will take way more thought than you’ve ever had to put into it. And if you’re constantly moving from city to city, you won’t fall into any strict routines as your laundry spot and go-to shower will change as you move.
Finding places to park your van can also be stressful, especially if you’re tired and in a new spot. There’s tips and tricks to find cheap or free parking that you’ll learn with experience. But, having some type of plan for places to park along your route is a good idea.
5. Consider the change
Going from a regular, comfortable lifestyle to an unconventional one will be a huge change. Quitting your job, ending your lease and saying bye to friends and family can be pretty scary. So before you decide to take the plunge, make sure you’re as ready as you can be. The lifestyle will be completely different and a huge change from what you’re used to, but the experiences and memories will be invaluable.