Living Like a Nomad in the 21st Century: Van Life

Van life

What would it take for you to trade the comfort of a spacious home and easily accessible utilities to live in a car?

Van life is a movement exploding in popularity in which individuals of all ages and walks of life choose to give up more traditional, stable, and comfortable lifestyles for a spontaneous and exhilarating life on the road. While packing your belongings into a space of around a hundred square feet may seem undesirable, there is something so captivating about this lifestyle that as of March 2021, 11.2 million U.S. households owned RVs, with about half of these living in their vans full-time. A search of the hashtag #vanlife on Instagram shows over 9 million posts, up a mind-boggling 312% from 2017. There is no question that van life is alluring, leading even well-to-do people to abandon comfortable lifestyles to live in a car. But what exactly has transformed this formerly unappealing concept into a sought-after dream?

In many ways, the rise in van life can be attributed to Covid. In an era of lockdowns and social distancing, van life provides a level of simplicity and freedom unattainable to those bogged down by a more traditional lifestyle. It enables one to travel without leaving the comfort of one’s home, with few limitations or health risks. While others start their morning driving to their place of work, van lifers begin their day by driving their homes to their next destination: Arizona, California, Utah, and so on - the opportunities are limitless.

One may wonder how these van lifers are able to continue working on the road. Well, while widespread, pandemic-driven remote work arrangements are frustrating to many, leaving individuals feeling isolated and contributing to a rise in mental health issues, they are the saving grace for van lifers. They are able to work no matter where they are; they simply purchase a data plan with unlimited hotspot access and work from the comfort of their own homes - which can be anywhere from beautiful beaches to breath-taking mountains. Some have 9-to-5 corporate jobs, but most take on more unique job opportunities – content creation, teaching online, consulting, and the like. In this era, the list of solid jobs that allow for remote work is wide and expanding, making it easy for van lifers to comfortably make a living.

However, the nomadic lifestyle is also much more affordable. The money gained by selling one’s home usually outweighs by far the costs of buying and renovating a van, leaving over tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, a solid majority of van lifers say they spend less than $100 per person per week on the road. And get this - no rent, no mortgage, no electricity, and no water bills. Where could one find such a bargain?! Only in a van!

The allure of van life extends far beyond the benefits deriving from the pandemic. What attracts most van lifers is the concept of ultimate freedom - one can literally get in the driver’s seat and go wherever they want, whenever they want. No expensive hotels or plane tickets - just hop in your van and ride off to your next destination. Van life also allows one to connect with nature, a concept that for centuries has been seen as one of the best ways to cope with difficult situations and to connect with oneself. In our day and age, it’s so rare to take a few days - or even a few weeks - to explore and connect with the stunning natural world. Living in a van, this can be your everyday reality.

Van life isn’t for everyone, but rarely do people who join the movement regret it. Amidst the hustle and bustle of modern society, exacerbated by the stress and limitations from the pandemic, van life offers an escape. Move into a van and step into a life of freedom, minimalism, more nature than you’ve ever experienced, financial independence, and most of all, ADVENTURE. Are you ready to become the next  #vanlifer?