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Have you got what it takes to embrace ‘van life’?

Written by Travel

Tired of raising rent prices and messy house mates? Ditching student digs and adopting van life could be the solution! The new YouTube fad has broken the travel blogging scene, attracting millions of views per video, but what is it really like living the van-life in the UK? This article will take you through the pros and cons of van life, to see if this money saving idea could change your life. 

‘Van life’ is a phrase used to refer to living inside a converted van, and it has begun to make its way from America over the Atlantic Ocean to the UK. This new and nomadic trend coincides with the rise of minimalism in the UK,  forcing people to detach themselves from their belongings and stability of a home, in favour of the financial and physical freedom of living out of a camper van. YouTube and Instagram are overwhelmed with posts of people showing the process of renovating their vans and documenting their daily routines of van life. It’s easy to get swept up in the van life craze after seeing regular people online live a life less ordinary, although rose-tinted videos might not provide the whole picture. 

The Pros

Image Credit: Ben Shanks from Unsplash

Pro #1 : Low cost of living

One of the main pro’s associated with van life is the low cost. Living out of a vehicle cuts the price of rent out of budgeting, which can be between £300-500 a month in Newcastle, rising significantly in other parts of the UK. Bills such as electricity and water are also a lot cheaper when living out of a vehicle, as adding features such as solar panels are often used to drastically reduce costs.

Pro #2 : Freedom to see the world!

Another pro of van life, which was touched on previously, is the freedom that comes with living out of a van. Being able to have a house on wheels essentially gives you free accommodation in any country you’d ever visit. For people with wanderlust and no commitments, this lifestyle can allow you to travel the world. 

Pro #3 : Lots of privacy

The final advantage to van life is extreme privacy. Some couples, families and friends choose to move into a van together to really cut costs, however for people who choose to partake in van life alone, there is a huge amount of privacy. No housemates and neighbours could be perfect for newly graduated professional, tired of living in student houses. 


The Cons

If the pros of van life listed are currently turning your head away from looking for a house next year towards starting to search for a van on Gumtree, make sure you’re being realistic that the lifestyle is really for you.

Con #1 : No bathroom and limited space

It’s obvious that moving into a van would be a lower quality home, without a toilet or a shower. The small space means having to get creative on space saving ideas. Entertaining guests while living in a van would be a big no-go, so say goodbye to having pre-drinks and afters. 

Con #2 : Expensive start-up costs

Although van life does cut down costs over a period of time, another thing to think about when researching van life is that it does require spending a large chunk of money to start with. Vans initially cost thousands of pounds, with even more money needed to renovate a van into a living space. You also need to remember to factor in the cost of vehicle insurance, maintenance, tax, and petrol. 

Image Credit: Simon Rae from Unsplash

Con #3 : Potentially stressful living situations

The final disadvantage of van life is the stress surrounding living in a vehicle. Especially in the UK; where would you park a huge van? Being confined to a caravan park or storage facility could take away from the freedom associated with van life, not to mention the cost of parking fees! Where would you go to the bathroom? Where would you shower? Despite the fact that people currently living a van life all have solutions for these problems, you have to think if it really is worth it. 

So you decide, does van life seem like a way to escape stress, or does it seem to create more?

Feature Image Credit: Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Last modified: 7th November 2019

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