Van Life: Before you Make the Lifestyle Change
Twenty-ish years ago, calling your car “home” was a last resort, and mainly thought of for the “homeless”. Fast forward to now, and it’s a generation’s greatest aspiration! Many Millennials are following the “trend” of the 1970’s, ditching living in standard homes, and opting to live out of their vans. Here’s some insight to find out if the new “American Dream” is really for you.
Van Life Series
#VanLife has it’s pros and cons, but the following are what I considered to be quality attributes to the lifestyle- do you agree?
More Cost Effective
NO MORTGAGE OR RENT! You can live out of a van on a $1,500/mo budget or less. Aside from road tax, car repairs, insurance, fuel, and food, there are far less things to pay for when it comes to owning and living out of a van. According to statistics on OutboundLiving.com, most people live in a van with at least 1 other person, so that amount is SPLIT! Say goodbye to $2-3k/mo in independent bills, say hello to financial freedom!
Exposed to Cultured Life Experiences
#VanLife allows you to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life. Like sleeping under the stars somewhere remote, with only the sounds of light wind and crickets chirping in the air. Or traveling less known roads, untouched pieces of land, where you may not see another soul- other than your travel partner(s)- for miles.
When you take away all of the stuff, you really get to focus on the little things that may be overlooked in everyday life. We’ve become conditioned to thinking being hunched over our cell phones & computers, moving a mile-a-minute for 8+ hours a day, is the “norm.” For that, we aren’t present. We often don’t notice the beautiful birds flying through the sunset, or the shooting stars in the sky, because we’re worried about the notification we just got on our phones. I don’t know about you, but I want to notice those things.
#VanLife throws a curveball at this so-called “norm”- whether it be your minimalistic lifestyle forcing you to improvise your “norm”, or you probably won’t have Wi-Fi or cell service everywhere, so you’re forced to stop and take it all in. Or maybe during your travels you’re more inclined to meet new people and build new relationships of different cultures. The opportunities are really endless when you’re not sucked into the internet, social media, or smartphones. Many like to just take a deep breath, and take it all in without distraction, but this lifestyle may not be for everyone.
Digital Nomad: Technology Now Allows You to Work from the Road
9-5’s can be restrictive, we know. Who wants to work their life away? Not me, I want to LIVE my life away! Fortunately, many jobs now are internet-based and have the ability to remotely work from almost anywhere. You can plan to be in a place that has service if you need to be, amongst other Wifi options. Flexible scheduling + work on the road =’s endless opportunities & free time to do what you want!
The Freedom to Travel
There are some limitations when traveling overseas, but otherwise travel costs are drastically reduced. With “normal” jobs, you have to take unpaid time off or use up limited PTO hours to enjoy traveling. With #VanLife, you work on the road, so basically you’re getting paid to travel!
You can plan a road trip to almost anywhere driveable, planning interesting stops along the way, or you can just explore locally and find some hidden gems you wouldn’t otherwise have time for. You want to explore Yosemite National Park? See the Grand Canyon? Or even head across the country to Acadia National Park and hit everything in between? Well, opportunities are endless with #VanLife.
Things to Consider...
#VanLife isn’t for everyone, so how do you know if it’s for you? 4 things to ask yourself before considering making the lifestyle switch:
Are you doing this for you?
We know #VanLife looks cool, and is the new “trend’, but it is a huge commitment and lifestyle change, so you don’t want to do it for the wrong reasons.
Does this lifestyle make sense for you?
If you will miss the structure of a 9-5, always being close to friends and family, and having a permanent roof over your head... These are all things you should consider before making the transition into #VanLife. As noted before, there may be days where the only other person you see is your travel partner(s) (if you have one), so you need to make sure you’re comfortable with that. Life on the road can get lonely, but that’s up to you to decide. You choose where you travel, so this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, as you can easily stay within cell service towers and Wi-Fi at all times.
Can you go days without showering?
Seriously, kiss daily showers out the door-- unless you’re at a public gym with showers every day. Personal hygiene is typically not top priority to most vandwellers, can you cope with that? If not, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker. Some vans have built in showers, which would be an added expense, but that may be worth it to you.
Do you care what people think?
Your reputation may turn into a “dirty lazy hippie”, but who cares if you’re living your best life? Don’t let people’s opinions deter you from living your dream. Ditch other people’s opinions, and make sure you do what makes you happy.
A good idea is to “Test Drive” the van lifestyle before you fully commit. Borrow or rent a van and take a long, disconnected trip. See if you enjoy living on the road with minimal “stuff” and limited access to internet or cell service. Again, this may not always be the case, as you choose where you want to travel, but you want to make sure you’re able to enjoy yourself during the times you are in remote locations. You don’t want to quit your corporate job, sell your house or break your lease, and then come to find #VanLife is not the life for you, forcing you to start all over again. Do your research!
But what do you do with your extra stuff?
Now we know that minimizing “stuff” is the game plan for #VanLife, but there are some things that are just too special to let go of. Like that antique chest that your grandmother gifted you, but you have no space for in your van. So what do you do?
Rent a Storage Unit
There are affordable options for monthly self storage rentals, almost anywhere. If you have a “home base”, find a storage location nearby to store any seasonal items, or items that aren’t able to fit in your van full time. If you travel from place to place quite often, try to find yourself a centralized location to rent a storage unit so that you can make a day trip there pretty easily if needed.
Rent a Truck
If you’re not able to fit items in your van to load and unload into storage, there are affordable options to rent a truck by the hour or day, like Penske Truck Rental.
Hire Moving Labor
It’s as easy as searching your zip code to compare and hire local moving companies in your area for labor-only services to help load and unload your truck!
“American Dream”, or nah?
As stated previously, #VanLife has gained popularity again amongst the US. It isn’t for everyone, but it may be for you! I hope this information gives you some insight on the new “American Dream” before you take the leap.