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Van Life: Is It Cheap or Expensive? The Answer Is Here

So many people are enticed by the idea of living in the van. Who wouldn’t? You get to travel with everything you own. You get to sleep in it once you get to your destination without having to book for hotels. You can go wherever you want, less worrying about leaving your house or apartment behind for a couple of days. It is Instagrammable, and if you are into minimalist living, there will be less clutter. You only need a few clothes, a pillow, and a blanket. But what is the actual cost of living in a van? Is it cheap or is it expensive? If you asked these questions, it would get answered today.

First, you have to know that you need to get a van in good running condition. You have to spend quite an amount here because you will pay more to keep it running if you go for a cheap van. The usual rate of vans that would be great for Van Life would cost more than $3,000. However, some people who practice Van Life used the cars they already have and are perfectly fine with it.

The actual amount of living in a van cannot be generalized because it depends on how you want your home to be comfortable. Speaking of being comfortable, some people choose to convert the van they used into a livable area. The conversion, which includes putting beds, lights, storage, having a generator or installing solar panels, and the like, could cost up to $5,000.

The next expenses for living in a van are paying for food, gas, campsites, and insurance. Sometimes, people who live in vans cut down on these costs by cooking their meals and going to free camping sites. Most people who live in vans also limit the places they visit to free areas that do not require additional costs to get into, like museums and beaches. Planning the route is an excellent way to cut down on the gas, so you spend only on the travel you need to make.

A photo of a man living in his van while out on the road.

Per the data presented by some Van Lifers, a budget of $850 a month is a realistic one. People can still go lower, but that is the standard. This amount does not include eating out or frequently being on the go. If you want to eat out and get souvenirs from the places you visit, you should set your budget at least $1,200 a month. However, if you’re going to live a comfortable and fun life while living in your van and you can still buy groceries, get coffee, have gym memberships, have internet, and eat out, you have to spend at least $2,000 to achieve all these.

As for maintaining the van, you have to have money for that if you want to keep being on the road. Sometimes, emergency repairs need to get done, and you have to set aside an amount for that. While your van gets repaired, you should also have money for hotel stays.

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Written By

Riley is a finance, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in San Diego. He received his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Multimedia from the University of Oregon. His work has been featured in many finance and lifestyle publications throughout the US. When he is not writing, Riley enjoys reading and hanging out at the beach with his dog.

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