5 things that happen once you start living in a Van
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When I decided to live in a van, my main motivation was saving money. Besides saving tons of money on rent and living expensese, I started to notice many other wonderful things beginning to happen:
1.Your purchases of useless crap decrease significantly
When I lived full time in what I now call “permanent structure housing,” I was a free spender and bought whatever I want whenever I wanted. When I started Van Life officially in July 2016 this lifestyle came to an abrupt halt. I found myself browsing things on Amazon or in a store, entertaining the thought of purchasing and then thinking “Well, where am I going to put this?”.
When you live in the square footage of a full size bed, any unnecessary items taking up precious space will just irritate you. If it is not essential to me, or does not have significant emotional attachment to me, I’m not buying it.
2.You realize you really don’t need to shower every day
Anyone who knows me personally might laugh because I was never one to shower everyday before I started living in a van. However, when your residence does not have a shower it becomes less of a choice. Not having running water was probably one of the hardest adjustments when transitioning to van life for me. I plan my showers usually 3x a week at the gym. If I am going on an adventure like a hike with friends I usually ask if it’s okay if I shower at their place after, most people don’t ever seem to have a problem with this. Keep in mind that I work full time as an Occupational Therapist, so I have to look presentable each day. Even with limited access to showers I was able to look professional each day, no complaints from patients or coworkers…yet :).
3.You spend significantly more time outside
This was something that was a pleasant surprise. My M-F afterwork activities did not change too much living in a van. I still participate in typical “unwinding from a long day” activities. I still may work out or relax on my computer, watch netflix, read etc. However, if it was a nice day I would typically hang out at a park before I drove to a spot to sleep for the night. My first assignment in Soldotna, Alaska I often spent many afternoons on the kenai river with my door open reading while taking in the breathtaking Alaskan summer sights or walking along the sky blue glacier fed river looking for wildlife and watching people fishing for salmon.
In the past, it seem as if activites like this had to be planned and required more effort. Usually at the end of a work day most people, myself included, just drive home and most likely remain there the rest of the night. But when your home is your vehicle #homeiswhereyouparkit!
4.You don’t ever need to pack/unpack
When I first started living in my van full time in Alaska I often visited a friend who lived 3 hours away. It was a Friday at work, I was really tired and was planning on driving up to her place the next day. She texted me to ask if I could come Friday night instead. My initial reaponse: “Ehhhh…I’m tired plus I won’t get out of work until 5:30.” Her response: “Come on Sarah, it’s not like you have to pack!”. For someone who chose a job that requires traveling, it’s ironic that I truly loathe packing and unpacking. Living in the van full time has pretty much eliminated the need for this.
Having everything you own in the world in your car and on your person is actually a relief and an amazing feeling.
5.Life becomes simple
The less stuff you have the less cluttered and less complicated your life becomes. You truly realize how much you simply do not need. You feel a better sense of control in your life because everything thing you need is in your living space and in a sense you’re always prepared.
I am someone who would lose my head if it wasn’t on my shoulders. Living in such a small space forces you to be more organized because you simply have to be while living in a tiny space. I used to waste so much time frantically searching around my apartment for keys, hair brush, cell phone or whatever I lost that day, but not anymore!
In short, living in a tiny home means tiny expenses, tiny amounts of stress, but provides so many more opportunities to enjoy your life. Van life has freed up time and money for me to be able to have more adventures and memorable experiences :).
Nomads with a Van: Relfecting on two years of Van Life
Do you or have you ever thought about living in a tiny space? What would you do if you had more time and money?