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Charlie & Dale Choose Vanlife to Chase Climbing Passion

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Charlie and Dale work full-time, but when they hit the road to travel Europe this next year, they’ll be able to cut back to freelance work, work less, and climb more!

According to Charlie, vanlife has always been popular with climbers because of how easy it makes it to access the best climbing spots and still have a warm, dry “home” to head home to at the end of the day. If you’re also interested in vanlife, the couple documented their journey on their website, and even offer a free van configurator service! Just fill out this form regarding what you need in a van, and they’ll send you a recommended layout. How neat!

We got to interview the couple about van living, so after the photo tour be sure to read their answers to the Q&A!

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They’ll Help You Choose A Van Layout!

This used to be a DHL van, and is the most lovely yellow color.

Inside has a simple palette of white and sage green.

Twinkle lights and a much-needed bookshelf.

Imagine waking up to those views!

Time to cook up some dinner!

Her overalls are so fresh!!

Here’s their pull-out table.

I love the flat-faced cabinetry.

The green subway tiles are such a nice touch.

Make sure to read our interview with them at the end!

VIDEO: Our Van Conversion Tour- DIY Self Build

Interview with Charlie and Dale

Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny?

We are currently based in the UK, although we plan to go out to Europe in early 2021. We finished converting our campervan in March 2020.

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?

We currently work full time – Charlie works in data analysis and digital marketing for an adventure travel company, and Dale is a design engineer. When we go out to Europe we will mainly be doing part time freelance work, and climbing the rest of the time!

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?

We are both climbers and have always dreamed of converting a campervan to live in. Van life gels perfectly with the climbing lifestyle, as it allows you to travel to all of the best climbing spots and have everything you need with you all the time. You can chase the good weather and always have a little cosy home on wheels to come back to after a long day climbing. We love the freedom that having everything you need in such a small space gives you.

How did you first learn about tiny life?

Climbers have lived in vans for many years, so long before ‘van life’ became much more popular and mainstream, climbers were living in vans in much more of a ‘dirtbag’ fashion! So we’ve always known about it as a concept and a lifestyle that certain people live, and it’s always been something that we’ve dreamed about doing for many years.

How did you acquire your home? Are you comfortable sharing how much it cost? Have you done any renovations?

We bought our yellow ex-DHL van in January 2019 and spent just over a year converting it into our little home on wheels. We spent £8.8k on the van itself and £6.7k on the build, so a total of £15.5k. We did the entire conversion ourselves, from electrics and plumbing to woodwork and fitting windows, learning everything as we went.

What are bills/utilities like compared to before?

Living in a campervan is pretty cheap, as your power comes from solar panels, you can usually find free spots to fill up your water, and filling up LPG is super cheap! The biggest outgoings are bills like phone and Wifi as they stay the same as before.

How did you find a place to “park” your home? Or do you travel?

We use apps like Park4Night and also just scour Google Satellite View on Google Maps to find good spots to park. Occasionally we’ll stay on a campsite but only if the area we’re in is tricky to park for free.

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?

Once you live in a van, you remove costs like rent/mortgage, most of your bills, and so your outgoings suddenly plummet. It means that the income you need to maintain your lifestyle is suddenly so much lower, which means that you don’t need to be working the same kind of hours. For us, going tiny means so much more freedom, mainly in that we won’t have to work a standard 9-5 job anymore.

What about some challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is always finding somewhere to park for the night that is suitable. You can’t always stay somewhere beautiful, and sometimes you can drive somewhere you think will be a great spot and it’s not suitable, and you’ll have to keep driving for a long time. You need to make sure you can regularly fill up water, and that you will have somewhere you can go to the toilet. There are more things to think about living in a van, you don’t just have a magical endless supply of water coming from your tap and shower and a toilet connected to the sewage system, so you have to plan ahead more.

What makes your tiny home special?

Our little home on wheels is special because we created it all by ourselves, working together when designing it and building it so it’s a little piece of us. It makes us smile whenever we’re in it.

What is your favorite part of your tiny home?

We absolutely love our belfast sink because it’s such a luxury! Although it’s a bit extravagant, it really makes it feel like a tiny home.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?

Take the plunge and do it, because you won’t regret it, you’ll just regret not doing it sooner. But make sure you plan enough before you buy too!

Anything I didn’t ask about that we should know?

After we finished our build, we wanted to create a resource to help others looking to convert their own van, as we spent so many hours reading about different parts of our build online and could never find all of the information we needed in one place. We created a website to share the knowledge we gained throughout our build, so others could have a single source of reference whilst converting their own van. We have also created a layout configurator tool to help people find the perfect layout for their conversion.

Learn More:

Related Stories:

Our big thanks to Charlie for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • dug
    October 27, 2020, 12:14 am

    Felt i had to comment here, whilst it’s undoubtedly a stunning van and all be it custom built to the couple using it, i got to say the build cost is very high when you consider they did it themselves, i have self built many VWs and had others built to my design in my past life, and even a top class, pop top VWT5 conversion, my last with a full flushing toilet and shower compartment and all the bells and whistles and loads of extras which included alloys and a full respray never cost me anything like that, so hence i state it is very expensive.
    The finished product is of course stunning although yellow i don’t think would be many people’s choice of colour as we are supposed to blend into the background as most of the tiny we are wild-camping so with a in your face yellow van that’s not possible, i would imagine a lot of interruptions when parked up, where many others would simply be ignored, but hey what do i know i have only been doing this up until i took unwell a few years back in the U.K. and as many will know from reading my comments here-in previously i am planning a VW Caddy van just now to suit my single life and requirements as a registered disabled driver which takes a great deal more thought and consideration putting into the requirements for security as well as wild-camping which is my preferred way of using it, but much longer in this sheltered housing complex surrounded by 80-90 year old neighbours and i swear i will quite simply buy the first decent ex gas board van i see at auction, stick a camp bed in it grab a sleeping bag and take off as at a young 57 i am so like a fish out of water it’s crazy, so if i have any wish for this coming year it’s to find a van, for Covid to go away for good and to let me out onto the road once more to freely go where no man has ever gone before i.e My Backroad Britain Tour i have planned out going from JOG to LE without ever using any motorway network, so as to visit all these stunningly beautiful small villages now not seen due to our perpensity to use motorways and in so doing missing seeing some amazing places and people.
    Keep on building folks, sincerly trust we are all safe, in these crazy times, but please god do NOT be tempted to break your local rules by going out wild or otherwise camping until we get the all clear to do so, we regardless of our thoughts on the matter must stay to the guidance if we’re ever to get rid of it for good, ignore the nay sayers as they by in large are talking rubbish, this is our way of life and if we truly wish to continue on safely post Covid we must comply just now so we may do so.
    Peace and out Dug 😎

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