That romanticised way of living is now long gone. It was superseded by convoys of motorised travellers and in the seventies and eighties New Age travellers. These people were regarded as outsiders, outlaws even, vilified by society and subject to forceful policing. Things have changed. The housing crisis in the UK is creating a new generation of van dwellers. These are not people opting out of society, but people struggling to maintain their place in society, studying or working and unable to afford the high rents of UK cities. Living in a van is not easy, but it is possible, and increasing numbers of people are opting for this mobile, minimalist lifestyle.
It’s a cheaper way to live
Imagine a life without a mortgage or without a monthly rent. A life without gas bills, electricity bills, water bills or council tax. There are costs involved of course. Vans are not cheap to buy and once bought they need converting for living in. You can’t park a camper van in a city overnight, but you can park a converted van, a ‘stealth camper’. Depending on how much you are going to be moving around there’s the cost of fuel, MOT, maintenance and insurance. If you’ve modified a van you must make the insurer aware, otherwise your insurance will be invalid. You can alter or change your insurance on sites like comparethemarket.com. If you’re parking your van at a campsite then there will also be nightly fees and a charge for the use of electricity. On balance though, life in a van is going to work out much cheaper than living under a conventional roof.
You wake in the morning and throw open the van doors to the sound of gulls, the intoxicating rush of sea air and the sight of waves breaking on a deserted beach. #vanlife has 5.4 million posts on Instagram which depict experiences like this. Living in a van does give you the opportunity to roam at will, though for many, the necessity of earning a living will mean that their travelling is minimal.
There are some things you will have to do without
You are going to need to sign up to a minimalist lifestyle if you are going to live in a van. This can be an enriching experience. Decluttering your life is a way to reduce stress. You won’t be wasting money on impulse buys anymore because there simply won’t be any place to put them. Doing without a bathroom is probably less enriching. You are going to have to find public toilets or take out a membership at a local gym so that you can use it as your bathroom. If you intend to make a living by working on the internet then you will either need to find a source of free internet access, which is not difficult in a city, or take out a large data plan on your mobile.