City living usually means paying a hefty price in rent, but what if you could buy your own home for just $4,000 and save the headache?
That’s what couple Sarah Porco, 28, and Tyler Archibald, 30, have done, moving from a $1,500 per month condo to a class B camper van that they park in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Both work well-paying jobs and love living in the heart of Vancouver, but grew tired of wasting money paying someone else’s mortgage.
Major savings, small living space
Porco says since the move, they have been able to pay off $12,000 in debt in just seven months. At first, she had her worries about switching to a more alternative lifestyle.
I was a little bit worried because it’s definitely a downsize. We also have two dogs and so I was kind of concerned about how that dynamic would work, but it ended up being fine. The dogs go to work with Tyler and by the time they get back to the van they’re tuckered. But I was also kind of apprehensive about just parking in random places and just not caring what other people thought.
Mini-van life just a little too extreme
Van Dwellers have been a growing group online, from all over the world not just Vancouver, of people who have chosen to live out of a camper or even a mini-van to avoid high costs of living. Porco says she was glad to make the move, but a mini-van wasn’t going to do it for her.
That was something that I didn’t really want to jump into because I was like if we do this I would like to have a home space that felt like home and not just like living out of a bed in the back, so we definitely looked for a van with a toilet. That was my one concern.
Paying the bare minimum, pocketing the rest
Since the move, the couple have not only paid down debt and saved serious cash, but eat healthier fresher foods on a more regular basis due to their camper not having a freezer for quick meal storage. The camper otherwise has a full kitchen and bathroom with shower.
Their expenses have shrunk to less than $100 monthly for insurance, and paying for gas and food.
Porco says that even with the thousands of additional dollars she and Archibald put into the camper for renovations and maintenance, “it’s way less than even a down payment for a condo in Vancouver.”
“We were able to renovate and design our own place so you end up making it your own, which I really loved about it. And the aspect that you can just kind of on a whim be like ‘well, we’re going out of town and we’re going to bring our house with us,’ don’t have to pack, don’t have to deal with any of that, you just drive.
Enjoying van dwelling enough that it might not be so temporary
Porco and Archibald originally planned to use this time in the camper to save for land where they might build a house, and though Porco says that’s still part of the big plan, she wouldn’t mind upgrading to a slightly larger camper first and continuing to live this way.
So why not pack up and move to the suburbs instead of living out of a van? Same as everyone else, they love the city too much to flee.
We love Vancouver, we’re both in the music scene, so we enjoy going to a lot of shows and art gallery things and just the culture of Vancouver and there’s a lot of our friends here as well so it kind of keeps us staying here. We have pretty good jobs as well so it kind of works for our lifestyle right now.