FINDING THE FIRST VAN TOGETHER TO BECOME DIGITAL NOMADS
HOW WE FOUND OUR VAN, MOVED IN AND NOW LIVE IN IT FULL TIME. WE HAVE DARED TO DO WHAT OTHERS ONLY TALK ABOUT.
What sounds like an absolute dream of a lifetime to some is a horror to others. Finding the first van together and living full time in a van while organizing your entire life in this tiny space. Strictly speaking, even the life of two adults and a small dog (addendum as of Aug 2020: In the meantime, we have opted for two vans because of our jobs).
The idea for all this came about spontaneously. As is the case with pipe dreams. They only make sense if they are started on impulse and implemented against all odds. And that’s exactly how it turned out that shortly after the North Cape trip we thought about moving in together. But the idea of taking this step in a van came a little later.
YOU DON’T REALLY GET TO KNOW YOUR PARTNER UNTIL YOU’VE LIVED IN CLOSE QUARTERS FOR A LONG TIME
Once you have traveled for two weeks in freezing temperatures in a small Opel Vivaro through Northern Europe, then you know whether it harmonizes with your partner for a long time in a small space. Our trip to the North Cape had shown us that we got along quite well under rather unfavorable conditions. However, the original plan was to find an apartment together and to travel a bit in our free time.
So we started to study the countless advertisements on the housing market. Hardly a day went by in more than 4 weeks that we didn’t read ads in the vicinity of both our workplaces and contacted various landlords for a viewing. We were looking for an apartment in the medium price range for two people and a dog.
What can I say? No matter what we looked at, nothing really matched our imagination. In addition, apartment hunting with a dog is not quite as easy as you might think. We had to cut corners at every turn in terms of location, surroundings or the layout of the apartment itself. In addition, there were viewings, where one was channeled to the appointment with 40 other waiting in groups of five through the rental property. Afterwards, you were given a form on which you had to fill in everything from your shoe size to the color of your underwear. Kathy has gone through a few rounds of these rental battles, I just saved it directly.
SPONTANEOUS DECISION: WE JUST MOVE INTO A VAN AND BECOME DIGITAL NOMADS
After a viewing appointment, Kathy was sitting on the couch looking terribly pensive. I had somehow been thinking for two weeks about whether it was time to turn a long-held dream into reality, but had never brought it up. As if she heard my thoughts at that moment she looked at me and said, “What do you say we just move into a van?”
To be honest, a few years ago I probably would have called anyone crazy for giving up their apartment or house to live in a van. Compared to an apartment, there is nothing at first glance that could make this decision even remotely attractive. No permanent residence, rather defenselessly exposed to the weather in hot summers and cold winters and in general it is exactly something like homelessness.
While we had quickly pushed aside all the negative features, the first positive thoughts about our idea came. We relatively found out that the positive aspects outweighed from our point of view. It took just under two days until, based on our theoretical planning, we were no longer looking for an apartment but suddenly for a suitable vehicle for our foolhardy plan.
Since the whole thing had to be paid of course, we started to calculate. With a rented apartment with 1000€ warm rent one pays annually 12000€. A simple calculation up to here. Since we would live to two (the dog pays unfortunately nothing to the rent in addition) meant a cost of 6000€ annually per person. In this calculation, the nonsensical part for us was that we could neither find a suitable apartment for the money and also by the rent itself could not acquire property. All we got for 12000€ a year were compromises and the feeling one simply loses money, which could have been better invested.
While we were advised from various sides (family, my employer whom I told pretty quickly my crazy idea) to a condominium or a Tiny House, we were already in the middle of the search for a van, which we could develop ourselves. With our first idea we ended up with a partially integrated motorhome, which should cost with new price around 60000€. This means a monthly amortization over approx. 6-7 years in the height of the calculated rent, which we would have had to raise for an apartment. Thus approx. 1000€. A decisive feature in this consideration, the motorhome would actually belong to us after this time.
THE AGONY OF CHOICE IN THE SEARCH FOR A NEW HOME ON FOUR WHEELS
I think we knew every video on Youtube at that time that even in any way imagined a van or camper. We watched them all and were very surprised how it feels when you actually stand in a camper. The idea from the videos did not correspond at all to reality, which we knew until then also only from Youtube. At a dealer, we were able to see different variants from the inside.
It feels significantly different in reality than when you perceive the interior of a camper larger with a suitable lens on the camera. During the inspection of finished Pössels, Clevers and other panel vans, it became clear very quickly that it is unfavorable if you get stuck with your hips between the kitchen and the bathroom. Also, this variant seemed much too constricting for our taste due to the overall feeling of space. All in all, however, even the ready-built semi-integrated motorhomes did not match our idea of vanlife at the time. Who drives an expensive motorhome somewhere on narrow paths through a forest and runs the risk of scratching everything?
Nevertheless, when we were thinking about buying such an expensive mobile home, a voice suddenly whispered: “Stop, think about it. You’re locked into repayment for over 6 years. Wasn’t independence your dream?”
The inner voice was right. The reason why we wanted to choose this way of living was the gain in freedom and independence. Now we were about to become dependent on something again for an extremely long time, which would tie us to at least a certain income for the next few years. Even though we were very fond of the comfort of a mobile home and it took us a moment to shake off the idea and dream of luxury in such a vehicle, we found the right solution for our project.
The new plan for our life in the van was: DIY Conversion
If you want to know what happened in the meantime, just take a look at Instagram.