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Thread: Everyone thinks I've gone mad...

  1. #1

    Member Number
    80754
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    Apr 2019
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    8

    Everyone thinks I've gone mad...



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    Hi all,

    A possible newbie here (I haven't made the leap into my own van...yet) looking for advice/reassurance/someone to tell me I'm leaping into this too soon...

    Basically I live in North London and have been renting for several years. I'm 37, and lucky enough to be self employed. I really only need to be in London for 2 or 3 days a month, otherwise I can work anywhere there's a laptop an wifi/signal on my phone.

    Unfortunately, as I *am* self employed, it can be a ballache to get the references together for estate agents. I literally just got turned down for a flat because I wanted to pay the years lease up front - A-OK with the estate agents, not so OK with the landlord who thought that was a sure sign I was super dodgy*, so rather than take my money, he wanted someone who would pay monthly? Yeah, doesn't make sense to me either..

    Anyway, I find myself with the money in my pocket and unwilling to give it to a landlord. I also can't get a mortgage - nor do I want one for what is basically a tiny, overpriced breeding box in some new build homage to 1984, filled with rat racers.

    So...I'd like to take full advantage of being self employed, with a large enough sum to buy an okish motorhome, and take to the road.

    It's something I've always wanted to do, but it's only been the last few days that I've taken it seriously. I've found a van I like (auto trail scout, '99. I'll happily post the specs if anyone's interested in seeing if it looks up to scratch?) and I have a month left to get rid of all my stuff and start a new adventure.

    I'm hoping that wild camping will save money - my plan is wild camp 5 out of 7 days as I tootle around the UK and Europe whilst I still can.

    Does this seem viable? Feasible? Ridiculous? The thought of having my own space where I can change neighbours, see the world, and have a new vista as my view every morning is becoming a bit too much to resist...

    PS - The day I buy the van will be the first day I ever drive one one - I've chosen an automatic with reverse parking camera, but still. But I kind of figure that just Doing It is the best way to learn..




    *I am, but only in that way that anyone who freelances in media is

  2. #2

    Member Number
    7973
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    10,360
    Motorhome
    Burstner
    Buy a Damp Meter, it's the most important tool to check a secondhand vehicle with. It is not unknown for an Autotrail to have a damp area (strangely, less so on older ones). Repairing damp issues is very expensive so beware.
    Likes trevskoda liked this post

  3. #3

    Member Number
    51094
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    853
    Location
    On the hoof
    Motorhome
    Adria Sonic Supreme
    Iím no expert but plenty on here are. Use them to get advice. You wonít regret your decision if you get the right an for you. Look at loads. Knock on doors and have a nosey - people generally donít mind.

  4. #4

    Member Number
    3609
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    3,358
    Location
    North Yorkshire Dales
    Motorhome
    Swift Kontiki 640
    Might also be worth joining the two big clubs, caravan and motorhome club and caravan and camping club and seeking out some of their small five van sites on farms etc. If you find the basic ones say on a farm and wanted to stay in one place for a few weeks you would probably get a good deal for not much money. Just another option to wilding which generally most people move on from place to place every day or every couple of days. Long term that can get a bit of a chore. For spring summer and autumn get a decent solar system fitted so your able to be off grid for as long as required. That gives you a lot more freedom. Winter. Find somewhere with hookup. Dont arse around sitting in the dark worrying about the gas or turning the TV on.

    Internet is dead easy now and cheap. Mifi, Wifi extenders etc. Even a hot spot on an iphone.
    Likes Clunegapyears liked this post

  5. #5

    Member Number
    60568
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Posts
    2,797
    Motorhome
    VW LT 2.8TDi Self-Build Camperbus
    Something to bear in mind ...

