Thanks to the travel restrictions brought by the coronavirus pandemic, we are now seeing vans in a different light. We do not just see these as recreational vehicles but we are now starting to see them beyond that. Some people realize that they can live full time in their vans and an avenue of perks, privileges, and opportunities are suddenly in front of them. However, we must remember that living full time in a van has disadvantages as well as the advantages that we all know by now.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a van? You are in charge of your own freedom, you get to go wherever you want most of the time, and you get to save more money. On the other hand, you have to spend more on maintaining your van, you have limited resources, and the weather might not help you.
This article discusses the different advantages and disadvantages of living in an van, be it full-time or for a shorter period of time. We will also talk about the different misconceptions that people have when you live in a van. Lastly, we will briefly talk about the updated CDC guidelines for living outdoors, especially living in a van.
The Different Advantages Of Living In A Van
There are a lot of pros in living in a van as though you live at home. These are just some of those but it provides us a glimpse of what to anticipate while living in a van.
You Can Save More Than Living At Home
A physical house (or, as they are widely known in the van world, “sticks and bricks”) can be costly. Depending on where you live, you must pay rent or mortgage, utilities, and other expenses. If you plan to van, your monthly “rent” may be as low as a few hundred dollars. You could also take out a personal loan to buy the camper outright and be done with it.
You must, of course, account for campground rent, electricity, insurance, and other expenses. However, if you do not stay in a five-star hotel, it will still be less expensive.
In reality, after calculating all of the fixed and variable expenses, I discovered that the average van lifestyle costs between $1,400 and $3,000 per month, depending on your personal preferences. You can live more costly and pay more on your utilities and necessities, and you can also live frugally and save more. It all depends on how you spend as a person.
You Get To Enjoy The Wonders Of Nature
The true essence of living in a van is enjoying the vast offerings of Mother Nature. When you live outdoors, you get to appreciate that we have a lot of amazing experiences waiting to be experienced, thanks to the natural beauty around us.
The close proximity to rivers, lakes, the open sea, the mountains, forests, hills, and every land and water form possible allows you to have a different experience from staying at home.
You get to enjoy fresh air, clean water, quiet daytimes and even quieter nighttimes, animals both wild and tame near you, the abundance of shade thanks to the lush foliage around you, and so many other things.
Nature appreciation allows you to see life in a different perspective, which is a healing experience nevertheless, especially if you are stressed out with the hustle and bustle of urbanity.
You Get To Enjoy The Different Seasons And Climates To The Fullest
If you are someone who enjoys experiencing the different climates and seasons, living in a van is the best option for you.
You get to experience how magical winter can be, how energizing the summers can be, and how comforting the rainy season is outside without getting fully exposed from the elements. A lot of people do not get to experience this kind of thing because they are always confined in their concrete jungles, and living in a van offers you this one-of-a-kind experience, free of charge.
Also, you get to enjoy them without feeling bare or exposed to the harsh elements, thanks to the sturdy interiors and exteriors of your van.
You Can Enjoy A Lot Of Different Activities Around You
Unless you are in an urban trailer campground, you get to enjoy a lot of things while you are living in your van, and that includes having different outdoor activities right in front of you.
If you camp in the mountains and forests, you can enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing, and even some winter sports such as skiing, sledding, tobogganing, skating, and others. If you are parked near the beach, the ocean is your playground. Feel free to go for a swim, scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea diving, fishing, beach volleyball, and others.
Most van parks and campgrounds situated inside the country offer a lot of these amenities and features, along with free to discounted rentals on some equipment needed, so make the most out of your outdoor living experience.
You Get To Have Quality Time Spent With One Another Or Alone
Some campers choose to live in a van, or outdoors in general, because they want to have some time alone or to spend quality time with their family.
This opportunity is considered a luxury if you are living in the hectic schedules of cities and suburbs, but when you get to live outdoors, you can easily notice how quaint and laidback the lifestyle can be for you or for your company.
This is a perfect chance for you to connect with your inner self, heal from the wounds of the past, recharge from the stress of being a responsible adult, and more. The quietness of the outdoors also gives you a chance to think clearly, decide on important things much better, and just enjoy the silence and solitude, among many others.
You Have To Be Creative And Resourceful Living Outdoors
Of course, living outdoors means that you are far away from the comforts of life that you may have been used to, such as a steady stream of water, electricity, gas, Internet access, and so on.
