News Woodland Trust Buy Ben Shieldaig
Conservation charity Woodland Trust Scotland have been successful in their public appeal to raise £1.6 million, the price of Ben Shieldaig above Loch Torridon.
/ Living in a van
So due to the breakdown of my relationship with my partner I’ll be moving out of our house in the next few weeks. I don’t think I can take living in some crappy bedsit, I don’t want (nor could realistically currently afford) a house. I’ve thought about some kind of shared accommodation but i’m not sure if there is anywhere to suit a potentially depressed middle aged man.
So, what’s living in a van like? It has a certain appeal. I thought maybe I could get a van and live in it at least for the next few months until I get my shit together. Is it a stupid idea?
I’ve got a few constraints that are probably different from young free wheeling climbing types.
Firstly, I need to work every day. I work from home on a laptop, I need a half decent internet connection, can I just buy a unlimited data sim, park up somewhere with decent 4g and work from the van? Do I just need a van with a leisure battery so I can charge things up?
Secondly, i’ve got a 5 year old daughter. We’ve not talked about access but it’s likely i’d have her a 2 or 3 nights a week. In my imagination she’ll love being in the van and we’ll have all sorts of adventures but would it actually turn out to be a nightmare with us jammed in a small cold space with nothing to do while it pissed it down outside?
I guess I have loads of more specific van related questions but that’s it for now. Things feel like such a shitty mess, I could do with any advice going.
Sorry to hear this, hope you are ok. think it rather depends on the van and what you do for work. I work in my van all the time on 4G and have a small desk/table in there. But it's not suitable for Skype calls as it's apparent I am outside which is not so good. I have been looking at fancy headsets that get rid of background noise. I also do need a large monitor to do proper work so really it's not a permanent solution.
As for living in my van permanently then it would have to be a motorhome. And a big one with a toilet.
And no reason for it to be cold... Get a heater. My lpg one costs peanuts to run. And keeps you warm in all weathers tho it's a bit noisy.
It's a bit long winded but I have pm'd you Hope it helps.
> So due to the breakdown of my relationship with my partner I’ll be moving..........
I am really sorry to read what you wrote. It could happen to anyone including me. HANDS UP any reader who thinks it couldn't happen to them. I really hope everything comes together for you very well in the coming months.
I want to say this as gently as possible and with much sympathy and understanding and lack of judgement and best wishes: here goes....... if by a van you mean an ordinary van (not a caravan/ motorhome type thing hooked up to utilities on a proper site) I PERSONALLY would not have a 5-year old ever live there with me, I would have a roof over our heads as a minimum requirement.
Thanks for reading and the very best of luck
Edit, written before reading snoop6060's post
Bit of a curve ball but I have a few mates live on canal boats. One in a 40k narrow boat and one in an wide beam that he paid 50k for and a further 25k to fit it out to a good standard. Very cheap living and seems like a good community as well. With a wide beam there would be enough room for your little one to have her own room.
No advice other than that except I hope things work out for you. It may seem like the end of the world now but it will get better.
What a horrible position to find yourself in, I'm so sorry, though I don't want to make you feel worse by overemphasising that point. It sounds like you're going to have a rubbish time for a while but don't give up on happier times in the future.
I've never lived in a van for more than a few weeks on tour but I'm considering it as an option for myself in the future and have done quite a lot of thinking and reading on the subject.
I do think living and working from a van is very feasible, even with a five year old in tow from time to time. However, vans suitable for living in have big upfront costs in money and/or time. Buying a nice van that's ready to live in with heating, power, insulation, privacy, cooking, refrigeration etc. all sorted is going to cost a lot. There's the option to do a conversion yourself but that's still going to cost money and will also require loads of time to sink into the project, as well as tools and a location to work on it. Sadly, it doesn't sound like you have those resources.
A cheap rental might seem depressing but if you sit down and logically weigh up what features and comfort it offers by comparison to a van, it's going to come out on top. Landlords aren't allowed to rent out complete hovels any more so even the cheapest rental option will give you all the home comforts of the best van money can buy. If it's in a horrible area or you can't stand how cramped it feels compared to where you've been living, remind yourself that it can be a temporary solution and think how much more cramped and cold you could be in a van.
The main advantage of vans is freedom and adventure. It sound like what you need more right now is a simple, safe place to be able to work and look after your little girl. I doubt a five year old will care very much if the place you rent is a tiny bedsit and you can still have those adventures with her.
Do you have no relatives or pals with a spare room? Or as you pointed out there are people out there who like to share to help pay the rent (maybe even climbers) and tbh no one who is a stranger to you will be put off by your temporary circumstances as it happens all the time.
