VanLife or vandwelling Phenomenon: 21 Things You Should Know

vanlife or vandwelling

 It’s possible that living in your van down by the river isn’t just a reference to a classic Chris Farley joke on “Saturday Night Live.” It’s also a popular way of life for a rising number of individuals, both young and elderly. A search for #VanLife on Instagram yields almost 5.4 million results. And that figure is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.

More individuals are learning about living in their vans and deliberately deciding to abandon their former connected lives in order to travel on a regular basis. It’s a part-time job for some. Others want to give it a go but realize it won’t last forever. For others, it’s a seemingly endless full-time lifestyle choice.

If you’re new to the #VanLife movement or just curious about it, here are 21 facts to get you started.

The Basics

In many respects, van life is exactly what it sounds like. You choose to live in a car rather than a regular foundation-based house. You’re living #VanLife when you consider a van to be your home, whether for the weekend or for the long term.
One of the key disparities between the seeming elegance of #VanLife and the brutal reality of homelessness is the divide between being forced to live in your car due to your financial circumstances or other personal troubles and choosing to live in your car for various reasons.
And, in case you’re wondering, yeah, it’s legal.

A #VanLife Timeline in Brief

Though it may appear to be a new phenomena, living on the road is nothing new. In truth, Englishman William Gordon Stables built the first luxurious “land yacht” in 1880. He was able to travel in luxury as a result of it (albeit very, very slowly).
The Volkswagen “hippie” vans initially appeared on the scene at Woodstock in 1969, becoming both a lifestyle choice and a symbol of anti-consumerism, which attracted (and continues to appeal) to many individuals who chose to simplify their living arrangements. Sprinter vans were popular in 2001 as a result of their new non-commercial availability in the United States, as well as the fact that they were still large while being more efficient than typical RVs.

The History of the Hashtag

#VanLife began in 2012, when Foster Huntington, a former corporate employee, gave up his cushy existence in the concrete jungle to live in a van full-time and filmed many of his travels on Instagram. Despite the fact that he no longer lives entirely in a van, the hashtag’s popularity has skyrocketed.

The Automobile or Vehicle 

You can technically live the #VanLife in vehicles that aren’t vans. Sprinter vans and Volkswagen vans are the most popular alternatives for folks who wish to spend more time traveling the globe in their car.
There’s a lot of data and views out there to help individuals determine what’s best for them, and the most of it revolves around your budget, what you’re prepared to do yourself, and what kind of lifestyle expectations you have for your new “house.”

The Cost of Creation or modification of vehicle 

When it comes to building a habitable van, the expenses vary greatly. According to a recent Outbound Living study, more than half of those who live full-time or part-time in their vans spent between $1,000 and $10,000 converting it, and just under half of those same people indicated it took between 2 and 6 months.
Costs might vary greatly based on the facilities you choose and what you are prepared to forego. Even the most basic changes have cost folks upwards of $20,000. Some individuals save money by using secondhand automobiles and less room, which may be done successfully for $6,000-$8,000.
Of course, if you want to stretch your budget even further, there are lots of possibilities. At a certain degree of luxury or size, these vans can be argued to be RVs, a distinction that will be addressed later.

People’s Different Ways of Experiencing #VanLife

According to the Outbound Living Van Life poll, over half of those who live out of their van do it part-time (49 percent), while the other half do so full-time (51 percent).
Many people who live in their van (full or part-time) advise others to think long and hard about whether this lifestyle choice is right for them and how to maximize their satisfaction before jumping in and “doing it for the ‘gram.”

The number of passengers per van

A little less than half of those polled who live in their vans do so with only one spouse. A third of the individuals in the van live alone, and a much smaller fraction have more than two persons in the van. Though it may appear crowded, one family with three children lives in a van and seems to make it work. Of course, pets are not included. Approximately 60% of those polled do not own a pet.

The Cost of Maintenance

Aside from the initial setup and installation fees, there are several continuing costs connected with #VanLife, the most of which involve basic van maintenance, petrol, tires, and odd adventures (like having to get your van towed if it gets stuck somewhere or getting major repairs if something goes awry).
There are also certain difficulties in renewing your vehicle’s registration if you do not have a physical address. And, of course, where to have a beautiful shower (gyms were the most common pick, implying an ongoing gym membership) and maybe obtaining some WiFi, which frequently appears to happen at Starbucks.

The Sleep Problem

Finding a safe place to sleep is something that many #VanLifers are concerned about (for both your personal safety and the safety of the often expensive items in your vehicle). There are methods to save money and remain in free places, such as Walmart parking lots. Sleeping in a vast parking lot under fluorescent lights, on the other hand, isn’t exactly what many individuals who opt to live in their van imagine for their experience. Campsite fees, which normally run from $10 to $100 per night, may quickly mount up. Of course, there are free campsites to be found.

The Financial Benefits

For budgetary reasons, many individuals are drawn to the concept of living in a van. You can pay less than you would in a more standard living scenario, which includes monthly rent, gas, and electric costs (just for starters). Depending on where you reside (in the United States or abroad), it’s difficult to argue that living in a van isn’t a wise financial decision. Even with continuous daily expenditures, living in a van will most likely cost less than living in a typical home. Much of it, once again, will be determined by the facilities accessible to you and the sort of lifestyle you like.

The Distinction Between #VanLife and RVs

RV trailers are often larger and more comfortable. They frequently incorporate several basic camping conveniences in their price, eliminating the need for conversion (though you can if you want to get really fancy). Showers and restrooms are usually standard in RVs, although they are not always provided in vans. Vans are also less roomy, but they provide a bit more flexibility in terms of travel. Because they are often smaller, space is more limited. But it also means they’re a little more fuel-efficient and simpler to obtain parking places in cities.

