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Beginner’s Guide to Living in a Van

Beginner’s Guide to Living in a Van

In recent years, the idea of living an alternative lifestyle outside of a traditional house has gained quite a bit of traction. Whether it’s living in a tiny house or buying a van to call home, more and more people find this new way of living inspirational.

If you’re interested in living in a van, you’ll want to do plenty of homework before you decide to make that leap. We’ll go over some key points and tips any beginner will find helpful.

Why Start the “Van Life”

Living in a van comes with challenges, but it also gives you the opportunity to live on the road, explore the country, and be free from the burdens a permanent house comes with. Here are some key benefits that come with living in a van:

Get outside

More and more people spend the vast majority of their time indoors. If you feel the call to be outside as often as possible and are tired of feeling constrained by your walls, living in a van could be the remedy. You’ll be able to travel the world and see places you might not be able to see otherwise. The outdoors will always be right there waiting to be explored!

Be free

For many van lifers, freedom is the ultimate goal. This can mean the freedom to be where you want to be, or the freedom to spend your time doing the things you want to do. Whatever it looks like, freedom feels good, and living in a van can take you a big step in that direction.

Create your own path

Van life opens up possibilities to imagine a future that might not have been possible otherwise. Whether you want to use your time on the road to build a thriving remote business, or you want to downsize and minimize how much time you spend working, the possibilities are endless.

Clearing the First Hurdles

If you are thinking of transitioning from a “traditional” life into a van life arrangement, there are some upfront hurdles that you’ll need to get over so you can get started. A partial list of those hurdles includes the following:

  • Getting a van. You can’t live the van life without a van! It’s a good idea for first-timers to start basic and keep their budget under control. Even if you love the idea of living in a van, you don’t want to jump straight into an expensive hobby, only to find your van spends most of its time parked. Look at renting a Sprinter van or buy a used van–after all, you can always upgrade it.
  • Fitting Your Belongings in the Van. You almost certainly own more things than will ever fit in a van, and you probably don’t want to throw them all away on a whim. Consider looking for an affordable storage unit you can rent, or see if any friends or family have space in a garage or metal carport you can borrow while getting started.
  • How Will You Get Mail? If you no longer have a permanent residential address, you’ll need some way to get mail for things like taxes and other matters. Renting a P.O Box is one option, or you can use the address of a family member (with permission, of course). Sort this out in advance so there are no challenges later on.

Learning to Live on the Road

While it is much simpler in many ways, there are parts of van life that you will need to learn to manage from day to day. For example, it’s likely that your van won’t have a bathroom on board, so you are going to need to find places to use the restroom and get cleaned up. This is an issue that is easily solved by finding the right places to stay. If you pick the right campgrounds and RV parks, you’ll have access to bathroom facilities within a short walk from your van.

Also, it’s important to plan ahead to make sure you will have the ability to connect to the internet when necessary for work purposes or to manage your personal life (things like banking, etc.). With a good cell plan you can connect your computer via hotspot anywhere you have cell service–and cell coverage is continuing to improve and expand. There is also free public Wi-Fi just about everywhere, so stop in at a coffee shop or library to handle these tasks before you move on.

And for any van owner, whether experienced or not, it’s important to have a place to park your van. American Steel Carports, Inc. offers sturdy RV and one car carports.  We have a Build & Price tool here on our site for you to get started designing a new carport, and you can always contact us if you need help along the way.

Van living isn’t for everyone, but it can be a life-changing experience for those who are called to the freedom and independence that it offers. We hope this article helps get you started thinking about what it would take to make this leap in your life.


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