More Americans are Thinking About Van Living

COVID-19 is giving them a push.

Woman using laptop.

 MStudioImages / Getty Images


Van living is booming this year, thanks to COVID-19. As Treehugger emeritus Kimberley Mok (and author of "The Modern House Bus") wrote before the current crisis.

The Internet allows a growing number of people to work from home, or to travel and work full-time and combined with the huge interest in minimalism and tiny living, we're now seeing more and more people converting vehicles into homes that they can take wherever they go."

From the survey:
Van Life Survey
  • 52% were more likely to consider van life as a result of COVID-19
  • 72% would trade the comfort of their home to pay off debt
  • 74% would choose van life if it meant they could retire comfortably
  • 24% would live in a van for 2+ years
  • 25% would be willing to live in a van for 6 months to a year
  • 35% would like to be located in beach regions
  • 35% are primarily drawn to van life to travel and be outdoors more
  • 33% said their primary motivation to live in a van would be travel
  • 23% said their primary motivation to live in a van would be to live without rent or a mortgage.

 Van Comparison costs

The survey then takes a diversion into a cost per square foot analysis, with a completely meaningless comparison of a tiny movable home and one that includes real estate, and when van conversions can cost anywhere between $15,000 and $300,000. It is also irrelevant because they are not selling 100 square foot houses in Denver.




(Photo above from "Streamlined Bamboo DIY Kits Make Converting a Van a Breeze.")

But the pandemic is driving the van life boom. As one California van builder tells the New York Times,

"Right now with coronavirus and the political instability, people want more control over their environment. If you’re in a van, you know who’s in it, you control how clean it is, and you know where you’re going."
40 Hours Of Freedom
(Photo above from "Two Online Entrepreneurs Travel & Work From Off-Grid Van Conversion.")

Of course, a survey asking people if they would consider considering van life is very different from actually doing it, and likely everyone in the country is dreaming about being somewhere else right now. But it is fascinating to see how many people are dreaming about vans.

Lloyd Alter, October 2020