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Introduction

There are a plethora of benefits that come with living in a van. Not only is living in the van cheaper but it helps you save up lots of money. You don’t have to worry about your extra monthly cost, bills, or rent. You only have to supply your van fuel or gas like you do while you are home. Hardly would you spend money fixing your van on the road. Since you would have limited space in your van, then you would save up on buying all the blue ribbon gadgets you have at home. Also, you would have the chance to do more while you live in the van. Living on the road helps you focus on your hobbies and gives you time to explore them. 

Unlike your apartment, everywhere is home on the road. You can choose to relax your body on the hung hammock or move your bed out on the grass. Wherever you want as long you want it; van life allows you to live there freely. With van lifestyle, life gets more flexible. You are free to do what you want at any time you want it. Even though living in the van is cheaper, you would still have to spend some money on feeding, water, and other essential amenities. In this post, we will review how much is living in the van cost. 

 

Living in a Van

Living in the van is not for everyone but for the few who are ready to give up a lot to gain more. In the world today, living in the van is a lifestyle that everyone wants to partake in. Many people have quit their job, convert a van, and have been living in a van full time. Hundreds of people have found freedom and happiness by living in converted vans. One major myth about van life lifestyle is that it is a thing of the rich. This conception is nothing near the truth. Living is not limited to anybody. 

The trip is not just meant for rich people and graduates who spend years of their lives traveling but also for everyone who wants to explore the world. Van lifers do not spend lots of money; instead, they end up saving thousands of dollars even on short trips. 

A break down of what it Cost to Live in a Van

Van life lifestyle involves a slew of events to explore, history to learn, wildlife to see, restaurants to visit, local beer to taste, movies to watch, and many more. Like in the home, a van life trip requires a little more planning. This planning often entails the budget for the trip and your expenditures. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to know the cost of living in a van.

Dishes in van

Of the events and actions you enjoy on-road, feeding is the one that requires lots of money. This is because you eat at least twice a day and do lots of things associated with feeding. For van lifers who love to make their meals themselves, you would have to purchase several cooking items such as mini-fridges, removable or permanent stovetops, bamboo utensils, plastic reusable wine glasses, non-stick cookware, plastic plates and bowls and many more. You should be prepared to spend a lot on these items as they cost a fortune.  

You also need to choose between buying a solar or propane panel off campground power. Meanwhile, the solar units are expensive compared to the propane unit. Some campers prefer to opt-in for a modest camping stove rather than the built-in kitchen models. Aside from the fact that these units cost no more than 100bucks, they are also fully detachable and run on propane. 

 For their searing baking and slow cooking needs, few campers rely on an Instant pot. The instant pot is easy to use and maintain. It does not cost a fortune and has an attractive design. Even though grills are not essential items, these units allow you to make BBQ at your various picnic parties on the road. Like the stovetops, grills are available in a wide range of options. This unit ranges from propane, electric, gas to pellet grill. Of these grills, the electric model is the most expensive. Likewise, gas grills are also costly, while propane and pellet grills are affordable.

Van lifers, who have little or no cooking skills, would need to budget more as feeding as dishes in many restaurants in America are costly. So for van life travelers who can cook, you can schedule between the range of $50-$500 and $50-1000 for van lifers who can’t cook. However, this plan can vary depending on the cities or areas you are visiting. 

 

Toilets in a van 

After enjoying your dishes and the local beers, it is high time you answered the nature call. The fear of having no safe and clean place to answer the call has pushed a lot of people back and has made them postpone these thrilling tours. So to keep your road life safe from diseases, you need to have quality toilet facilities that are hygienic. Since you can install a standard toilet in your van, portable camping toilets are the ideal models for you. Not only are these units easy to use, but you can effortlessly dispose of your waste after use. 

There are different varieties of portable camping toilet. While the composite bathroom is the most popular, the chemical toilet flushes into a black water tank situated under the van and is emptied at a later time. The luggable loo is also another type of portable camping toilet. Unlike other portable camping toilets on the market today, composite bathrooms use the natural processes of decomposing and evaporation to recycle human waste. This toilet system is eco-friendly as the small amount of remaining solid materials are converted to useful fertilizing soil by natural decomposition. Composite toilets are one of the most expensive portable camping toilets. You should be ready to pay about $950-$2000 for a blue ribbon composting toilet with a vent and exhaust system. 