With limited resources that you have, you have to be creative and in some ways, be resourceful so that you will not run out of your supplies in a shorter period of time. You get to think of alternatives on how to cook your food without consuming much of your fuel, washing your clothes without using up all your detergent and water, cleaning your toilet with a limited stream of water, and others.
These situations bring out the creativity and resourcefulness in you, which definitely comes in handy when you are faced with scarcity or shortage of supplies in the future.
You Are In Charge Of Your Own Itinerary, And No One Else
Some full-time van inhabitants enjoy changing their destinations on a regular basis and are constantly on the move. Others tend to remain in one place for several months. They either live off the grid or in luxury resorts.
The nomadic lifestyle is mostly associated with retirees, but it has spread to the working population who depend on salaries to pay for living expenses, whether by remote work or fixed employment.
There are no hard and fast rules for living a nomadic lifestyle with your traveling family. Everyone has their own agenda, and the beauty of it all is that there are many paths to the final destination. We also feel like we’re figuring out how to balance work and exploration time, looking for jobs that suit our interests and budget.
You Get To Choose Where To Go From A Wide Range Of Options
One of the best things is that you are not confined to your parking lot. Seriously, here is a lot that our country has to offer on its own. You can find a place perfect for your hobbies, interests, and passions.
Choose your passion: national parks and amusement parks, beaches and lakefronts, lighthouses and museums, forested mountain ranges and wide open desert landscapes, waterfalls and peaceful streams.
Victorian homes and southern plantation homes, caves and bridges, breweries and Mom-and-Pop joints, caves and bridges, breweries and Mom-and-Pop joints are also available for you to explore at your convenience.
The country and its neighboring countries are your oyster. You are the navigator; look for what you are looking for and you will find it. That is the allure of full-time vaning, and it is the primary reason that hundreds of people join this lifestyle each year.
Working full-time vandwellers are modern-day adventurers looking for inspiration, entertainment, or information at their favorite places and attractions. When we move from one location to the next, our “backyards” are constantly shifting. The best part is that there is no need for yard work or repairs.
You Have Lesser Bills To Take Care Of
As mentioned earlier, you can save more by living outdoors, especially in a van, rather than living at home.
One of the best things is that you do not have to worry about mortgage because it is nonexistent in van living. Your “mortgage” is your fees to the campgrounds and van parks, which can be very much waived in half if you are a member of any van or RV social club.
There is also no need to worry about paying for gas or electricity that you never used anyway because no energy fees are required. There is also no homeowners’ insurance that you need to pay, because your van is already insured (as it is in most cases).
The savings that come with living in a van allow you to have money left over each month to do the things you enjoy. Living in a van is unquestionably less expensive than living in a house.
You Do Not Have To Worry About Nosy Or Annoying Neighbors
This is one of the underrated reasons why living in a van is the best. You do not have to deal with annoying Karens or nosy Nancys out there. People in van parks and campgrounds change from time to time, and you can also move to a different spot if your “neighbor” annoys you or makes you feel uncomfortable.
On a regular basis, feuding neighbors cause havoc in American neighborhoods. Neighbors will no longer be a source of concern, as moving away from someone you hate or do not get along with is easy. Living in a van is definitely the perfect solution for someone who dislikes crowds and neighbors.
The Various Disadvantages Of Living In A Van
Of course, there are cons in every situation, and living in a van is no exception. Here are some of the most common disadvantages vandwellers have experienced themselves while living in their vans.
The Weather Is Also Your Worst Enemy
Sunseekers are popular among full-time vandwellers, but Mother Earth has other ideas. On your travels or at your new home, these may include heat waves, snow storms, hurricanes, or tornadoes.
These may vary from location to location, but the message is clear: you cannot fully rely on the weather as your friend. For the safety of you and your traveling partners, staying informed about the weather is one of your top priorities as an vaner.
Keep track of the weather on a regular basis and the week’s forecast in whatever location(s) you are visiting or passing through. On the market, there are many weather applications that include hourly weather conditions such as wind speed, precipitation, radar, and warnings.
You Do Not Have Unlimited Supply Of Hot Water
If you are someone who enjoys having warm to hot baths or showers, well there is bad news for you: you cannot enjoy the same activities in your van. This gets highlighted because there are people who are comfortable in having relaxing baths in warm to hot water, depending on their preferences.
