There are many reasons why a growing number of people are selling their worldly belongings and opting for a life on the open road. For you, it might be a temporary solution to save money for a more comfortable life in the future. Or perhaps you’re doing it to take control of your life and rediscover what truly matters. Maybe you just want to travel.
Either way, one of the most important decisions you need to make when starting out on your nomadic life is what you choose to be the trusty steed that’ll accompany you throughout your experience. Whether you plan on living the van life for as short as a road trip or you’re looking forward to a journey with no end, your vehicle will determine a lot.
Your entire experience and quality of life will be influenced by your decision. From the amount of room that you have available, to your running costs, comfort and security, there are many factors to consider. Let’s make things a little easier by comparing what it’s like to live in a van versus a caravan.
In terms of the amount of effort required to move from one place to another, the van comes out on top. With a caravan, arriving at your destination involves unhitching, stabilising and putting down stoppers to prevent it from rolling. Of course, unhitching might not always be necessary.
According to recent data from KeeResources, the average cost of a small van such as a Renault Kangoo or Citroen Nemo totals just over £25,000 after four years of ownership. For a larger van, such as a VW Transporter, you can expect to pay at least another £10,000 more. Keep in mind that this includes maintenance, road tax, servicing and insurance.
Remember that this is before you make any modifications to make your van suitable for living in. Will a caravan be cheaper? Well, it largely depends on whether you already own a car to tow it with. If you do, then a caravan will definitely be more affordable, especially since it’s already tailored to being a living space.
In this case, your towing vehicle will incur the running costs, while your caravan will be relatively cheap to maintain. Your biggest expense will likely be insurance. This is why it’s important to compare caravan insurance quotes to find a policy that suits your needs. When you compare caravan insurance policies before you make the final decision you can factor this cost into your budget.
It’s difficult to say whether one is better than the other when it comes to safety. It largely depends on the security measures you put in place. One benefit of having a van is that you can quickly and easily make a hasty retreat if you find yourself in an unfavourable situation.
In terms of the amount of room you have available, the caravan is the clear winner. While you might have imagined spending your evenings playing the guitar around a campfire before waking up to an invigorating sunrise, the reality is that you’ll spend the bulk of your time inside your vehicle. This is especially true in winter.
So, while a van might sound more enticing when it comes to the cosy factor, you will have to slouch and inevitably pick up a few bruises on your head during your experience. Storage space is another important factor to consider. You’ll need sufficient room for cooking, dressing, dining and sleeping activities.
The less space you have for food, the more money you’ll spend on groceries, as you won’t have storage for non-perishable goods. If you plan on working or studying on a laptop, a van might not afford you the comfort of a traditional workstation. If space is a priority for you, go for a caravan.
What time you lose setting up your caravan will easily be regained by having a bathroom facility onboard. With a van, you’ll have to opt for showering or bathing in a stream, under a waterfall or at a public bathroom. It’s not always fun, and having your own bathroom is more hygienic while also saving you from a great deal of trouble.
In addition to having more room and bathroom facilities, a caravan offers superior insulation. On the other hand, a van is smaller, which can make it easier to heat up. This ultimately depends on where you plan to spend your van life and how you obtain power. For instance, if you use a heater, then a caravan will be just as warm in a slightly longer period of time.
Both options come with their own advantages and disadvantages. In most cases, the caravan comes out on top. But if you’re choosing the van life because you’re cutting down, a van might be a better option. Your best bet would be to try each option out for yourself and imagine what your day-to-day experience would be like.