In early 2018, my partner (Chris) and I decided to buy a van in Vancouver and live the #vanlife in the hope of living a cheaper, more fulfilling and nomadic life.
It was an experience full of ups and downs (more downs), and, well, we don’t live in a van anymore, and through series of journal articles, I’m going to explain why.
For anyone looking to live that dreamy vanlife full of mountains, open roads, and less cash, SPOILER! I may crush that dream… Or give you a realistic account of what living full-time in a van is actually like – the choice is yours.
I will be covering things like what van we got, how we chose it, what facilities it had, what we did for internet, and generally why we thought it might work out, so keep your eyes peeled!
Before we kick off on this exciting (and dreary, at times) journey together, I should explain a few aspects that were key factors in our experience:
1. I Work Remotely
The job is a standard 9 to 5 (with a little flexibility because I work from home). To do my job, I needed to find full service internet with a modem that didn't need to be plugged in to a wall, could stay alive for as long as possible without the batteries dying, and could act as a wifi extender if there was a free signal somewhere. This modem also needed an ethernet port for my work VoiP phone, which does ring from time to time. I also have anywhere from two to five video meetings per week.
2. The journey started in springtime
Anyone who has been to Vancouver in April will know it’s a very wet experience. There’s no sun. It’s just wet. We had a solar panel. You do the math.
3. The global resistance against anyone who may be avoiding rent or a mortgage.
While #vanlife is a thing (vans… Vancouver… Life… Get it?) which is technically legal in Vancouver, that does not mean you can park anywhere. It’s quite the opposite.
There are ‘no van’ signs at most beach carparks, curfews on carparks in nice locations, SO many permit-only spots in suburban areas, and if a resident of the area you’re parked in complains about you being there, the cops will come on over and move you along.
So unless you're vanning around Canada, these are very unique factors that not many others would have to deal with – the experience might be a whole lot nicer if you were trying to van around, say, Australia, and chronic rain isn't necessarily a problem, but this was just my experience. If you’re thinking of vanning in Canada, you might want to consider a few things mentioned in this series.
And lastly, I always have a song stuck in my head. Always. Sometimes it’s a mash-up of my own creation, sometimes it’s the just the one line that I know of a song, but there’s always something playing. So to give you a real feel for the situation, there will be links to whatever song was in my head that day.
Full disclaimer: I like some old, tacky songs. I hope you have a hairbrush handy because you're gonna wanna start using it as a microphone.
Starting today – you’re so welcome.