So you keep hearing this phrase “van life,” and you’re subsequently seeing stories about people living out of their vehicles. Well, millennials have been pushing the boundaries on home-owning for years, and this is where we’ve landed- living in a van. Why do we choose to live like that instead of settling down and buying a home?
The answer becomes clear when we look at other rising trends of our generation. There has been a rise in minimalism, a renewed interest in travel, the loss of reliance on college and a career, the fear of debt and bills, and the simple fact that we are living much differently than our elders- in every aspect.
The less is more concept has not fallen on deaf ears when it comes to millennials. Minimalism has been on the rise for years now- mostly within our generation. It’s the idea that we don’t need a lot of stuff. Material items are out, and experiences are in. This coincides perfectly with living in a van. You, of course, can’t have as many physical objects if you want to live in a tiny space.
Van life consists of only the necessities. Most people have only what they need to survive. One cup, one plate, a few outfits- that’s it. We are willing to sacrifice having a ton of things for the experience you get from traveling.
It’s a difficult transition for some but for many twenty-somethings, it’s a piece of cake. We have a different mindset than our parents when it comes to how many items we need. Even for those living in apartments or homes, you’ll notice a vast contrast in the amount of clutter and non-essentials. We gravitate towards a more simple approach.
The love for travel is one of the main points made by van-lifers. Living in your car, you can go wherever you want- whenever you want. You can visit national parks, big cities, major monuments, everything your continent has to offer. People spend their entire lives wanting to travel, but millennials have taken the bull by the horns.
The mentality that we need to go to college, and we need to have a career in our twenties is, thankfully, dwindling. We’re realizing the importance of utilizing our youth. You have your whole life to settle down and have your forever-job, so why waste the best years of your life with work?
That’s not to say we aren’t working. We’re just being much more creative about it. Freelancing and working through our computers is the new wave. We are discovering ways to use our skills to sustain ourselves while on the road. Many plan to have a more typical career later on, but there’s no reason not to hold off for a bit. You do your career job for most of your life, so halting that for five years isn’t going to make a big difference in the grand scheme of things.
In many cases, people take their career jobs and turn them into a remote, work-from-home job. Insurance jobs or customer service representatives can often make a smooth transition to being on the road. This way you’re making a substantial income, and since you’re living minimally you’ll be able to save a ton of money for your next adventure.
When it comes to college, we’re deciding whether or not we need it for our own personal goals. If you want to be an artist, you can be self-taught. We have an entrepreneurial spirit that makes us able to sell our skills without having any degrees. There are a ton of internet resources that allow us to sell our work- or do our work- all from our laptops.
Having no house or apartment means having no rent. That’s a huge win on its own. Van lifers don’t have to put up with the usual monthly bills that homeowners do which is another way they are able to sustain their lifestyle. Think about all the extra money you’d have if you didn’t have to pay rent. A van is a significant investment right off the bat, but over time you’ll save thousands.
With many millennials plagued by debt from student loans, (if they did choose college) the scariest thing is piling on more. By living in a van, you’ll be able to save all the money from bills and pay off your loans much quicker. It’s a less stressful life when you’re not constantly thinking about your bank account.
We value many different ideas than our elders once did. We value our young adulthood. Instead of settling down, buying a house, and having children at 25, we’re out chasing our dreams and still reaching our goals. We know there is always time in the future to do anything else we decide.
The thirties are the new twenties. That’s when millennials are starting to wind down and start a family. We would rather live in a van and have stories to tell our kids about our travels for years to come than be filled with regrets.
Now you can see the appeal of this van life thing. No bills, no boring jobs, and traveling all the time- there are hardly any downsides. You do have to live minimally and find a creative way to sustain yourself, but those are worthy sacrifices for the outcome. Would you try van life yourself?