Back in January, on returning from some time abroad and starting my own recruitment business I made a decision to alter my lifestyle completely. I love doing a million things at once, so adding moving into a van full time onto starting a business seemed like a great idea. I was lucky enough to buy a van that had already been renovated into a home so I made some small adjustments to suit my own lifestyle and voila I was on the road and good to go.
One of the reasons I chose to do this was because by working for myself I am, for the first time, unrestricted. I don’t have an office to go to each day and I can control and decide when I need to hold face to face meetings and when I can conduct interviews and meetings online. I also want my recruitment business to be unrestricted in geography. I want to work for exciting technology driven organisations and not limit myself to Auckland. There are some exciting tech hubs popping up all over the country and being able to hop in my van and go meet people easily is really appealing.
The financial savings weren’t one of my initial drivers but it did give me that extra peace of mind that I didn’t have rent to pay whilst being a start up so it was one less thing to think about.
But now we face a global recession and a bloody great big one with the fallout of this pandemic and simplifying our lives might be something more people are prepared to do. I think during the level 4 lockdown many of us realised that we don’t necessarily need all the things we thought we did to find fulfilment. I guess for me going from the van to a home actually complicated my life but for many it was the opposite. Hopefully this can be a time of reflection and contemplation so that we don’t just return to our lives as they were before but embrace some of those learnings.
Van life is amazing for many reasons and so here are a few of them so you can think about whether van life or at least a more minimalist life might be within reach:
- It forces you to think carefully before you purchase things as it’s all extra weight and space. So, you become more selective and make sure you have things you actually will use and clothes you will actually wear. You can’t just spend frivolously anymore.
2. It also highlights waste. You have a small bin and so become more mindful of what you are buying in terms of then what you will have to throw away. You minimise plastic more and unnecessary packaging.
3. You spend more time in nature and outdoors but when you’re inside you really relish those moments. I am most often out and about making the most of the outdoors and exploring new spots in NZ and old spots that I love. But, when it’s a rainy day, or I’m just not enthused for exercise I get so much satisfaction from making a cup of tea from my kettle, reading my book, practising guitar, working on my laptop, watching a movie – it has made those moments even more special
4. I appreciate the time I have with my friends so much more when I have it. Given I am out of Auckland a lot more and I have some friends dotted about the country, when I do finally touch base and see them, I make the most of it and it feels even more special. It’s kind of nice to miss people because then you plan a bit better when you are catching up and do things you really enjoy doing together.
5. I meet amazing people. The van is definitely a talking point and people love to take a look and chat about life in it. Given I can be isolated for several days before I see people, I quite like those moments too. I get to connect with like minded individuals that also appreciate a more minimalist lifestyle, or I get to inspire people that have thought about doing it and not really felt it was possible. I have often been that person on the outside looking into someone else’s life thinking, ‘wow they are so brave’, or ‘I could never do it’ but I did do it and so I know how important it is to hear that it is possible and it is worth it – IT IS!
6. I put my time to more valuable endeavours (to me) than I did in my previous life. I absolutely love nature, the coast, waterfalls, travelling, hiking, climbing, feeling free and working when I am at my most productive rather than office allocated hours that someone else stipulates. I am not saying this is the best and only way to live. But, for me, to live true to myself and what I value, it is right now. I took a leap of faith and it has paid off. I can save on rent and put that money to savings that will hopefully allow me to buy some land in the not to distant future to build a home on. I have ambitions of living off grid, somewhere peaceful, by the sea, and I am a lot closer to that dream by living this one.
So, if this time has allowed you to see that you can be happy with less, or even if you have been made redundant and are looking for a living solution that minimises your outgoings whilst you piece a new life back together, maybe think about van life or something similar. I am always happy to have a chat and give you my honest perspective. I am not saying it is without it’s downsides either but they are far fewer than the upsides.
Not bad ay 😉