Social media often portrays van life as this picture perfect lifestyle where you travel freely and have no worries. As with any type of home, van life comes with its own special challenges. For us personally, the good outweighs the bad by a long shot, but we thought it was important to share some of the less desirable aspects of living in a van. Before transitioning to van life it is best to consider what comforts you may or may not be willing to give up to guarantee that this lifestyle is best for you.
A huge con with living in a vehicle is that you may run into mechanical issues from time to time. In the case that the issue is severe or the dealership does not have the part needed for repair in stock, you may have to move things out of your home and find a hotel or Airbnb temporarily. It is always a good idea to have an emergency fund and a backup plan for situations like this. Another piece of advice is to purchase a van with low mileage and to be aware of any previous owners, accidents, or mechanical problems before buying your vehicle.
One of the biggest adjustments we had when moving into our van was getting used to going into the gym to take a shower. There have definitely been times after work where it feels like such a task to pack a bag and drive to Planet Fitness to shower. While it is possible to have a shower built into your van, we opted to save the space we would have used for a shower and deal with the inconvenience of going to the gym.
Dumping and Refilling Water:
One weekly chore we have in the van is dumping our grey water and our toilet. Depending on the size of your grey water tank this may be done more or less often than once a week. In order to dump the dirty water and waste from the toilet, you will need to find a dump station in the area. These can typically be found at truck stops or RV parks. It is crucial that you keep an eye on these water levels or you will end up with a mess, along with several hours worth of cleaning and scrubbing the area where the water was spilled (trust us, we are speaking from experience).
Along with dumping the dirty water, you will also have to fill your fresh water tank to have water for washing dishes, brushing your teeth, ect. This is another chore that is done about once a week. Many states have water fill stations at grocery stores or drug stores, it is just a matter of locating them.
Moving into a van after being accustomed to having the space of an apartment or house can be a little overwhelming at first, especially if you are living with someone else. It takes time to learn how to organize your space and figure out storage in a way that works best for you. It is not uncommon to feel cramped at times, especially in the first few weeks of moving into your home on wheels.
Drive Thrus and Parking Garages
One thing that most people don’t consider is that camper vans often do not fit into drive thrus or parking garages. This can be a problem if you are parking in the city or work at a place where the only option for parking is in a garage. It is important to know your clearance, especially if you have solar panels or a fan on your roof.
For us personally, the “cons” are a small price to pay for the benefits that van life offers. However, we wanted to share that there are certainly challenges to this lifestyle because some of these could be deal breakers for other people considering van life. If you have any questions or think of any other challenges associated with van life please drop them in the comments.