We’ve officially lived in our van for over a month now and wanted to share our initial thoughts. We didn’t try out vanlife prior to moving in so we have learned a lot in the past month about perks and challenges of this lifestyle, as well as adjustments we needed to make.
Organization is key: We knew going into this that we would be living in a small space and everything needed to have a place but we can’t emphasize enough how important this is. If things aren’t organized the van starts to feel cluttered, which can cause unnecessary stress. Living in such a small space kind of forces you to keep things tidy and clean so that you have an enjoyable experience.
Home is where you park it: We’ve heard this a million times but never understood the meaning until our vanlife journey started. In the past month we have slept in the desert, under mountains, and also in Walmart and truck stop parking lots but no matter where we are we always feel at home in the van. Its been amazing to have this feeling when we are used to moving every three months with travel nursing. To have a home anywhere we choose to go is one of the best things about vanlife for us.
You save a lot of money: We just drove from NC to AZ for our most recent assignment and we typically have to worry about finding and paying for a place to stay every night while we are traveling. On top of that when we get to our new location we have a security deposit and rent to pay. With vanlife all of this is taken out of the equation. We park on BLM land on our days off and when we have to be in the city for work we stay at businesses that allow overnight parking. We also haven’t needed or wanted to eat out as much since we always have our kitchen with us wherever we go. We still have our van payment that we make every month but it is nothing compared to the cost of rent and the stress of finding housing every three months.
You have more time to enjoy the present moment: We remember when we were renting a place and we would have to go home after a twelve hour shift and get our things ready for a weekend trip or pack a bag with everything we needed for a hike. We didn’t even realize how much time this consumed until we didn’t have to deal with it every week. We now have the freedom to take off and go at any moment knowing that we have all that we need in the back of our van. This has allowed us to spend more time enjoying our day to day life and doing things that we enjoy.
Overall vanlife has been a very positive expereince so far. You do have your own special challenges like planning your shower and where you are going to sleep for the night…things that you don’t have to worry about if you have a house but for us these things are part of the adventure and a small price to pay to live this lifestyle.