Van Life – How to Budget and Get Started

van life

You may have come across #vanlife on one of many social media platforms. Or you may have stumbled upon a YouTube channel that provides insight into this new, nomadic way of life that millennials are embracing. It’s a mini-phenomena that’s made its presence known with over 7 million search results on Instagram. And, if you’re into living modestly, and traveling frugally, then van life might be for you.

So, the first question that naturally emerges is – how much does this intriguing lifestyle cost? How much do I need, to partake in it, a few months out of the year? Well, this question doesn’t have one answer. It depends on the many different things you included.

Most European van life couples claim to set aside around $800 per month, with a daily budget of around $25 per day. However, in the US, that number is higher, around $1500. With a large financial strain being the fuel funds, needed for going from place to place. But that aside, what are other major concerns?

Van Cost and Investment Opportunity

While living out of a van might be relatively cheap once you get going, that doesn’t mean that the start is too. People have been known to spend upwards of $45,000 for a 4WD Sprinter, and then additional thousands for its conversion into a mini-home. However, seeing as that’s too rich for most people’s blood, many opt to purchase older, used vehicles for around $3,000-$4,000, and use a larger amount for refurbishment and conversion.

If this number scares you, maybe you need to consider how to monetize your travels. If you have photography, videography, journalism, or any kind of skills that you can utilize on the road, perhaps, van life could be a business opportunity. You could do reports, or sell photos and videos taken from around the world to many stock sites. Visiting new scenery each day allows for it. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you could apply for a small investment loan, buy a van, and get the ball rolling. If that sounds interesting, then you should read more about BestEgg.

Auto and Health Insurance

This is a big one, and it’s something that most travelers do not factor in their monthly budgets, and is calculated separately before they go on their way. Auto-policy is a must, and with ones at around $100 per month, they aren’t too bad. However, most of these protect the vehicle and those in it, but not their possessions. Those can be covered by homeowners or renter’s policies or a traveler’s policy that covers personal property.

On top of this, depending on where you’re from and where you’re traveling, health insurance might be needed. And if you’re from certain parts of the US at a certain income level, the monthly rates can go over $1000.

Food, Laundry, and Gym Membership 

There are many  frugal ways to save on food and come in at less than $100 per week. Don’t eat out, at least often, and buy fresh foods and meats. Don’t overstock and always cook large meals that don’t need refrigeration and can be eaten over a few days.

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