Couple halve their living costs by ditching renting to live in a van

With living costs on the rise, people are taking unusual measures to cut down.

If these tactics can come with a side of adventure, that’s a major bonus.

Such is the case for wedding photographers Heidi Elliot, 22, and Julian Nevin, 31, who quit renting to live in a van and travel the UK.

The couple have halved their monthly living costs as a result – and are having a great time.

The pair bought their van, a 2018 Mercedes Sprinter, for £25,000, then spent a further £8,000 turning it into a dreamy home on wheels.

Now, they say they spend just £625 each (so £1,250 in total) a month – at least £1,000 less than they were when they were renting in Surrey and booking hotels for the weddings they photographed.

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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.

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 earn £26,000 over a wedding season, which they then use to fund travel in the quieter winter months.

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 had both always dreamed of giving life on the road a go, and took lockdown as the perfect opportunity.

Doing up the van took around a year, during which time Heidi picked up work as a cleaner, and Julian as a courier.

Now, the couple live an idyllic nomadic lifestle with their two dogs, Milly and Mabel, on the van, spending just two days a week working on their projects and finishing up edits, and the rest of their time exploring the areas they visit.

‘I always wanted to live a more alternative lifestyle where I wasn’t working fixed hours each day – we both always had the dream,’ said Heidi.

‘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.’

In the winter, the couple plan to drive around Europe and spend three months in Greece before returning to the UK for wedding season.

They’re also thinking of shipping the van over to South America to have a transatlantic adventure.

Julian said: ‘I really enjoy travelling, 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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