This couple cut their living costs in half by moving into a van
“We live in the van so we can travel where we want when we want. We don’t really budget; we’re just doing it for our love of freedom."
By Josie Adnitt via SWNS
A couple have HALVED their living costs by upping sticks and moving into a van - traveling the UK for £1k ($1,260) a month.
Wedding photographers Heidi Elliot, 22, and Julian Nevin, 31, drive up and down the country to jobs, never having to splash out on accommodation.
They say they earn £26,000 ($32,775) - the equivalent to the average UK salary - over a wedding season, which they then use to fund travel in the winter months.
Heidi, from Guildford, and Julian, from Epsom, moved in the 2018 Mercedes Sprinter in May 2021.
They bought the vehicle for £25,000 ($31,514) and spent a further £8,000 ($10,084) refurbishing it - and say it now costs just £1,250 ($1,575) to live in.
Julian said: “We live in the van so we can travel where we want when we want. We don’t really budget; we’re just doing it for our love of freedom.
“Living in the van remotely full-time allows us to travel to weddings more easily as our main work is weddings all over the UK.”
The couple say they spend £625 ($787) each per month, totaling £1250, and that they would be spending at least £1000 more per month to rent a two-bed in Surrey - as well as fuel costs and hotels for when they travel up and down the country to weddings.
With the funds they save, they use some money to treat themselves to the occasional takeaway or a stay at a campsite where they can use water and electric hook-ups unrestricted.
The couple met in 2019 when they were both working for an international school photography company and had both been assigned to the same project in Singapore.
Lockdown struck shortly after they had both returned from Asia and they found themselves living in the UK with Heidi’s family.
They both knew that vanlife was something they had always wanted to do in the future and lockdown provided the perfect opportunity.
It took around a year to complete the van while they both worked to fund the conversion, with Heidi taking on a role as a cleaner and Julian as a courier.
Now, they live with their two dogs – Jack Russel’s Milly and Mabel – and spend two days a week working on their projects and finishing up edits on wedding photoshoots.
Throughout the week, they travel across the country attending weddings and on their days off they go for long walks and enjoy the locations they find themselves in.
Heidi said: “We met through an international school photography company where we would get allocated jobs around the world.
“We knew of each other within the company before meeting in Singapore when we were sent out on a job together.
“At the end of the season we went travelling around Asia together for four months and then we came back to the UK and stayed with my family.
“I always wanted to live a more alternative lifestyle where I wasn’t working fixed hours each day – we both always had the dream.
“Tuesdays and Wednesdays are our fixed working days – we wake up around six, have breakfast and let the dogs out, make up our seating area and work away until lunchtime.
“We usually finish around three and then go for a long walk with the dogs.
“On days when we’re not working, our plans are very fluid and we tend to just decide what we want to do – we know what’s around the area that we’re in but don’t plan out our days in advance.”
The couple plan to go to Europe in their van over the winter months and are hoping to spend three months in Greece before coming back to the UK for the wedding season.
There are even plans in the pipeline of shipping their van over to South America to continue their travels.
Julian said: “We’ve not had anything crazy happen while we’ve been on the road as generally we’re quite remote or park in secluded locations and try not to disturb anyone.
“We’ve just been to Northumberland and every single bay was white sandy beaches – we called it the ‘Cornwall of the North.'
“I traveled around Australia in a van for three months in 2014 and knew it was something I wanted to do more of along the line.
“I really enjoy traveling, exploring and adventuring, and in the van we can make those choices more often - everything stems from a love of travel.”
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