If you search the #vanlife hashtag on Instagram, you’ll be rewarded with more than 7 million images. Common themes include sunsets over the sea, cozy-looking campfiresand interior van designs that could make you drool with longing.
Van life seems to promise an experience that is simultaneously beautiful, liberating and affordable — after all, if you’re living on the road, you probably aren’t paying rent or a mortgage.
But what goes on outside those carefully framed pictures? What does it really cost to live life on four wheels?
How #VanLife Really Works
Although there is some truth to the footloose-and-fancy-free perception of van living, there’s also a lot of work that goes into making the lifestyle feasible.
If you’re considering hitting the road yourself, here are a few things you should know about the realities of van life, both financial and otherwise.
Even on the Road, You Still Have Expenses
Just because you won’t be paying for housing doesn’t mean you won’t have expenses. Just like any other lifestyle, in order to make van life work, you’ll need to create a budget.
Abigail and Natalie Rodriguez have been living on the road full-time since February 2019. Apart from the purchase and conversion of their 2004 Dodge Sprinter van — a project they handled themselves — they have plenty of other regular bills to pay.
Among other things, the couple budgets for:
- Top-notch vehicle insurance with roadside assistance
- Phone bill, including internet hotspot
- Website domain
- Adobe (so they can edit videos)
- Vehicle maintenance — including, eventually, a new transmission since they purchased an older vehicle
These costs, along with their biggest expenses — food and fuel — run the Rodriguezes about $2,000 per month.
That said, one of the coolest things about mobile living is that it’s flexible: You can choose to spend…