Van Life | The Whole Truth

Van Life | Happy Living

van life

What is van life?

Van life is the nomadic, outdoorsy way of living that many people have embraced. They sell everything they own and buy a van to live in full-time. Some are even so bold as to say it is the new American Dream. The lifestyle involves freedom, adventure and seeing the world through a different lens.

Van life advocates meet together on Instagram and go on group trips called van gatherings. They share food, beer and stories about their experiences. It is a diverse community with both young professionals and retirees participating equally. Many are happy with what they have while others dream of something better. It doesn't fall into any one category or stereotype; instead it encompasses all aspects of life from good to bad to ugly, but mostly good.

Van life is not for everyone, but it does attract people who are seeking an alternative lifestyle that allows them more freedom and flexibility than traditional lifestyles allow.

Here are some of the terms used in the van life scene:
  • Full-time vandwellers
  • these are people who have downsized their lives to live in a van year round. Most of the time they have sold all of their material possessions, bought a camper van and now live on the road traveling around North America or other parts of the world. Some vandwellers still work part-time so they can afford to travel and explore while others completely quit their jobs to travel full-time.

  • Vandweller
  • These are people who live in vans part-time or full-time. The difference between a vandweller and a full-timer is usually based on the amount of time spent living in their van, but there are many different situations and stories behind each person's reason for choosing to live this lifestyle.

  • Van Hobbyists
  • These are people who drive a camper van because they love the style, culture, and experience of it all but don't necessarily want to downsize their life completely. Sometimes they travel short distances to festivals or other events for the weekend and then come home to enjoy comforts of living in their homes with modern amenities.

  • Wanderlust
  • this is the reason many people choose to live in a van. They simply want to travel, possibly take some meandering back roads and be free from the rigid schedule and structure that comes with living in one location for too long.

  • Nomad
  • A nomad is someone who is living in a van full time. Usually, they are free spirits that have no interest in settling down to live an ordinary life or spending too much time with the same people and things. They want to soak up as many experiences as possible by traveling from place to place, wherever their heart desires, whenever they feel like it.

  • Vagabond
  • A vagabond is someone who travels from place to place and is not interested in settling down anywhere. They have no interest in owning a home, they do not want to plant roots of any kind because they are always moving forward and absorbing as many new experiences as possible. Often times, vagabonds live in their vans during the colder months so that they can travel more.

How dangerous is van life?

Van life is not more dangerous than other types of living. If you stay away from risky behavior, suicide missions that involve drugs or alcohol and make wise decisions while traveling, it is just as safe as living in a house. However, accidents do happen which are 100% avoidable so be very mindful of your surroundings.

How will I find places to sleep?

There are more than enough resources out there for free camping locations. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to finding free campgrounds and many apps that offer the same services. has been around for years but there are many others who have popped up recently such as No Cost Camping . Another option is to camp on private land with permission from the landowners (with their permission). There is no better feeling than being invited onto someone's land to experience nature.

Reasons To Live In A Van

There are many reasons why people want to live in a van. Below is a list of some of the main reasons:

  1. To save money
  2. Some people do it as a lifestyle choice, while others may be saving up to buy property of their own.
  3. Some have simply had enough of paying high rent prices in the city and decide that living in a van is better than spending every cent they earn just on accommodation costs.
  4. There are also many who do it just because it's fun!
  5. Even if you're not planning on living in a van forever there are still advantages in doing so: You'll live an eco-friendly life which will make you feel good about yourself (maybe?)
  6. You will learn how to survive without modern day luxury.
  7. You get to focus on what's really important and that's living your life to the fullest.
  8. You get to meet many new people.
  9. You'll spend less time commuting which means you get more time for yourself
  10. You get to see the world from a different perspective.

What Are Some Challenges of Vanlife?

Van life can give you so many things to be happy about. But what about all the challenges? Below you will find a list of some of the challenges that people face in the van life scene:

  1. Weather and temperature swings can be difficult to get used to. Weather and temperature may be minor troubles, but they can make your life very difficult. Living in a van is not the same as living inside an house. You have to constantly monitor the weather conditions because you can get stuck outside during extreme weathers like when it's raining or snowing etc. Temperature swings are also a big problem for some people who would prefer being comfortable all day long. They will need to deal with hot days and cold nights consistently until winter comes around.
  2. Vans probably aren't allowed everywhere you want to go. So you won't be able to park anywhere.
  3. Finding proper parking.
  4. Hard to stay organized wityh limited space.
  5. Maintaining your vehicle gets harder as it is now also your home.
  6. One of the biggest challenges that people face while living in vans is finding places to live legally . Some areas don't approve of most types of dwellings, and the van might be considered something like that. The best option is to stick with a parking space for your mobile home, but it takes even more work than trying to find a traditional rental or house.
  7. You can't cook inside most vans. This means you'll have to go out in bad weathers and prepare your food outside which isn't very appealing considering most of us would prefer not doing so. Of course, there are solutions to this such as using a mini oven or hob.
  8. There's not much privacy once you start living in a van . There will be some people who won't care about this at all, while others, especially couples, will need their own private space to spend time together.
  9. It is usually a hassle. It's true that you've had bad landlords and badly planned apartments, but it's a surprise how much work is required for van living. If you are someone who likes cleanliness and order, this may not be the best choice for you.
  10. One of the most important things to consider about this lifestyle is your safety. Not only will there be less people around in case something happens, but it's also a different way of thinking. You won't have guarantees that everything will go right so make sure to prepare good safety measures before starting on your trip. Also remember that you should get insured as well especially if you plan to travel along with your vehicle or trailer (which I believe is essential).
  11. Limited space will be a big deal. You should think about which things are really necessary for the trip and how you can organize your space so it works best.

