We’re Going To Start Living In A Van!

We bought a van last month! You’re probably wondering “You quit sailing and started living in a van?!” No, we did not quit, and we are still sailing! We still have lots and lots of plans with the boat, and we enjoy having it. We are still on it right now, in fact, and couldn’t…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 24, 2023

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We're Going To Be Living in a Van! We're going to be living in a van! Here's why we made the choice, more info about our Winnebago Revel, our future van life plans, and more. #livinginavan #vanlifeWe bought a van last month! You’re probably wondering “You quit sailing and started living in a van?!”

No, we did not quit, and we are still sailing! We still have lots and lots of plans with the boat, and we enjoy having it. We are still on it right now, in fact, and couldn’t be happier.

So then, why did we get a van?

Last hurricane season, we mainly stayed on our boat. We did several short sails, but we wanted to do something different this hurricane season.

We talked to so many sailors, and we have quickly realized that many take a few months away from their boat each year during hurricane season, and we completely get it.

To have the best of both worlds (in our minds), mountains and beaches, we quickly realized that having a 4×4 van along with the boat is exactly what we want. ⁣⁣

We’ll mainly be living/cruising on the boat, but we will also be occasionally living in our van so that we can still do all the hiking, biking, and rock climbing that we’ve been wanting to do. We’ve been feeling like something has been missing from our lives, and now we feel refreshed and ready again! ⁣⁣

We have a lot of travel off the boat this summer, for family reasons, a wedding, and events, so having the van will make traveling everywhere much more comfortable for us and our two dogs too.

Also, another positive of living in a van is that the systems are pretty simple, and there isn’t a whole lot that goes into it. So, it’s less likely that we’ll have large repairs that take up a lot of time and money.

We really wanted it to be as simple as possible. Since we already have a sailboat that is quite complex (when compared to a van or RV), we wanted our time in our van to be as carefree as possible.

I know that some of you will think that we are nuts, so I won’t lie – I hesitated talking about this until we drove the van off the lot because I was afraid of being judged. When we sold our motorhome last year, we already agreed at that point that we’d like to try living in a van when we’re off the boat. So, yes, this was all in the original plan. And, the van makes us even more excited for our future sailing plans!

We are so excited for the future and cannot wait to start exploring!

P.S. If you’re following me on Instagram, then you already know this news. If you’re not, then please follow me on Instagram to stay up-to-date 🙂

P.P.S. This is not an April Fools joke (unlike the one linked here).

Related content:

Here are some answers to questions you may have about living in a van:


Was getting a van planned?

Yes, when we bought our boat, we knew we would probably be getting an RV so that we could still enjoy the activities that we love doing off the boat.

For us, we think it will be the best of both worlds – sailing and living in a van.

We have a lot of outdoor goals that we want to achieve, and a van will make all of that much more realistic. We don’t have to wait until we’re finished boating to do those things, and who knows if and when we’ll ever be finished sailing. Now, we can do both of the things that we love!

Related: Living In A Boat Or RV? What Is Better?


What kind of van did you get?

We’ve been looking at vans for quite some time, and decided to get a Winnebago Revel. This is a four-wheel drive van that also has:

  • Solar panels on the roof
  • A small rooftop AC
  • A very small bathroom (you shower over the toilet)
  • A bed that can be easily brought up and down, which gives lots of space for the dogs
  • A kitchen (again, very small haha) with a stove, fridge, and sink

It sleeps the two of us and our two dogs just fine, and is a great van dwelling for us. Honestly, we were a little surprised with the space (the layout is PERFECT!), and we don’t think we’ll have any big issues living in a van during hurricane season each year.

No, we did not pay full price or anywhere near it. We’re master negotiators when it comes to RVs, haha. We got the RV at a little over 30% off MSRP, which is a normal percentage when it comes to new RVs.

Sadly, I do know of many people who paid full price for this same van! In fact, I know of people who have bought this same van used for a higher price than what we bought it for new. We got such a good deal on it that we are still scratching our heads on why and how it happened.


Where are you going in your van?

We don’t have any firm plans as of yet, but that’s the great thing about living in a van.

It is so easy to go to so many different places, many times without any reservations and very minimal planning (especially when compared to the boat!). This way we can also travel deeper inland anywhere we want to go.

We’re excited to just go wherever we want, and we will probably plan as we go.

Some places we’re hoping to visit include when living in a van full time:

  • Baja. We’ve been having dreams of bringing the boat over to Baja, but with senior dogs we realized that would be quite the trip. So, one big benefit of living in a van for part of the year is that we plan on driving through Mexico and exploring Baja!
  • Alaska. Alaska is so big and having a van would make a lot of things much more accessible.
  • Canada. There are so many places in Canada that I want to visit.
  • Up the east coast. Going up to Maine sounds like a dream!
  • Anywhere else we want to explore. We’ll definitely be visiting a lot of our favorite places, such as Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and the Pacific Northwest. Maybe one day in the future we’ll even visit South America.

We also want to be able to visit friends and family, and living in a van means we can just park in people’s driveways. That’s something we loved about our first RV – moochdocking.


Why not just keep your last RV?

