The economy and ecology of living in a lorry, Part 1
It’s Part 1 because I’m not sure that I will fit everything I have to say about this subject in one blog-length blog, so this gives me the chance to return to it again.
I hope that some of the things this blog will do is to persuade you that the possibilities of living well, comfortably, legitimately, morally, ethically and above all happily in a mobile home are well within almost anyone’s grasp. In fact I am very surprised how few others do it as it has a great deal to be said for it. And that’s just financially. And of course there's the romance of all that travel!!!
But no digression today into the realm of ethics or romance, let’s talk money! Rent to start with. Well if I didn’t have a travelling theatre, too many props and a need to keep all that stuff looking good and working properly then I would have no rent as such. There are plenty of ‘wild camping’ sites in the UK (check out www.wildcamping.co.uk ), where you can park for free. Provided the vehicle is road legal the police cannot arrest you for living on the road. We will talk about what I spend on the lorry itself later on, and I suppose road tax, insurance and maintenance is the equivalent of rent. But for me I do need a place where I can work on things and the side of the road is not a good place to do that so I rent a yard and a big old redundant factory alongside. There is space to pull the theatre trailer inside so during the winter months I can take everything out, repaint and renovate and build new illusions. The owners know I live in the lorry and turn a blind eye as I contribute to the ecology of the site and they know that. This space costs me £140 a month and includes electricity. I don’t abuse this but I do plug the lorry in so I have tv, radio, light and chargers keeping up the batteries and computer, phone etc. In return for electricity I am developing the garden as you know and I do an annual free show on their open day. So the yard becomes a base for the lorry and a kind of home I can head back to in the season. Very nice at this time of year too when there aren’t shows to go to, but not somewhere I have a huge long term affection for, as my home is most definitely the lorry and that could be parked anywhere there is a road! The developing garden might change that, but I am trying not to become too attached to any one location. This a photo of my yard, lorry home, cars, trailers and the workshop on the right.
To keep warm in the lorry I have my trusty and beloved wood burner which cost about £200 from Windy Smithy (www.windysmithy.co.uk) and is by far the best thing I’ve ever done to the lorry. It’s the smallest one they make and it is FANTASTIC. A basket of logs and a few smokeless fuel bricks lasts a day and a night and the heat is drying as well as warming. I have the logs as a bonus for working in the garden, but sometimes buy a £50 load which last winter lasted three months. The smokeless fuel costs £13.50 for 25 Kg and I bought a bag in early December and it has just run out, so at least a month. It’s good as it keeps the wood going and spreads out the heat, especially at night. The embers of this fuel are often still glowing when I light the first fire of the day and I can re-use any that still have some form to them.
I have a 60 litre tank of LPG which fills at any LPG station, costing about £22 to fill. And that includes road fuel tax which I feel is unfair as I’m using it for cooking and heating, but I guess I do dispose of some rubbish without paying Council Tax. More about that later. Again the current fill up has lasted since December 16th but I’m not sure how much is left as the gauge is bust (a job I keep avoiding), I don’t think there’s a lot left though. The gas runs the oven, hob, water heaters and space heater (if I’m too lazy or cold to build a fire or if I’m on the road and need an instant heat - I’ve never travelled far with a wood fire actually burning but I think a nasty (or for that matter any) police officer would probably say that a burning fire in a vehicle going down the road is illegal)
Road tax and insurance, maintenance and fuel are an item, but because I am paid by gigs for travel costs I can load the fuel and maintenance on to them. Road tax is £165 a year and insurance is £700 ish. I could probably load the yard rent onto the shows too, as without shows I wouldn't need a yard.
A few pounds towards a tv license (I will talk about that later). I piggy back a wireless internet site at the yard) and use FON (www.fon.com) and iPhone tethering for internet when travelling.
So just to keep going on the basics that all works out to about £250 a month for yard rent, fuel, heating, tv, internet and the lorry equivalent of rent. I think you’d be very hard pressed to do the equivalent in a bricks and mortar home and this could be more than halved if I didn't rent the yard and workshop, though there would be other costs (e.g. logs and electricity) if I didn't.
The disposal of waste is free and I will talk about that in the next blog because, as I predicted, this is going to take a bit longer than one blog to talk about.
OOOooo a waste disposal blog, you’re thinking, I can’t wait!
All the best from a road near you,