‘It’s comfortable’: Couple living in van has no interest in going back to condo
Two gainfully employed millennials and two dogs living in a van in East Vancouver sounds a bit like a parody of the city’s out-of-control housing market, but for Sarah Porco and her partner Tyler Archibald, it works.
“We’ve got down a system pretty down pat,” Porco said. “It’s comfortable.”
The couple had been renting a condo in Mount Pleasant, but seven months ago - inspired in part by the growing community of Vancouver van-dwellers sharing their stories on YouTube - they decided to downsize.
“We pared down a lot,” Porco said. “We got rid of all of our furniture, got rid of a bunch of clothes, a bunch of just stuff that you end up shoving into a closet and never thinking about again.”
It’s not that the pair couldn’t afford to keep living in a more traditional housing arrangement. It’s more that they don’t want to.
“We’ve always been kind of into the tiny home living kind of thing,” Archibald said of the inspiration for couple’s new lifestyle.
Archibald estimates that the couple is able to save roughly $25,000 a year by living in the camper van, which includes a small kitchen with a pantry and a refrigerator, a sleeping area and a small bathroom, but not much else.
Those savings could one day be put toward a down-payment on a house, or some other large purchase, but for now, the two have no interest in doing that.
“I think maybe way down the road we might think about setting down some roots, but I like the fact that we’re so mobile and we can go wherever,” Porco said. “I don’t see us changing our situation.”
Mobility and savings aren’t the only benefits of living in a van. Both Porco and Archibald said the lifestyle is freer. They worry less, they get out more, and they even end up eating healthier.
Having less space to store food means shopping more frequently and eating fresher meals, Porco said.
There’s also an element of community in van-living. Other van-dwellers often recognize what Porco and Archibald are doing before more-settled Vancouver residents do, and the couple sees campers everywhere, now that they know what to look for.
Archibald said the couple’s scaled-down lifestyle hasn’t hurt their relationship, either. In fact, it’s had the opposite effect.
“If we had a tumultuous relationship or something, it might be pretty hard to do in a van, but we don’t have that issue,” he said. “Living together closer, it actually brings you closer.”