Although Fulltime Van Life Has Plenty of Benefits, There Are Also Downsides that You Need to Keep in Mind.
More and more people are ditching houses and apartments in favor of the open road. As van life influencers pop up on social media, remember that you’re probably seeing the rose-colored lens of this lifestyle. Although fulltime van life has plenty of benefits, there are also downsides that you need to keep in mind.
Some appeals of fulltime van life include freedom, lower cost of living, and the opportunities for flexible remote work. The drawbacks include limited storage space, a lack of stability, and problems finding personal time/space.
Like any major lifestyle change, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons before committing to a life in a van. Below, we’ve provided a list of some positive and negative aspects of moving your entire life into a van. It can be a great lifestyle choice, but it isn’t for everyone, so carefully consider every angle.
Pros of Fulltime Van Life
Travel and Sightseeing Opportunities
If you’ve ever seen a post about #vanlife on any social media platform, there’s a good chance it included beautiful vistas, fun cities, and gorgeous nature shots. One of the biggest appeals of living in a van is the freedom to travel.
Many people have a bucket list of places they want to go and things they want to do. Sadly, we’re often limited by our living situation and can only travel a few times a year. If you live in a van, though, the sky is the limit! You can travel anywhere you want to without leaving your home behind. Many people who convert to a fulltime van life do so because they want to travel to as many places as possible.
Adventurous and Outdoorsy
Additionally, many people who live in their vans enjoy spending time outdoors. If you’ve ever passed a camper van on the road, you’ve probably seen it laden with bikes, skis, kayaks, and other sports equipment.
Those who love to be active and explore the outdoors are often attracted to the fulltime van lifestyle. You get the opportunity to visit some beautiful destinations and explore them to your heart’s content.
Customized Living Space
If you rent an apartment or home, you may feel restricted in what you can and cannot change. This is frustrating, but living in a van takes those problems away! When you travel and live in a vehicle you own, you have complete freedom to design your living space. Some people even build/design their own vans so they can create custom floor plans that accommodate their every need.
Many vanlifers have unique setups that enable them to work from inside the vehicle. Some have multipurpose pieces of furniture, artistic touches, and beautiful design aesthetics. But even if you want something simple and practical, you’re free to do so! Living in a van allows you to transform the space to suit your personal needs.
Cheaper than The Alternatives
One major appeal of fulltime van life is the cost. Buying a house is a huge commitment and an expensive one too! Paying rent on an apartment every month also adds up and can be a major drain on your savings. In comparison, living in a van is quite economical.
You can generally own your vehicle and mainly need to pay for fuel, food, and occasionally parking. Of course, van life comes with its own expenses, but it is generally much cheaper than the alternatives. Compared to other RVs, camper vans tend to be the cheapest. This might be an option worth exploring if you’re living on a tight budget.
Remote Work/Flexible Schedule
More and more jobs nowadays are offering opportunities for remote work. This is ideal for those who want to live out of their vans because they can work from anywhere (as long as there’s a stable internet connection). Due to the cheaper cost of living, you also don’t have to work as much to support yourself.
Remote work tends to come with a flexible schedule, so you can work when you want to and spend the rest of your time relaxing and enjoying the different places you travel to. If you have skills that translate to remote work, consider switching to the van life!
Finally, living in a van enables you to live a more minimalistic lifestyle. This can be a drawback for some people, but others find it liberating. Separating yourself from the baggage of too many possessions can be therapeutic.
It’s nice to travel with only the essentials and appreciate the things you have. Once you cut back on your possessions, you’ll recognize the significant things and cherish them more. Living a simplistic lifestyle will help you arrange your priorities differently.
Cons of Fulltime Van Life
Lack of Storage Space
Now it’s time to move on to the downsides of van life. The first one is one of the hardest for people to adjust to and is the lack of storage space within a van. While simplicity is one thing, we all need things to sustain a normal life, and a van only has so much room.
This limited space is a drawback because you may have to restrict your wardrobe, go without some modern comforts, and eat out more often because there isn’t space for all the food you’d like to bring.
If you’re traveling alone, this isn’t a problem, but couples and families who live out of vans often experience friction due to the lack of privacy and personal space. Everyone sometimes needs some room for themselves, but there isn’t much room for that when you all travel and live in the same vehicle. This can lead to tension, fights, and other consequences if you’re not careful.
Human beings are hard-wired to seek out stability in our lives. Many people want to put down permanent roots and surround themselves with familiar things. So although it’s fun to travel, the constant change can be exhausting and stressful.
You must constantly seek new places to park, spend the night, eat out, wash your laundry, etc. If you thrive on routine and stability, van life is probably not a good fit.
Fewer Options for Work
Although remote work is becoming increasingly available to people, it’s not a perfect solution. Some people only have trade skills or education in specific areas. You might not be qualified to work remotely, so you’ll have difficulty finding stable work during your travels. This adds another layer of stress that can be hard to cope with.
Less Access to Hygiene
Most camper vans are not equipped with bathrooms, so passengers must rely on other sources for showers and restroom stops. This doesn’t mean you can’t stay clean in an RV, but it does take more work.
Many fulltime van lifers resort to using dry shampoo, washing their hair in a bucket, or simply going without a shower for a few days. You also need to find laundromats to wash your clothes and park near a bathroom. The level of cleanliness and hygiene vary wildly, so this lifestyle can be hard to adjust to if you’re a neat freak.
Finally, consider the social and emotional impact of living in a van. Because you travel so much, you won’t have a consistent community or support network (at least not one close by). This can foster feelings of loneliness and isolation, even if you travel with another person.
Think about your social needs and try to gauge whether or not you can fulfill them if you are constantly moving from place to place.