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What Is The True Cost Of Living In a Van?

What Is The True Cost Of Living In a Van?

Have you ever thought about getting rid of your house or apartment to instead try living out on the open road? Ditching a traditional home to live in a van has become widely popular over the past couple years, especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic, but what is the actual cost? Do people really save that much money? Is it worth it financially in the long run? We have done some research so that you can have all of the necessary financial information before taking the plunge. Take a peak below and find out if the “Van Life” is right for you.

First things first. Are you able to work remotely? Do you have enough savings to support yourself for an extended amount of time? Depending on your finances, living in a van can be a relatively cheap option. There are a wide range of vehicle prices that can start as low as $1,000 (and can go up to the cost of a downpayment on a home!). Ultimately, it is completely up to the van owner to decide how much they want to put into it.

You might want to get an older and cheaper van because of the “retro look”, but just because it looks cool, does NOT mean that it will run properly. You should always have someone take a look under the hood to make sure that it is mechanically sound before purchasing. The costs of repairs can set you back later down the road so set aside a separate budget in the case of a break-down. You should also be prepared to do little fix-ups here and there, so we recommend that you verse yourself on the basics of car mechanics for minor fixes in order to eliminate paying for someone else to do it for you.

As far as designing the interior, that is totally up to you! Remember, you will be living in a very compact space. You will most likely have to get rid of a lot of furniture as well as clothes, kitchen accessories, and decorative knick-knacks if you decide to not pay for a storage facility. If you choose to sell your goods instead of donating, you will hopefully make some money that you can put back into your new home!

Some people choose to have full kitchens, while others stick to portable appliances to conserve space. If your van cannot fit a full kitchen, be sure to factor the price of eating out at restaurants into your budget. Showers are also something to consider. Having an outdoor shower connection will definitely be helpful, but if it doesn’t work with your space (or your budget), consider getting a cheap gym membership so you can use their showers at different locations around the country. If you want ideas and design inspiration, take a peek here.

It is important to also decide if you want your van to be either a mobile or stationary home that you park in one designated place. There are upsides and downsides to both options. RV Parks can get expensive. Imagine paying $30 a night for 30 days. It might not seem like a lot, but you will end up paying almost $1,000 a month which can be comparable to normal rent prices. If you decide to be on the move and experience the wanderlust of travel, you can always park for free at any Walmart as well as “moondock” in government owned land. Be sure to check out this website that lists tons of free campsites across the U.S.

You should also think about gas prices while you’re on the move. Depending on where you are traveling, prices can be relatively cheap, but there are some cities and states that have inflated gas prices that will set you back financially if you are traveling far distances in a short amount of time. Consider using Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas stations in your area.

Many choose to live in a van so that they can travel and see the world for relatively cheap, but there are tons of hidden costs that go into this seemingly frugal and nomadic lifestyle. Before taking the plunge to avoid rental and utility fees, make a serious budget and see if this lifestyle is realistic for you.

Remember, if you are struggling financially, we at Madison Monroe & Associates are here to help. Reach out today at

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