Vanlife finance: Tips for life on four wheels

Vanlife finanzieren: Tipps für das Leben auf vier Rädern

Are you tired of your boring full-time office job and would rather take some time out to travel Europe or the world and experience adventures?

Then van life is of course very tempting. In this article, you can find out how you can earn money while traveling so that you can afford to live on four wheels and away from home, and what work opportunities you have in a motorhome.

Frau sitzt auf dem Dach eines Campers und genießt die Sonne

How can you finance vanlife?

Living in a van costs less money overall than living in an apartment, where you have to pay rent, utilities and running costs, but even for a vanlife you need enough money to enjoy the trip.

If you are looking for ways to finance vanlife, you will come across many different results.

Most of the results provide sources of income that you can take on in full-time vanlife. People who have a steady job and only want to travel the world in a van during vacation time will obviously need different financing than full-time campers.

Think about how long you want to travel and where you want to go. Do you want to travel around the world or just to the nearest beach and then back home? When you start planning your trip, calculate your expenses and sources of income and gather more information on the topic of "financing vanlife" so that you can find the right model for you and live your dream.

How much money does it cost to live in a van?

How much money you need to budget for your campervan life naturally depends on several factors. What is your lifestyle like? Do you have a budget? Are you planning a long-term trip or shorter trips in a van? What does freedom mean to you or do you need the feeling of financial freedom?

There are several situations where you will have to spend money despite vanlife:

1. the van purchase

No camper life without a van, that much is certain. To be able to afford a van at all, you should set a budget in advance. Prices vary depending on the age, make and condition of the vehicle. You also need to consider whether you want to convert the van yourself or would rather buy a model that is ready to go straight away.

2. the van conversion

If you want to convert your van yourself, you need to factor in the cost of materials. Some things have to be ordered, so there may be additional delivery charges. On the other hand, you can customize your van the way you've always dreamed of!

Ausgebauter Campervan mit ausgeklapptem Dach auf einer Lichtung


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3. insurance

Insurance depends on the model of the car and many other factors. If you want to travel through Europe, it will cost less than travel insurance for the whole world. You should be well informed about this topic before your trip so that you are covered in an emergency. The camper's road tax is another expense you should not forget.

4. repairs, oil changes, servicing, etc.

Of course, vanlife is no different to normal life - there are things that need to be serviced regularly. Car repairs, inspections, oil changes and the maintenance of your van cost money, but they are necessary if you want to enjoy your campervan for a long time. It's best to buy several of some parts right at the start so that you can replace them quickly if small things break.

Mann macht Ölwechsel bei Auto

6. everyday life

The running costs of vanlife are not necessarily any different from normal everyday life. Eating out, going to the movies, mini golf or a visit to the swimming pool - no matter what leisure activity or time out you decide on, you will need money. Even the monthly Netflix subscription and daily shopping are not cheap. It's best to make a list of your expenses and income so that you have a monthly overview of your finances.

Mann duscht mit Wasser-Behälter am Kofferraum seines Campers


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Options for financing a vanlife

How can you afford all the things you need while you're traveling the world in your camper and don't want to work every day? Here is some information on how you can finance your vanlife.

1. work full time and travel during your vacation

The easiest way to finance your camper and life in it is probably to travel while on vacation. Anyone who spends the rest of their time sitting in an office and doing their work every day will of course have enough money to afford a camper in addition to a rented apartment.

On the other hand, these people don't have as much time to travel and may not have the opportunity to fulfill all their dreams in faraway places. If you simply want to spend two weeks in the south with your camper, this is probably the best way to pay for your vacation.

For longer trips, many employers allow you to take a sabbatical year or extend your vacation.

2. save enough and then go!

Another option is to simply save money until you have enough to go on an adventure trip with your camper without having to work on the side. Of course, this is only possible for a limited period of time.

The only question is: how long do you want to travel for and how much money do you need?

50-Euro-Scheine auf einer Wäscheleine

3. earn money with online jobs

If you are looking for ways to earn money online, you will certainly find what you are looking for. Even if you don't have enough money in the bank to finance a long trip without working, you should take on an online job or try working as an influencer or blogger.

In the best case scenario, you share your trip online with others and provide your followers with information in your blog and get paid for it. If blogging isn't your thing, there are other ways to work online.

As a freelancer, you can find jobs in many industries and only need your computer to work remotely. The advantage of online jobs is that you are independent of location and can usually manage your own time.

Frau liegt mit Laptop am Strand und arbeitet

4. work and travel

You can try Work&Travel in many countries. The concept is not only suitable for young people who are looking for themselves, but for anyone who wants to finance their life while traveling.

You have the opportunity to get to know many new people and ways of life and can add new places to your travel list.

The idea is that you help out for a few hours a day in a hotel or on a plantation or farm in return for some food and a place to sleep or pitch.

Laptop steht aufgeklappt auf einer Bar mit Blick aufs Meer

A lot of jobs for the road

1. home office & remote work

Actually, any work that can take place online or in the home office is suitable for a vanlife. Anyone who has the opportunity to work remotely can spontaneously take their car and drive away. All you need is an internet connection and life in the van can begin.

Jobs that can also be done remotely and do not require a presence in the office basically include all professions that can also be done on a computer.

Since the majority of work can now take place on a computer, it is not surprising that many people now work at least part-time from home.

At least half of all professions in Germany can also take place remotely, which means a huge selection of professions that can also be practiced in VanLife and therefore do not require attendance.

