There are loads of blogs out telling you the pros and cons about living in a van. What you should think about before making your final decision. But I find them a bit irrelevant. If you were like us, by the time you’ve gotten round to searching for ‘reasons to live in a van’ on google, you already think its a good idea. You’ve probably made your mind up already. Nothing your read will really sway you away from the fact that you are now a ‘van-lifer-to-be’. The real use for those blogs is the ammunition that they provide you when discussing your new life choice with others who may frown upon or simply just don’t understand us ‘van lifers’.
What we want to do in this blog post it to take you on our journey from living in a cosey flat in Glasgow’s West End to living in a Ford Transit van (Hugo) in the mountains of rural north Wales.
How it Started
I guess the drive to live in a van started years before Janey and I even met. For me, I always wanted to live in rural areas. Working as an outdoor instructor meant that I traveled and followed the seasons for work. Everywhere I went there were other instructors who lived in their van. To me it just looked like the ideal setup. Drive to a different job depending on the time of year. There are people I know who live in Wales during the summer for rafting and mountaineering and then drive down to the Alps in winter for the ski season.
I used to rent a room or a flat whenever I started a new job. This always meant walking into the unknown and hopefully the place is as described. With a van, you just needed a car park and everything is the same. Plus there was always plenty of room for the copious amounts of adventure kit in a van!
Janey’s reasons for living in a van were slightly different. She reads loads of adventure magazines. People featured always seemed to be travelling in their vans. Adventure movies/documentaries such as ‘Valley Uprising‘ and ‘Into the Wild‘ (yes, I know its a book first but we’ve not got around to reading it) enforced this vision freedom that the van represents. And whenever on her own adventures, Janey always bumped into other van lifers that seemed to be just living the dream. For Janey the van represented the world of adventure, a life that she was always destined to live.
The Magic Words
Jump forwards a few years, Janey and I travelling and have come back home to the UK. We have got ourselves a flat in Glasgow’s West End. I am recovering from surgery following a kayaking injury and Janey is paying off her ‘travelling credit card’. We are both pretty down, missing going on adventures and travelling. Neither of us have a car, and so travelling anywhere can get pretty expensive on public transport. We got talking about buying a car when the conversation suddenly escalates. One of us uttered the magical words – “Why buy a car when we can buy a van!?!”. And that was it. That was the turning point that made van life dream something that was going to happen rather than just something that others did and we fantasied about.
That was in June 2018. It took until April 2019 for us to buy a van and then June 2019 for us to move into it.
From Simply Wanting a Van to Choosing to Live in a Van
Deciding to buy a van was the first step. There were a whole load after that to get us to where we are now. Originally we were thinking of only getting a weekend warrior van. Something small that we could go on adventures in during the weekends. It only needed enough room for some toys and a bed.
The Light Bulb Moment
We did a lot of research. Reading up on other’s stories and journeys they do in their vans. Finding out people’s decisions and reasons for them. Janey and I got talking and we realized that we were really looking for a way to get our lives back on track. We wanted to be somewhere where we were both happy and relaxed. Since moving back to Glasgow neither of us were truly happy. I was used to being an adventure guide, living in remote places and being active every day. Janey was used to travelling around different countries. She never sat still for long and was always climbing any mountains that were in sight.
Now, however, we had just spent over a year in a Glasgow working behind a desk. We had not made many friends. Most other people wanted to go out drinking every other night. But we wanted to go out on adventures. Our Jobs were also stressing us out. Living in a concrete jungle had defiantly lowered our mental and physical health. We just simply weren’t happy. Janey and I needed a change in our lives that would get us back to living and doing what we loved.
The more we talked the more we both came to the same conclusion. If we simply got a larger van and lived in it… then all our problems would be solved. We would be able to move back to a rural area, go on adventures, and work in a place that is more suited to our life style. A big plus is that we would be living in a small space. It would literally force us out of our ‘living space’ and head outside. Living in a van would make us go on more adventures!
Where Are We Now?
Well now, writing this post, we are a year on from that fateful discussion between a car or a van. We bought a van! He has been christened ‘Huge Hugo’. We bought him in late April 2019 and moved into him early June 2019. Janey and I only had a month to strip Hugo out and then build our home inside him. He’s not yet finished but Hugo is a van that can happily be lived in. Have a read of some of our other blogs to find out Hugo’s design and how we built him!
Once we bought Hugo, we handed in our notices and found new jobs. Now we call Snowdonia our home while we work at a new adventure center. We are (at the time of writing this) only 2 weeks in but have already been on adventures and found and now live with a community of other van-dwellers. Choosing to live in a van has made us happier, more relaxed and just less stressed in general than we have been for the past year already. It certainly hasn’t been an easy transition. Our first night in Hugo was in a mechanics yard. But since then we’ve been enjoying the life we love, which often includes going hiking, surfing and partying in one day! Life is looking up and we can’t wait to share all of our stories and adventures we have with you!