On the other hand, chemical toilets are portable camping toilets with limited space. As a result of these, you need to periodically empty your bowl. This unit collects human excreta in a holding tank and uses the chemical to minimize odors. Unlike the composite toilets, chemical toilets are not easy to move from one place to another. These toilets can lead to a sewage smell if the portable toilet is overused or not properly cleaned. Chemical toilets need to be adequately maintained to prevent the spread of germs or diseases. For renting, a chemical toilet could cost from $175 to $225 per day for short-term use. It could also cost from $175 to $275 for a single standard portable toilet for the weekend.  The handicap-accessible portable toilet could cost $225 to $295 per weekend. 

Unlike other portable camping toilets, luggable loo is an extremely rugged portable toilet for camping, RVing as well as van life trip. It is an excellent choice for van life travelers who want a portable camping toilet that would last for years. Luggable loo works perfectly with the standard Double Foodie bag. The bathroom does not need regular cleaning up like the chemical toilets. Also, waste disposal is a snap when used together. These toilets also come with seat covers. It is an ideal toilet to answer the call of nature when you are sleeping or hiking in the wilderness. The shower is easy to use and can be used anywhere on the campground. You don’t have to squat in the woods or walk to the nearest campsite bathroom with this toilet. The toilet allows fat people to sit on it comfortably. It is the cheapest of a portable camping toilet. A luggable loo costs $10-$20. 

Shower in a van

Like the bathroom, van life travelers do not enjoy the luxury kind of bathroom they do in their various homes. Many people see showering as one of the most challenging obstacles you will encounter when you start your life on the road, but after some ride, you will see no problem in this. On-road, you don’t have to bath every day so you must learn to skip a few showers sometimes. Some vans are built with their shower systems. However, these vans can be much more expensive than you think. The showers also have limited space. These showers are mounted on the roof with a hose attachment, which serves as the showerhead. Showers in vans have water capacity that is no more than 5-10 gallon water. 

Meanwhile, these showers are built outside the van, and they offer you little or no privacy. Meanwhile, there are a slew of budget shower options on the market today. Unlike the luxury built-in bathrooms, you don’t have to pay more to use these showers. Likewise, these bathrooms are easy to use. All you need to do is to take some warm water and mix in with the water you have prepared for your shower. However, you can also decide to bath with freezing water depending on the weather. Here is a list of some portable shower systems available on the market. 

Hozelock pump shower is one of the best portable shower systems on the shelves. You can get the water flowing for nearly the whole container with just a few hands pumps. For warm water, all you need to do is to paint the unit black and set it out in the sun. However, you need to leave a vertical strip unpainted so you can easily view the amount of water you have in the device. One major con of this unit is that it can’t be broken down when not in use. Therefore, van life travelers have difficulties storing it. The shower holds about 1.3 gallons of water for about 3 minutes. It costs about $43 or less. This battery-powered portable shower is another unique variety of portable bathrooms ideal for coming or hiking. It uses a battery that can be effortlessly recharged. The battery lasts for more than 1 hour of continuous use. To use this model, all you need to do is to put the opposite end of the device into a bucket of water and let it pump the water through to the showerhead. It has an unlimited water capacity with a coast of $35. 

Of these portable shower systems, a solar shower bag is the most affordable in price. Apart from that, it is also ideal for the hot summer heat. Solar shower bag uses the sun to heat up for about 2 hours or more. It has a water capacity of about 3 gallons or 5 gallons of water with a price range from $20 to $30. This model is easy to use. You can decide to install a hook onto your van or hang it from a tree branch. Unlike other systems, the solar shower bag includes a water temperature gauge. Since the container has no pressure, it produces water at a slow rate. The shower also comes with an on/off gravity.

Meanwhile, Baby Wipes is another effective budget shower option for camping or hiking. It is ideal for van lifers who can’t afford other shower options and also perfect for emergency periods.  You can easily clean your entire body with this Epic Baby Wipes. 

There are also other affordable shower options for you. One of them is the 24/7 gym membership, where you only need to pay $10 per month and wash your body all day. Although it is rare, there is some campsite that offers shower facilities to campers. You don’t have to pay for some of these facilities. For van life travelers who would love to clean off after a dip in the ocean, there are a slew of beaches available for you. Other options include a Couchsurfing app, truck stops, mountain biking trails, weed sprayers, and many more. 