The most common professions in which home or remote work is possible include the following options:

  • Computer scientist

  • Online journalist

  • freelancer

  • coach

  • photographer

  • Virtual assistant

Frau arbeitet mit Laptop auf dem Schoß im Campervan

2. the step into self-employment

As a self-employed entrepreneur, you are your own boss and can therefore decide for yourself when and how the work should be done. There are various ways to become self-employed.

As an entrepreneur, you can pursue a variety of professions while traveling and on the road, thereby building up a source of income.

The following are suitable for the step into self-employment:

  • Computer scientist

  • Online journalist

  • freelancer

  • coach

  • photographer

  • influencer

  • Seller in an online store (e.g. clothing, jewelry, homemade items, books, etc.)

In Germany, anyone can take the plunge into self-employment. All you need to do is have an idea and register your small business with the tax office.

As a small business owner, you have fewer obligations, for example you do not have to pay VAT. Find out about the requirements for becoming self-employed and the associated changes to your insurance status.

If you want to finance your vanlife through self-employment, you should set up the business in advance. It may take some time before you have a sufficient customer base to cover your needs and expenses.

Once you have built up the business to the point where you have a good income, you can put your feet up in the van and live your vanlife dream.

Schultafel mit der Aufschrift "Self-Employed" lehnt an Ordnern

3. influencers

There are always attempts to be seen on the internet where people upload videos to YouTube or social media and pretend to be influencers. But it's not quite that simple.

To be a real influencer, you first need an idea that you can then market well on the internet and earn money through partnerships with companies.

People who are referred to as influencers are better known today than ever before, especially thanks to the social media platform Instagram, and earn their money by promoting products that are provided by advertising partners and presented to their followers. You therefore need a certain number of followers for your blog or channel in order to be able to market anything efficiently.

As an influencer, you are measured by the number of followers. The categories in which influencers are measured by followers are as follows

  • Nano-influencers: up to approx. 10,000 followers

  • Micro-influencers: up to approx. 100,000 followers

  • Macro-influencers: up to approx. 1,000,000 followers

  • Mega influencers: over 1,000,000 followers

Even today, with the high number of influencers, it is still possible to earn money and finance your living in Vanlife.

Zwei Frauen machen ein Selfie auf dem Dach eines Campervans

4. your own Etsy store

Surely everyone has heard of Etsy! Etsy is one of the world's largest online marketplaces where designers, artists and collectors from all over the world sell their self-created items.

As a seller, you can open your own store on the Etsy online marketplace, where you can list an unlimited number of items. All you need to register is an e-mail address, password and user name, that's all.

Here's what you can sell on Etsy:

  • Handmade items: Jewelry, art, clothing, fabrics, etc.

  • Art supplies: Tools, materials, fabrics, etc

  • Vintage items: Items older than 20 years such as clothes, office supplies and video games

You pay a fee to Etsy for listing the products (17 cents per item), transaction fees (5% of the total item cost + shipping and gift wrapping), and shipping fees (5% of the listed shipping cost).

Vintage-Kleider hängen auf einer Stange

5. vacation or seasonal jobs

These jobs are very popular with people doing Work&Travel or living in a van. They offer the opportunity to break new ground, get to know new people and places without being tied down.

When looking for a suitable vacation job, you will come across many providers on the Internet, but other campers can also give you helpful tips on where to find good work opportunities.

Vacation jobs are more suitable for pupils and students. They are limited to the summer vacations or semester breaks and offer a good earning opportunity.

You can see a selection of possible vacation jobs here:

  • Warehouse worker

  • Assembly line helper

  • Social promoter

  • Product manager

  • Call center agent

  • Temporary help in supermarkets or restaurants

Zwei Farmer geben sich die Hand auf dem Feld bei Sonnenuntergang

Seasonal jobs are world-famous and are often offered in the countryside by smaller employers such as farmers as harvest helpers or as service staff in the catering trade.

As a seasonal worker, the pay varies depending on the employer and job offer. Harvest workers in agriculture help farmers with the harvest and are either paid a wage or provided with free accommodation and meals.

This allows you to travel to different places with your van and not have to worry about your food. Of course, you can also split the payment so that you only receive free food and a small salary and then spend the night in your van.

You can see various seasonal job opportunities here:

  • Tour guide

  • Entertainer in hotel/holiday resorts

  • Harvest helper in agriculture

  • Service staff in the catering industry

Jobs in small businesses can often only be found through recommendations or local notices. So keep your eyes and ears open!

Mensch legt Tomaten in einen Korb, der schon mit Tomaten gefüllt ist

6. a job abroad

Depending on how long you want to travel, a job abroad can help you achieve financial independence. A job abroad is similar to a seasonal or vacation job. You can score points with German and help organize city tours or work in vacation resorts as an entertainer or tour guide.

Here is a selection of possible jobs abroad:

  • Service staff in the catering industry

  • Bartender in a bar

  • Temporary help in a hostel or store

  • Tour guide for city tours

As with seasonal jobs, you are not dependent on free accommodation in Vanlife. You should therefore negotiate your salary in such a way that it covers your consumption and expenses.

Especially abroad, it may be difficult to find such a job in the first place and to get noticed. Sharing your experiences with other campers or the locals can help you to find a good job.

Notizblock mit der Aufschrift "Working Abroad?" neben Stift und Tastatur

7. rent out your van

As long as you don't need your van yourself, you can rent it out to raise money for your next vacation.

By renting it out, the van can finance itself partially or even completely and running costs such as insurance, road tax and repairs can be (partially) covered. Simply post pictures and a video of your camper online and earn some extra money by renting it out.

Campervan mit offener Tür und Blick ins Innere

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