The Distinction Between #VanLife and Tiny Houses

Many of the principles shared by those who chose #VanLife are shared by the Tiny Home movement, such as simplicity and financial freedom. Their structures, however, are vastly different.
Tiny houses are exactly what they sound like: everything you’d expect from a house, but much smaller. They have all of the facilities you’d expect or need in a house; they’re simply tiny and frequently portable. They can be erected on a foundation, however they are frequently tied to a trailer. This implies that they may be disconnected from a trailer as well, but they are less mobile than converted vehicles.
Vans are more suited for going to isolated locations and exploring the globe, even if it means being more creative about where you locate your shower.

The Disputes or complaints

People who have lived #VanLife (and continue to live it) typically speak openly about their lifestyle and how it is not as beautiful as the photographs you see on Instagram.
To begin with, it takes a lot of effort to keep a functional vehicle running on a regular basis. A lot of things may go wrong and derail even the most eager traveler. And because you spend so much time outside the van, you are at the mercy of the weather (and sometimes even within it depending on the insulation).
The most common concerns include being ill in the van, always wanting a safe place to sleep, and spending a lot of concentrated time driving or with your spouse in a tiny area.

The Perplexity

The main disadvantage, according to many people who have lived the #VanLife, is the uncertainty. It’s impossible to predict where you’ll sleep on any given night. It’s unclear if something will go wrong with the van’s engine or the structure of your living arrangement within it. You’re always dealing with inclement weather and hazardous driving conditions. It’s unclear whether the day’s plan you devised is feasible.
Uncertainties might cause certain types to thrive while others may have anxiety attacks.

The Optimal Age for #VanLife

According to the content of some of the most popular Instagram profiles and most of the news around the reasoning for choosing #VanLife, it may appear that millennials are the most likely individuals to choose to live in a van. However, the demographics of individuals who live in vans are all over the place, with families living in vans with younger children and seniors who want to retire and live a more simple lifestyle.

The Culture of Vanlife

There is a vast amount of specialized culture around #VanLife, owing in large part to the popularization of the lifestyle (thanks, social media!). They have their own magazine, lifestyle websites, and even a lexicon.

The Social Media Madness.

Every time you refresh the Instagram search for #VanLife, you’ll notice an ever-growing popular hashtag packed with individuals enjoying seemingly idyllic lifestyles near to nature (and often doing yoga poses). Twitter, too, has its fair share of #VanLife postings. Both social media platforms are frequently populated with people displaying the beauty and thrill of their lifestyle and, at times, seeking to get you to follow their journey on their own websites.
Despite the fact that it appears to be an off-the-grid existence, many individuals take the time to share their experiences with it.

The Lifestyle Representation

It’s easy to see why #VanLife is so popular. The wide road is connected with beauty and splendor. Many times, the hashtags #VanLife and #BestLife are used simultaneously to further link van living with only happiness.
Even though more investigation into choosing to live in a van will expose many of the tougher facts and struggles involved with it, social media portrays this lifestyle as an accessible method for the average person to travel the globe in comfort.

Is There a West Coast Phenomenon?

Van living is practiced all over the world, but the vast majority of #VanLifers reside in the United States. And many of those folks live in California and throughout the West Coast. Much of this is likely due to more moderate weather and the ease with which you can locate someplace to park your vehicle.
Of course, the benefit of living in a van is that you may live wherever you choose, as demonstrated by the folks who completed a road journey from Chile to Alaska. A group of #VanLifers spent five years of their lives to traveling along the coast of South America and all the way back up north, surviving twelve engine rebuilds. They filmed their journey on YouTube and created a book about it.

The Companies Involved

With an increasing number of individuals living full-time or part-time in converted vans, several companies provide services and facilities to support that lifestyle. Companies can assist you in converting your car into a living (or even more opulent) environment. Some firms are larger than others, while some are smaller and more specialized. There are firms who can put a showerhead (or even a shower system) in your van, or a better music system, or even a fridge so you can keep some leftovers.
Alternatively, just like an interior designer on a home, if you want to modify the basic style and layout of your home vehicle, designers and artisans may do so to optimize your space while keeping it appearing stylish.
Other firms provide equipment designed exclusively for individuals living in vans, such as rinse kits and portable laundry machines. There is also specialized health insurance for persons who live nomadic lifestyles.

The Financial Longevity

One of the most pressing concerns for those who live a more migratory lifestyle is how they would pay for it. The answer is more evident for individuals who have saved a large sum of money or come from a wealthy family. However, for those who wish to live this way seemingly forever, or who have more ordinary financial capabilities, a balance must be reached between living fully off the grid and living on the grid.
According to the Outbound Living study, the most frequent answer for how people who live in vans generate their money was “other.” Many online and freelancing possibilities appear to allow folks who can work from anyplace to do exactly that…work from practically anywhere.
Web developers, graphic designers, social media managers, e-commerce professionals, bloggers, internet marketers, and freelance writers are among the most frequent occupations for those who live in vans. There are also painters, photographers, and others looking for seasonal job.
Of course, with so many people falling in love with the #VanLife as it’s depicted on social media, it’s no wonder that a few people make a living off their successful Instagram profiles through collaborations, sponsorships, and becoming brand ambassadors.
People who desire to live the #VanLife appear to prioritize focusing on what it takes to live a happy, balanced life out of a van and continually carving out a lifestyle that supports it.


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