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  • FIRST POST
    vagrantia
    Living in a Van in Brighton
    • #1
    • 14th Jun 10, 1:12 PM
    Living in a Van in Brighton 14th Jun 10 at 1:12 PM
    Hi all.


    I am living in a van in Brighton and writing a blog about it. Here is an excerpt:



    We are fed up with spending all of our income on rent and bills, shredding envelopes only as fast as bills shoot through the letterbox and making excuses to lull in solitude instead of being outside in beautiful nature. We are fed up with living this ordinary life which has been dictated to us by our elders and betters and which everybody seems to be striving for: sleep, work, eat, mong out in front of the television and then start again. We are fed up with the monotony of 'the great indoors' and are looking for a simpler, more natural existence.

    And so we have bought a van. A big one which-it turns out-I am unable to drive as I passed my test after 1995 and it’s just too big. Luckily my husband can drive it because it looks like we will have to be moving on a pretty regular basis: people who live in vans may be more in numbers in Brighton than in other parts of the country but they (we) are still seen as adversaries of normal folk and reactions tend to be fairly negative.


    In our optimistic innocence we thought that people would be happy for us, but reactions have ranged from: “You’ll be gypsies and gypsies are disrespectful of public land and they dump their rubbish on private property” (my parents) to dumb-founded questioning:”why do you want to live in a van?” (various friends). But our answers are simple: Maybe we don’t want to live in a van. We have never tried it so maybe we’ll hate it. But at least we have to give it a go. Think of the money we can save. Even better, think of the money we’ll never have to earn. We can lead simpler lives and meet interesting people. At least, that’s the plan.
Page 2
  • vagrantia
    This life we have chosen has not been designed as any sort of statement. We are simply trying to live an interesting life while not spending too much money.
    As human beings we are all judgmental. The only question is do we talk about our prejudices openly or do we lurk in the dark recesses of internet chat rooms waiting to launch attacks on posts we find controversial?

    Thanks to all of you who have posted positive messages. I know that there are a lot of like-minded people in the world. I have not read that Steinbeck novel but will look out for it. Loch Ness in a caravan sounds great! Wishing you all the best and will maybe see you on the road some day. I promise not to look down my nose at you like some ‘middle class nob’.
    • chalkysoil
    • By chalkysoil 16th Jun 10, 9:40 PM
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    chalkysoil
    never lived in a van for a long time, but once spent 6 weeks living in a Morris 1000 ex GPO van in France, we'd given up our rented flat so had no particular expenses except food & petrol which our savings covered. It all came to an abrupt end when a French motorist crashed in to us and the van was a write off. Spent 3 days hitch hiking back to Calais with our possessions tied up in carrier bags.

    Have also had many holidays in a Ford Escort van, then upgraded to a camper van. The downsides - people banging on the sides at 2am because they think it's funny, running out of gas and waking up to frozen bottles of water inside the van, getting dipped for red diesel.

    Met many retired people in campsites who've sold their house and bought a motorcaravan and spend the years travelling around from site to site as they fancy. I guess the rent on campsites would be £70 a week with fabulous views and lots of new people to meet.

    We have too many cats to do that but maybe one day ...
  • vagrantia
    The campsites around Brtighton are a lot more expensive than that....£20-25 a night. Great memories for you though!
  • gone4gold62
    good on you both and good luck for the future
  • vagrantia
    Well I for one wish you luck. I've read your Blog from start to finish and enjoyed it. Ignore the others who have been so dismissive and wrongly assumed you're both jobless bums, I think it's great what you're doing.

    I think i've missed what you intend doing during the winter?
    Originally posted by B00
    Thanks for that. we are planning to go to India in the winter...it is very cheap and I can stiull work there.
  • marie1234
    As a good friend of Laura and Reg (who are lovely by they way) I have been really shocked at some of the responses on here....presuming you don't work even though you had written you do...presuming you're both arrogant, pompous.......calling you a middle class nob!!!!! Nice way to address a lovely lady like Laura, think someone may need to re-read the forum groundrules!! Although I did have to laugh with the one who even started to presume what you and Reg would talk about in private and then the impression you would give off in body language.....jeez!!!....Ah well I think what you're doing is great, you're brave to experiment like this and there's certainly nothing wrong with trying to gain some benefits from it.....eating well, going to the gym, trip to India, who wouldn't?
    • Brooker Dave
    • By Brooker Dave 11th Jul 10, 6:25 PM
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    Brooker Dave
    I am living in a van in Brighton
    Originally posted by vagrantia
    What happens if you want to have a poo?

    Does the van have a loo?
    "Love you Dave Brooker! x"

    "i sent a letter headded sales of god act 1979"
  • Poly,put_the_kettle_on
    The very best of luck to you. And if you ever bring the van back to it's hometown, a battery charge & hot bath are just a few miles away for you
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 11th Jul 10, 9:46 PM
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    PasturesNew
    I'd be living in a campervan by now if I'd been able to find one I could afford, but they were too pricey for me (needed a decent/reliable one as I'm not handy and I'd be travelling alone), but I intended to live on proper camp sites... not on the road, where anybody and his drunken mates could decide "wouldn't it be funny if...." when they staggered past at 2am.
  • bubblegum26
    Just read ur blog ur life sounds great, good luck to you both, I hope all goes well
  • vagrantia
    What happens if you want to have a poo?

