What Is Van Life?

What Is Van Life? I thought this would be a great thing to cover since it was something that was new to me, too. In the years I’ve had to figure out adulthood, I realized I haven’t been shown all my options. Society tells you that you go to school, college, get a job, get married, have babies and eventually retire and die. Sounds grim and uninspired when you put it that way. When I decided I needed a change in my life and new adventure, I stumbled across something called “Van Life.” When I first saw someone living this nomadic lifestyle, I was intrigued, but I knew I needed to research it further. Even now I’m still learning a lot about “Van Life” each day, but I’ve learned the term is inclusive. Van Life actually covers a wide range of nomadic lifestyles.

What Is Van Life?

I think the strictest definition of van life is someone who lives in a van. However, as I’ve become more intwined in the community, I realize that the term is interchangeable with people living in vehicles. Van Life groups tend to include a myriad of people – car dwellers, truck campers, van dwellers, box truck dwellers, tent campers, skoolies, RVers and more. The list goes on – I’ve even seen boat dwellers in a few groups and that has inspired me further, lol. I think the biggest misconception I’ve seen thus far is that people don’t live this life by choice. There’s a negative connotation about van life and I do believe that it’s something that requires tough skin to do.                      

Why Do People Choose Van Life?

I’ll speak for myself first – I wanted to travel and not have to be worried about rent, lol. That’s the short form answer, but I dig into it a bit more here. As for others, I’ve heard a variety of reasons why.


For some people it’s a form of retirement; I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve seen of retirees looking relieved that they’ve found an option that works for them. For others it’s about saving on rent, I’m looking forward to that too (although campgrounds can be considered rent also). Some people have had devastating situations that have forced them out of their homes and this was a saving grace. And then there are others who’ve left abusive relationships or needed new options after divorce. Either way, finances can be a major part of deciding to live this live… but that’s not the case for everyone.


Some people just like the idea of traveling. “Home is where you park it” is something that resonates with a lot of the nomadic community. I think I fit into this category, too. We all remember the old school photos of hippies with the VW vans, but Van Life isn’t just for hippies anymore. I think societal landscapes are changing and van life is really what you make it. What better way to travel and explore all the nooks and crannies of a given city, state, or country.


I’ve heard people say that they just wanted to pare down and they’d looked into condos, tiny homes and much more, but van life just felt right for them. I can understand this feeling – when I was deciding on this lifestyle I felt a bit of relief knowing I would have to cut back. I can’t say I’m a hardcore minimalist, but I can say that a part of me started feeling really suffocated by my stuff. And as I started selling things off and donating things I felt a weight lifted and excited about the adventure ahead.

A Lifestyle Change:

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I started feeling like I really needed to do something that would shake up my foundation and give me different results. I imagine this is the same for many others. For some people this is just a lifestyle change, whether it’s permanent or temporary. I’ve heard some say that people are looking to escape from their problems, but it’s important to recognize that sometimes people just need a change to become inspired again. And again, I can’t stress this enough… a lot of people are living van life by choice.

If van life/living is something that’s new to you, you can learn more about it in these books.

Helpful Books For Van Life and Nomadic Living

Who Is Van Life For?

Hmm, at first thought you want to say everyone, lol. But the truth is I don’t think Van Life is good for everyone, I think it’s important to be honest about that. However, if you’re a person that is adaptable, knows how to enjoy your own company, can work on the go or knows how to do odd jobs, and has a sense of adventure, Van Life could be great for you.

I’ve seen stories of people’s vans breaking down, getting robbed, etc, so I know that Van Life isn’t something you should enter lightly. I also think it’s a lifestyle that needs to be entered into with a plan and finances/savings or a solid idea of how you’ll make money.

It takes courage for people to step outside of societal norms. I felt inspired by other people’s journeys so I decided it was time for me to start my own adventure. Life is short and sometimes you just have to say “WHY NOT?”

What Are Your Thoughts On Van Life?

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Disclosure: Thank you for reading. Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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