A COUPLE moved into a VW campervan after their rent soared to £1,200 a month.
The intrepid pair, so far, have turned this to their benefit, having clocked up more than 5,000 miles travelling around Cornwall, North Devon, and Bournemouth.
Holistic therapist Lana Rose and her media production manager partner Tomm Dale, both from South Devon, met in 2021 during the Covid pandemic after lockdown restrictions had been lifted.
The couple initially met online, talking for a long time until they could finally meet in person.
They both had a background in travel and decided to make it a priority in their relationship.
However, they soon realised that Covid travel restrictions could last much longer than they had originally anticipated so they decided to look into refurbishing an old van so that they could travel within the UK.
The pair found a Volkswagen T4 for sale – nicknamed ‘Storky’ by its previous owners – for £4,200 and spent the next few months rebuilding the interior.
At the same time, Lana and Tomm were struggling to find somewhere to live due to an increase in rental costs and difficulty securing a mortgage.
They were being quoted £1,200 rent a month for small one bedroom properties.
After spending around 8 months trying to find accommodation, they decided to spend all of their free time in the van, staying at their parents’ homes when necessary.
“We met during the pandemic when the lockdown had been lifted towards the beginning of the summer,” Lana and Tomm said.
“We both had a background in travel and decided that as soon as it was possible we would try to prioritise it once again, ideally making up for lost time due to travel restrictions.
“As time went on we realised, as many people did, that these restrictions may last much longer than we had originally thought.
“We decided to look into the prospect of buying, modifying and utilising a van so that we could at least explore within the limits of what was legally possible.
“We were fortunate enough to find a Volkswagen T4 for sale.
“Over the next couple of months, we slowly rebuilt the interior and began venturing out to areas along the British coast and throughout the countryside whenever we could.”
Lana and Tomm did not originally plan to stay in the van full-time, but their circumstances meant they had little choice.
“We were having trouble trying to find somewhere to live together due to the increase in rental costs and the difficulty of securing a mortgage,” they said.
“We spent months trying to find accommodation but nothing ever worked out. We would be reloading property websites, calling as soon as something new came up, only to be told that the limit for viewings had already been reached.
“We had spent years qualifying for and working in careers that we believed would eventually lead to a home that we could share. But due to the unforeseen circumstances which everyone has had to endure in their own way, and the current cost of living, we were forced to think outside of the box.
“Eventually we decided to just see what would happen if we spent all of our free time in the van.
“We got quite good at finding decent campsites and beautiful spots to stay while maintaining our livelihoods throughout the rest of the week by staying at our parents’ homes when necessary.
“Eventually we were able to find ourselves an apartment which gives us a great base between van trips.”
The couple love their van lifestyle.
“One of the greatest benefits is having the freedom to go almost anywhere whenever the need arises,” Lana and Tomm said.
“To be able to be close to nature and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can really help to put life into perspective when things seem to be too hectic and out of your control.
“Without sounding too cliche there really is something beautiful and freeing about watching a sunset, then a clear night sky and falling asleep beneath it only to wake up to a beautiful sea view and know that it is just the beginning of the day.”
However, the pair admit that there are certain challenges that come with spending so much time in a van.
“The colder seasons can get a bit tricky,” they said.
“And there are challenges with maintenance, engine repair and the general cost of owning a van.
“We once broke down on Dartmoor after a wedding in the middle of nowhere.”
But these challenges have not put the couple off venturing further afield.
“We are planning a trip around Europe in the new year,” Lana and Tomm said.
“Once we can be sure the engine isn’t going to fall out again we will head off.”
They also offered some advice to others thinking about van life.
“If you think that this is something you would like to do then our advice would be to make it happen as soon as possible,” they said.
“Follow your dreams, even if they seem unrealistic or unobtainable.
“Everybody has lost time recently due to something that nobody could have seen coming, and if that isn’t enough of a reason to live life to its fullest and take the risks you’ve always wanted to take, then we don’t know what is.”
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