Before you give up your dream condo or sell your belongings you should consider a few things about van life. It’s easy to get caught up in the morning coffee overlooking the ocean Instagram posts and the idea of having no mortgage or rent.
As with any big decision in life, there are pros and cons to full-time van living. Here are just a few things to consider when doing your research.
Pro – Freedom
This is the reason most people choose to live in a camper van. When your home is compact and on wheels, the possible locations are almost endless.
Vans are the “swiss army knives” of RVs. They can kinda do everything. From forest roads to mountain passes to transiting and even living in big cities, vans give you options no other RV does.
There are two big factors that determine our location: our jobs and our homes. If your home is on wheels you are free to roam as you please. If you plan on living in a camper van full-time, looking into or transitioning to remote work will open up even more adventures for you.
Con – Space
This should be no surprise to anyone thinking about living in a camper van. Although many new vans have a surprising amount of room and amenities, they are still cramped even compared to small condos. You may have to give up some of your stuff or do without some comforting conveniences if you go the van route.
When planning your van you really need to be honest with yourself about how much space you really need. It’s one thing to look at some pictures and watch some videos but renting or borrowing a van is a good idea. Singles and couples make up almost all of the full-time van community for good reason.
Pets should be considered as well and although a dog or cat may find your van comfy, it probably isn’t gonna work if you currently have a small zoo at your house.
Pro – Cost of living
This is another one that intrigues many people. You will always have costs even if you have a fully paid-for van. For most, rent or a mortgage is their biggest and longest-lasting payment. Even with a van payment, this bill will be significantly less than paying off a house.
Many people choose van life to lessen their cost of living. In return lessening the amount of money, they need to earn, and subsequently, the amount they have to work.
Maybe you and your partner want to save money and travel a bit before starting a family? This could be a great opportunity to try living in a camper van for a year or two.
Con – You need find places to stay
The fact that your home is now mobile likely means you don’t have a property. Campgrounds and boondocking areas are plentiful, however, you may have to consider your commute to work or how long you are allowed to stay in any given area.
Many cities and lots of locations including beaches, do not allow overnighting and this can be a problem for some. You will have to plan your stays and at some point will be inconvenienced to move along when you’re woken up at 2:00 AM and asked to leave.
Just because you can park somewhere doesn’t mean you will be allowed to stay.
Pro – Your life will be simplified
When you think of living in a camper van do you dream of a more simple life? Most do and it is one of the biggest draws.
Some of this simplification may be forced such as living without all the comforts of a house and the consumer goods you collect when you have space. As humans, we have come to expect to be comfortable all the time. Sometimes being pushed away from those comforts is much needed.
Once you realize you don’t actually need all these things and your mind doesn’t have to be fully stimulated all the time, you will learn to relax and appreciate and prioritize what really matters.
Con – Your decision will be questioned
“What do you mean you live in a van?” Explaining to your family that you are willingly moving your life into a camper van may be an interesting conversation. Or telling coworkers you can’t host Friday cocktails cause your van only seats two.
In the end, it’s your choice but it can come with some animosity or strange looks. This will probably be more true for older people who aren’t just crazy teenagers heading off on a pre-college road trip.
The common idea of a home being sticks and bricks and where you plant your roots is changing. To many, however, the idea of living in a camper van will still seem crazy.
So is van life for you? Well, that’s a question you will have to answer based on your own personal situation. The important thing is that you do some research and weigh out all the pros and cons.
Living in a camper van comes with its challenges for sure but there are also lots of pluses. There must be a reason so many people are choosing the van life!