One of the most common questions people have about this lifestyle is how much does van life cost?
Well, how long is a piece of string? (Yep, I said it).
Frustrating and overused idiom aside, it is hard to put a finite price on the cost of van life, just as it is with normal life.
The great thing about van life is that you don’t have to pay rent or bills, but there are other van life associated costs you still need to consider. Plus, if you like expensive clothes, makeup, food, you eat out a lot, you stay on expensive campsites or your phone bill is upwards of £50 a month – then life will get pretty pricey.
Equally, if you’re happy to buy own-brand foods, choose free hobbies like hiking, stay on free sites and cook your own dinners, then you’ll be able to live for much less. As with life outside of a van.
But I’m aware this is a very unsatisfying answer, especially if you’re trying to put together a budget for an upcoming trip, so I thought it might be helpful to give you a break down of two of our big van life trips and how much these cost us, to give you an idea of average costs.
Western Europe – August to November 2015 – 8,000 miles
This was our biggest trip to date, we weren’t strictly living in a van so much as a car, but the same rules apply. We spent £3,000 on the car before we left because it needed a fair amount of (unforeseen) work done to it.
During our trip, we drove 8,000 miles and along the way petrol drastically varied in price, plus on some of our drives we had to pay for tolls. We only stayed in hotels on three occasions and then campsites most other nights, with the occasional free or very cheap spot in between.
Other than that we spent most of our money on food, drink, the occasional trip to a cathedral or perhaps the odd shopping trip. Otherwise, we were pretty tight with our money choosing to explore on foot and for free most of the time.
We spent an additional £3,000 after the car – which is insanely good for three months abroad, 10 countries and 8,000 miles!
Which of course is an average of £1,000 a month.
UK – April to June – 800 miles
This was a much shorter trip yet somehow cost us more… hmmm we were obviously practising a little too much self-love and treating ourselves to yummy dinners and days out when we wanted!
But regardless, we drove the entirety of the UK, staying mostly on free sites but occasionally on a campsite and it cost us £3,400 for those three months.
Averaging around £1,133 a month.
So while these have been trips with lots of movement, covering lots of miles, we’ve managed to keep costs down as much as we could. Taking both these trips into consideration I would say on average comfortable van life will cost you around £1,100 a month if you’re moving around a lot.
But if you’re not moving as much (or at all) and if you’re cautious with your money – you can definitely make the pennies go further. So like I say, we have treated these trips like a holiday/travel experience, not just everyday life so we have spent a bit more money than is necessary.
Watch this space for my upcoming post on how to make your money go further in a van.