The question on most people’s mind when they are thinking about starting their vanlife is how much does van life in the UK cost? Is it feasible to be able to live in the UK in your van? How much do I need to have to cover my expenses? In short the answers are, it depends, absolutely and I don’t know but we’ll go through what we needed to cover our expenses.
Below we’ll go over some of our costs while living in our van in UK:
Van Life UK Costs
Not surprisingly when you take out the cost of rent and bills the biggest cost for us while living in our van in the UK was the cost of buying food. The temptation when you are in your van is to eat out far more than you would normally do when you lived in a house. A combination of a smaller kitchen to cook in, lack of oven and the relative difficulty of washing up in a small sink means that the temptation just to go out and get food is high. However the key to keeping our costs low both while living in one place or even travelling around the UK has always been preparing and eating our own food rather than paying for eating out all of the time.
The two things we bought for our van that really helped keep costs low were this Smad 3 Way Fridge and the Omnia Oven. While the Smad 3 Way Fridge is an outlay at the start of your conversion it more than pays for itself in usefulness as well as money saved from not eating out. We can cook in bulk and store leftovers safely in the van as well as keep perishable cooking essentials like milk, butter, cheese and vegetables. Because it works via 12v, 240v and LPG we can run it even when the batteries are low and there’s no sun for solar. If you’re looking for a fridge for your van it’s great value compared to others in the market. Add to that the Omnia Oven which gives us the ability to make oven based food on the hob and we really aren’t that limited on what we can cook and therefore the temptation to go out for food is diminished and we save plenty of money.
We tend to spend around £40 a week on food for the two of us; which tends to include a lot of pasta and pesto, fresh fruit and veg and noodles. Plenty of simple items that can be made easily in the van but which are still delicious.
Cost per month: £160
It might seem obvious to say but your fuel costs will greatly vary depending on how you plan to live and travel in the UK. For those of you who intend on staying in one place all of the time your fuel costs will be low. However if you plan to travel around every single day you will find your costs ramping up!
For us we tend to travel for around 6 months of the year and stay in the same city for the remaining 6 months. This means we can keep our average fuel costs down quite a bit. We help keep these lower by also using our bikes to commute when we are staying in the same place for long periods of time. It’s amazing how quickly you can lose a quarter of a tank of fuel making short 5 minute drives in the city. Grabbing a bike is a great way to save on fuel plus helps keep us that little bit fitter.
On average we tend to spend around £125 a month. Some months we will spend virtually nothing on fuel and others we will spend far more than this figure however across the year this evens out to around £125 a month.
Cost per month: £125
Van Life Bills
While we avoid the normal bills you might expect when living in a house such as water rates, council tax and electricity bills; it doesn’t mean we don’t have our own bills to pay. For us this comes in the form of our gas bill and our internet bills.
The gas hobs in our van are powered using Campingaz refillable bottles. At our normal usage our bottle needs refilling every 3 months. Thankfully this cost is around £14 per refill so is hardly breaking the bank especially considering it covers all of our cooking and especially all of our cups of tea.
Perhaps the bigger expense is our internet bills. Because we do so much work on the internet via ukvanlife.co, our personal website theserollinghills.com and the work we do freelancing it’s vital we have not only quick internet, but also plenty of data. We use a mobile WiFi Router inside the van with a 100GB plan for all of our work and thankfully for us Netflix doesn’t come off our allowance. Add to this our phone contracts which also have an additional 100GB of data and we total around 300GB a month which is more than enough for our needs.
Cost per month: £45
Van life Laundry
A necessary evil of living in a van is having to wash our clothes in a launderette rather than easily at home in our own washing machine. Like it or not we’re going to run out of clean clothes eventually and so need to pay to wash them. For us we generally need to do laundry around once a month. This is because we are able to extend the life of our wardrobe by washing our pants, socks and smaller items using a Laundreez bag. This is a £15 bag which is a manual washing machine for small clothing items. It’s super simple to use and means we can wash our underwear regularly and put off those trips to the launderette.
When we do our laundry it costs us around £20 to wash and dry everything. We can reduce this price by hanging our clothes up to dry on washing lines we put up but the additional £5 a month we pay to dry everything in one go save us having to have damp clothes drying around the van for a week.
Cost per month: £20
Van Insurance and Tax
A huge chunk of our monthly costs goes on insurance and tax. As with any car you may own you are legally required to tax and insure them and a van is no different. Thankfully the cost of insurance for a fully converted and registered campervan is much lower than a car. This will however differ greatly based on your personal circumstances.
For us we pay around £60 a month for both insurance and tax on our campervan which gives us breakdown cover as well as the ability to travel to the EU for up to 90 days.
Cost per month: £60
Van Life UK Costs
As you can see from the above our total monthly costs come to around £410 each month. This is just a guide for you as to what we spend each month. You can of course find ways to save more money each month by driving less, eating cheaper and cutting down on your internet expenses. What it does show is that while living in a van in the UK can be cheap it is not free. Yes we save money on rent and bills but we have our own costs and compromises you need to consider when deciding to live the vanlife in the UK