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Living In A Van: What Does It Feel Like?

living in a van

What does living in a van feel like? And why should you be living in a van in the first place?

If you remember reading Famous Five books by Enid Blyton in school, you might remember the adventures they had in caravans. The four kids and the dog even managed to stay beside a circus camp. The descriptions of the fun they had left us longing for a caravan.

Let us not forget another van that made us so obsessed with vans. The ‘Mystery Machine’ from Scooby-Doo was a huge craze back then.

living in a van

But why do people want to live in a van? There is no specific answer to this question. Some people are tired of their mundane 9 to 5 job. At the same time, others are constantly looking for something new in their life.

Whatever the case, this article will help you understand the quirky realities of living in a van. You can also check for yourself if this lifestyle is for you.

Living In A Van: What Does It Feel Like?

1. Small Space

living in a van

The first thing that will dawn upon you when you move into a van is the lack of space. But your excitement of switching to a new lifestyle will overcome that realization.

The most obvious thing that you will experience is confinement. You will have very little space to move around and manage everything. Usually, the new van dwellers end up stuffing a lot of unnecessary items.

This is where the minimalists won’t have a problem. They know exactly what things they need and use. You will have to switch to a minimalist perspective and only take along the bare necessities.

Let us be honest. You cannot have a washing machine and a dishwasher inside the tiny van. The van can barely hold half of your wardrobe.

2. Always on the move

living in a van

So, you get to carry around your entire house wherever you go. Sound fun, right? Imagine, you get to carry your books and favorite crockery set everywhere you go.

The sense of liberty that you can hit the road anytime is something worth experiencing. You can make a bucket list of the places that you want to explore and check them off one by one.

3. A new location every day

Just like we mentioned, living in a van comes with unique perks. One of them is moving around frequently. So why not live in a new location every day?

Maybe you could stay on a beach on Monday and go up the hill on Friday. You can spend the day under a shady tree and sleep in the Walmart parking lot.

The van life will surely quench your wanderlust.

4. Feels like you are on vacation every day

living in a van

Like we mentioned earlier, some people switch to this lifestyle because they are sick of there monotonous jobs. They are seeking the ‘greater something’ in their life. But sometimes, all we need is a long vacation.

Living in a van might be the break you need. Imagine the excitement of waking up in new locations.

You can park yourself along the shore of a lake and calm yourself for the day. You can lay on the roof of the van and gaze at the stars. You can click the setting sun on the beach and warm yourself by the little bonfire.

5. Adventure

living in a van

The most apparent reason why anyone would live in a van is the endless possibilities of adventure. If you see the van life photos on social media, you will surely catch those vibes. You will be all ‘wanderlust’ and start looking for vans right away.

Every day is like a road trip. You will be living on the road for as long as you want. You will be living in a John Green novel.

You will explore new places, meet new people, and witness several vivid cultures. Real life happens when you step out on the road and not online.

6. You save a lot of money

living in a van

If you don’t own a house, you don’t have to pay the rent. You do not need any heavy victorian furniture. You do not have to worry about any bills.

You will save money on all the household appliances that you work so hard to buy. You will save a lot of money on clothes and accessories too.

7. More convenient than a tent

living in a van

Living in a van is a lot more convenient than living in a tent. You get a soft, comfy bed to sleep in. And you obviously do not have to worry about transportation if you have a van

Even if the place is small, the van is safer than a tent. Besides this, you will be spending most of your time outside the van. You will be cooking outside and wandering around most of the time.

Be Ready For These Things Too!

So the van life photos must have got you mesmerized. Now all you can think about is buying an old van and paint it red and blue.

But before you go ahead and get a van, you must think of the consequences and feasibility of the move. Some common difficulties that van dwellers

1. Where’s my water?

This is the very first question that you will ask yourself when you start living in a van. Seriously, water is going to cause you problems. You will have to hunt for rivers and waterfalls to bathe, brush, and clean.

You will have to clean your dishes and wash clothes in very little water. You might have to wear the same t-shirt for a week.

Do not forget the water that you need to drink. You will always have to be conscious of the potable water stock.

2. You might be cooped up when it rains

living in a van

Living in a van feels all fun and games till the sun shines brightly in a blue sky. But the rain makes you feel exactly the opposite. You are going to be inside all day in a tiny place.

Your clothes won’t dry, and you will struggle to keep everything else dry. Let us not talk about the possible leakages.

3. Flat Tyres

living in a van

And now we come to the crucial part – the maintenance of the van. Yes, to keep your vehicle running smoothly, you will have to change oils and keep it upgraded. Then there are all other sorts of repairs.

