WHAT IS CITY VAN LIFE?



City van life is living a regular life in a city, but instead of brick walls your home is made of steel and it has wheels. There is no property to manage, and no permanent address (except for official documents). Mostly, it's just daily movements within the city you live in, and then weekend trips and occasional travel. All other aspects of life remain the same: having a job or studying, going to social events, sports, activities, hobbies, movies, etc.


TYPE OF VEHICLE

Most often the vehicle is a cargo van, that's why it is called van life, but it can be extended to anything else: a minivan, a car, a truck, an ambulance, an RV, or a minibus. It can even be a big box truck or a school bus if you have a lot of stuff and need a mansion on wheels.


THE BUILD

You can build the inside of your van yourself, or hire a professional. Most conversions include a bed, solar panels and batteries, a sink with running water or a simple water container, a portable toilet, and storage space. Some don’t even have these basic things. Others have pimped out their vehicles with electric heaters, AC, Murphy beds, offices, gaming rooms, etc. It all comes down to how much money you have to spend on your new home.



STORAGE

Downsizing from a house to a vehicle can be a challenge. Creating lots of cabinets and drawers can be helpful. But if you have some bigger items that you must keep (sporting equipment, seasonal item, collectibles), then get a storage locker or ask your friends or family if they can store them for you,


HOBBIES AND ACTIVITIES

This part is mostly affected by the lack of space because it is not essential for living in a vehicle. You will have to prioritize. Pick your favorites and only have equipment for those. What I like to do is to keep the minimum amount of equipment I need to be able to perform a certain hobby. For example, instead of acquiring paper books, I have a Kindle. Also, for the first two years, we only had one set of golf clubs, but now that we have more space in the van we each can have our own. It's ok if you change your mind and find a new hobby. Sell or donate what you don't need anymore and make room for new things.



JOBS

Living in a van offers a variety of work options. You don't have to worry about a long commute, being late due to traffic, or forgetting anything at home. This lifestyle is great for students, people who juggle multiple jobs, and jobs that require you to drive to a different location every day. Gasper does drywall, so sometimes we carry benches around (photo above).


SHOWER AND TOILET

You can build a shower and add a toilet to your van. However, living in the city makes it quite easy, so it's not necessary to have it all. There are public restrooms everywhere (coffee shops, malls, Walmart, parks, etc). Showers can be a bit trickier, but there are options. The easiest way is to have a gym membership or any other indoor activity with showers (indoor sports, yoga, sauna, swimming pool, ). If you have a lot of friends and family in the city, you can maybe shower there as well. Other than that, you can use pay-per-use showers at truck stops, some gas stations, hotels, and campgrounds. Moist wipes are good enough on days when you hardly move at all.



SLEEPING

In Ontario, you can't park on the street from 2 am to 6 am during colder months. But every city has its own hours and rules, so make sure you check that out. Make sure you check all the signs before deciding to spend the night at a parking lot. Some plazas have parking hours at the entrance, but not at the actual parking so be on the lookout for those. Parking options that are great for sleeping in every city are Walmart, Tim Hortons, Goodlife and some other gyms, shopping malls, hardware stores (we like Rona and Lowes), cinemas, some chain restaurants (Mandarin, McDonald's, etc), and most dogs parks.


SOCIAL LIFE

If you like to host parties and have people over, this lifestyle is not for you. But it is great for literally everything else: visiting, sleepovers, concerts, festivals, outdoor gatherings, weekend getaways, sporting events, tournaments, etc. You can drive your house to the event, sleep over in your bed, and then leave the next day. It is awesome! You don't have to worry about drinking too much or smoking. Just be responsible and sleep it off.


MAIL AND DELIVERIES

You can get a PO box or get all your mail delivered to someone you trust. Amazon is very van life friendly with fast delivery and it has its delivery lockers. If an item is too large for the locker, there's a variety of post offices you can choose from.



Living in a van is not easy. But for us, the pros by far outweigh the cons. We like the freedom this lifestyle provides. I hope you get to experience it too someday!


Lara xo