Guest Post by Jenny Corteza
Ever wonder how it would feel to break the monotony of life and run for the hills?
It sounds pretty naive, but you will be surprised that even in today’s world the nomadic lifestyle definitely hasn't lost its appeal. Just visualizing the idea of breaking the shackles of daily activities and driving into the unknown abyss excites the adrenaline charging through your system. The mystery of the next turn, the frenzy and the rush that seizes your being when you watch nature making its miracles around you. It surely is overwhelming for the born adventurer.
But would you be willing to leave your life behind for the alien outdoors? Maybe not …
However, there are many who have by choice or due to circumstances chosen to go mobile and shift their lodgings into a four wheeler. Now it may seem pretty exciting that they just let go and venture forth to experience the world around them. Nonetheless, risking a standard lifestyle of maintaining a steady job, a house and overall, a stationary life these Vandwellers, as they are termed, take major risks to make this transition.
You might have heard your friends talk about a certain somebody who drove off in his van and is now living life to its full potential traveling the country, working as a blogger or a photographer. Hearing their thrilling adventures may ignite a flicker in your heart to follow their footsteps as it all sounds pretty much taken out of a movie.
However, it isn't that simple and van life is nonetheless real life… at times, it sucks bad. Therefore there are many things to consider before dropping everything and gambling your life away.
- Can you cope with the nomadic lifestyle? …
- Can you endure living in an enclosed space for most of your journey? …
- Are you willing to sacrifice basic amenities like showers ? …
- Can you handle the geographical hazards you might encounter? …
- Is it worth it ? …
- And most importantly … can you manage the money it's going to cost you? …
I highly recommend that you consider this last point first because that's something no fancy blogger or nature lover will point out for you.
Van life never comes cheap, so before you throw everything to the dogs let's calculate the expenses you need to get this nomadic lifestyle off the ground.
The Ride ($3,000-$8,000)
The first thing you need is a sweet ride and if you're struggling with money, something affordable of course, may be used but at the same time in good shape. If it requires a lot of renovations then you can kiss a large load of your money and inner peace, goodbye. From amongst the simple end vehicles like the Volkswagen Westfalia, a regular passenger van, or a cargo van you can buy yourself one at a decent price. An average Westfalia ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. Other models like the Mazda, Nissan, and Talbot stand between $3,000 to $7,000. Make sure you browse through an ample number of available lists till you find one that makes the cut.
Most of these new vans come modified but if you're buying something cheap make sure that you save money every month to make necessary renovations. From sleeping arrangements to installing an efficient power supply, everything has to be properly managed to avoid getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. A solid full campervan electrical conversion kit split/charge hookup 12V 240V can be bought for $392.31. Portable solar panels can be installed on the roof to provide an efficient source of power for $170.53.
Labour Cost ($300-$400)
Though much of the labor cost can be minimized to save money as most of the carpeting and woodwork can be managed with the help of friends however leave the wiring to a professional. 2x 100w solar panels can be placed on the roof of a van, the install comes in at just under $366.17. It could be up to $50 cheaper if you choose a cheaper solar regulator; instead of the one with a remote display. Fixing up the rest of the wiring can take up some more money but it's better to spend some getting a solid electric system working in your van to avoid future incidents.
You cannot expect to turn your van into a lavish space as compared to all the facilities available at home. In order to endure hostile terrain, the van needs quality tires, struts shocks, and brakes. One tire stands at $79.32, while the struts can be bought for $21.56. The brakes cost between $52.92 - $85.00.
Proper beddings cost around $11.77 along with essential kitchenette at a decent $176.55 can make life more durable in the outdoors. Swivel seats are available for a good price of $286.4 on ebay.com. Although some things need to be taken into consideration as where RV’s can be modified to extremes like even adding a luxury pool or a jacuzzi, a campervan should add only such modifications that are essential instead of clamping up the back.
So, all these basic amenities can be summed up to around a minimum of $10,500 give and take as an initial start up to a new lifestyle. Other costs will sooner or later pile up and you would come to realize that a vandwellers world isn't as dreamy as it sounds.
However , my purpose in listing down the cost of van life isn't to discourage opting for this way of living. There are many people who find this a good way to save money as they live rent free and they can find joy in adopting different professions or a good way to experience life in different regions.
My sole intention has been to highlight the fabricated lie that it is a surreal way of living with no loopholes. If you are willing to take risks and explore the world this may prove to be the best thing for you.
There are many van dwellers circling the globe and each has a tale to tell, of nature’s wonders and their own struggles with the changes they made. Share your experiences in the comments below.