A forum for van conversions, van living and travel

Author Topic: VanLife on an extreme budget  (Read 3475 times)


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
VanLife on an extreme budget
« on: February 14, 2018, 03:42:30 AM »
Hey all, I've wanted to live the "van life" before I even knew such a community existed. I already have a vehicle and a plan, but I am stuck on what I should take with me. I don't need many of the basic human comforts and I am not embarrassed to ask for help, I am simply curious what other people think I should take with me for very long term living on the road. Much obliged!


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 493
  • Karma: +15/-90
  • 20+ years of Life On Wheels
    • View Profile
Re: VanLife on an extreme budget
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2018, 02:56:36 AM »
Greetings & Welcome!

You didn't happen to mention what vehicle you have, or what area you're in or planning to be  in.

If you have a van  it's so cheap to go in full comfort, that I highly recommend it.  Bed, kitchen, toilet/shower, heating, cooling, and house battery charged while driving.  You can have everything for $200-$300 total, so why not live in comfort?  I pay about $50 a year for ice, $50 a year for kerosene for heating/cooking, and my house battery cost $18 from a junkyard.  Complete toilet/shower combo was under $30. 

Having everything to live in comfort doesn't have to be expensive or hard to build.  I basically moved my interior in, no building required.  Doing things on the cheap means you can  do more with less, and you don't need to compromise on comfort or convenience to do it cheaply.  My van is far from instagram material, but it's perfect for me, and that's all that counts.

Junkyards, dollar stores, thrift stores, and Craigslist are your friends, take advantage of them.  Parts of my conversion were free off from Craigslist, some of it was even free on the roadside.  Make  it totally livable, comfortable, and fully self contained first, then you can update things later if you want.  Nobody "NEEDS" any of that expensive stuff.  A camp stove, an ice chest, and dollar store dishpans for sinks, and trigger spray bottles for water, and you have a fully functional kitchen.  My handicap style, bedside bucket toilet was free on Craigslist.  A hula hoop for a shower curtain rod, shower curtains and and hooks, all from the dollar store and you have a toilet/shower enclosure.  An ice chest or storage tote to catch the water, and a weed sprayer, and you have a pressurized shower that requires no power to use.  My bed is a house style metal framed futon sofa/bed.  Lots of plastic drawers from Walmart or wherever, with a wood shelf on top to make durable counter tops.  If you don't already have them, pots, pans, dishes, bedding, and more can be found at thrift stores, possibly camp stoves too.  A camp stove can double as a heater if you don't have a dedicated one.  Put a washable rug on the floor so you don't have cold floors.  You can get 12 volt heated blankets and seat cushions at many truck stops, along with other 12 volt accessories.

For me, keeping everything cheap and easily replaceable almost anywhere has been a huge improvement.  No more shipping hassles, or long waiting periods.  After 5+ years my plastic dish pan sinks got brittle and broke, within an hour, and for only $1 each, I had replacements.  That's convenience!  No plumbing to freeze, break, or leak.  That's convenience.  No holes in my roof to leak.  That's heavenly!

Van life can be as good or bad as you choose to make it, and it doesn't need to cost a fortune.  My van and the interior cost less than one month's rent in many areas, so it paid for itself the very first month, and has been saving me $1k+ a month ever since.  No $20+ a month gym memberships for me or public restrooms either, although that isn't totally about the money, it's about the convenience.  No more hunting for a restroom only to find a filthy, disgusting one.  I choose to live "IN" my van rather than "OUT" of my van.  That's a personal choice, but the one that works best for me.  I can literally park anywhere and and have ALL of the comforts and conveniences of home.    Small spaces can force creative organization skills, but it doen't mean you have to do without the necessities.  Your kitchen and your bathroom can fit under a bed if necessary, and still be accessible and usable from inside when needed.  One of my rigs only had 4' x 8' of cabin space, but I made it work and still had a usable kitchen and bathroom.  Amazing things are possible when the need arises.


My negative karma ratings reflect the number of spammers,
scammers and bad advice that I've exposed, feel free...