Couple halve their living costs by moving into a van and travelling the UK

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4-min read
Heidi Elliot, 22, and Julian Nevin, 31, have swapped their home for #vanlife and have halved their living costs every month. (SWNS)
Heidi Elliot, 22, and Julian Nevin, 31, have swapped their home for van life and have halved their living costs every month. (SWNS)

A couple have revealed how they managed to halve their living costs by quitting their homes and moving into a van.

Heidi Elliot, 22, and Julian Nevin, 31, are both wedding photographers and now drive up and down the country for jobs, never having to fork out on accommodation.

Their new nomadic lifestyle means the couple are able to travel the UK, spending approximately £1K a month on bills.

During the wedding season the duo say they earn around £26,000, which they then use to fund travel in the winter months.

Elliot, from Guildford, and Nevin, from Epsom, moved in their home on wheels, a 2018 Mercedes Sprinter, in May 2021.

They bought the vehicle for £25,000 and spent a further £8,000 refurbishing it, and say it now costs just £1,250 to live in.

Read more: Family 'unschool' their children in tiny caravan after selling family home

The couple spent £8,000 renovating the van and now say they spend around £1000 in bills. (SWNS)
The couple spent £8,000 renovating the van and now say they spend around £1000 in bills. (SWNS)

“We live in the van so we can travel where we want, when we want," explains Nevin. "We don’t really budget; we’re just doing it for our love of freedom.

“Living in the van remotely full-time also allows us to travel to weddings more easily.”

The couple say they spend £625 each per month, totalling £1250, and that they would be spending at least £1000 more per month to rent a two-bed in Surrey - as well as fuel costs and hotels for when they travel up and down the country to weddings.

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.

Watch: UK couple transform 44-foot-long lorry trailer into stunning lodge

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 was introduced shortly after they both returned from Asia and they found themselves living in the UK with Elliot’s family.

The couple say the van enables them to enjoy a life filled with travel. (SWNS)
The couple say the van enables them to enjoy a life filled with travel. (SWNS)
The couple completely renovated the van. (SWNS)
The couple completely renovated the van. (SWNS)

Though #vanlife was something they were keen to explore in the future, lockdown provided the perfect opportunity.

It took around a year to complete the van while they both worked to fund the conversion, with Elliot taking on a role as a cleaner and Nevin as a courier.

Now, they live with their two dogs, Milly and Mabel, and spend two days a week working on their projects and finishing up edits on wedding photoshoots.

Throughout the week, they travel across the country attending weddings and on their days off they go for long walks, enjoying the picturesque locations their work takes them.

“I always wanted to live a more alternative lifestyle where I wasn’t working fixed hours each day," Elliot explains. "It was a dream we both shared."

Read more: 'The slow life is amazing': Meet the mum who quit the rat race for a narrowboat

The couple love the freedom their new nomadic lifestyle enables them to enjoy. (SWNS)
The couple love the freedom their new nomadic lifestyle enables them to enjoy. (SWNS)

Elliot says Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the couple's fixed working days.

"We wake up around six, have breakfast and let the dogs out, make up our seating area and work until lunchtime.

“We usually finish around three and then go for a long walk with the dogs."

The couple's home on wheels has all the mod cons. (SWNS)
The couple's home on wheels has all the mod cons. (SWNS)

On days when they're not working, the couple say their plans remain fluid.

"We tend to just decide what we want to do on that day and don't plan out our days in advance,” Elliot continues.

The couple plan to go to Europe in their van over the winter months and are hoping to spend three months in Greece before coming back to the UK for the wedding season.

They also hope to ship their van over to South America to continue their wanderlust.

Read more: Couple ditch daily grind to live in a 7.5 tonne lorry

One of the scenic locations the couple have visited, the Yorkshire Dales. (SWNS)
One of the scenic locations the couple have visited, the Yorkshire Dales. (SWNS)

In the meantime the pair are enjoying discovering scenic locations in the UK.

“We’ve just been to Northumberland and every single bay was white sandy beaches – we called it the ‘Cornwall of the North’," Nevin says.

Having travelled around Australia in a van for three months in 2014, Nevin says he knew it was something he'd love to do more of later in life.

“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.”

Additional reporting SWNS.

Watch: British couple sell their house to live in a motorhome and now travel around Europe