The costs of living in van ?

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  • Hi everyone, just signed up on here after being too lazy to do it til now! Anyway, you all seem to know a lot between you so would like to take advantage of your knowledge/experience if I may.


    Me and the gf are currently living the dream and giving away most of our monthly income paying someone elses mortgage. (We both work full time btw). We've only been renting for about 18 months and have both grown to hate it for reasons as I am sure most of you have experienced at one time or another.
    Having considered our options financially we have talked on and off for a fair while about what life would be like as van dwellers and how it could work.
    Now I obviously know that living in such a small space and all that comes with it comes down to a lot more than the money side of things and that is something we are considering in depth. The real problem is trying to work out just how much living in a van would cost us? I don't want to include the costs of buying and fitting a van, I'd just like to have some idea of roughly how much month to month you guys spend yourselves and if there is any saving to be made as opposed to a flat/house/boring life?
    This may not even happen as it is just an option atm but if there is substantial enough money to be saved by doing it then I'm all ears to the good and bad side of the coin.


    Thanks is advance it's all appreciated!

  • Hi to you both. That sensible question doesn't have an obvious answer as we don't know what kind of lifestyle you will be leading, with regard to recreational expenses etc. however, I will say that we have found it to be much cheaper than the usual brick/mortar options, by far. Our expenses are basically : our food, diesel, van maintenance/tax/insurance. We make our own entertainment by and large and buy very few new clothes. Hope this helps! Keep on truckin, Toby in West Wales.

  • Thanks for the fast reply Dieseldog.


    We are both fairly good and don't spend what we don't have. Here is my very basic outline of what we spend in a month. It's not complete as I'm sure there's stuff missing but gives you some idea/something to go on!


    £625 Rent
    £ 102 Council tax
    £21 Water
    £40 Gas & electric
    £13 TV license
    £10 Flat insurance
    £35 Car insurance
    £100 Petrol
    £48 BT/Tv
    £220 Food
    £26 Takeaways/food out


    I know van living brings its own expenses different to bricks and mortar so all suggestions are welcome!


  • £625 Rent
    Campsites can be around £400 +/- (work on between £5 - £25 a night + electric). Wild camp for free


    £ 102 Council tax
    Nope.


    £21 Water
    5-Lt a day +/- (5 ltr in tesco is £1.08 -- or find yourself a tap)


    £40 Gas & electric
    Depends on Van insulation, your heating choice, your gadgets you want to power.

    £13 TV license
    You still need a license in a van.


    £10 Flat insurance
    Van insurance


    £35 Car insurance
    Van insurance (will you have a small car as well, so you can leave the van parked and dressed)


    £100 Petrol
    £? How often are you moving?


    £48 BT/Tv
    Mobile phone/Boradband £15 p/m


    £220 Food
    Yum


    £26 Takeaways/food out
    Yum yum.

  • Your main problem will be not having an address to use, it can be overcome especially if a family member or friend will let you use theirs as yours, if not problem getting vehicle insurance / doctors etc, most others will accept a care of address, the vehicle insurance can also be overcome if you don't mind paying a very expensive premium for proper fulltimers insurance. As for TV no need for a licence in touring caravan, motorcaravan or boat if it is classed as a second home which of course if you can use someone elses address it will be, although I'm sure I found a section on the tv licensing site that stated touring caravans / motorhomes were exempt anyway as I did once get a refund, I know they made it very hard to find, plus you only need a licence if you watch programs as they are broadcast, we've been fulltime since late 2006 and love the life even though we stay local for work, currently paying £49 per week on site with water & electric etc plus a bar, most we have ever paid is around £10 per night

  • yes we think so to, the site owners have been pretty good to us, they didn't have hook-ups when we first came so they first ran a lead out for us and later put in a supply post for us, normally they charge £5 per night without electric, they have a decent bar with plenty of real ale etc, there is a small festival in and around the town in August and they provide the camping site for that, looks like a couple of decent bands are already in the line up http://www.reephamfestival.co.uk/

  • yes we think so to, the site owners have been pretty good to us, they didn't have hook-ups when we first came so they first ran a lead out for us and later put in a supply post for us, normally they charge £5 per night without electric, they have a decent bar with plenty of real ale etc, there is a small festival in and around the town in August and they provide the camping site for that, looks like a couple of decent bands are already in the line up http://www.reephamfestival.co.uk/


    Sorry, slightly off topic... can you take your van to Reepham or is it just tents?

  • Sorry, slightly off topic... can you take your van to Reepham or is it just tents?


    They take vans as well as tents and caravans, although for the Reepham Festival I believe the fee's are slightly different, should be in the link and has to be paid for when booking tickets, there are also no pets allowed on site during the festival. The rest of the time pets are welcome and pitch is £5 per night

  • Are you sure about this. I spoke to the licencing people who said we did not need a licence as we were either covered by the campsite licence or fell between the lines if wild camping.


