Can you live in a van in Canada?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can you live in a van in Canada? We will discuss every point to take into consideration before taking a decision and tell you the pros and cons of living in a van.

Can you live in a van in Canada?

You can live in a van in Canada, as there is no law prohibiting it, but you’ll have to think this well:

  • Where are you going to park the van and for how long?
  • Do you have a main residence?
  • Is the van parked on private property or public property?
  • Do you have a contract to reside at a leisure park?
  • Are you living on a campsite and have access to electricity, water and sewage?

Particularly popular with travellers, the road trip in Canada is ideal in a van. Indeed, the van not only allows you to move but also acts as a real house on wheels. Easy to drive, it is also practical and economical. But before making a life-changing decision, make sure you have the answers to the above questions. 

Note: If you plan to reside long-term in a certain province, it is best to consult the local council and ask for permission. 

To park and sleep in your van, you will find many campsites, caravan parks, rest areas and free pitches (some parks, forests, lakes, beaches, etc.). Check with the information centre in advance because sleeping in your vehicle is not allowed everywhere, including in large cities. If you decide to move out onto the street, it is better to be discreet.

Remember that some areas have few gas stations so plan to keep a full tank. Also, do your own research about the weather in Canada and avoid winter for your road trip!

What you’ll need if living in a van in Canada

Besides a place to park, you’ll also have to take into consideration the following aspects if you’re planning on living in a van in Canada:

  • Sleep: mattress, sheets, sleeping bag, pillow, tent (just in case).
  • Kitchen: cutlery, plates, pots, stove, can opener, cutting board, bowls, glasses, matches and lighter, colander, barbecue grill, aluminium, fridge or cooler, Tupperware, bottle and/or canister, plastic bags. Also, enough to wash your utensils (tea towels, basin and washing up liquid). Picnic table and chairs.
  • Hygiene: toilet paper, towels, wipes, solar shower, washcloth, soap, organic shampoo and other products you use.
  • Health: repellent, first aid kit with essentials (dressings, disinfectant, painkillers, etc.).
  • Vehicle care: coolant, engine oil, spare wheel, pump, tool kit, liquid for the windshield wipers, gasoline jerry can if passing through desert areas.
  • Various essentials: Road map in addition to GPS, charger to plug into the cigarette lighter (12V converter or “power inverter), jack plug, flashlight, sun visor, mosquito net. For electricity, it is strongly recommended to have a second battery which will be used for the various installations.

Other questions you may be interested in

How many can you sleep in a VW camper?

How do I keep my van cool?

Can you live in a van in NYC?

What are the advantages of living in a van?

Here are just a few advantages of living in a van in Canada:

  • 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 another 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.

What are 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.


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 live in a van in Canada?

Can you live in a van full time?

Technically, you can live in a van full time. Make sure that you have access to the basics (water, sewage, warmth, cooking and sleeping facilities). And also, check with your local council if you are allowed to park long-term. 

Is it illegal to live in your car in Canada?

It is not illegal to live in your car in Canada (or there is no law about it yet). However, make sure that you park according to traffic regulations. 

Can you sleep in Walmart parking lots in Canada?

Yes, you can sleep in Walmart parking lots in Canada. Most shops allow it, if not, there will be a clear sign stating it.


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