Right before we bought the boat, we sold the RV. Some of you are probably wondering why we didn’t just keep the last RV we had, especially if we knew that this was all in the plan anyways.

We didn’t want both a big boat and a big RV – we didn’t want all of the maintenance that goes along with a big RV, we didn’t want a big RV just to be sitting there for months without being used, and the cost difference is fairly large as well. We also sold our last RV for nearly what we had bought it for, so it made sense to get something that better fit our new situation.

We also wanted to be able to pull up to all the amazing trails that we are used to exploring, and since we are only doing it for a few months each year, we don’t need anything massive. The boat will still be our “main” home, so living in a van will be something we do during the off season.


What will you do with the van when you’re on the boat?

Since we’ll mostly be living on our boat, we will most likely be storing our van while we are away. We have no plans of transporting the van to everywhere we go, and we would rather store it when we are on the boat for long periods of time.


What are you going to do for internet?

We currently have AT&T for our phones and internet. We used to have both Verizon and AT&T, but we switched to just AT&T and have been happy with it.

Even with that being said, sometimes our internet connection is not that great. This means I always try to work ahead as much as I can so that a lack of internet or a bad connection doesn’t create any stress.

I did just get a WeBoost which I will be installing on the van so that I can improve my signal and work in more places. Since living in a van means we will be off the grid a little more often, this will be a must for us so that I can still work!


Are the dogs going to live in the van too?

Yes, the dogs are definitely coming with us!

They’ve already done a few weeks in the van when we did a little shakedown road trip, and they did extremely well!

They are both really used to RVing, so living in a van will be an easy transition for them to make. There’s also a good amount of space for them to relax in the van. Lastly, being in a van makes it so much easier to let them out for walks, especially when we are in a big campground or on public land.

They are really loving all of the outdoor space.


How much does living in a van cost?

As I answered in How Much Does It Cost To RV?, RVing can be extremely cheap or it can be very expensive.

We paid for our van in cash, so we don’t plan on having many other costs that go along with it, except fuel and insurance (we did go ahead prepay for a year of insurance). Of course, we’ll still be paying for food, cell phones, and other normal expenses too.

One of the big reasons for why we chose the van is because it is small and can get almost anywhere. That also means that we can park for free in more places, such as family and friend’s driveways, boondock wherever, and more. We’re expecting our van life costs to be pretty low.

You can read more about this here – How To Camp For Free, Even In Beautiful and Desirable Places.

What other questions do you have for me? Would you live in a van?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Shaun

    Never thought I’d be jealous of someone living in a van, but here we are. Exciting!

  2. Wow, congrats, Michelle! The van looks awesome, and I’m sure it’s comfy as well. I’ve always been curious about camper/camping vans though: do they have a good size kitchen? Does insurance for a van cost much more than a regular car?

    Hope you enjoy your travels!

    1. The kitchen is small, much smaller than our last RV and much smaller than our boat as well.

      We insured it as an RV, so yes, it is more expensive.

      1. Thanks for the prompt reply!
        I’ve never seen the inside of a camping van so I was curious πŸ˜‰ Sucks on the insurance, but it makes sense, since you live there, at least part time. Hope you have lots of fun!

        1. What stinks about the insurance?

          1. Oh, that it’s higher than a car even though it’s technically a car, but it’s understandable.

            1. Oh sorry, I just realized this comment was in reply to another one you left. Haha, I thought you were referring to something else! So sorry for the confusion.

              Now that I think about it and do the math, the insurance isn’t really too much more expensive than a car. A car of the same value as the van would actually probably be more expensive. We paid $1,200 for one year on the van, which really isn’t too bad considering the value of the van.

              1. Haha, no problem. And wow, yes, that’s not bad at all for one full year. We pay much more than that for our 2 cars combined. Granted, it is 2 cars that are far from new, and 2 drivers, but still. You got a great deal!

  3. You are leading a really interesting life. Just waiting for you to live in space. πŸ˜›

  4. If you do drive through the PNW know that you have a spot to park that van! ❀️

  5. The van looks amazing! Can’t wait to see the adventures to come.

  6. You keep changing it up! I love the idea of doing different adventures on land and sea. Especially, to avoid hurricane season and to stay safe. Looking forward to hearing more about this new found van adventure. Recently, I’ve heard great things about the art scene in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Might be a fun place on the way to Arizona.

    1. Santa Fe is great! We love pretty much everywhere out west πŸ™‚

  7. Erin

    Highly recommend a road trip through western Canada on your way to Alaska πŸ™‚ I grew up in BC where the forests are just beautiful. Alberta is also a stunning spot for lakes and hiking. Wishing you safe travels – and hoping for some pics of your van once it’s pimped out!


    1. Yes, we’re definitely hoping to eventually! We won’t have time this summer but maybe next πŸ™‚

  8. Jim

    LOL,my wife and I have been living like this for years since we retired in 04.I work as a part time on call all around lisc. Mechanic.We named our new sail “Gypsea “to match our life style,our family think we are nuts!we sail in Fl keys and Bahamas.
    Jim& Lynda

  9. This is all so fun. I’m so happy for you. Can you share how you got a lower price on the van? Was this just being convincing at a dealership? I’m so bad at negotiating lol! Can’t wait to follow your adventures.