    I haven't had a licence for over 15 years


    aman


    When I was in halls of residence, all students needed a license - we couldn't use 1 building license to cover all rooms. I would presume the same would go for a campsite.


    If you watch live broadcast TV you need a license.


    If you watch the bbc iplayer 'LIVE' stream - you need a license. Watch the same program an hour later (when it is not on the live stream) - and you don't need a license.


    If you have a license for your home, this will cover you when you are in your van.


    Hope that helps. Please check, this is only my understanding.
    Box

  • Im currently at work so only a quick reply for now on money and costs but for myself
    It works out at aloud £330 a month but that's mainly because of fuel and insurance.
    Gas I can buy a 15 canister and it lasts me 2 months costing me £32
    Water I get from work for free.
    Food, living on my own and skipping/foraging I spend around £15 a week minus beers/treats
    Electric is free and a bi product of fuel in which is why I don't mind spending a bit more on fuel and plus free power from the sun
    As for insurance if you get it with limited mileage on a motorhome like myself
    Last year I was stationary mostly and used a car for a run around and it cost me £400 a year for a limited 5000 miles

  • Tv licensing isn't actually mandatory. It's only mandatory if you declare it! If you don't declare it and give your name they have no where to stand on making you purchase one

  • Laundry Ive always done by hand so I don't pay for anything but natural cleaning products which is pretty much made up by myself.
    Or if I see a friend they sometimes say pop a load in.
    You could invest in a pressure washer or even make one? Suitable size for vans and cost around £40
    They use hardly no washing powder there hand cranked and work bitter than wasting machines.
    Is advise people living in houses to buy them too as they use two lots of water and that's it (around a litre if that) the pressure does all the work


    As for how often
    I have work clothes dowsing around clothes which don't get washed often. Just have more underwear than I used to.
    Depends how 'hygienic' you are haha

  • Haven't read all the replies cos i'm on my phone, but obvious basic costs are MoT/tax/insurance and fuel. If you've got all your important possessions in van then perhaps contents insurance too.


    Heating - we have a woodburner in our van and it's easy enough to get wood for free if you're happy to do the hard work going out and finding/chopping it, so that's heating/hot water for nowt. If you aren't happy to go and get it yourself, then however much wood costs. Water you can get for free from service stations/taps in churchyards, or buy bottled water from supermarkets. Tv license - even if you're technically supposed to have one, i'd imagine it'd be hard to enforce if you're constantly moving about, i'd probably do without. Internet dongle will probably be more expensive than whatever you're paying at the moment, but I don't know how much. Electric - initial outlay for solar panels but free/cheap power after that. Food depends what you want to cook and how you want to cook it, but doesn't need to be anymore expensive than when living in a house. When we're travelling we buy fresh veg and make a lot of stews and soups.


    As for 'rent', depends how you want to travel, whether you want to wild camp, in which case it won't cost you anything, or whether you want to use campsites, which will vary in cost per night. If you want to stay in one place for a long period, you may find a friendly farmer will let you park on their land in return for helping out with things on the farm. How much you'll spend on fuel obviously depends on how much you move about, but you can get a moped/pushbikes to stick on the back of the van so you don't have to use the van for every little journey.


    Overall though, it's almost always cheaper than living in a house.

    I've been tripping from sipping the dripping dirty water tap,
    i've been thinking i'm drinking too many drinks all by myself.
    I've been poking a voodoo doll that you do not know I made, for you, of you.

  • "Overall though, it's almost always cheaper than living in a house"


    And a hell of a lot more pleasant and less stress full. just over 7 years in both caravan and now truck conversion, you could not pay me to live in another house

  • "Overall though, it's almost always cheaper than living in a house"


    And a hell of a lot more pleasant and less stress full. just over 7 years in both caravan and now truck conversion, you could not pay me to live in another house


    This appeals to me massively. I know we all have things to pay for (a lot of it self inflicted imo) but the fact that in 'modern' society your only options are to rent or buy I find very depressing tbh. Slaving away all hours and giving some of the best years of your life just to be part of the property lot bores me and seems a massive waste.


    On the van front, I think me and the gf have a basic agreement that we will do this and see how it goes. With all the planning in the world, we ain't going to know anything for sure until we make the break and try it. I'll keep you lot posted, thanks again!

  • You will need to be disciplined in your lifestyle, and the vehicle will need to be fitted out to an acceptable standard, heating etc., comfy.... Try, oh try to get it right first time.


    Otherwise...


    You will spend all your life in the pub.
    You will be fed up, twisted and bitter, then single.
    You will end up skint.


    Don't get hung up on things such as a TV licence, firstly you need a decent 12v TV setup receiving a decent signal for wherever you end up. If that might be many different places in the middle of nowhere then you need to consider how you will do it, here and motorhome forum sites will help you out.


