Have you found yourself asking: how much does van life cost? It’s no secret that the cost of living is rising and you may have found yourself considering how to reduce living expenses and even alternative ways of living altogether. There is an assumption that van or boat life is cheaper than living in a house, involves fewer outgoings and is an easy way to save money. So, is this true? We spoke to van lifer Emma Orlando and Ed Bassett of Camptoo to break it down for #vanlife.
“Is van life expensive” is one of the most common questions asked in this community.
To be honest, there are a lot of variables that determine the cost of living in a van. For some who chose to live in luxury on the best campsites, travelling regularly and dining out daily, van life can be expensive but for those that opt for a more basic lifestyle, it’s a great way to cut costs. When you first hire a campervan, you will get a good idea of what you will need based on your individual style of travel, so it’s always a good idea to do that first. It also depends if you work from your campervan, plan on travelling around a lot or will add additions to your trips. To get a more accurate insight into how cheap van life can be, hiring a campervan is a great way to determine what you will be using the van for.
For now, here is an average breakdown of how much solo van life costs:
First things first, you need to be insured before you drive. All insurance will vary depending on how much protection you prefer. It’s also worth considering if you will be driving over to Europe in your campervan as European breakdown cover is a must if you do. When you hire a campervan with Camptoo your insurance is already included in the cost. If it’s your own, van insurance can be as low as £200 or as high as £1200, but on average it tends to work at about £600 per year. We would recommend Alan Boswell insurance for a quote.
£600 per year – £50 per month
You are probably aware that the price of fuel is rising, so this is where you might think that van life is expensive at nearly 2GBP per litre at the time of writing. It’s a good idea to consider the most fuel-efficient vehicles to lower the cost of your trip. It’s also important to note that driving speed has an impact on fuel consumption too. Trying to maintain a similar speed where possible can help keep costs down. If you are just doing small trips, then fuel can average at about £100 per month. If you are travelling long distances you can expect this to double… or even triple depending on how far you go. Check the fuel consumption of your vehicle before you hire or buy. Also using your diesel heater will impact this figure in the cooler months by around 10% per month.
£100-330 per month
Again, campsites are a personal preference. If you are looking for luxury, you can expect to spend £35-40 per night. This often includes a prime location and immaculate facilities (you would hope!). For campsites that are closer to wild camping, you might find gems as low as £5-8 per night! But in general for campsites, in a good location with standard facilities, the average is around £15-20 per night. This tends to include electricity too if needed. You can find a campsite at Jetcamp.com. Some people prefer to find free overnight parking of course in car parks, allowable roads, lay-bys or other public spaces so you can really reduce costs by taking this route and using apps like park4night.
£200-250 per month
If your van has a built-in cooker, you will need to consider the cost of gas too. Each campervan will have a different model and gas bottle size, so prices will vary. It also depends on how much time you spend cooking in the van too. If you prefer to eat out, then the cost of dining will be a substitute here (and probably add a little more onto the budget!). If you’re cooking 3 meals a day, you can expect the gas canister to run out a lot quicker. Bottles themselves are around £35-45 and will probably need changing every couple of months.
£15-25 per month
If you want to work from a campervan then you will need to consider the cost of the internet too. There is the option to just hotspot off of your phone and stick to your existing plan. We personally recommend having a router with a different network provider to help you if you ever go into spots that are out of service. Standard internet packages can range anywhere from £15-30, which will be on top of your phone bill too. It’s worth considering that this may be considered a business expense!
£15-30 per month
As with anything, things in the van will probably go wrong at some point. Whilst this can’t be predicted, it’s a good idea to have some money set aside just in case. It could simply be general wear and tear or there may be larger issues that crop up. We recommend putting aside £100 a month as a “just in case” fund to make sure you’re covered. This isn’t all that different to living in a home, but may be more common with a vehicle that moves through many different types of terrain.
Aside from what we have already mentioned, some of the other expenses you can expect to find on the road are the same as what you would need to spend living in a house too. Think food, water and general lifestyle costs. As mentioned, how cheap van life can be is dependent on how you chose to adopt the lifestyle. When you hire a campervan you will be able to get a rough idea of what kind of expenses will occur for you and then work out an average from there.
Conclusion: Is van life expensive?
We say the average cost per month is around £500 if you are staying at basic campsites and travelling moderate distances. This is before adding any additional lifestyle expenses, so you can determine how much more you spend in that respect. All in all, using van life to save money is definitely possible. In many ways, it can be cheaper than rent and there are fewer expenses to consider. It’s also a far more minimalist lifestyle, which probably means you won’t be spending as much too! Want to see if you could save money living in a campervan?
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