The couple have spent the last year on the road (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
The cost of living crisis means we’re paying more for less. But what if we told you there was a way to both save money and boost your quality of life?
This couple decided to pack up their damp-ridden and expensive bungalow to for a simpler life on the road, living in a £24,500 van full-time instead.
Alongside travelling the world, they’ve managed to save £700 a month on everyday expenses – and want to show others how to do the same.
Freelance artist manager and social media handler Kirsten Robertson, 26, and her partner, music producer Lewis Cullen, 27, decided to quit the rat race in December 2021.
When the damp in their rented expensive bungalow became unbearable, they decided to make the radical move to live in a van while working remotely.
Since overhauling their lives, they’ve visited seven countries, including Netherlands, Belgium and France, and travelled 8,000 miles.
They purchased Cora in 2021 (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
Kirsten and Lewis’s living quarters (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
Kirsten and Lewis decided against getting a mortgage due to a difficult housing market in their native Swansea, where the average price for a three-bedroom terraced home is more than £220,000.
Instead, they decided to purchase a VW LWB Crafter camper van and lovingly named her Cora.
To purchase it, they took a loan of £24,500, which they’re repaying at £465 per month – significantly less than the £625 monthly rent on the bungalow.
Their monthly bills now are just £900, which includes fuel and everything else – although the couple did spend a further £15,000 on converting the van.
The couple both work remotely (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
They spent £15,000 turning it into a cosy home on wheels (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
Kirsten said that their Swansea bungalow was filled with damp, ‘making us sick and draining our bank accounts.’
‘We have always loved travelling and hate being in one place for too long and we came to the conclusion that van life would be perfect for us,’ she said.
As Kirsten had previously owned a VW T4 camper, which she and Lewis had taken a number of trips in, they had some expertise in van life so took the plunge and purchased Cora.
‘The van is so much bigger than the T4 that we feel like we are living in luxury,’ commented Kirsten, who took to their new lifestyle easily.
So far, the couple have travelled 8,000 miles (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
They love minimalist living (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
She added: ‘Being without the damp everyday and instead having fresh air is one of the biggest benefits.’
In spite of repaying the loan they took to purchase Cora, Kirsten and Lewis insist that living in a van is a great way of cutting down costs and living a money-smart lifestyle.
Kirsten explained: ‘Our electricity is generated through solar, so we don’t have any electric bills – and a £50 gas bottle lasts us around six-months.
‘We spend about £50-60 a week on food as we try to eat quite healthily most of the time.
‘Sometimes we get a campsite but that’s normally once or twice a month so works out to about £50-60 a month.’
Although their spend on fuel can vary, if they’re having a month where money is tight, they drive less to save petrol.
Lewis is a music producer, and Kirsten manages him (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
Vanlife has saved them thousands (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
There’s no shortage of mod cons in the van (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
But it’s not always easy to live nomadically like Lewis and Kirsten.
‘Due to winter, the UV number is very low, so we have to be careful with our electric usage through both the day and night as we could run out,’ they said.
‘Some nights it’s been minus six degrees in the van, but we’ve overcome this by having multiple layers, putting the gas hobs on for a bit, extra blankets, and hot water bottles in the bed.’
Yet despite issues, the pair love being able to explore and stay active in nature.
Kirsten said: ‘It’s so invigorating to feel the freedom of the van and not being tied down to one place.
‘We’ve also felt a big relief through downsizing, as living in a small space means we have less storage.’
Storage space is also at a premium (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
Their plan is to keep exploring (Picture: MediaDrumImages/CoraTheCrafter)
In addition to this, they’ve made a number of friends on their travels, which they say is a ‘huge benefit’ of their untraditional lifestyle.
Work-wise, Kirsten manages two musicians – Lewis and one other artist. Between Lewis’ production and Kirsten’s social media and management freelancing, they’re able to make decent incomes completely remotely.
‘Initially when we started telling people our plan they definitely thought we were crazy,’ said Kirsten. ‘But now they’ve seen the van and the way we live everyone understands it.’
She added: ‘We truly didn’t realise how much we were being weighed down by unnecessary stuff, rents and the burden of the damp.
‘Living in a van has truly liberated us and we treasure every bit of it.’
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They’ve travelled the world and saved cash doing it.