    You say you only need to be in London 2-3 days a month? You'll need to bear in mind that unless you get a camper with a pretty new base vehicle (2013 or so for diesel), going to London will cost you at least £100 a day. (if you are able to commute in and out on those 2-3 days than no worries )
    Find me on motorhomer.com, a Brexit-Free Zone
    Likes mariesnowgoose liked this post

  6. #6

    Member Number
    11469
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    3,325
    Location
    UK and Thailand
    Motorhome
    Lunar Premier H622

    Boring stuff

    But Make a list
    You will need an address to use (and be on Electoral roll....Insurance)
    I suggest an agency rather than a friends house. The agency will use poste restante for Items that need to be posted BUT scanning and email is used for simple letters/documents etc
    Bank DVLA etc etc
    Insurance should be told you are "full-timing"

    I assume from what you post that you are well aware that many many things can be dealt with on-line
    You can use libraries for printing and scanning or take photos (I prefer scanning for quality)

    Keeping a doctor maybe a problem !

    What about the depths of winter..Long dark evenings OK It seems you can use your laptop and do work.
    But Power ? Solar about as much use as a chocolate teapot for 2 months

    Your freshwater may dump if it gets cold
    Grey water may freeze

    You will need to venture away from London for Wild spots

    C&CC (&CAMC) cheaper sites usually close over the winter

    Ok to go into London 2 or 3 times a month parkup and commute
    (example a pub in Taplow/Maidenhead and train to Paddington..I just post this as I know it
    Stroud Farm Holyport/Maidenhead would be good but not in winter)

    Not aiming to put you off just trying to help you get all bases covered

    Yes as had been posted get a damp check done
    Make sure the vehicle is big enough but not too big.

    Beware the deep mid-winter

    Assuming you deal with the above I see the biggest problem is finding suitable and cheap/free places to overnight and also getting Freshwater and dumping black water.

    You will need a backup plan for if (no when) the vehicle is unavailable (Mech repairs or Habitation repairs etc)........ friends airbnb travelodge and more
    Hope this helps

    PS my comments are based on 5 years of living in the vehicle for a full 6 months (summer only)
    Last edited by jagmanx; 10-04-2019 at 01:42.

  7. #7

    Member Number
    22888
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    6,850
    Location
    West Lancashire
    Motorhome
    Carthago C-Line 4.9
    Hi and welcome along. Living in a van is very different but does suit lots of people. Your circumstances indicate it may well suit you, budget on spending a little more once you but a van. Everyone soon discovers thereís a few extras you need eg, solar, bigger batteries, refillableable gas bottles the list goes on.
    Likes trevskoda liked this post

  8. #8

    Member Number
    38755
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    1,810
    Location
    Planet Earth
    Motorhome
    Dont ask !!!
    Just do it, you are in such a prime and enviable position.
    To be able to work for yourself on the road.
    Oh to be 37 with money in my pocket, dreams in my head and best of all choices.

    You won't look back, that I'm sure of and best of all you have a community here that can offer you help and advice and friendship along the way

    Good luck
    Rise free from care before the dawn
    and seek new adventures.....

  9. #9

    Member Number
    3609
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    3,358
    Location
    North Yorkshire Dales
    Motorhome
    Swift Kontiki 640
    Quote Originally Posted by wildebus View Post
    Something to bear in mind ...

    You say you only need to be in London 2-3 days a month? You'll need to bear in mind that unless you get a camper with a pretty new base vehicle (2013 or so for diesel), going to London will cost you at least £100 a day. (if you are able to commute in and out on those 2-3 days than no worries )
    I would just park up in one of the satellite towns like Watford, taxi to the station or bike. 17min from Watford Junction to Euston. I wouldnt even take a car into central London. Plus you can then hit the bars after work!

  10. #10

    Member Number
    17239
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    3,471
    Location
    Portsmouth
    Motorhome
    Herald Templar
    The biggest difference between van living and a bricks and mortar is that all the things you take for granted, like water, gas, and sewage have to searched for and preserved. We have a system of 3 to 4 nights wilding and then one on a cheap five van club site with electric hookup, so that my wife can dry her hair and we can empty and fill the tanks. Once every two weeks we have a day or two in a Club site with laundrette facilities to do the washing. Winters can be bleak and most people go south to Spain or Portugal, but this wouldn't be and option for you, unless you could fly back on a cheap flight and sofa surf.
    Likes Clunegapyears, RoadTrek Boy liked this post

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