Van life: What it’s all about and what it involves

Van life: What is it? What does it involve? What are the pros and cons of living in a van?

A van parked by the sea.
A van parked by the sea, with a snowy mountain behind. Credit: Matteo Leoni (

With the rise on social media of the van life community, this lifestyle may seem like a dream come true. Our Storyhub correspondent has been looking into what it involves. 

Living in a home that can move, taking you to all the places you want to go while being able to save money? Sign me up, please.

Of course, van life is not all roses and it is not for everyone either. Although living on a van (or a bus, for that matter) has many perks, it also has some downsides. 

So, let’s break it up for you, so you don’t have to. Are you dreaming of living on the road, of making the world your home, of having a place to live without having to settle down and commit to one place? Here’s a list of the pros and cons of van life.



I know, this one is obvious, but it is also one of the main issues in van life. 

When you’re trying to fit your entire life in one van, things can get hard. Really hard. But so many aspects can affect how much space you need ,so don’t give up on the idea just yet.

If it is just one person living in the van, it is much simpler than if it is a couple. Or a person with a dog. But you can always consider getting a minibus or a bus instead. 

Besides, see it as an interior design challenge. This is a great opportunity to be creative and think of smart ways to save space. 

Bathroom businesses

Again, this depends on what type of van you want to build, as well as your budget and the space available. However, in a general way, needs such as showering and going to the toilet are slightly harder when living in a van. 

Installing a composting toilet is a great option, after you get used to the idea. They are really low maintenance, eco-friendly and space-saving, but they are also a bit pricey. 

Parking and safety

If you don’t want to stay stationary, it is a bit of a burden to always have to figure out where you can park overnight and if it is safe.

If you are in a big city, there are more options to park your van that are targeted to that purpose, so they will have facilities like locker rooms, showers and places to fill your tanks. This can, however, be or feel a lot less safe, with busy city movement around you during the night.

On the other hand, if you are in a remote area, it can be hard to find these locations. So it is important to do your research beforehand. 


This will vary a lot from person to person, but sometimes it can be hard to work and live in a van at the same time.

If you are not planning to move around a lot, this might not even be an issue. However, if the dream is to travel, the available options for work are reduced. 

Most people that want to travel and live in a van are shifting their attention to online working. Although you can find a good dose of stability there, it is likely that you will have to work freelance and be very flexible.


Now on to those amazing characteristics of van life, the ones that you see all over social media and make you dream of a life without ties.

Freedom and flexibility

Living in a mobile home will grant you a level of flexibility like no other lifestyle. It makes travelling so much easier and cheaper, without the hassle of packing, booking hotels and leaving on time for the check-out. Besides, when you find a place that you love, you can choose to stay in the area however long you like.       


It is pretty much guaranteed van life will bring you many adventures. You will be able to live in different places, you will meet like-minded people and have the opportunity to explore your surroundings.   


Van life is a vastly cheaper lifestyle than renting or buying a traditional home. Although this depends a lot on how much you want to move around, your monthly bills will decrease significantly, and it’s very unlikely you will spend more on gas than rent. 

Dream home potential

If you are choosing to live in a van permanently and for a long period of time, investing in it is just like investing in a house. 

It is so much cheaper to build and decorate your van than a full house. This will allow you to orientate your funding into turning your van in your dream home.

Of course, everyone’s list of pros and cons will vary and it is up to each one of us, individually, to decide which column outweighs the other and if van life is the right option to your lifestyle.