The Van Life hashtag is a new phenomenon that has been popularized throughout social media and among millennials. There are two rationales for van life: a cheaper alternative to apartment living, and a cheaper way to travel for young people, who often cannot get work in their fields and make ends meet, nor save for travel.
When it comes to #vanlife, the cost can vary depending on the size of the van and the amount of fixing it will need. It also changes depending on how far the van will be travelling. Julie Ellison, author of The True Cost of Van Life on Climbing.com, says that her van costs about $5000 and with renovations it would go up to $9,305. Some have gone as far as repurposing entire school busses into homes, which according to the couple behind Expedition Happiness can run around $70,000.
While many people look to #vanlife to lower their cost of living, many millennials simply do it for the adventure, or a way to travel more efficiently. Rather than paying for flights and accommodations while travelling, couples, such as the Expedition Happiness pair, use the bus to negate these costs. Thus, allowing for a more affordable travel experience for long-term trips.
While #vanlife is a good long term investment for extended travel or saving money on rent, this may not be a plausible alternative for homeless or impoverished people simply because of the initial investment. The purchasing and repurposing of a van, even a fairly small one may run close to $10,000. While it does take away the need for rent, the van will have a monthly insurance and will also need gas in addition to the cost of maintaining and servicing the vehicle itself.
The #vanlife seems to be most common amongst young, millennial couples not necessarily looking for a cheaper way to live, but a cheaper way to travel and explore. Using the #vanlife lifestyle for travel allows for more money saving possibilities, as these vans are typically smaller and will need less repurposing. This will save money on the investment as well as accommodation costs.
Overall, it’s up to the travellers to decide whether investing in that type of way of living is worth the long-term costs. It will always be a large initial investment, but it could be the source of more freedom and adventure; after all, who can put a price on wanderlust?
By Leah Symonne