Students save thousands by ditching pricey university halls to live in a van

Madison Wood, 23, and her fiance, Pepijn Grijpink, 22, didn’t like paying £1040 per month to live in a one-bed converted garage, so they bought a van and reduced their monthly outputs dramatically

Madison Wood and Pepijn Grijpink are saving money by living life on the road

Two savvy students are saving thousands of pounds each year – as they have ditched university accommodation and moved into a converted van instead.

Madison Wood, 23, and her fiance, Pepijn Grijpink, 22, were paying a whopping £1,040 per month to live in a converted one-bed garage and they didn’t like it.

So they came up with a plan and bought a Ford Transit, rolled up their sleeves, and converted it into a cozy home for the pair to live in.

Now they pay only £465 a month, which covers the cost of diesel, food and water – and they even have solar panels so they haven’t been caught up in the energy crisis.







The three of them are living their best life
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)

What do you think about the couple’s mobile home? Let us know in the comments…

Madison, from Shifnal, Shropshire, said: “I’ve always wanted to travel, settling in one place has never really been an option for me.

“We were living in the Netherlands whilst Pepijn studied at university, and I was working at a suit store until I lost my job to Covid and then I became a cleaner to be able to afford our rent which was £800 a month inclusive of bills .

“When the pandemic hit, it became difficult to afford the rent, I got pneumonia and was out of work for over a month, and it became really stressful.

“We weren’t strictly treating ourselves anymore, and our diet was vegan as meat became too expensive. We started looking at alternative living options, and within a week, we had the van.

“We ended our rental agreement in June and moved back to England to stay with my parents, whilst we did the conversion.”







They spent months converting the van for themselves
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)







They’ve made a nice home for themselves
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)

Madison, a first-year environmental sciences student, and Pepijn, a masters engineering student, spent July and August of 2021 renovating their home on wheels, before moving in full-time last September with their dog, Sully, one.

The pair have spent the last ten months traveling through Scotland, Belgium, Netherlands, Holland, France, and Spain, saving upward of £600 a month on bills – and have even £6,000 in ten months.

The 2008 Ford Transit L3H3 cost £6,600, and they spent a further £6,000 on the conversion to create their home on wheels.

The van boasts a sturdy kitchen counter unit, storage for clothes and food, a hidden table, two chairs, a comfy corner sofa, a fixed double bed, and even a room for Labrador mix, Sully, to sleep and rest in.

Madison added: “We saved up quite a bit of money to make sure every part of the van was quality so it wouldn’t need fixing so often.







They designed everything, and got it just how they wanted
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)







It took a lot of work, but Pepijn did a great job
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)

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“We installed solar panels on the roof to ensure we have environments safe energy to use on the road and used plastic bottle insulation to make sure the van was warm.

“It was hard to find any bargains that would have been the quality we were looking for, but I did manage to get a gorgeous glass sink from Victoria Plum for £60 instead of the original £250.

“We also got a lot of free pieces of wood which we used to create the bed and the chairs.

“The only thing we don’t have in the van is a built-in bath and shower, so we have had to compromise and use a solar shower which we hook up to the back of the van, but it also allows us much more room inside the van.”

Despite the small sacrifices the pair have made, they have noticed a huge difference in how much money they have available to save and spend on traveling, activities, and meals out.







It’s comfy and they get a new view every day
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)







They’ve spent a lot of time traveling around Europe
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Image:

@madsandpep / MERCURY PRESS)

Madison said: “Since starting out on our travel journey, we’ve been able to truly live a lot more than we were ever able to before.

“We still eat a lot of plant-based vegan meals on the road, but when we go to restaurants, we’ll treat ourselves to a meat dish.

“I’m absolutely obsessed with prosciutto and fancy hams as well, so love to find places off the beaten track where we can eat food like that.

“Our main outgoing is now diesel for the van which has cost £400 – in the past two months which has enabled us to travel all the way from Amsterdam to Spain.

“Our insurance and road tax is £105 a month and food costs are still around £200 a month.

“When compared to the £1,040 outgoings we had when we lived in a stationary home, we’re now paying £465 a month instead and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders.”

With rising energy crisis and with younger people unable to put a foot on the property ladder, Madison van life forward to be the way.

She said: “We have no bills, we run our van from solar panels and use biogas to cook our food which costs £21.50 every six months.

“I see people struggling to pay their bills, and as a student, it’s even worse as we can’t make a proper wage with part-time or full-time study.

“I love the life we ​​are living without the worry of bills.”

The pair have loved their traveling lifestyle along with their adopted dog Sully.

Madison said: “We don’t have any plans to settle, we love the freedom van life gives us.

“It’s given us both a whole new perspective on life and allows us to take Sully to a variety of new places and give him the life he really deserves

“We adopted him from a Greek rescue, where he was trapped in a house as a puppy, so he hates being in stationary houses now, he just feels on edge”

“He loves being in the van, swimming in the sea and lakes, going on walks through the forest and hiking up mountains.

“Being able to travel without money worries like bills has made us truly happy.

“I’m excited for where the future takes the three of us.”

You can follow Madison, Sully and Pepijn’s journey on their Instagram : @madspep

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