Living in a campervan is ‘more affordable and enjoyable’ than renting – ‘true freedom’

Influencer jokes about leaving her office work life

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When the pandemic hit, Emma was living in her parents’ house and, as much as she didn’t want to be there, she couldn’t afford her own place. That’s when she decided to buy a campervan to live in instead.

Emma told “I felt incredibly stuck, but then I remembered the time I spent travelling in a campervan in Australia and I thought it would be the best way to explore the UK and have a place to call my own.

“It was the best of both worlds, a home that could go anywhere.

“I knew I wanted to own a campervan one day, but the pandemic definitely made it happen a lot faster than I had planned.

“I intended to have a van to explore in on the weekends – but was thrown in at the deep end with it being my full-time home.”

The 27-year-old travel writer explained that “vans were incredibly popular at the time, and there were 10 people lined up to view mine so I had to be quick”.

“Thankfully, my race to see it paid off as I managed to be the first to view it.”

The total cost for Emma’s van and its conversion was £24,000, but “it would have been much cheaper if I converted everything myself”.

Emma had the bulk built by The Camperway in Weymouth, before “adding and amending things” herself as she went along.

“After a couple of months on the road, I realised I needed more water, storage space and thicker foam to sleep on,” she revealed.

“I would never have known this before actually travelling – so it becomes a constant work in progress.”

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But it doesn’t cost much now to run the van, Emma said.

She explained: “For me, the average monthly cost of van life is around £500, which includes rent, fuel, repairs, internet, insurance and gas.

“Not only is it cheaper, but I also stay on campsites overlooking the ocean, which you would pay crazy high rent for in an apartment.

“It’s a much more affordable and enjoyable way of living.”

Emma went on to say that living and travelling solo in the van was “daunting at first”, but she soon got used to it and met a lot of people like her.

“I quickly realised how friendly and helpful the van life community is,” she said.

“The solo female van life community is also one of the best I’ve ever been a part of.

“Everyone is so supportive and just understands each other effortlessly.”

Emma added: “I was surprised at how quickly I settled into having my own space and freedom. I never really have to plan and can always change my mind at the last minute depending on how I feel.

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“It’s true freedom. I’ve gained so much confidence from living in my van, going on long journeys, handling challenges and just being with myself so much.”

There are some challenges, though, Emma noted, such as “always having to pack everything before you can move, finding a new place to stay each day, not always having a shower on hand, bad weather keeping you up, having a limited supply of stuff, and the times when you don’t meet anyone for a little while, which can be lonely”.

Since purchasing the van, Emma has driven from Brighton to Scotland and back down to Cornwall, where she has been staying for the past few months.

“I love having a campsite that I stay at so I can visit a co-work space each day, go to the gym and be a part of a community,” she said.

Her advice to any other budding campervan dwellers?

“Hire a van first. I thought that I would only be able to drive a small one by myself. Now I think I would have been able to have a much bigger one.

“The only way to know if van life is really for you is to try before you buy.”

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