Money talks – How much does it cost to live in a van?

We wanted to know, how much we are spending money, so we started to add everything together. The result may come as a surprise…


This is Blacky in the Pyrenees Mountains.

  1. Lets take the van first.

Of course you can build a van in many ways and maybe only few people go as far as Mikael has gone. But I am very thankful that he has gone there and done all the hard work. It is very convinient to live in this van.

We have heating (!!!), a kitchen, electricity (most of the time), security locks (Note to burglars! There is really nothing worth stealing in a climbers van. If for some crazy reason you would still want to break into our van, despite the alarm and security systems, the Finnish police will come and hunt you down and put you into the Russian prison forever, just as a kind side note..) and separate storage for the dirty pads just to name few things.

To get this all, you must first of course find a suitable van. It is at least in Finland not so easy and you really need to be actively searching. It took about half a year to find this. The van itself cost about 5000 euros, but it had to be fixed a bit and that was another 1000 euros.


Lorena’s van Digger and Nogger-dog taking a rest in Fontainebleau.

If you don’t count the work hours, all the building material cost about 7000 euros. If you don’t need things like heating, electricity to run a fridge etc., it is of course possible to build a simple van for less then a 1000 euros.

2. Then lets take the travelling

If you haven’t chosen from all the countries of Europe, Finland, to be your homeland, it is quite likely easier and also cheaper to travel to places like Font. But as we come from Finland, it took a lot of driving and also some money to get here. Here is some calculations:

Ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm 160 euros (big van, two personalities, MINIATURE dog 14€!!! and luxury cabin)

Ferry between Malmö and Travemünde 113 euros (big van, two personalities, MINIATURE dog 20 €!!! and cabin (not luxury))

Diesel for driving about 12 litres/100 km, so to get about until Font it cost about 200 euros.

3. Then what about the living?

We go crazy sometimes in the supermarket or mostly me, especially in France. I could eat the whole store. For food we spend about 100 euros per week. But must say we eat well and good food (and a lot of sweet stuff!(mostly me!)).


We haven’t eaten out, but we have spend three nights in camping to charge the batteries. And I mean this case the van not ours. All though it is so nice to have a possibility to use the toilet and shower there. One night in camping costs off season about 25 euros including washing machine, Wifi and electricity.

4. All together

There is of course some random expences like driving around looking for boulders, Wifi, wine, diesel for heater, indoor climbing gym fees (in Rotterdam), new parts for van, insurance, taxes, new climbing shoes etc..

That would make everything about 160 euros/week.

So that’s it. We could live a lot cheaper and probable lot more expensive. I think we are spending more than average van owners, but have actually no idea what others are spending. Van life is surely not free, but I think it is still quite cheap compared the normal living in a city like Helsinki.

2 thoughts on “Money talks – How much does it cost to live in a van?

  1. If you manage with 160 € / week I think you’re doing something right! My aim for our 2 person 8 month trip was 1000 € / month and I recon we ended up spending a bit more. That’s including everything: all the ferries, insurances, car maintenance , lift ticets in Chamonix etc. Didn’t do the exact maths in the end but around 10K was the final figure.

    The living itself is of course quite cheap. Basically it’s just food and fuel. We also used camping grounds occasionally, but so rarely it doesn’t make much difference. Our battery charged also via the car alternator which helps.

    One of the main lessons for me was that you can get by with very little.

    It’s been good reading your blog! Makes me want to be on the road again. Soon, soon… Meanwhile, keep the van spirit up!


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