The reason I say this is because living in a van sounds fun but probably isn't.
> ....living in a van sounds fun but probably isn't.
TO ME - ME PERSONALLY: I think you have a key point there, Pefa. I think living in a van can be fun if  you're in your twenties, and  you're single
Just my take on it
It sounds like that as far as work is concerned it should be perfectly feasible. I’m used to working from just a laptop as often work from cafes or wherever when it’s convenient. I’ve got a headset I use for calls already so I guess that would be fine in a van too!
Also this may not be a permanent solution, I was thinking van living over summer is a different experience to van living over winter but since summer is coming up it would be a way to give myself some breathing space.
Cheers! I’ll take a look. It means a lot when a stranger takes the time to help!
there is a facebook group called "Fulltime van life UK", might be worth a look
> I do think living and working from a van is very feasible, even with a five year old in tow from time to time. However, vans suitable for living in have big upfront costs in money and/or time. Buying a nice van that's ready to live in with heating, power, insulation, privacy, cooking, refrigeration etc. all sorted is going to cost a lot. There's the option to do a conversion yourself but that's still going to cost money and will also require loads of time to sink into the project, as well as tools and a location to work on it. Sadly, it doesn't sound like you have those resources.
I've got cash I could put towards it, I'm just a bit unsure of how much cashflow I'll have once I move out. We own a house together but I pay the mortgage and I wouldn't want to just stop paying that for all sorts of reasons.
Anyway, I do have some cash but I'm not sure how much I'd reasonably need to buy a camper that wasn't a dog and was adequate in terms of heating, space, cooking, etc. What's your budget for a van? I don't need anything slick, just reasonably reliable with the basics of life!
> A cheap rental might seem depressing but if you sit down and logically weigh up what features and comfort it offers by comparison to a van, it's going to come out on top. Landlords aren't allowed to rent out complete hovels any more so even the cheapest rental option will give you all the home comforts of the best van money can buy. If it's in a horrible area or you can't stand how cramped it feels compared to where you've been living, remind yourself that it can be a temporary solution and think how much more cramped and cold you could be in a van.
I'm still not convinced (but I could be wrong!). I'm not that bothered about physical discomfort and I don't need loads of things and paying for even a cheap hovel for 6 months would cost a chunk of money that I could instead use to pay for part of a van.
> The main advantage of vans is freedom and adventure. It sound like what you need more right now is a simple, safe place to be able to work and look after your little girl. I doubt a five year old will care very much if the place you rent is a tiny bedsit and you can still have those adventures with her.
You could be right. I'm a bit mixed up at the moment. Not going to be doing anything just yet.
> Do you have no relatives or pals with a spare room? Or as you pointed out there are people out there who like to share to help pay the rent (maybe even climbers) and tbh no one who is a stranger to you will be put off by your temporary circumstances as it happens all the time.
We moved to the middle of nowhere a few years ago and we've left a lot of our support network behind. I mean I do have some friends up here now but I don't think anyone has a spare room. I could ask around the people I know at the climbing wall but I find it so hard to even talking about the whole thing. When someone asks you "how's it going?" I'm not sure they really want to know things are actually really shitty and saying it just makes me feel like a failure. I probably just need to get over that.
> The reason I say this is because living in a van sounds fun but probably isn't.
Yeah, that's what I'm worried about!
And thanks everyone for the replies. It's really hard for me to talk about all of this to anyone in person, talking about it here is a bit easier.
Sorry to hear this JARN. Others have covered better than I could some important aspects. There is one that hasn't been mentioned.
I hope there is as little acrimony as possible between you and your partner and that access to your daughter can be sorted out amicably. However, if things take a bad turn you living in a van might be a reason your partner could try to restrict access.
If you haven't done it already getting proper advice would be a good move.
I'd be able to afford something like this - http://bargaincampervans.co.uk/Florence_Transit.php
Maybe something a bit better. Not exactly top of the range but maybe just enough.
> I hope there is as little acrimony as possible between you and your partner and that access to your daughter can be sorted out amicably. However, if things take a bad turn you living in a van might be a reason your partner could try to restrict access.
Currently there is actually little acrimony other than us admitting that our relationship isn't working out for us. I'd hope that would stay the same but I can see it's worth thinking about. She actually spent some time living in a van with her other daughter before I knew them so it would be hard for her to argue that that wasn't a suitable environment for our daughter!
> If you haven't done it already getting proper advice would be a good move.
