Van Life vs. RV Life

Not everyone wants the Instagram lifestyle.

By Allison Williams Published in the Spring 2021 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Mitch Pittman

In a different timeline, Ballard freelance videographer Mitch Pittman would have been perfect for #vanlife. You know, the international movement of outdoorsy types who trick out an old VW or vintage Ford van, park it at a ski slope or beach, and do yoga on the roof. But when he and his partner finally splurged on a vehicle, it was a 24-foot RV, a smallish Class C model.

Pittman realized that he couldn’t tackle the DIY construction that came with a van. “I got the life I wanted without spending years building it out,” he says. With the hot shower, full plumbing, and room to sleep six in their new camper, the pair hopes to work out of the RV for weeks at a time. Not to mention that it was bigger and cheaper than the in-demand, fully kitted vans on the market. Sites like Outdoorsy mean he can rent it out Airbnb-style in the summer, when the avid skier will use it less.

“It definitely isn’t as cool and hip as a van, at least on Instagram,” says Pittman. “For me it’s like a grandpa thing. But I’m okay with it.”

Van Life

+   Parkability (except for urban garages)

+   Ripe for customization

   Mechanical and construction skills required

+   High resale value

+   Instagram influencer aesthetic

   Little room for clothes, partners, pets, and sports equipment

RV Life

+   Square footage for long-term occupation

+   Sold fully complete; little tinkering required out of the box

   Quick depreciation for new vehicles

+   Full shower and kitchen

+   Family friendly; even most small RVs sleep four to six

   Unavoidable beige coloring and possible exterior swooshes

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