How to Get Started on Living the Van Life

August 09, 2022/2 minutes reading

The Nomadic Van life has increased during the pandemic, it is cheaper than most domestic lifestyles, and comes with the benefit of waking up to great views. However it’s important to consider the challenges you will encounter as you travel in a portable home. Here are a few things about van life you'll want to know before you get started:

A van at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean

Is Van Life for you?

Do you find yourself wondering why digital nomads choose to live in a van? Van life is not for everyone, but to many, it’s the ideal nomadic lifestyle. The van life philosophy encompasses freedom and a less-is-more approach to life. It also includes a sense of belonging to the world and a connection to the land.

While the price of housing increases many people, commonly millennials, have begun searching for an alternative to the traditional homesteader lifestyle. Amongst this population are digital nomads. As remote work becomes the norm for many industries, nomads have found a comfortable niche embracing the way of the van.

If you enjoy a greater sense of freedom, limited financial obligation, or rich experiences, van life may be for you.

A digital nomad peering from her van into the distant waters

Finding the Right Van

Finding the best van for your needs is no simple task. If you decide to buy new you take on a larger financial burden though you can save time on renovation. If you buy a used van you won’t know what you’re getting unless you happen to be a mechanic and a carpenter.

Some of the best vans have interesting origin stories. It doesn’t matter if these vans’ first purpose was delivering flowers or performing military-grade off-roading. All vans have found a second home in the van life.

Some aspects to consider about a van include the following:

  1. Height - Does it matter when you can stand?
  2. Width - How wide is the interior between the wheelbase?
  3. Energy Consumption - How does the engine perform? What type of fuel does it use?
  4. Fortitude - Do you plan to go off-roading and require a 4-Wheel drive?
  5. Personal Activities - Does the vehicle need to be modified for any hobbies or is it just for work?
  6. Passengers - How many people or animals will need to live in the vehicle?

Work-Life Balance

Van life is a fast-paced travel style. You will find yourself visiting new, and exciting places regularly. You can run out of money quicker than expected. Most digital nomads jobs usually require remote work, and it must be enough to sustain their lives on the road. Nomads strive to balance work, have flexible schedules, and a lot of autonomy. Having a remote job can change the way you travel too.

Digital nomads may need to stay in one location for longer than a night or more to be able to access wifi and perform quality work. This doesn’t stop them from hopping outside of the van in the afternoon for a hike.

A digital nomad working from inside her van

Campsites and Van Parking

There are plenty of safe places all over North America for you to park your van and get some rest. Whether you’re just passing through, exploring a general area, or searching for a longer-term stay, it’s easy to find good camp spots or places to park overnight.

A few benefits of van life is that it is cheap to travel and save money on housing costs. The biggest way to achieve both is using state campgrounds most of the time. There are overnight parking locations, along with free camping, for any van life situation.

A digital nomad viewing the ocean and taking a picture

The Way of the Van

Nomadlist has a community where you can spend time with nomads who have chosen to become van dwellers, and you will be enthralled by the experiences they have had on the road. From cenotes in Mexico to hiking in the Yosemite, van dwellers come across unique and vibrant experiences. There are some upfront costs to getting started, but once you’re going you won’t be able to stop.