Your van tank does not have the same capacity as the one you have or used to have at home, so having a steady supply of warm water can come as a challenge for you. Also, heaters can also consume a lot of energy out of your sources, so it is not the best option to turn your heaters on every single day. You have to boil water by yourself and use other alternatives. You can also use the shower areas that a lot of van parks and campgrounds offer to their customers.
Owning And Maintaining Your van Can Be A Hassle To You
While there are many advantages to owning a van, there are a few issues that a van owner must deal with. Obviously, you would need some cash to purchase a van.
The cost of owning a van or van varies greatly depending on the size and model you choose, whether you purchase an old or new one, whether it is a built one or simply an old van or school bus that you are willing to renovate. Even if you find the best van for the dollar, the price isn’t the only consideration.
You must factor in the cost of premiums and road taxes associated with owning and driving a car. Overall, the initial cost of owning a van may be very high, and you might not be able to afford it. In this scenario, renting a camper for a few adventures during the year is the best option.
In addition to the expense of owning a van, consider the (ongoing) costs of van maintenance. If it stays in the driveway for too long, the battery will lose power and will need to be replaced, which will cost you money. Battery power must be checked on a regular basis. However, journeys, for one thing, can be costly. Fortunately, most vans come equipped with a gas-powered generator that can recharge the batteries and power the cab.
One disadvantage is that generators are noisy, polluting, and need gas, which you must have on hand. Things will break down, just like any other car, and you’ll need to have it fixed or fix it yourself. Maintenance is needed not only for the motor and mechanics, but also for the built-in systems.
When your refrigerator stops working, you must repair it or have it repaired if it is vital to your enjoyment, particularly if you have an older model. Worse still, if the toilet isn’t maintained and chemicals aren’t added, the trip may have an unpleasant odor. While this is not a unique issue for van owners, it is necessary to have the septic tanks drained on a regular basis.
Chemicals can mask the odor, but they do not eliminate the source. You might also be required to empty the tanks if you rent a van. Since a van is mobile, it necessitates the use of valuable gasoline. Not only does it require fuel, but it also necessitates the use of propane for the refrigerator and stove. It can be costly to fill up on these two fuels, particularly because vans are notorious gas guzzlers.
When you rent a car, you won’t have to worry about these minor details because the company will ensure that you begin your journey with everything filled up and the vehicle tested.
Some Places Have Limits For Bigger Vehicles
I have mentioned that living outdoors means having freedom on where you want to go. Stop right here if you are thinking about getting a van so you can go anywhere you want. Despite the fact that a van provides versatility, a van owner’s travel options are sometimes restricted.
Many people decide that buying a travel trailer is preferable because they can set it up and leave their car at home. Vans cannot go anywhere, and I do not just mean physically, like crossing oceans; some places simply do not allow them. Low Emission Zones exist in some areas, and you cannot pass into them with all forms of vans.
These vehicles are also not permitted in some campgrounds. In certain instances, each lot has a size restriction. Some campgrounds have different amenities for van campers. Some will have complete hookups, while others will only provide partial hookups. There are a lot of sites where there are no hook-ups. So, if you are visiting a new city, think about your trip planning and make sure you can get to all of the destinations on your itinerary.
You Might Have Limited Storage And Space Around You
No matter how huge your van can be, space and storage can still be an issue to you. The beds and mattresses may be hard or thin, the cabin may not have enough room to travel about, and storage space may be restricted. And, as we have mentioned, the ongoing costs of owning a van may mean that you will want to use it for all of your vacations and breaks.
Renting a van for a week and having fun with a new toy is a unique experience. It is another thing to feel trapped in that situation when you have to make your holidays financially worthwhile.
When you live in a van, space is even more of a problem because you will have most of your belongings with you. And if they are not, you will have to factor in storage costs once more. If you are the type of person who requires privacy, a van may not be for you. On an unusual ride, you can still have a good time in a rented one.
Some Of The Misconceptions About Living In A Van
Living outdoors generally surely inspires us to live in a carefree manner, not thinking much of our neighbors or on what happens in general. Sadly, I hate to break it to you but there are some things that simply are not it when it comes to living in a van, such as these.