    Remember, Remember, Remember, if you do nothing else always make sure you have plenty of diesel in the tank; you can always go somewhere else if you end up being skint. Fill it before you drink it.


    Good luck and welcome to freedom.

  • Yeah always make sure you have fuel
    I keep a small jerry can full in one of the compartmental just incase.
    Especially if your working for yourself and need to get to the next job but have no cash to do so.
    It's an easier life... a slower paced life.. but you have to plan and be a lot more reliant
    Rememberding and get ting out of the habit of having unlimited resource at a flick of a switch.
    Id recommend everyone live this life even if just for a month just to see how reliant on others we have become.


    Also. Get a decent power inverter with low power usage.

  • Most people I know who live fulltime in their van don't have tv's ... they use a crazy amount of electric and you won't always be able to get a signal. Most people tend to have laptops and watch things via the internet, or dvd's.


    I would probably suggest, if you can afford it, that you get a van now while you're still living in a house, go out in it on weekends or as often as you can, and see if the lifestyle suits you. It's not for everyone. Everything takes more time and effort than in a house, fetching wood, water, cooking, doing laundry - it's all more effort than a house where everything is just flicking a switch. A lot of time is spent just doing the basics to live. That's not a bad thing (personally I think that's what life should be about, living!) but it's not the romantic, simple lifestyle it's made out to be. It's ok in summer when the weather's nice and you can spend a lot of time outdoors, but in winter when you need to go out in the pouring rain/freezing cold/snow to chop wood and fetch water (a woodburner will keep your van warmer than any house even in winter, but the chopping wood bit in the cold isn't much fun) and when you've been stuck in the van for four days on the trot cos it's done nothing but rain, it's not so much fun then. It doesn't suit everyone so it's good to ease yourself into the life if you're able - start travelling at weekends, in all weather, and see whether or not you want to kill each other by the end of the month :p


    Also be aware that if you're wild camping, some house dwellers probably won't be thrilled to have you as their new neighbours, even temporarily, and you may well be asked to move on by police sometimes. If you need to stay in one rough area, for work etc, you'll probably want at least 3 or 4 different parkups that you can move between, so that you don't stay in one place long enough to upset anyone. Similarly, if you're using campsites, not all are open all year round.

    I've been tripping from sipping the dripping dirty water tap,
    i've been thinking i'm drinking too many drinks all by myself.
    I've been poking a voodoo doll that you do not know I made, for you, of you.

  • A wee 16" 12v TV uses very little power, the one I have uses just over .5 an amp. One of those wee spotlights (of which there are 4 on my van) with original bulb use 1 amp each! LED replacements use about a tenth of an amp each. I installed 2 x 80w solar panels on the roof (full kit about £250) & then 3 x 110AH batteries at £75 each, also a good battery monitor that was £100 & how I know how much power stuff uses, how much power's going in/out, etc. but you can have a much simpler & cheaper one of these. Tax £225, insurance £315 (with Adrian Flux who were massively cheaper than others). I have somewhere I can park for free some of the time but also sometimes use a caravan club site that's close by, that's roughly £10 to £15 a night depending on time of year. Good luck & go for it...

  • A wee 16" 12v TV uses very little power, the one I have uses just over .5 an amp. One of those wee spotlights (of which there are 4 on my van) with original bulb used 1 amp each! LED replacements use about a tenth of an amp each. I installed 2 x 80w solar panels on the roof (full kit about £250) & then 3 x 110AH batteries at £75 each, also a good battery monitor that was £100 & how I know how much power stuff uses, how much power's going in/out, etc. but you can have a much simpler & cheaper one of these. Tax £225, insurance £315 (with Adrian Flux who were massively cheaper than others) and MOT. I have a couple of places where I can park for free some of the time but also sometimes (more in winter) use a caravan club site that's close by, that's roughly £10 to £15 a night depending on time of year inc. electricity. Gas about £20/month, more in winter as used for heating some of the time, use oil-filled radiator when on site, no council tax, water rates, TV licence or electricity bill & use Mum's address for banks, etc. Good luck & go for it...

  • A wee 16" 12v TV uses very little power, the one I have uses just over .5 an amp. One of those wee spotlights (of which there are 4 on my van) with original bulb use 1 amp each! LED replacements use about a tenth of an amp each. I installed 2 x 80w solar panels on the roof (full kit about £250) & then 3 x 110AH batteries at £75 each, also a good battery monitor that was £100 & how I know how much power stuff uses, how much power's going in/out, etc. but you can have a much simpler & cheaper one of these. Tax £225, insurance £315 (with Adrian Flux who were massively cheaper than others). I have somewhere I can park for free some of the time but also sometimes use a caravan club site that's close by, that's roughly £10 to £15 a night depending on time of year. Good luck & go for it...