I've not talked to anyone apart from posting on here, I'm not sure who to talk to to be honest.
I'm not sure how civil you and your other half are, but if things turn sour, it could be a stick to beat you with. Father - no fixed abode. She, not wanting her daughter to be sleeping in a van parked up god knows where etc.
I've had a van. They are fun, but not really full time - especially if you are going through a tough time. I'd start scanning the web to look at the sort of accommodation available and at what cost. depending where you are there are good flats to be had these days... not the cesspits of old.
Imagine how much it would cost initially for a decent enough van, and consider putting some of that to some nice simple furniture in a tidy little flat. We don't need lots these days. Books/music etc is online or on tablet. A slim TV can be had cheaply and a nice 2 seater or bed settee can look good on the cheap. You don't have to live like a dosser, and it might help your self esteem. Oh and as potential chat up lines go... "would you like to come back to my van" might not appeal to all. : )
Check out Nate Murphys ford transit conversion on YouTube. Quite a decent job. Also there is a group on Facebook of van conversions. Some really are very good with room for young uns - just for ideas really. All the best
If you have a car capable of towing a caravan that could be a cheaper option short term option. Cost about 2k upfront, then move around different official sites every so often, about £400 to £500 a month with electric hook up. Can be quite comfortable and stress free.
There are Internet sites for flat sharing offering places all over the UK that might be worth looking at. After a quick search I got SpareRoom and another called Flatbuddies or try a pin up ad on the info board of your local climbing wall.
And don't worry that people won't want to hear about your situation as any pal worth their salt will.
Best of luck what ever you chose to do.
I lived on a 50' narrowboat for two years, and a good friend of mine lived in a LWB camper in Chamonix for two years. Very possible, but I think you need to be a certain sort of person. It's not an easy lifestyle - it can be hard work sometimes, is quite a basic way to live and is no good if you like your creature comforts.
I used spareroom for finding lodgers and had a couple of people stay with me who were in a similar position to you. It's worth having a scan through the site to see what's available and it might give you a stepping stone without having to commit to a rental contract until you know what you want.
3 thoughts on this
1 there is are many very good reasons that people live in houses not vans. If van life was easy it would be the norm, or at least approaching it.
2 Andys idea of a car and caravan will offer more flexibility than a van. There are many very good reasons that the travelling community mainly choose caravans over vans.
3 consider buying a static caravan on a site. Holiday parks will have a residency limit, use this time to go on holiday.
I hope it all works out for you.
Another option is a boat on a marina. Obviously this is location dependent Marinas tend to be secure and have showering and laundry facilities.
A colleague lived like this for a couple of years.
I now live on a boat after temporarily living in a caravan (6 months). The caravan was a lot less hassle and much cheaper. Whilst boat live is a better long term option it should not be chosen as a cheap/easy option until you have worked out what is involved.
Full-timing in a van whilst working is a mixed bag with regards to depression.
Your van can become a complicated mixture of safe space and self-imposed prison, depending on your need for solitude and how you are coping with it.
There is an inherent lack of stability in moving your home around all the time, but with that comes a freedom that can be liberating. I don't have any children though - the knowledge that I can hand in my notice and relocate to Catalonia or the Alps at any time, without having to worry about renting my house out or meeting mortgage payments is a large part of the allure. The obligation to stay in one place would change the balance quite considerable for me.
It can be a bit isolating - you're outside of normal social circumstances so you won't generally be inviting people over of an evening. On the other hand, when I was doing it in London, where I had a lot of friends spread around the city, I actually found it encouraged me to go visiting people more. Knowing I didn't have to make my way back across the city at night, and could just sleep where they were and ride to work in the morning made things easy.
The flip side of course is that if your social life revolves around climbing, fulltiming means you're always ready to head straight from work to the crag - or in your case be working at the crag (or nearest decent 4g signal). You'll never really feel like you have chores to do that will prevent you climbing - once a week to the launderette is about the only regular thing you have to do that involves being somewhere rather than bringing your chores with you. There's a satisfaction from waking up in a beautiful place, breakfast, dishes and sweeping the van with nice views before donning your pack and heading to the crag.
It's certainly not for everyone, but it can work quite well, speaking as a middle aged man with depression it's done me a lot of good... the main reason being that after the initial outlay on the van, the cost of living means you can spend much less time working, and much more time doing what you love.
I would think long and hard about the legal aspect though - if the split becomes acrimonious it won't really matter what your ex thinks about van life, I imagine any solicitor is going to have a field day. If youygive it a try, make sure you don't end up financially commited to vanlife in case things go sour.
