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Van demand: for holidays, homes and mobile offices

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

As Australians are forced to stay local and financial pressures tighten, caravans and tiny homes are increasing in popularity for both holidays and longterm housing options.

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Prior to all the knock-on effects of a global pandemic, van appreciation was already on the up. As technology has made remote working possible for many, a nomadic lifestyle become somewhat attainable and not just aspirational. Beyond this an increasingly impenetrable housing market has forced many to look elsewhere towards more affordable (tiny) houses.

Now with so many companies forced into a remote working situation people are seeing the possibilities of a new longer term wfh set up. A survey of 6000 Australian workers found that 39% would be happy to continue to work remotely (to some capacity) even after the pandemic. With many major companies also encouraging this it seems very likely that this shift will occur.

"Van-lifers' are sharing their secrets as they move from "niche to next to normal". Within this group there is a range of those that stay in one location for a while and those that are more strictly work-tourism. When Linda Romero spent her first 15 months in a van she had the thought that "maybe travel doesn't necessarily have to be squeezed in to two weeks of vacation time each year". With interest booming more than ever Linda and her best friend and road companion have even recently developed a free six part course called Van Life Road Map to "guide potential van enthusiasts through all sorts of essential processes from choosing the right vehicle to planning your conversion, downsizing, moving in and making money with options for working on the road".

This lifestyle isn't only for the footloose and fancy free either - think of this US-based family of six who just transformed a 440 foot RV into a home for travelling, working and homeschooling around America. As proven by those Thompson shots interior design isn't limited to traditional walls anymore. Here in Australia instagrams like this one provide luxury inspiration (and real possibilities) for anyone who might think of campervans as something from the past. With some practical considerations like how to stable your tables it seems that pretty much anything can be achieved for these tiny mobile interiors.

But van life isn't just for the workers and longtermers. There has also been a pandemic boom in vancationing too. Since international borders closed domestic bookings for campervan and motorhome rentals have skyrocketed. Although the international gap is a big loss according to the AFR "Domestic rental bookings in Australia since the start of the new financial year have climbed 38 per cent from the year-earlier period, bookings in New Zealand have more than tripled and in Canada, they've more than doubled." There has been a 20% YoY rise in UK campervan bookings too. Vans might provide the perfect answer to a pandemic holiday too "'people do want to get out and do something. They want to escape the crowds,' Mr Trouchet said on Wednesday. 'You're kind of self-isolating by default.'"

Zara Cooper

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