Getting Started With Van Life

By: Muhammad Martinez

When looking for a new place to call home and discovering new places all around, one might want to take any and every step in the right direction for themselves. Some might decide that direction might lean towards an apartment, a townhome, or maybe even a house. But for others, it can be their very own car or van.

If someone likes traveling and working from home, van life is something that can be of interest.

By: Nadia Martinez

Van life is a lifestyle of living in a van or other vehicle that has been converted into a tiny residence by adding beds, running water, refrigerators, toilets, showers, and cooking facilities. It allows you to travel and pursue your passions, and simply live an unstructured life of freedom.

This has been a lifestyle many have chosen to do. Throughout the years #VanLife has been used widely across the internet. And when clicking the hashtag you can discover a whole new world of living people are currently going through.

Although it can seem like a fun, cool, or unique and different style of living, van life was a simple lifestyle for people to live debt free from the rising housing costs back in the mid-2010s.

Since 2000, median home prices in the U.S. have increased by nearly 160 percent. By 2011, home prices averaged $226,900. The housing market skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, climbing over 30 percent since 2020 according to Thehill.com.

Sourced by: The hill.

“The advice I would give to anyone looking to buy at the moment and cannot is to focus on what you can control. Make sure you have money saved for a down payment, make sure you are maintaining a great credit score, and finally keeping your debt down. Things like car loans, student loans, and credit card debt. Focusing on the aspects you can control will position you to be able to purchase a home when the time is right for you,” Mohammed Razeq, a realtor, said.

Due to COVID-19, an article created by Bankrate found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in van life occurred. Around that time happened to be when the housing market skyrocketed as well. In 2019 it was also reported that more than 140,000 people were living in recreational vehicles, but as of mid-2022, the number of van lifers in the United States was estimated to be over 3 million people.

Sourced by: Statisa and Bankrate.

Van living can cost as much or as little as you would want it to depending on how much you drive, camp, spend on food, and more. It might sound a little intimidating, but many provide resources one can use when trying to find the right vehicle, whether that is one built from the ground up or one ready to drive off the lot.

“I realized I couldn’t even put together a bookcase. So I think as far as building it, I would rather buy something that’s already been built but it depends on your priorities. I would do that to save time, people want to build their own to save money,” Amanda Smith, who is considering van life, said.

Other helpful resources can be apps such as an app called iOverlander which contains many helpful things such as WiFi, fuel stations, propane, water, and much more. Another helpful website would be outboundliving.com which provides many helpful guides and even breakdowns like travel spending.

When looking into van life there are plenty of things to take into consideration like where you will be sleeping for the night. Places, where you can park your car and rest, can be campgrounds and places such as a Walmart parking lot or even casinos.

The van life lifestyle looks different for everyone and does not just cater to one specific thing or person.

“Everyone’s traveling setup is different. I’ve seen people travel in minivans that are emptied out or like trucks, buses, even one guy was just riding his bike with a tent,” Muhammad Martinez, a current van lifer, said.

Martinez is currently in the process of his own van conversion. With everything being built with eco-friendly (ness in mind) compost material. An example of one way he did it would be how his van is insulated with sheep wool as opposed to plastic foam. When taking a break from working on his van, one thing he loves to do is Slackline, which is a sport a lot of van lifers from different states come together for.

Van life can offer opportunities many would never have thought of. With its opportunities to travel and work from home, along with new experiences, some might just say that “Home is where you park it.”

By: Nadia Martinez

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