Just in the divorce point... don’t move out of the matrimonial house. You’re gifting her a freebie by doing so.
sorry, thats not true. The assets are always shared on divorce, Nobody gets a free house!
Thanks for taking the time to write such a long reply, it’s really helping me to get a good variety of opinions.
We’re not married but we’ve been together for 8 years and our financial situation is complicated, it’s definitely something I’ll seek advice on. I think I do need to consider what would happen if things got acrimonious (a few people have mentioned this now) it’s made me think that if I did get a van I should also keep some money to make it easy for me to move into a flat quick if it becomes an issue.
One thing I did wonder about a van is finding places to park up. Is it a pain? I don’t mind stopping in proper sites now and again but one of the advantages i was thinking of was things like parking up near a crag and getting some climbing in after work or being there early the next day. Is that generally easy to do? We haven’t talked about access yet but i’m hoping to arrange having my daughter Thursday night to Sunday morning, so i’d have to be in Cumbria on those days but otherwise I could travel around.
I like the idea of less financial commitment so less work and more life but we’ve got a lot of joint financial commitment at the moment so unfortunately a van would be more commitment (although not as much as a flat!) until we can unwind and untangle things.
And our situation is possibly more complicated, I’m not sure. We’re not married but we jointly own the house as joint tenants.
I suspect that if it got acrimonious that you could have problems with access to your daughter if you are living in a van and don’t have it in proper site.
My tuppence, for what it's worth.
Just now is a terrible time to make any major decisions.
Buy yourself a little time by moving into a friend's (or set of friends') spare room. Take a few weeks to let your feelings settle and focus on your daughter and your work.
Once some sort of level horizon has re-appeared (it will), then you'll be able to better weigh up your options.
But don't go rushing into buying a van (or a flat or a canalboat) until you have got through the sensation of your world being upside down.
I've never found parking up to be a problem. I started out stealth camping but these days I'm quite open about it - keep everything inside your van and don't spread out like you're setting up an actual camp and hardly anybody minds. I've once been woken by the police after a concerned citizen notified them of my suspicious behaviour - they were slightly surprised to learn that I was living in a van whilst contracting in a bank, but happy that I wasn't doing anything illegal. I moved on to make life easy for them with the concerned citizen but they weren't going to ask me to. In general I would recommend just moving away from any potential conflict, but if you're parking up quietly and minding your own business it rarely happens.
A genuine question for you.
Generally speaking, motor insurance requires you to be registered at a particular address, and for that to be your address of residence, and for the vehicle to normally be kept at that address (or near it on the road, if applicable).
How does one go about getting insurance for a van that would allow for living in it? Or are people doing this technically uninsured and thus breaking the law in that way?
I’m not sure about the legality, but a mate who lived out of his Van for c 6-12 months had it registered at his parents address.
A quick reply, sort of....
Just to quantify a bit, I've lived in a variety of non fixed accommodation over the years as my work involves travelling around a lot, just getting my first mortgage at 48????????
Lived on a boat for 7+ years an ex Danish wooden trawler
Lived out the back of various vehicles, vans etc including 12 months of weekday living in a Land rover Discovery (weekends back in a flat)
And also stayed in static caravans of various types.
By far the best "lifestyle" was the boat life, very hard work (being a wooden boat restoration), great social scene with the other boaters and just being around the water is a need for me. Narrow boats are not easy but a lot easier than an old wooden trawler. Sea/coastal Marinas can be a bit reluctant allowing live-aboards, canal marinas are a bit more tolerant, just tell them you like to spend a lot of time on your boat. see note 1 below
Living out of a van is good, as mentioned parking can a bit of an issue, finding somewhere secure (not that there is much to worry about) and not staying in the same place for more than a few days at a time stops the curtain twitchers becoming too concerned.
Entertaining a child over the weekend will require a reasonable sized van, think wet weekends, not impossible but could get awkward quickly, toilets, sleeping, personal space etc
Static caravans are probably the easiest option to "manage" day to day life if you can find a long term let, cheap sites tend to be cheap for a reason!!!!!!
As already said, a car and caravan might be good option but you need to find sites for a caravan, more difficult over the winter months. Picking up a fitted out caravan ready for living is going to cheaper than a full blown camper.
Note 1 all the above options will at some point require an address you can be contacted on.
As stated with the marina options they don't often like full time liveaboards and having your mail delivered there is one of their measures for you being a resident ie they don't want it. We set up PO box and had our mail delivered there.
Some static caravan sites also don't like you having your mail delivered to them, as many are not allowed full time residents There is currently a case near us where all the full timers are being bullied off site despite being told the caravans are suitable for full timers. Retirees are finding out their homes are not full time.