Living In A Van Is For The Rich People
This is number one of the common misconceptions about those who live in vans or use their vans as their second homes. Most people think that living in a van requires you to have a huge amount of money to sustain your needs, which is understandable at one point, but not necessarily correct.
Like what I mentioned above, living in a van allows you to save a lot of money since it eliminates the bills and charges that you used to pay when you live in a house. You do not have to worry about fees that you are not using in any way, and instead, you can use it to buy more food, supplies, or just save it for your future expenses.
You Have To Spend A Fortune In Making Your Van Liveable
Again, I understand where this one is coming from. Home improvement projects are always costly, no matter how big or small it can be. The uncommon structure of a van makes you think that you might need professionals to do it for you, which is definitely costly and can burn a hole in your wallet.
Well, if you are confident enough in your skills and you watch a lot of YouTube tutorials from the experts, then you might not need the help of skilled workers at all. There are a lot of useful vlogs and tutorials from experts in van conversion and van living, so you can just take a leaf out of their book and do things by yourself.
Of course, if you think that your skills are limited, and you cannot pull off these amazing projects by yourself, no one is stopping you to hire someone to do it for you. The point here is that, you do not generally need someone else to do these projects for you as long as you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and inspiration to pull these off.
You Can Always Have The Best Camping Sites Ever
This one is mainly due to the fact that most magazines feature vandwellers in picturesque places, such as the mountains, the forests, or by the beach. This is not always the case, though I am not saying that waking up to postcard perfect views of the Sierra Nevada or the Rockies is not possible in any way.
It is always a struggle for a lot of campers to spot the best camping site for them. You might find yourself spending more time at a Walmart parking lot rather than the views you are seeing from the magazines.
Regardless, living outdoors in itself works like a charm for most people, and these kinds of unconventional situations keep other people hooked in living outdoors most of the time.
The Updated CDC Guidelines For Living Outdoors
The coronavirus pandemic has recently made cleanliness and disinfection a top priority, especially to those living outdoors, such as RVers and van campers. Here are the updated CDC guidelines on how to keep your living spaces clean and safe from the different variants of the coronavirus.
Always Clean And Disinfect Your Living Spaces Thoroughly
Your van counts as your home because you live in it, so therefore, you must do what the CDC mandates you to do when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting your living spaces to prevent getting and spreading viruses such as the coronavirus.
Always disinfect everything that you touch or you stay at — that means from the door and window handles, to the steering wheel, the driver’s seat, and of course your living spaces. Always use cleaning products approved by the CDC in cleaning and disinfecting your van, and check if these products are enough to keep you safe. Clean not only the interiors but also the exteriors of your vehicle since it is the most exposed part of your van.
Avoid Spending Time With Sick People As Much As Possible
Campgrounds and parks can be a place for campers to connect with each other. However, the CDC is discouraging gatherings in public for more people, so do your best to keep your van socially and physically distanced away from crowded places. Avoid talking to sick people for a long time, especially those who show symptoms similar to COVID-19, such as cough, colds, fever, flu, and other contagious illnesses.
If you need to talk to someone but they are sick, take advantage of the social media apps and use them to talk to them. This is the safest way of communication for now. Never share your living spaces with someone who is sick. Never let them use your personal items and share your personal spaces with them, such as your bed and pillows. Always wash your hands and never touch your face and neck without washing your hands yet, as it is one of the most common ways for the virus to enter our body.
Stay At Home If You Are Sick And Not Yet Vaccinated
If you or your family member or friend is sick, do not think about going outdoors in your van and stay at home. Separate your clothing and personal items from them, and wash them separately. Do not use the same sponge, cleaning materials, and other products side by side with their dishes, linens, and laundry.
Wash their clothes with warm water and detergent approved by the CDC to effectively kill the viruses in your clothes. That way, you can avoid spreading the virus to other people and make them sick accidentally.
Unless you are vaccinated already, always wear your masks and practice social distancing with at least 1.5 meters away from each other. These are just precautionary measures but they always work if you continue exercising these for the sake of your safety as well as the others.
Living outdoors creates this irresistible charm of doing whatever you want, with little to no restraint, when it comes to minding other people or other matters. Van life is very fun and interesting to do, and you just have to be prepared at all times to prevent encountering unpleasant experiences while living outdoors. When you live outdoors, the world is your oyster.