As I sit here at our little oak desk overlooking a copse of beautiful tall trees, I hear the question resonating in my ears: “why do you live in a van?”. Yes. Why, indeed? As we get asked so often what motivated us, I thought I’d share with you guys the story behind our little corner of van life.
It started, as many of the best tales do, with two twenty-somethings renting an expensive apartment in Leeds and working in marketing. I think ‘misery’ is the word (indeed, as I sit here sans internet/mobile signal/much electricity I decided to start my first solo Scrabble game and this is the first word that came up), or, perhaps, ‘quiet despair’ sums that life for us up a little better.
See, working full-time (and the rest) for companies that didn’t really give a shit about us, in an industry that, for me at least, sucked the soul right from my eye sockets, coupled with the extortionate rent we were forking out for our little flat, just wasn’t creating much (read: any) joy in our lives. Surfing, for me, was something I wasn’t doing as often as I had been and it seemed like a bit of a cure to our rat-race based monotony, so we decided to buy a surf van to enable us to make more surf trips and stay longer at the beach. I have a terrible memory, but from what I can recall, we did absolutely no research.
Good thing was, we stumbled across the right size van by chance. If we didn’t buy the van we did from that dodgy Geordie fella on a total whim, then we wouldn’t be here today. What flipped our cultural switches (by this I mean a thought that goes against everything we should probably be thinking) was that it was big; there was headroom; a (lumpy as rocks) double bed; a sofa; light switches; a sink. Waaait a minute. The van is rent-free. Is this a possibility? Could this work? And then, whod’a thunk it, the wonders of Instagram told us that it was a possibility. It actually could work.
So, to really answer the question, why we’re doing this, we can throw a few reasons in the air:
- We’re still skint and in our twenties. We (especially me – yoga teaching finds you raking in tens of pounds) really don’t want to be stressing over trying to find the best part of £1500 a month for rent and council tax and the rest. I would probably have to get an alternative job if we wanted to do that, and yoga teaching is really awesome (shout out to my Honey Yoga clan!).
- We’re still in our twenties (I’m holding on to this for as long as I can). We wanted the liberation, the adventure. We wanted to have the freedom to head this way or that and stay for a few days. We don’t have a mortgage or kids meaning that, really, we’ve got absolutely zero responsibility (except, obviously, our mums’ birthdays). So, why not? It feels a bit like we’re pressing the red button to see what would happen.
- I watched a documentary once about a guy who lived his dream of surviving in the Alaskan wilderness for six months during the summer. His explanation of why he was doing it really resonated with me: he wanted to experience an extraordinary life. He wanted to actually live, rather than just survive. And, to me, working full time in a job neither I nor my employer give two fucks about whilst paying almost all I earn to stay in a house that society and culture keep telling me to fill with pointless junk is just surviving. Van life, for now, is how I’m living my extraordinary life.
That’s not, of course, to say that living in four square brick walls isn’t living an extraordinary life. Or that working full time is a bad thing. Not at all. That stuff, for me, right now in my life, just doesn’t contribute to my happiness but, in fact, takes some of it away. So here we are and there you have it. Our reason behind our madness. We’re just finding our happy in a cramped little van. And I suppose what I hope any readers of these scrambled little tomes can glean is a message of happiness; nothing, it seems to me, means much more in life.
Over and out for now. I’m back to my solitary Scrabble game.