Van Living by Choice: We’re Not Homeless
One of our favorite quotes from the past year of van living has been from Ellis, an American in Istanbul. When he found out we live in our Westy, he said:
“You don’t look homeless. I mean, you look clean and stuff.”
When we made the choice to live in Mork (our van), the thought hadn’t even crossed our minds that we might be stereotyped.
We just wanted to travel together, without a lot of hassle. The VW campervan was our solution.
What Led to Our Decision to Live in a Westfalia
My partner, Armando, made the decision to become a digital nomad in June of last year. He sold everything he couldn’t carry and made his way from his life in Sofia to visit me in the Czech Republic. I was also ready for a change.
- Relocating to another country, as a couple (replacing our static lives with another static life)
- Traveling by plane, train or bus to different locations while lugging our luggage and computers/work stuff from place to place
- Buying a van and using it as both storage and transport
We knew we weren’t happy being static, so relocation wasn’t an option. We’d already done the rooted-in-one-spot thing for 10 and 13 years, respectively.
Armando already knew what a pain it was to carry your life in two bags+ and imagining us hauling around all of his camera gear, clothes, etc. from place to place seemed to be a job in itself.
The van seemed to be a perfect solution. We could be together, we’d have a place to sleep and storage, and we’d have independent transport. It was a no-brainer, really.
Meeting Our Westy Mork
I was working and living in Brno, Czech Republic. Armando went to Prague to make some money chalking art in the streets. He was staying in a hostel there when we decided a van was the best option.
He’d barely started looking into vans when he spotted one outside of the hostel and chased down the owner to pick his brain on what to look for in a van.
It was up for sale in fact; it had only been advertised two days earlier. It seemed fated. He worked in Prague, his uncle loaned us some money and voila! Mork was ours.
Planning Ahead for Road Travels in Europe
Originally, we’d planned on moving me from Brno and ‘testing’ our travel and van living legs in Prague to adjust. Armando got a job offer in Sofia, Bulgaria that required him to be there in 24 hours.
He wrote me and told me to pack up- we were leaving immediately. I had literally about 3 hours to get rid of any extras, choose my essentials and before I knew it we were having our first dinner in Budapest.
We didn’t have the time to have doubts. We were on our way to our next destination: discovering ourselves and rediscovering our possibilities of life.
One Year Looking Back at Van Living
Our priorities are more genuine, which truly has given us more space for happiness.
We can enjoy the little things and let go of so many unnecessary stresses, which we couldn’t do in our ‘former’ lives. Thanks to that contentment, we’re much more resilient than we were before when tough things happen. And they do. It’s life.
Stereotypes of Van Living
The one unexpected drawback we’ve had with living in Mork: outside perceptions of who we are and what we’re worth. We so didn’t see that coming. Honestly, the response to our lives has been in two halves: good and bad.
- Living the dream
- Brave and adventurous
- Embodying a ‘hippie existence’ of days of yore
- The new generation
Or living in a van because we’re:
- Thieves, i.e. gypsies, i.e. freeloaders looking for a handout
- On permanent vacation
- Too lazy to work
It’s trying to dispel the negative stereotypes that really try our patience. We work harder now than we did when we were settled, with regular jobs and ‘normal’ existences. We have longer hours, with more motivation and attention to detail.
We work hard, because the tradeoff is worth it: we get to travel when and where we want. We chose this life. We have few regrets for this choice. Dealing with a few misguided stereotypes is a small sacrifice for the daily joys we have.
Yes, we live in a van. Yes, we are nomadic in a way. But no, we aren’t homeless.
Home is where the heart is, and in our case- it’s our Westy, Mork.
What do you think? Do you live in a van, have you or do you want to? Please feel free to leave your comments below!