Can you legally live in a van in the UK? (5 questions & answers)

In today’s article, we will elucidate the next question: Can you legally live in a van in the UK? We will talk about the pros and cons of living in a van, but also answer some of the most requested questions about life on the road. 

Can you legally live in a van in the UK?

It is legal to live in a van in the UK or to be more precise, there is no law prohibiting it! Of course, you will have to make sure that the MOT of the van is up to date and that you are parking reglementary. 

Next, we are going to go over the pros and cons and issues to consider for living in a van. Although we have not lived in one of them, we can imagine how it could be! 

The advantages of living in a van:

  • Endless freedom: The liberty to move around at your leisure, choosing where you like and where to stay for a while, is something unusual in other life options. Living in a van offers this possibility with quite a few amenities. Get close to nature, explore, discover areas with little traffic … all this is within reach of the van drivers.
  • Take who you care for the most: (Or not). This way of travelling is for lonely people or couples. We rarely see families with children opting for this way of life. Maybe for a season yes, but not beyond a long trip or a good vacation.
  • Reconnect with nature: The alarm goes off and you open the door… Where are you? Where did you park yesterday? There you will get up the next morning, open the door and have breakfast with a good coffee to enjoy life doubly.
  • Cheaper than you think: You may be thinking that it involves a lot of expenses. Well, if you break them down for free it certainly isn’t. But when you start to add expenses for a life in the city, paying rent or taxes, consumption of water, electricity, gas or telephone of a house, things begin to improve. 

It is true, diesel is not cheap and you will depend heavily on it, but depending on how you mount it, you can reduce costs in many things. It is also true that the van also entails some expenses in terms of taxes, but are you going to compare them with those of a home? The main outlay will logically be to buy the van.

Less is more. This poetic phrase is attributed to the great architect Mies van der Rohe. It is true that he was referring to architecture, but we can adapt it to almost anything in life. Therefore, we advise you to think about the absolutely essential and put it in the van. There won’t be room for much more.

The disadvantages of living in a van:

At this point, many disadvantages can be eliminated depending on how you mount it when choosing or camperizing the van. If you have a budget and/or want to equip a van to live in good conditions, you may not miss life so much.

  • Space: Actually this point affects depending on how you look at it. Perhaps on a rainy day, you do have little space, but if the weather is good you can open the door and as we have said before, enjoy the garden.
  • The WC: Indeed, if you do not have at least one portable chemical toilet, the matter can be a problem (or a great annoyance). For this part, we can only recommend that you equip yourself with one of these inventions.
  • The shower: The other big but of the whole equation is the shower. And it usually involves a bit much larger than the previous one, since a portable chemical toilet (or potty for friends) is much cheaper and easier to buy. 

The shower can be a great topic, especially if you are in a cold area. If you live where the weather and temperatures usually accompany it, it may not be the biggest problem (which is still a problem to be solved, every day), although we will talk about this later, where we will give more details.

  • The law: But should this really concern you? The best thing is to know it in detail to know where and where not to be. In addition, knowing the regulations will be your best defence in case of an altercation. In any case, we remember that with good words you usually get much more.

Some questions and answers about living in a van

Here are a number of questions about living in a van. The answers are based on our travel experience and general “van knowledge”. 

  1. What things should I bring?

You will see that less is more. Never travel with more than a 50-litre backpack. Some clothes, toiletry bag, basic first-aid kit and computer/tablet depending on whether you want it to work or to consult things. It is true that a van can carry many more things than in a backpack, so make the most of it.

  1. Let’s go back to the shower problem

Your greatest ally will be mobile apps where you can check the locations of service areas, beaches with public showers, gyms or public and private swimming pools (they could charge something, but little). At this point, we recommend that, if you have the opportunity to equip the camper van with a shower, you do so.

  1. And how do I wash my clothes?

This topic is not a big problem. You will find laundries (sometimes there are machines next to gas stations or shopping centres) in many places. You don’t have to live in a van to find these services, the UK is full of laundries.

  1. How do I cook?

Here, as I mentioned before, it will depend on the equipment installed in the van. But not for kitchen reasons, since you can find camping gas for $20 in many places (with fairly affordable refillable cartridges), but for the fridge. 

Not having a refrigerator means that your diet is very conditioned, or that you have to go to the supermarket every day to eat fresh food. 

  1. So which van to choose to live in?

When choosing a van to live in, you should read multiple online reviews, as there are many and can offer you a general idea about how it is to live in a van. Our advice, however, is to choose a van:

  • In which you can stand;
  • That has a shower and a toilet;
  • One with a fridge;
  • A van with heating. 

Final thoughts

Loading your van and travelling around the world is a once in a lifetime experience, although it is not something that everyone is willing to do. 

Travelling in your own van can generate countless positive aspects, unique experiences, meeting people around the world, visiting incredible places, tasting the gastronomy of each place and meeting fascinating people. However, everything is not always as one imagines, and the challenge of living in a vehicle also has its difficulties and discomforts.

Do you have any questions about living in a van? Feel free to contact us!

FAQ on Can you legally live in a van UK?

Can I buy land and live in a caravan in the UK?

You can buy land and live in a caravan in the UK, but there are a number of restrictions and licensing conditions you must understand and follow. You can stay in a caravan on your land for 28 days without a planning license or permit.

Can I put a caravan in my garden?

You can install your caravan in your garden without authorization if you are not using it as a home or as an annexe to your home. The caravan must permanently retain its means of mobility (wheels, drawbar, etc.) in order to be able to leave its location at any time.

Can I put a trailer on my land?

To put a trailer on one’s land, the owner of a trailer must have the mayor’s parking authorization to install his trailer on his land. If the trailer is fixed, a building permit is required.


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