Have you ever considered how to live in a van and make money? With the added benefit of saving too! This blog will answer how you can go about it, check it out and see if this is a lifestyle you can see yourself living!
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Living Mortgage Free and Van Dwelling Costs
As house prices in the U.K. and other countries steadily rise, more and more of us find it challenging to save for the initial deposit and afford our monthly mortgage repayments. Others can’t face the idea of having to pay a loan back over 25 years with interest.
Living in a van is far cheaper than living in a home and is becoming increasingly popular, but it comes with unique expenses. The most considerable expense is the upfront cost of buying yourself a van but remember you won’t have to pay stamp duty. Monthly bills will often include:
- van insurance,
- gym membership to use shower facilities,
- fuel costs,
- parking/pitching fees,
- P.O. box rentals,
- emergency fund in the event you break down,
- laundry usage,
- upgrading interiors,
- vehicle tax and annual MOT.
However, living in a smaller space also means living a basic and inexpensive life:
- Fewer shopping sprees as less storage to keep your collection of clothes and home accessories
- Buying food that you will eat, see here how to save money on food
- Spending less money on utilities, e.g. water, electricity, and no council tax bills
Below I have written some suggestions on how to pay for van life.
How can I make money with my van life?
You’re wondering how do van dwellers make money and still live van life to the fullest, click here to view our previous blog on how to make money online. These are some other ideas on how you can do it:
- Self publish a book using websites such as Amazon.
- Invest in stocks and shares.
- Sell Amazon Affiliate products.
- Use Fiverr as your freelance platform.
- Build websites (for example, monetise Pinterest), apps or create a following on social media
- Use your van to make money by becoming a delivery driver for Deliveroo, Amazon Flex, Yodel or other companies that allow you to be self-employed and flexi work.
- Find temporary short term employment such as bar work, labour or admin.
- Seasonal jobs, e.g. lifeguarding, farming or working in retail over Christmas.
- Remote work if permitted by your current employer.
- Sell your hobby on Etsy.
- Rent out your old home.
Where to buy
There are many options for vans to buy depending on the size you prefer. Also consider if you would like to do the remodelling into a livable van yourself or not. Good places to start your search are AutoTrader and eBay.
If you are unsure how to remodel or are looking for professional work, companies such as Van Life Builds will design and build your bespoke interior.
Popular van models to consider for conversions or on the market campervans are:
- Volkswagen Transporter
- Volkswagen California Camper Van
- Ford Transit
- Renault Trafic
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
- Fiat Ducato
Living in a van in winter is something you should consider before choosing to have a van as a full-time dwelling. Keeping warm can be difficult, and a good heating source is vital if you don’t plan on migrating to warmer climates.
Ensure that your vehicle is well insulated, including the floors and windows. If your water tank is located underneath your van, fit it with a heater to prevent the tank from freezing.
Along with colder nights comes condensation; having good airflow by installing a vent fan and dehumidifiers can help manage the air’s moisture.
Other extras you can use to make the winter months cosier include hot water bottles, insulated blankets, a camping stove and flasks to keep your hot drinks warmer for longer.
The other seasons are a lot easier to manage, and spending time in a van will bring you closer to nature whilst you experience all four seasons pass by.
Van life with a dog comes with a few compromises, but they are worth it.
You have to consider that you can not leave your dog alone in the van for extended periods, especially in hot weather, therefore you will have to take them with you. A little research makes this easier once you know which places are dog friendly or using websites, such as BorrowMyDoggy, you can find a dog sitter in your area.
You will be sharing a compact space; the positives of this are that you are more likely to be spending your time outside living a healthy lifestyle exploring with your dog. It’s also the perfect excuse to have them up sleeping in your bed with them. If you are not keen on this, snuggling up on a front seat in their dog bed will keep them happy.
Be prepared by having a dog towel to dry them off before they jump in and a small dustpan and brush to clean away any mess quickly. A dog comes with its own food, leashes, bowls and bed, which will all take up some of your limited storage. Buy food that you can easily purchase in many locations to prevent bulk buying.
Before moving into your van, do smaller excursions so that your dog can get familiar and comfortable in the surroundings. And if you are planning on travelling abroad, be sure to see your vet beforehand so that all vaccinations are up to date and bring along the paperwork, including microchip details.
If you have a cat, there are a few more challenges. Some cats simply do not like living in a van, and keeping a litter box in a confined space gets smelly quickly, so you have to be realistic. Training your cat to wear a leash and harness allows them the freedom to venture outside the van on stops. A pet tracker will give you some peace of mind if they manage to escape the van when parked up. Incorporate some of their favourite scratching posts to distract your cat from tearing up your living space and make them feel at home.
Van living pets is a wonderful bonding experience and is doable if you’re willing to accommodate them.
Can I sleep in my van anywhere, and is living in a van legal?
As long as your vehicle is insured, taxed and has a valid MOT, the short answer is yes, it is legal to live in your van. However, local bylaws in the U.K. may prevent you from parking your van overnight. It is always best to research first and always be considerate, leave places as you wish to find them and try to stay out of the way.
Some options on where to park are:
- at campsites
- at a working farm
- pubs and hotels that accommodate van parking can be found in the BritStops guide
- wild camping, legal in Scotland and on Dartmoor
- motorway service stations
Keep in mind some of these places may charge a small fee.
For information regarding the legalities of driving, visit the governments’ Highway Code website.
UKVanlife is an excellent resource where people living in vans share their advice and journies with communities across social media.
Living in a van gives you complete freedom to travel and stay in some incredible places; let me know if you’ve ever considered van life in the comment sections below or if you have any tips!