    Does the van have a loo?
    Originally posted by Brooker Dave
    We do have a loo but we try not to use it wherever possible....it's a cassette toilet so we just empty it on a campsite (not in friends' toilets haha). But we try to use public toilets wherever possible and use the gym in the mornings!
  • vagrantia
    I'd be living in a campervan by now if I'd been able to find one I could afford, but they were too pricey for me (needed a decent/reliable one as I'm not handy and I'd be travelling alone), but I intended to live on proper camp sites... not on the road, where anybody and his drunken mates could decide "wouldn't it be funny if...." when they staggered past at 2am.
    Originally posted by PasturesNew
    My advice is to look for a well-built conversion: an old mercedes would be best as they are reliable and will go on for years. The plastic purpose-built things cost a lot of money and often aren't even made well. We met a man recently who spent £35,000 on one and he said the door handles fall off all the time. We spend less than £4000 on ours and it's made from solid wood inside.

    You do have to be careful when buying a conversion that it has been done well: well insulated and things, so make sure you see it before you buy (don't bid on ebay).

    Lastly, VWs keep their price so if you are tempted by a cheap one, there must be a reason for it. even if you spend £10,000 on one, it could still hav serious problems. We avoid them as we know we can't afford a decent one.
  • poet123
    I haven't yet read the blog, but I agree with Ceridwen, who hasn't longed for the simpler life? and yet few of us have the drive or guts to go for it. It is something you need to do when you are young, and unshackled by the demands of a lifestyle and children. Roughing it is not for me, but I certainly see the appea lof less paperwork, fewer bills, and increased mobility.

    I wish you well, and will read the blog with interest.
    • Ken68
    • By Ken68 12th Jul 10, 1:31 PM
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    Ken68
    Good for you Vagrantia. I did a similar thing in the 70's. Converted a Commer Personnel van. Looked a bit like a Commer Highwayman when finished.
    Then toured Europe for six months. Norway, Sweden,Denmark, West and East Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia down to Pula, then started to return to England from their. Remember money out of the country was limited those days. An adventure every day.
    Talked to people 'doing' Europe, would settle on Morocco beach for the winter, then come back to GB doing casual jobs on the way. Yes some of them did whiff a bit but so laid back.
    Fortuneatly had a job to come back to but wonderlust had set in.
    Do you intend to go overland to India. What a trip that would be!!!.
  • vagrantia
    Thanks Ken. that trip sounds fantastic! We would love to do something similar. We drove our old Toyota through Portugal, Spain and France...what atrip. I'd love to get a time machine and take the van overland to India in the 60s. We won't be taking her to India now though. These days it would cost a fortune getting through borders. It's a shame but it's much cheaper to fly.

    Wanderlust...oh yes, I know it well. These itchy feet may never rest...
    • RebekahR
    • By RebekahR 16th Jul 10, 1:41 PM
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    RebekahR
    Being a nosey person as I am ... ! How much money have you saved since moving out? Can even go on a monthly total? I would love to live a life like this. Unfortunately I work from home and need a high speed internet and a ethernet connection and landline for my job. Wouldn't be able to have that on a campsite :-(
  • vagrantia
    Hi Rebekah,

    I guess it depends how much money you earn but we have saved a good couple of thousand in the last two months. I am a writer so I spend lots of time in cafes and the library with my dongle. It's not ideal but as it won't be forever I don't mind. And after spending the winter shut away indoors it's nice to have the excuse to get out and about!
    • RebekahR
    • By RebekahR 16th Jul 10, 2:17 PM
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    RebekahR
    That's a fantastic saving!My dad wants to a gypsey. Always has. We lived in a house on a hill with a big steep grass bank. We had a fence and gate at the top of that bank. And my dad started building from scratch a copy of a old romany caravan. My mum marched up the garden and made him take it down. She said how the hell was he going to get it out the garden gate lol! He has loads of books on romany gypseys and the simple life. I would love to do it but I would like to be permanant like on a campsite. To have the access to running water and electric hook up and even internet on some. The caravan sites where mobile homes are are too much like real houses to enjoy the real outdoor life. Are there sites around where you can have a real caravan or static and actually live there for real?
    • Ken68
    • By Ken68 16th Jul 10, 2:57 PM
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    Ken68
    There are Retirement Home Parks....one near me...though not very green, sterile almost.
    The best site I ever did see was near Sherringham..lost my way back to the shop...followed a hedge and came across an enclosed area with an old caravan. Must have been residential, all the usual outside stuff plus lots of bird tables and birds...sea views and on a wooded cliff.
    • RebekahR
    • By RebekahR 16th Jul 10, 3:05 PM
    • 5,539 Posts
    • 13,836 Thanks
    RebekahR
    Whilst I am no where near retirement age what you stumbled over sounds quite nice! Infact I am only 2 years younger than the op!
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