Marine & RVs

Is Van Life Expensive?

For some people, van life is more than just a hobby, and it is, like its name implies, a way of life. Just like any other lifestyle, there are many ways that someone can improve their van life, but money will always be a limiting factor. Here’s a look at how much van life will probably cost overall, and whether or not it’s worth it.

The actual van is going to be expensive

Just like buying any other car, not only is buying and converting a van expensive, but the actual costs can vary a lot. For instance, according to Fun Life Crisis, a van can cost about $20,000 to purchase, and converting that van into a van that’s suitable to live in may cost about $3,000. Wealthier folks will definitely be able to buy a more expensive van, and the cost for those can easily go past $100,000.

But, like Parked in Paradise wrote, there are always cheaper options available. For example, Parked in Paradise bought an old van from 1996 for $3,700, and then spent about $5,000 converting it. But again, just like with buying a car, there’s a lot of variability at play. Some people may be able to find even cheaper vans, and others may be able to spend less money converting their vans.

Regardless, this is probably the biggest price tag that someone who’s living the van life will have to pay. So, if those numbers are too expensive, then the van life probably isn’t it.

Cost of living isn’t going to be cheap, either

Janna Wilson, 64, and her husband John, 66, sunbathe next to their 40 foot long motorhome located at Quail Run RV Park in Quartzsite, Arizona. They have been full time RVers since June of 2020.
Two van lifers living the van life | Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

RELATED: This New York City Couple Dropped City Living for an RV and Doesn’t Regret It

Just like how the price for buying and converting a van will vary, there’s also a lot of variability as far as cost of living goes. For example, Fun Life Crisis spent an average of about $2,200 a month while traveling through the Americas in a van. On the other hand, Parked in Paradise talked about various ways that folks have lived on just $850 a month in their van. This big difference in costs can be explained by the logistics of van life. 

Parking the van, whether at a garage or at a campsite, can cost money, and that cost will add up. Furthermore, unless your van has a shower, you’ll probably want to shower somewhere, and that may require getting a gym membership. On top of that, food, electricity, and gas are necessities that’ll easily take up big chunks of your budget. Plus, emergencies happen, and an emergency fund is necessary too.

But of course, there are free or cheaper options for those things. Saving electricity is also a good way to save money. Some folks may budget for fun activities while living the van life, but some folks may want to skimp out on those.

Is van life expensive?

Ultimately, van life, just like regular life, will cost as much as your lifestyle demands it to be. If you want to live the van life to save costs, then it may not be worth it as van life is very different from living in a home or an apartment. Additionally, the starting costs of buying and converting the van may be too much for some folks who are on a tight budget.

However, if you want to live this lifestyle because you love the outdoors, then the price will almost definitely be worth it. For those folks, traveling and camping all the time are well worth the price tag.

Plus, for outdoorsy people who can work remotely, van life is almost a no-brainer as their job allows them to work anywhere in the world. But for folks who want to live the van life for a summer or two, they will probably have to budget for it.