Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Beginning - Our Vanlife Journey

 So, here we are.... Day 3 of our Mercedes Sprinter van conversion. I say day three, as we picked her up three days ago, but I feel I've been planning this for half my life! 

I have always been a bit restless and the last few years has suited that nomadic soul quite well as we've moved around a lot chasing jobs between us. Two years ago however I opened a bricks and mortar shop and that freedom of movement disappeared overnight. I don't regret it one bit, I love my shop and its something I've wanted for a long time. What I have become frustrated with though is renting property. Not having anything that feels like *my* home. Since my partner left University five years ago we've struggled to save for a mortgage, while paying rent and feeding ourselves - like SO many in our generation - and its been a case of living a very nice life that's never really felt our own. We have been saving, but in reality if we wanted to buy a house in the area that we run the shop, we'd need to be putting away hundreds of pounds more a month. Its an area where house prices are at a premium any way, and many smaller homes are bought up as second homes and holiday lets, so even modest homes are unreasonably high if you're starting out. In all honestly, I would resent paying £200,000 for something as small as you get for that here, and certainly not as a 'forever' home. 

It was a couple of months ago that we had our first notion of not even aspiring to that future anymore. I've been following the tiny house movement for a long time and we had talked of ways that we could maybe build something for ourselves, but the same problem arises. Land here is also at a premium. So then we started looking at tiny homes on wheels! Frankly this wasn't ever far from my radar, but it felt like a big 'sell' to suggest it as a serious lifestyle change. As it turned out, Mike was at about his limit when it came to paying bills that month. Just the notion of handing over that much money to someone that didn't need it, when we were lucky to have a few hundred pounds left over to put towards our own first house purchase. So the serious conversations started....

and they continued.....

Eventually we had decided that what we would do was to give van life a chance. The way we saw it was that even if we decided after a year that it wasn't for us, we would still have saved considerably more than spending another year renting. We would always have the choice to move back into rented with little 'lost'.  Unlike many vanlifers that do this for the travel, the freedom, or the adventure, we would be doing it for more pragmatic reasons. We would be keeping our jobs and living in the van as an alternative home. 

Since then it has become far more of an experience than I gave it credit for. I am even looking at expanding my product range for my business to include vanlife and tiny home products, but that will come in another post.

So where are we now? 

Well three days ago we went to look at a van. Three days ago we bought that van and brought her home. Everyone, meet Norma.....


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