You never know when you might get a puncture. If you do not know how to fix it yourself, then it will cost you a bit.

4. What if you run out of fuel?

Having an extra tank of fuel is a must. You never know when you might need extra fuel.

Sometimes, you won’t find a gas station easily in remote areas. These are the times when you will need fuel. You cannot risk running out of gas in the middle of a winding country road.

5. The budget might get out of hand 

living in a van

If you are switching to the van life to save money, then think twice. It may be easy to imagine a life on wheels with no rent and EMIs. But the vehicle needs regular maintenance and sometimes might empty your pockets.

In addition to that, you have to buy a van first. Then you will, of course, want to personalize it and modify the interior for living in it. Even if the van is old or pre-owned, you have to spend a lot on modifications.

You must have a mini-refrigerator, water filter, a hot plate, and solar panels for electricity. These might cost you a fortune.

Most of the campsites charge a negligible amount per night, but it is not feasible to spend $10 every night. You will have to hunt for free campsites or some cozy place.

And let’s not forget the fuel costs.

6. Messed up routine

Whenever we think of running away from home and living in a jungle, we often forget that we need wifi and the internet.

Similarly, we forget that living in a van will transform the way you live entirely. You will have to forget about showers and clean laundry. There’s no way you can fit a washing machine in that tiny van.

The idea of showering in rivers and streams might be appealing. But in reality, you will not find a water body every time. You might end up showering at a gas station or star bucks. Even worse, you may have to forego showering altogether.

If you are planning to work online while on the move, then think twice. If you wander off into some distant countryside or forest, you will lose internet connectivity. There will be no internet for hours. Do think twice about this.

Deciding what to pack for the van life? We have you covered!

7. It may not always be fun

living in a van

If you think you will have exciting adventures every day, then you are mistaken. You will have to find water every day and learn to get by with minimal things.

In addition to this, you might get bored of driving every day and find a place to park yourself at night. On some days, the endless road just goes on and on in front of you, and you have no clear destination in your mind.

These days are disheartening and frustrating because your experience doesn’t match the #vanlife on Instagram.

Is Living in a Van Illegal?

Before we get into the discussion of buying a van and calling it home, we will clear out an important question – is living in a van legal?

Yes, it is absolutely legal. No state in the U.S. requires the citizens to have a physical address. There are no local laws that are against living in a van or a refrigerator box. Van dwellers have all the rights and duties that any other American has.

Then why do people think that living in a van is illegal? Well, it kind of makes you homeless as you don’t have a permanent address. And there are other problems with van life as well.

Buying The Right Van

living in a van

Now, you have weighed all the pros and cons of moving into a van, and you want a van. Here are some things to consider that will help you choose the best van for you.

1. Budget

Set a budget and then look for a vehicle. You certainly don’t want the van life to cost you a fortune. If you have a tight budget, you might consider pre-owned vans and convert them.

But if budget is no restraint, then you might even want to consider a fancy RV or a camper van.

Also, if you want to hit the road immediately, then it would be best if you look for a van that is already modified for living.

2. Duration

How long are you planning to be on the road? If you plan on living for a year or a few months, then there is no point in getting expensive stuff. You can go for a second-hand van and do the DIY conversions.

But if you are aiming to be on the wheels for the long term, then it is best to get good quality and durable stuff. In this case, you can spend a little extra on the van.

3. Locations

Where are you planning to travel? The terrain and climate of the location will determine the kind of van that you need.

If you want to travel to cold places, then you must winterize your van. In comparison, a compact van would be suitable for city traveling. If the roads you take are going to be rough, then go for a sturdier van.

4. Number of People

And finally, the number of people will decide the size of the van. If you are alone, then you can adjust to a minivan. But if you have a partner tagging along, then you have to have plenty of room.

Besides, you may start alone, but there’s a possibility that you won’t be alone when you hit the road. You might get a pet.

In the end, it is totally up to you if you want to be on the wheels or not. The overall experience of living in a van is unique, exciting, and enthralling.

There are plenty of apps that help in tracking the best routes, free parking, and nearest campsites. You will need to have GPS and maps to spot gas stations and Walmarts.

Before succumbing to the wanderlust, do your homework. Check out the van dwellers on social media, watch some YouTube videos, and read some blog posts.

So this was an article on ‘Living In A Van: What Does It Feel Like?’ We hope you found this article interesting and helpful. Have you lived in a van? If yes, then feel free to share your experiences below.

Nitisha Upadhye

Written by Nitisha Upadhye

Life is all about good food and siestas.

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