What is the purpose of van life?

This movement has been around since the 1960's and is in fact still growing strong; there are now hundreds of thousands who wander around either full-time or part-time in their vans. What started out as a sort of antiestablishment thing has now become an alternative way of living - van lifers believe that you don't have to own a home, settle down and get married if you don't want to. You can just go out into the world with your family or friends and live wherever you want to.

Van life provides you with a lot of freedom, but at the same time makes it harder because you're independent from society. Not having certain things like appliances for example might make some people feel uncomfortable without them. But the freedom people usually get with this type of life compensates for it.

Most people who are into van life have a pretty good income and don't really need to work, as they can usually earn their money by doing freelance stuff (such as writing), running an online business or being an artist [we're not going to go into detail here]. So these people can just do whatever they like and go wherever they want. They wake up in the morning when they feel like it, eat breakfast whenever they feel hungry, go hiking during the day if they want to and just relax at home while watching TV in the evening - all without having a boss breathing down your neck or having any obligations towards anyone but yourself.

How do you survive living in a van?

Surviving in a van takes patience and practice. You will need to get used to living in tight conditions, having limited space and even doing your business outdoors. But this doesn't really matter because it's not like you have any other choice if you want to travel a lot. So here are some tips on how you can keep yourself motivated, happy and healthy while living in a van:

Challenge your notions of comfort. If you're thinking about living in a van just because it seems like an alternative lifestyle that makes you feel young again, then I'm sorry but chances are high that you will give up within the first month or so. By far the biggest obstacle for people trying out the VanLife is finding themselves feeling uncomfortable after just one night sleeping in a van and having no running water.

Is living in a van cheap?

Living in a van can be very cheap compared to other forms of living. This allows you to save a lot of money and thus travel more, but it's not like vanlife will allow you to live for free. It simply allows you to have less worries while living on the road and thus having more time to enjoy your travels.

How can I make money living in a van?

There are many ways you can make money while living in a van. Many people have regular jobs while living in a van. But if that is not for you then below are some ways you can make money in the vanlife:

  1. One of the easiest ways to make money online is through Fiverr. Here you can offer your services to others and get paid for it. There are many jobs that you can do, from making memes, creating music videos or just plain writing articles for people. The possibilities are endless. All you need is a laptop and internet connection to start your business.
  2. Offer your writing skills to people online.
  3. Be a social media manager for some company. You can offer your services on sites like or to get paid for managing social media accounts of companies.
  4. With the rise in popularity of blogging, it is also becoming an easy way to make money online. People are looking for talented content writers and they are willing to pay you good money to write blogs for them. If you have SEO skills then this might as well be one of your best bets.
  5. Do you love listening to podcasts? Have a great voice? You can easily turn that into actual cash by starting your own podcast.
  6. Become a virtual assistant. This is my favorite method of making money online because it's the most passive and easy way. There are tons of different ways to make extra money as a virtual assistant such as social media management, email marketing, bookkeeping and editing.
  7. You could find local businesses in your town that need your skills and offer them freelance work! Or you can create an online shop and sell electronic items (eBooks, music etc.)
  8. Do you have a talent for drawing? If yes, then you can use that skill by becoming a graphic designer.

Is it legal to live in a van in the US?

Yes, it is legal to live in a van or campervan in the US as long as you have the proper license and documents for it.

You can park your vehicle at an RV park overnight. This will cost you some money but it's if you want to save on gas and don't mind paying more for comfort. You will find that most RV parks allow longer stays during off seasons. If they are not crowded, then they won't mind letting you stay longer even when it's busy season.

Social Media and the van life

Pictures you usually see on social media depicting van life is usually misleading. They show vandwellers only having the time of their lives. Making people think that it's all fun and games when you decide to live in a van. They do not show the true hardship that you have to go through. They also make it seem like anyone can live in a van, when this is not true. It takes some skill to commute long distances and sleep in your vehicle every night.

The Camper Van

The camper van is a vehicle that is used for traveling the country. It is usually a regular van that has been converted to accomodate sleeping. There are however some other types of vehicles that can be used to enjoy living outdoors.

  • Busses
  • Trucks
  • Cars
  • Military Vehicles
  • Rvs

How much does it cost to convert a van into a livable home?

You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 all the way up to $100,000. The price all depends on what type of van you are going to be converting and how many luxury items you will be adding.

Here are a few things you should take into considerations before starting a conversion:
  • Make a plan of all the steps you will be taking.
  • Know the type of design and layout you will have in the end.
  • What type of insulation will you use.
  • What type of walls and ceiling will you use.
  • Will you use solar power or generators.
  • What about your water and plumbing.

How do vandwellers use the toilet?

  • Built in washrooms
  • Some camper vans have washrooms built in which will allow you to relieve yourself.

  • Gym memberships
  • An easy way to use the toilet is to get a cheap gym membership and to use their restooms. Some gym memberships only cost $10 per month.

  • Portable toilets
  • Portable camping toilets are available all over the world. You can order one online from stores like amazon or home depot.

  • Public washrooms
  • Public washrooms are a great place to know about. You can usually use them for free.


If you’re thinking about living in a van, we hope this post has given you some perspective. There are many benefits to the lifestyle, it's inexpensive and allows for more time with friends and family. However, there are also downfalls that most people don't realize when they're making their decision. We wanted to provide an honest take on what life is really like as a Van Lifer so that anyone considering this option can make an informed choice before diving in head first. Would you ever consider living in a van? Why or why not? Let us know.

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About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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