I moved into a van to save money, three years later I have £115k – here's how I saved my cash

A WOMAN has swapped out living in an apartment for the road instead – and she's managed to save £115k in the process.

Christian Schaffer had always wanted to get close to nature, and in 2013 left her corporate job to travel the world and work at her passion, travel photography.

But in 2018 Christian decided to take things a step further by leaving her apartment and living on the road full time in her Ram Promaster van.

The photographer, from the US, has now lived in the van for almost four years, and has managed to save plenty of money in the process.

Christian has managed to cut back on costs thanks to her minimalist life on the road.

She worked out that thanks to moving into a van – she has been able to save £2,000 in living costs monthly, and explained how.


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The biggest savings Christian has felt while living in the van is obviously rent.

Christian was spending £2,073, ($2600) a month on her apartment each month, but as she bought her van outright, she has no monthly charges to pay for.

She said: "It's still interesting to see how much money I have saved living on the road versus if I had stayed in my former apartment for the past three years."

However, she said parking and staying at campsites also cost money, although no where near as much as rent.

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Living in such a small space means Christian has to be picky with what she buys, which has also allowed her to save a ton of money.

She said: "I tend to spend less money on stuff in general just because I don't have space in general.

"So as a consequence I only buy things I really love or really need.

"Whereas in the apartment I would collect all kinds of stuff I didn't need or didn't use."

But Christian warned that it still costs money to live on the road, despite what some may think.

She said: "I pay £156 ($167) a month for car insurance – that included the van itself plus personal belongings."

"When I had my apartment, I still had to pay car insurance,plus renters insurance," which set her back another £102 ($129) a month.

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Another cost saving bonus of living fulltime in a van is that Christian doesn't have to pay for wifi – as she uses the data on her phone which was an expense she already had.

She said: "At my apartment, I was spending £111 ($140) a month on electric, gas and water."

But thanks to the solar panels installed on her vans roof – Christian pays for no utility bills now and only has to pay out for occasional water and propane, which is around £35.

Surprisingly, Christian's gas prices haven't changed much since living in a van, she said on her YouTube channel.

She explained: "When I lived in an apartment I would drive crazy long distances for a photoshoot but then have to turn around and drive back."

This meant she was spending £127 ($160) a month on gas, whereas she now spends £155 ($195).

Christian worked out that if she had continued to live in the apartment for the three years she's been living on the road, she would have spent £104,783 ($131,400.)

But by living in her van, the photograph has only spent £29695 ($37,238) in the last three years – or £9897 ($12,412) a year in living expense.

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Christian has now saved £115,000 and plans to buy her own land to build her dream home on it one day.

She claimed: "Not paying rent, utilities or any other things I've mentioned has really added up over time."



  • Rent – £2,073
  • Insurance – £102
  • Phone and internet – £139
  • Utilities – £111
  • Gas – £127
  • Car maintenance – £10
  • Food – £159
  • Hotels & campsites – £26
  • Subscriptions – £79

Total – £2,826


  • Rent – £0
  • Insurance – £156
  • Phone and internet – £107
  • Utilities – £35
  • Gas – £155
  • Car maintenance – £10
  • food – £199
  • Gym membership – £31
  • Storage unit – £20
  • Private mailbox – £13
  • Hotels & campsites- £33
  • Subscriptions – £79

Total – £838

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