If there’s one topic that I passionately love to talk about it’s nomadic living. My partner and I are currently in the process of making this dream our reality by converting a Ford Transit van into our tiny mobile home. But travelling in a van on the weekend and living in one full time while running a business are two very different animals. We’ve chosen to attempt the latter. Are we crazy? Maybe. Are we going to do it anyway? Absolutely!
If, like me, you’re also thinking about taking your business on the road, then here are a few things that you need to consider.
The Nature Of Your Business
I hate to break it to you, but if you run a shop with a lot of inventory, then living in a tiny space and trying to run a business out of a van might not be the right option for you. Van-life businesses tend to be digital because they take up the least amount of space and are most easily run remotely. That being said, if you don’t plan to travel full time and are able to park somewhere near to your shop or a storage locker then, van-life could still work. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, but some businesses are simply not made to be operated from a van.
The Van You Choose
Another very important decision that you’ll need to make is what kind of vehicle you want to live and work in. For us, we needed a fixed bed with garage space for bikes but didn’t want to sacrifice a separate desk and seating area. This meant that we needed a long-wheelbase vehicle and an extra high roof. Our friend, on the other hand, didn’t need bike storage and was happy working sat up in bed, so he chose a much smaller, stealthier van.
Choosing the right van can make or break your chances of loving van life – so be sure to write down your priorities and think about what you would need to live and work happily in a small space. Once you’ve decided on the size of vehicle you want, it’s time to compare models and makes and to decide if you’re going to buy a new vehicle or one that is second-hand. Whatever make or model you choose, be sure to do plenty of research online and cross-reference sites for the best deals – it’s sometimes worth simply typing in the make followed by ‘van deals to see what comes up. For example: Vauxhall van deals.
How You Build Out Your Van
My partner and I have chosen to convert our van ourselves, but if you don’t fancy that hassle, then there are several shortcuts that you can make. The first is to find a professional van conversion company to convert your vehicle for you. You will be paying labour costs and so can expect this to be a little pricy, but the end result will always be high-quality. If you don’t have the budget to hire a conversion company, then the next best thing to do is look at internal van kits, which are essentially pre-assembled components. Van kits great for helping you come up with storage solutions and will save you a lot of brain-ache working out how to draws and shelves that fit your van. Lastly, if, like us, you have a specific layout in mind and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then you could always try building out your van yourself. We chose this route because it’s cheaper and gives us the flexibility to make our van one of a kind.
How You Get Power
Whether you’ve created your home on wheels with a built-in dog grooming facility, are a digital business owner, or are simply living in your van and travelling into work, you’re going to need electricity. There are a number of ways to power your van, including solar, charging extra batteries from the alternator, and plugging into sure-power. We’ve chosen to use a combination of all three, but depending on your electrical needs, you might not need to do this. Be sure to sit down and watch as many van-build videos as possible – we highly recommend Greg Virgoe for his informative and detailed videos.
How You Present To Customers
Living in a van can work both for you and against you when it comes to customer satisfaction. On the one hand, it’s very easy to make nomadic living a part of your brand, but on the other, you could find that you alienate some people. Van-living is still a relatively controversial topic, and it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – and that’s ok! Just be sure to bear this in mind.