Best of luck
Forgot to add the depression bit was hardest when staying in a fixed home after the freedom of wandering about
You need an official place of residence, and there are various ways of doing that - family home, friends home, rent a small room from someone, etc.; In the travelling community the traditional way is for many people to buy a small plot of land together.
What you can't do is register to one address and live at another, but there is no legal requirement to limit the amount of time you are camping away from your place of residence.
In the OP's case, if things do stay amicable I see no reason why he shouldn't be able to stay resident in the family home but spend most (all) of his time camping.
When you're out of the country, unless you have a 365 days/year abroad policy (which are getting harder to come by) you do have to spend a certain amount of time back in the UK to maintain residency status, but you don't actually have to bring the van back - you can put it in storage and train/fly back. Your insurance won't be valid for on street parking though if you're not in the same country as the van so properly store it or take the risk that is it's stolen/damaged you're writing off the loss. Most policies will have a limit on foreign trips anyway, so you won't be comprehensively covered after that time is up anyway. Under EU regulations your insurer must provide third party cover anywhere in Europe though, as long as you are legally insured in your country of residence (hence the requirement to go home occasionally and keep residency). Of course this may all change in the next few weeks... if we leave Europe long trips will probably require one of those hen's teeth 365/year policies, or bringing the van back to the UK every so often to change insurers and head out again.
Maybe rent a van for a couple of weeks and see what it's like (Highly recommend this). I did the van life thing for a while and in the end decided that it doesn't actually offer more freedom than a car and the money you save on fuel spent on a bed for a night somewhere. Additionally it's expensive to run a van and maintain it. When your car breaks down you take it to the garage over night; not so cool with a van. Also toilets are an issue. As is water. And waste management. These things all creep up on you and can end up taking up the free time that you have. All in all, it was a bit of a pain. Also I then applied for a mortgage from a van which the banks simply don't understand:
But what is your address?
I don't have one, that's why I'm getting a house.
> Also I then applied for a mortgage from a van which the banks simply don't understand:
> But what is your address?
> I don't have one, that's why I'm getting a house.
Agreed, banks etc didn't like
> What you can't do is register to one address and live at another, but there is no legal requirement to limit the amount of time you are camping away from your place of residence.
There isn't, but most insurance policies require the vehicle to be mostly parked at the registered address. And insurance is a legal requirement.
I think one would find it difficult to get a policy if honest that there was no intention of parking it at the registered address.
Doesn't seem to affect commercial vehicles long distance trucks, work vans, hire cars etc etc or homes without off street parking
> Doesn't seem to affect commercial vehicles long distance trucks, work vans, hire cars etc
Those are different (commercial type) policies.
> etc or homes without off street parking
Normally you are required to keep the vehicle reasonably near the registered address, as the level of the premium will be calculated based on that.
> Doesn't seem to affect commercial vehicles long distance trucks, work vans, hire cars etc etc or homes without off street parking
Commercial vehicles / hire cars are completely different beasts. If you have no off-street parking you have to declare it, and if it turns out you don’t live where you claim to I think it's probably nailed on that your insurance is invalid.
Some insurance companies offer insurance for full time motorhomers, took me less than five seconds to find one
Bottom line speak to the insurance company, but having a travelling camper really won't be a problem, certainly not illegal.
> Some insurance companies offer insurance for full time motorhomers, took me less than five seconds to find one
Cheers. Such a policy would clearly be needed here.
> Cheers. Such a policy would clearly be needed here.
Indeed, if you want to insure a motorhome it's best to go through a specialist motorhome broker. Do tell them that you intend to be away from home the whole year. If you haven't officially converted with the DVLA, and you want to go with a commercial van for private use policy check the Ts&C's, and if in doubt pick up the phone and ask how many nights per year you have to be at home to maintain residency status.
If you're working, and contracting away from your registered home, also check to see if that will be covered as commuting or if you will need to add business cover.
At the end of the day, your postcode matters because you're insuring against the risk of it being stolen while unattended at night. The risk of it being damaged while in use as a motorhome at night is a different part of the risk profile. Always make sure your use case is covered. If in doubt, speak to your insurer. Never lie on your application form. If you're not sure what to put your residency status down as, pick up the phone and ask what's applicable to your circumstances. As long as you're open you're not going to find yourself suddenly not covered.
Conservation charity Woodland Trust Scotland have been successful in their public appeal to raise £1.6 million, the price of Ben Shieldaig above Loch Torridon.