8 Challenges of Vanlife.

Written by Freedom Strider

On July 10, 2019
8 Challenges of Vanlife.
Vanlife is not perfect, it has its issues.

Many vanlifers don’t go on and on about the issues of Vanlife, because the benefits are so numerous, but, the same way there are disadvantages of living in a fixed conventional house, there are vanlife challenges to living in a tin can with wheels.



‘To scale’ box template of the approximate loadable space in both Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter LWB.

Disadvantages of Living in a Van

(or similar compact vehicle of some description in no particular order)


Grey legal area

Because of the lack of legal inclusion for this sort of permanent living (not temporary living in caravans/campervans), it does get a little tricky when dealing with established and legal processes.

Things such as your permanent address (most banks and companies don’t accept a PO box…or a number plate). Insurance companies, passport and drivers licence renewals, even a library card application becomes a little more problematic. And then you have to explain that you are not homeless, you are addressless. Then you see them going red and the gears jamming in their poor little brains, trying to understand what in the world you could possibly mean?!

Agent: “How could you have a house but not have an address?!”

Vanlifer: “Well my house moves; I am a resident of planet Earth – is there space for that in your address form?”

Agent: “I still need a postcode…”

Then you get to things like how long can you park in one place, can you cook in public parks, in carparks… things are often not illegal but are not strictly legal since they have not been considered and thus are not even in the law.


If a law does not exist, is said thing legal, or illegal??
(Schrödinger’s cat *wink wink*)


Less room to move, to dance and exercise

Small spaces, no matter how multi-functional and smartly built, are still small, and usually leave little room to do a workout. You can have foldaway furniture if exercise and floor space are a necessity for you, which can help alleviate the problem partially. Even if there is enough for exercise, in a vehicle like a van, jumping around will shake the whole thing, so it might be better do it outside or at the gym.



Inviting people over can be…problematic

This depends on your personal designs, and what kinds of people you are inviting over (some peeps are amazed with Vanlife to be honest, prepare to answer many questions though). The laws of mathematics cannot be changed; having a party of 15 people will be difficult to fit in a van, even with extra table space, but fitting 6 people is not as impossible as it may seem at first.


Someone can drive your house away

Well…naturally we are all concerned about security.

Both a conventional house and a van-dwelling can be broken into. People can break windows, crack doors open, pick locks etc… The biggest difference is that it is not as easy to hotwire and drive your brick house away into the sunset with all your valuables inside.



Water supply issues

Water not only takes up a lot of space, but it also weighs a lot, and if you want to be highly portable you cannot be having a 300L (which also equates to 300kg) water tank being lugged around.

Investing in filtration systems can allow you to collect water from streams and other natural sources, so there is a workaround.

Things like showers and washing machines (if you have on in a van) use multiple litres of water a minute. If you’re wanting these in a van conversion (we are definitely wanting a shower) then more ingenious and water saving ideas need to be utilised. 20-minute-long, high pressure hot showers are not easily possible in a van.

Even if you hook onto the grid, you still have to heat all that water which will suck a lot of power, unless you also connect yourself to on-grid power as well. However, that usually defeats the point of wanting to live off-grid.

Flushing toilets are also a huge no – composting all the way (no biggie though).
We have pretty cool ideas for our upcoming van conversion…


Limited privacy

Building an entire home within the space of a van means fewer walls and divisions to make the space feel more open and less cluttered.  

Fewer walls do equal less privacy.

This is not to say that privacy in a van is impossible (I mean, there’s always a door to the outside…) but it is a lot more difficult to incorporate.

Get our massive Van Layout design bundle!

‘To scale’ box template of the approximate loadable space in both Mercedes Sprinter and VW Crafter LWB.


Can’t have a large family (debatable)

more people = less space per person.

As your family grows, your home will have to as well. A van can suit a couple with 1-2 smaller kids, but having 4 or more fully-grown adults living full time in a panel van…you’re going to have to be exceptionally comfortable in each other’s company.

Not impossible, but not ideal for the majority of people.

Upgrading to a larger vehicle like a bus or tiny house on wheels are options if you still wish to stay mobile, but panel vans cannot accommodate for larger families.


Home insurance is difficult to get

A lot of van builds are categorised as campers, RVs, or just as normal vehicles, which makes ensuring it as permanent homes… tricky.

Insuring said builds with campervan/RV insurance is easy, but these will not give you the same protection and cover as regular home insurance would (for a brick house).

This is mostly due to insurance companies not having a clue how to categorise you and thus…they just don’t want to deal with it. As the community and need for this type of insurance grow, companies will emerge to cater for it, but for now, it involves a lot of ringing and form filling to find something that might work.

For the time being, if you have friends or family with a permanent address that you are on good terms with, it is best to use their address for everything and just “officially” you are using you van for working on the road and leisure purposes only – you can still spend months and months in your van without coming back to your home country and such. ;D


Still Unsure?

If you need more guidance in understanding alternative living, be sure to pick up your FREE ‘Is Alternate Living For Me’ eBook.