    1. I simply gave them a price over email. Super easy!

  10. Yes, I would definitely live in a van as long as I can park it anywhere. The problem is with long-term parking or “camping out” in a van in a city. How do you get around adding to a city’s burden of chronically homeless? Ideally, we can live however we please and a van sounds great but the reality is something different. How do you, or will you, manage in urban areas with your long-term van parking?

    1. I’m traveling with my van, I’m not looking to park it anywhere long-term. Is that what you mean?

  11. That’s a nice van setup. We used to camp and travel the western US in our van with our 3 kids and dog and it is some of our best memories. It was nothing like your Revel, just a Chevy G20 DIY rig. I think you are onto the best of both worlds using both your boat and the RV van to take advantage of the different seasons to live in. Those MB Sprinter vans are really reliable too so it’s an awesome choice. Happy travels!

    1. Thank you! We’re excited.

  12. I’ve never thought about living in a van. It could be fun if it’s big enough. Can you share some pictures of how the inside of the van looks in another post?

    1. I’ll definitely have to do that soon!

  13. Doreen

    This is great, Michelle! I love how adventurous you are! Thanks for sharing – and never be afraid to talk about it. As my Dad used to say with a chuckle, “You gotta a little nuts.” But no, you’re NOT nuts πŸ™‚ !

  14. So exciting, Michelle!

    And YAS we are about to do a big coastal Maine getaway! I’ve never explored up there, and I’m so, so excited to see it (and to eat the wild blueberries and lobstah, obvi)


    1. Awesome! I’m really hoping we are able to make it up there this summer.

  15. That’s the beauty of achieving “side hustle millionaire” status. Living anywhere as you please πŸ™‚

  16. Stacy Gallego

    How fun! Forget about being judged. This is an awesome idea full of lots of adventure possibilities. Isn’t that what life is all about? I think that’s the fun thing about having a mobile job and saving your money. Can’t wait to hear what you and Wes get to do (and the furry guys!) Keep us posted!

  17. Kat

    Love the Revel. Welcome to vanlife! The flexibility is awesome, from city exploring to wilderness wandering, we can do it all! We have a 4×4 van that is a bit larger that we have spent a great deal of time off road in exploring the western US. We have a trip planned from Maine up into and across southern Canada and then on up to Alaska. We have found that as great as the Mercedes 4×4 is, we needed to do additions to the suspension to improve the handling. It was absolutely worth the added expense. Enjoy your great adventures!

    1. Thanks! We’re excited to be back in a van. We really missed it!

      Sounds like you have an amazing trip planned. I wish we had more time this summer to do that.

  18. Suchot – The Curious Frugal

    Yay, so fun! I would love a tour of your van if you wanted to share pics πŸ˜ƒ. Friends of ours are on year 4 of living in their van and traveling around the world. It started off as a 1 year sabbatical and grew from there. We have the same van as them, smaller than yours and no washroom – I think for longer term travel I’d appreciate the washroom.

    1. I’ll have to take pictures soon!

  19. Can’t imagine how anyone could be negative about such an awesome lifestyle. You have the best of both worlds now. Keep telling us about your adventures so we can be with you in spirit even if we can’t be so adventurous in person. 😎

  20. Wow!!! I’ll be following your adventures. I’m new to the idea of ‘van life’ or ‘RV life’ as it’s not common from where I’m from. I’ve been recently watching Youtube videos of people travelling across their countries and sometimes to other countries too and living in a van. It seems like a very beautiful idea that will give you and your family an awesome memories to live by when you get older.

    I’m so envious πŸ™‚ Take care on the road!

    1. Thank you! We’re excited.

  21. I can’t imagine living in a van, but yours is no ordinary van. You have an AC, solar panels, a bed, a kitchen, a shower and almost everything else you need! I am excited for you and the new experiences that your van will bring!

  22. Thank God your are only partially living in the van, not full time! Even as a single person I could not live full time is that van! A van that size is only good for camping… And what about bikes, too? My I suggest Segway minis or electric unicycles…

    1. Everything will fit just fine πŸ™‚

  23. Congrats, Michelle.

    I never living in a van was something possible but here you are proving me wrong.

    I wish you amazing adventures as you travel around with it.


  24. That’s inspiring to me moving out and about after achieving side hustle millionaire status. πŸ™‚

  25. Michelle, I purchased both your courses and enjoy following you :). If you come to Alaska let me know, I’m from here and can give you ALL the details about where to go and how to do it! I may even have my own travel tour up and running by then too.

    1. Thanks! We won’t be going this year but hopefully in the future!

  26. Kevin Mathers

    So cool that you guys are doing van life! My wife and I stumbled on your blog last year and you inspired us to try and take our blog to the next level.

    We actually just bought a van in July and we’re in the process of converting it now. Our goal is to have the blog sustain our expenses on the road (we’re hopeing to finish the build by June 2020)!

    Best of luck with vanlife!

    1. Awesome, have fun vanning! We’re wrapping up our last couple of weeks in the van until we go back to the boat. We’ll miss it until we’re back at it!