2. All They Wanna Hear is Money
It's always such a taboo to talk about. However, money is one of those topics that most people are most interested in.
Being on the road is probably the cheapest part of van life. So that can create pros and cons.
Once you are on the road, it's a much more economical way to live and even travel than your standard lifestyle.
The problem is the barrier at the entry. It can become expensive very quickly to get your van ready for the road.
For example, you might last a year in the van on a relatively impressive 6,000 euro. A whole year! But this doesn't include buying and/or building your van. You may well spend 10,000 euro on getting your van ready for its first trip. 10,000 euro is not so bad, and will give you a pretty damn good van. You can go cheaper, of course. Or, you know, spend 60,000 euro on a brand new converted Mercedes Sprinter. The scale is big with vans...
A Financial Pro To Van Life
It will always be a pro to live in a van. Even if you are not travelling, many people have left their rented room in a move to save more money by going full time in a van.
In the last 52 days, Leslie has spent 19.50e a day on average. This is excluding a few one off purchases that are more particular to the business or, for example, 1,000e spent on solar panels. (Yes, they are a van expense. It is noted, but the 19.50e represents a living cost.) It was actually about 15.00e a day up until recently.
19.50 x 365 (days a year) = 7,118euro. That's not so bad for a year. We are by no means being the cheap skates that Leslie is oh, so capable of, either. That yearly expense could easily be cut down to 6,000euro a year.
Remember, these are the expenses of a man that has been in France, Spain and Italy now. Having seen Barcelona, Rome and Naples, too. It is actually the cities where your money drains the quickest.
Anyway, what does a room in a city cost? 4,500-6,000 euro a year? Then get your living expenses. Numbeo says a single person in Dublin costs 920e a month. Let's say 700e to be cheaper.
700 x 12 (months) = 8,400 euro + 5,000 euro rent = 13,400 euro total?
After your van insurance etc, your year and living would equal somewhere around 10,000 euro total. So that's 3,400 euro cheaper than the city slickers. (Plus you get to see many, many places on that budget, too.)
By no means is this a concrete calculation. There was a family of 4 living in a van in Spain off 60e a week (3,120e a year?!?!). There's also people in the city spending far less than 13,400 euro a year. You get the idea.
A Financial Con To Van Life
Start up costs. Definitely.
We won't go so in-depth with this one. But let's give you some general insight.
We can use our beloved van as an example.
So, before you get to see any country, there's a van to buy and maybe build, too.
We bought our van (a plain van) for about 4,000 euro. It is an extremely solid VW LT46 and we love it. Touching every piece of wood in the region, it hasn't caused any problems as of yet.
There is a simple science to buying the base of your van. Buying cheap will help you save money up front, but you will have more maintenance fees throughout. Oil leaks, blown radiators etc. Things that can be a hassle to fix when on the road, and can also cost even more if these breakdowns are costing you time to work etc. So keep that in mind, we would definitely recommend spending a few thousand and not rushing the initial van purchase (unless you are doing this for a short term, then buy some junk and relish the breakdowns.)
Then comes the kitting out of your new home. The options are endless here. Leslie built the van himself, with the (free) help of his father and friends for harder jobs (fitting the door. Terrifying.)
It has solar, an ikea kitchen, a wood burner, a garage, a refillable gas bottle, a fridge and a pull out bed fit for a king.
It does not have running water or grey water storage (we have a pump tap in to a big bowl, then we throw the water out when it's full. It's fine.) We also don't have a shower or fancy toilet.
It's very livable, and more than many would need, but also lacking luxuries that others would deem as essential.
We kitted that out for about 5,000 - 6,000 euro. This is an educated guess. Leslie found it more stressful to keep a note of the piling receipt tower. Again, no work was needed mechanically to the van (this could add up very quick) and we didn't need a (paid) carpenter to help with the build. Labour costs can quickly add up too.
Also, Leslie had a safe, big area to work on the van. He also had time. They both make the build much easier and save on money, too.
So in conclusion, the actual start up to own a roadworthy van can be another 10,000 euro. Add on a thousand or two for paperwork and all of a sudden you have a high barrier to entry.
Luckily, this price can be lowered depending on your labour skills and bargain hunting capabilities. This is just what it cost us.
For those that prefer visuals, please enjoy Leslie giving you a slightly more in-depth run through below.