Washing in a van

One of the essential guides to enjoying your on-road life lifestyle is bringing as many clothes as you can on the trip. With so many clothes, you don’t have to wash regularly or perhaps don’t wash at all if you will be staying for a short period. Many vans don’t have space for a dryer or washer setup. While some campers choose to wash their clothes by hand, others hit up the local laundromat. For van lifers who would love to make laundry themselves, there are a plethora of options available for you. One of these options is renting out an Airbnb to do laundry. This laundry system is popular among many cities in the United States of America. Likewise, the system is budget-friendly. With just about $10 or a bit more, you can wash all of your cushions, blankets as well as clothing at your convenience. You can also choose to have a whole room to yourself for laundry. However, you will pay extra $15 bucks or more. 

Doing your laundry at your friend’s place is one of the best laundry options on the road. Aside from the fact that you will pay nothing for the service, you will also have time to interact while cleaning your clothes. However, it is difficult to get a friend in the city you don’t belong to. But you might be lucky to meet a van lifer like you with the same perspective of life. Perhaps you can connect with van life travelers in your hosting state via social media or the internet. Besides washing your blanket, you also have the opportunity to shower and wash your dishes while you stay in the place. While you wash your clothes in your friend’s place, you can easily get someone to help you. Meanwhile, it is important for you never to stay for long. Likewise, you have to take permission from the owner before you use some items in the house.

For van life travelers with no friend or with little or no budget for laundry, your sink is another place you can do your laundry. You can choose to wash your important clothing such as a singlet, panties, and other in the sink.  The sink allows you to hand what you couldn’t wash in a machine. To use the sink, all you need to do is to fill it with water by closing the area where water flushes out. Then you can wash your clothes at your convenience. However, it is essential to know that a thorough cleaning must be done on the sink before you wash your clothes in it. Also, you should avoid washing items with white color in the sink. Van lifers can also choose to use a portable washing machine in the van. There is a slew of washing machines that wash both bags and clothes. These machines are expensive, so you should be ready to pay more for them. 

Van lifers who would love to hit up the local laundry mat can check out at a Laundromat in any city. At least one Laundromat is found in even very small towns. Some of these Laundromats are available every time to render their services to you. All you need is your detergent and your clothes to be washed. Depending on the size of the machine and the town you are, the price of Laundromat ranges from $2.59 a load to $6.00. You would have to pay extra for dryers. A load takes about 30 minutes, and it costs 0.25 per minute to dry your clothes.

Winters in a van 

Many van lifers often choose to explore across continents of the world in the winters. This is because there are a slew of events, actions as well as thrilling activities that snow comes snows. Winter allows you to enjoy games and sports such as snowboarding, freestyle skiing, Alpine skiing, curling, short track speed skating, speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey, and many more. But how do you plan to beat the extreme cold that comes with this period since you would be living in a van for long? Some vans without windows can be too dangerous this time. Van lifer has developed a few different strategies to battle winter. One of them is insulating the van with high-quality materials during conversion or construction. While some van life travelers insulate the van using special lining on the windows, others purchase blanket-like inserts that are used to temporarily cover the windows during the coldest nights. 

Aside from insulating your van, you can also get some materials to keep the heat within the van. Some of these items include the electric space heaters, wood stoves, as well as propane heaters. Of these items, the propane heaters are the most common. There are also gasoline heaters, which are the most expensive under this category. 

 

Summers in van

Summers, in some states in the US, can be too harsh. This is why many van life travelers move around with their sunglasses as well as water flasks to stay hydrated always. Campers also drive around these cities in lightweight clothes. However, cooling your van might not be easy as all of these. There are many cooling options on the market today for your van. Some of these include a rooftop AC unit, rooftop fan, as well as window AC unit. Unlike the other options, the rooftop fan is affordable in price. 

Phone with a van

One of the best ways to entertain yourself while you are in the van is by watching your favorite movies on Netflix. Also, you would need a strong internet connection to monitor the weather forecast before setting out for the day. Therefore, you need to come on the trip with different internet strategies. One of these strategies includes having an unlimited data plan with a personal hotspot. The personal hotspot allows you to use your window laptop with a connection from the phone. There is also a plethora of coffee shops or restaurants in the US to enjoy free Wi-Fi. 

Conclusion

Living in a van does not cost a fortune; rather, it saves up a triple of what you normally spend while you are home. However, it is essential to know that the precise cost of living in a van varies depending on the hosting city and other factors. Meanwhile, your baseline expenses for living in a van are roughly $200 monthly on gas, $150 monthly on insurance, $50 monthly on heating or cooling the van, $5-10 on water, $10 monthly on the gym, $80 on phone or internet, $15 on laundry and $0-300 monthly on parking. 

Of course these are some rough estimates based on estimated expenses your milage will of course vary, if you’d like a more in depth lesson on budgeting check here!

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