Hannah Moore, 24, and Dan Spiers, 29, were paying £1,200 a month on rent and another £250 on bills – but now their monthly living costs come to around £360.
Hannah was apprehensive at first, but Danny convinced her that van life was the way to go.
She explained: “It has been Danny’s dream since we were in university together in 2015.
“We have been together for nearly six years, and he only just mentioned it to me last year.
“At first, I was hesitant about living in a van because the idea of it was alien to me.
“However, when he showed me Youtube videos and photos of people living on the road full time and the idea of building our own home, just the way we want it, from scratch really appealed to both of us.”
The couple both work in TV and film and had freelance roles but they realised living in the van could give them many more opportunities.
Hannah said: “The situation of COVID really gave us that extra time and push for wanting freedom a little bit more.
“As much as we absolutely loved to live and work in London, it was unrealistic as we were constantly working to pay for rent and bills and we rarely spent time with each other, friends or family.
“We longed for freedom and the ability to work whenever or wherever we wanted.”
The pair bought a second-hand van for £6,000 at the start of 2021 and then slowly converted it, doing all the work themselves to cut costs, despite not knowing how to use a drill when they started.
Hannah and Dan took eight months to transform the van, spending £11,000 on the conversion, and now live on the road full time.
The couple cleaned up the interior, added insulation, removed the bulkhead and then built their double bed at the back, a kitchen and bathroom (with a toilet and shower) in the middle and a table behind the seats in the front, which can be swivelled around when they aren’t driving.
They even installed a projector above their bed and a pull-down screen at the end so they can watch films from the comfort of their bed.
Hannah said: “We did everything but the gas ourselves.
“YouTube definitely held our hand throughout.
“It didn’t come without its challenges but we stuck with it through the winter and played on our strengths.”
We longed for freedom and the ability to work whenever or wherever we wanted
With this becoming their full-time home, they wanted to put time and money into ensuring it would be as comfortable as possible.
Hannah said: “For us, the most important element of the van was to ensure we could go completely off-grid. We didn’t want to rely on campsites or constantly needing to stay close to populated areas.
“The solar panels and power generator (Goal Zero Yeti) produces enough energy for us to not have to plug into anywhere.
“The boiler and heating system (Truma Combi Boiler) can be operated using gas or electricity.
“Another important element for us was the toilet. We did a lot of research and knew that we didn’t want to use a chemical toilet. We care a lot about the environment and so a compost toilet was more suitable for us.”
They moved in on 14 April before the gas and electricity was installed but once everything was finished, they hit the road.
While they plan to go abroad in the future, at the minute they are focusing on travelling around the UK and have already visited Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, London, Bristol, Bath, Glastonbury, Cheddar Gorge, Devon and Cornwall.
They now plan to travel around Wales before heading to the north of England and they hope to head to Spain for the winter.
Now six months into full-time van life, they love what their new way of life has given them.
Hannah said: “Honestly waking up to a beach or cliff view most mornings is a happiness I can’t explain unless you’ve experienced it.
“Having the ability to work in so many beautiful places too definitely helps with getting the work done.
“We are saving a fortune and hardly spending any money. The solar panels give us all the power we need and we only need to re-fill our small gas tank every month or so.”
Waking up to a beach or cliff view most mornings is a happiness I can’t explain unless you’ve experienced it.
However, living off-grid in a small space does come with some challenges for Hannah and Danny.
She said: “Going to the loo in such close proximity and having to change the loo so often certainly brought us a lot closer than maybe we would have wanted.
“When we first moved into the van it actually took us a couple months to even go for a loo. We would wait until we got to work or the gym, or over at our families.
“The compost loo comes in two separate parts, liquid at the front and solids at the back, and as a woman you have to position yourself just right.
“Now if you need to go at the same time, that’s a whole different ball game. Let’s just say I’ve picked up a new skill.
“You have to time emptying the loo right so that it doesn’t overflow – that was a hard lesson to learn.”
Despite this, the couple see van life as a long-term option for them.
Hannah said: “I think once we’ve driven to all the countries we can, we would then most likely settle down in our chosen place.
“Selling the van will be put towards a deposit for a house and to maybe start up a little coffee business.
“However we are in no rush to tick everything off our list, and we plan to take our time, so who knows when that time will be.”
When it comes to advice for others interested in converting a van, Hannah added: “Plan everything that you think you want and then plan everything that you know you will need.
“When you move into the van you realise the important things that you need to get by, so try to see past the material things and really think about what can’t you live without.
“Maybe think about what can help you save money in the long run. For us we have a membership with the National Trust. We do a lot of exploring, so the membership definitely helps you save on expensive parking.
“We are also members of David Lloyd, we do go to the gym a lot but also they have gyms across the world, so it’s nice to be able to have a nice hot shower, discount on food and drink, and free parking wherever we go.”
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