Welcome to the first of my Frugal Fantasy series, where I write about alternative frugal lifestyles that I’ve fantasised and romanticised.
In this article, I will explore the van life in Malaysia – this whole article is a compilation of the research I’ve done on it, so I can get this daydream out of my system.
What is the Van Life (and Why do it?)
Van living is exactly what it sounds like: you live in a van. You can do it solo, but it’s not uncommon for friends and couples to do the van life together. Some even bring their pets along!
I’ll be honest and say the vanlife has a reputation for being a ‘white people’ thing. It has that boho, I-am-a-free-bird undertone. I find that people who are attracted to van living are usually from the US or from Europe… or someone who is influenced by their ideology – myself included.
However, that is not the only reason people opt for the vanlife. From what I can see, people who choose van living as a lifestyle do it for a few reasons, not just a singular one.
First – let’s get it out of the way – sure, there are also people who do vanlife for fun and adventure. They want to do long-term travel on a budget, and van living happens to be the best choice for them.
Next are the people who are forced into van living (and sometimes car living) to significantly save money on accommodation. For example, Stories from a Van shows how to do van living in famously expensive San Francisco.
(I’ve also seen videos where people HAD to live in their cars/vans as their landlords raised their rents exponentially, and they can no longer afford to live there, and have nowhere else to go. This is obviously not an ideal situation to be in, but I’m glad there are resources people can turn to)
And lastly (and my favourite), the people who intentionally choose the van living lifestyle so that they can opt out from capitalism and society’s expectations.
For them, van living is simply a low-cost, low-impact alternative living. Keep your costs low and you never need to be stuck in the rat race kinda thing.
Doing the VanLife in Malaysia
Van life in Malaysia is not common. Aside from the couple from 24 Hour Travellers, I barely see anyone talk about it (or I’m just not in those networks yet? Idk)
(24 Hour Travellers have since shifted from doing the van life to the boat life. Check out their website and Youtube for excellent resources to do the van life in Malaysia, like this video on safety tips.)
However, even though van living community in Malaysia seems small or non-existant, I do know there is a thriving DIY campervan community in Malaysia.
Yes, Campervan is not van living, but there are some helpful vehicle modification hacks that is useful for people who aspire to do the van life in Malaysia. They have amazing DIY resources, like building your own sink!
FYI – I didn’t know this before, but you can also do camperCARs! Watch this guy turn his Kancil into a Campercar.
What’s my motivation to try the van life in Malaysia?
I’m definitely attracted to do the whole traveling on a budget thing. But aside from that, I also want to try the van life because I’m a sucker for novelty and unique experiences.
I mean, imagine this scenario – spend a few years doing the van life and visiting all around Malaysia, then going north into Thailand, and eventually reaching (gasp! dare I dream?) Central Asia, Europe and United Kingdom.
That is possible in theory. A family actually did that, but in reverse – in 2013, a Malaysian family of 6 drove from UK to Malaysia. It took over 155 days and cost over RM315,000 (huh. That’a a lot more than I thought. So much for budget. That amount does include a huge van though, and I know those are costly)
At this point in my life, I know it’s not possible for me to do van life in Malaysia. I like my current life too much to throw it away. It has taken me a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get the life I have now, and I don’t want to leave this behind.
Sure, never say never, but it’s extremely unlikely. But a girl can dream, thus this post. Maybe in the future I’ll do a 1-week van roadtrip in New Zealand or something – that would be fun 🙂
That’s the end of this daydream article. I’m sure the actual van life would have its ups and downs, but I had fun writing about it, and that’s enough for now. Like I said in the beginning, the motivation behind this article is primarily to give myself an outlet to get this fantasy out of my system. After all, what use is having a personal blog if I can’t express myself here? 🙂
Aside from doing the van life in Malaysia, I’ve also fantasised and researched other alternative lifestyles: homesteading, tiny home living, co-living, au pair and more. Which of these do you want to read next?
What alternative lifestyes do YOU like to fantasise about? Let me know in the comments!