How To Live In A Van With Your Significant Other Without Killing Them

I see a lot of Youtube videos these days about #VanLife and how amazing it is. While I appreciate these videos, they’re kind of all the same. It’s always a young couple. They work from the van doing some kind of computer stuff. They travel all the time. They spend every minute of every day together. They’re so happy.


And they’re fake as hell.


Fact: I live in a van with my boyfriend of four years, Dusty. He is my best friend and just an all around rad dude.


dusty and sparky mount rushmore
Dusty “Rad Dude”

But sometimes I want to murder him in his sleep.

Van living with him wasn’t super easy at first. I mean, it is now, but its been two years. We have learned a ton about not only van life, but also each other in the process.

I think to get into this lifestyle thinking it’s going to be all rainbows and sausages is wrong. You have to employ a special set of skills to help you survive this. And I’m going to help by giving you a list of pointers, because I’m cool like that.

How To Live In A Van With Your Significant Other Without Killing Them

#1- Downsize

Getting rid of stuff to live in a van by yourself is tough, but cutting that stuff by half to live as part of a couple is even tougher.

how to live in a van with your signifigant other without killing them
Dinosaurs are cool

I am not the type of person that has a ton of belongings, I just never really felt the need after my first big break up. Dusty on the other hand, has tons of stuff. Granted, it’s helpful stuff, like travel pots and pans, the lifestraw, and more tripods than I know what to do with, but it’s still his stuff.

My stuff fits into one plastic storage bin that lives under the bed. I used to feel like this arrangement wasn’t exactly fair, but then I pulled my head out of my ass and realized that we both benefit from having this stuff around.

I’m not saying you have to give everything up, but you will have to give up a lot. Find the things that really matter the most to you and get rid of everything else.

And compromise with your partner if they have some little trinket they just can’t live without. We have small plastic dinosaurs everywhere because they make me happy. We all have our things.


#2- Divide And Conquer

dusty and sparky by the van
“He loves to cook and I love to eat!”

There are a ton of things that have to be taken care of to live this lifestyle properly, and the only way to make it work is if you divide the important stuff in half. No one likes to feel like they’re taking care of all the big important tasks while the other person just coasts along.

Have a chore wheel if you have to. For us, we each have individual specialties and we tend to stick to them. I drive and take care of under the hood maintenance, Dusty does the stuff I hate like maintaining the generators, and killing spiders. Its a win, win.

Sure, I could be the one to climb on top of the van to dig around in the rooftop storage, but I’m a little afraid I would just fall down, and Dusty is nimble like a cat!

The point is, have a clear set of guidelines before moving in that highlights what each of you will be in charge of. That way no one is left feeling like they have to do everything. That’s how resentment grows.

#3- Have Ample Snacks Around

van life cuisine
Giant Bloody Marys also help

This may sound silly, but I will choke a bitch if I get hangry. It doesn’t happen too often anymore, but when it does it’s not pretty.

We have found that the best way for us to live harmoniously is to have access to snacks. It’s such a small thing, but a handful of almonds can mean the difference between being a little grumpy about something to having a full blown toddler level meltdown.

It’s not just me either, Dusty is 100% guilty of this as well. Since going on the Keto Diet, I can usually last until 3 or 4 in the afternoon before I feel the need to eat. Dusty is not on the Keto Diet, so his food needs are much more sporadic.

As soon as I sense him starting to get a little snippy, I like to just bust out some food. It works like a charm. No one can be mad when they have warm soup belly. It’s just not possible.

#4- Spend Some Time Apart

sparkys donut shop
What a coincidence, I LOVE donuts!

This is perhaps the most important thing on the list. If don’t follow any of these other tips, please follow this one. Your van dwelling partner in crime should not be with you every hour of every day. It will not bring you closer together, in fact, it will probably tear you apart.

Now, I’m not saying don’t spend time together. I’m just saying, broaden your horizons. Make friends outside of the relationship. Get a solo hobby!

You’ll benefit by exposing yourself to new things and you’ll have so much fun telling your partner about it when you do spend time together that it’ll be totally worth it.

Imagine a life where long term partners can still have interesting and new things to talk about each day! It’s the dream!

We’ve all been in that rut in long term relationships where we feel like we’ve said all there is to say and the mystery is gone. By spending some time apart during the day and branching out on your own, this doesn’t have to happen to you.

Even if you don’t live in a van this is a great tip. Give it a try.

#5- Accept The Good With The Bad

dusty and sparky old time photo
The couple that bathes together stays together

Dusty’s feet smell. There! I said it!

I’m not talking standard foot stink either, I’m talking vomit inducing stench. As much as I hate it though, it’s just sort of a part of him. I’ve witnessed him washing his feet and immediately having them stink again. It sucks, but human biology can get weird sometimes.

So, as much as I would like this stench out of my life, I have to live with it. It’s a part of him that can’t be changed and because I love him to pieces, I have learned to accept it.

I’m sure he could say the same of my constant burping. It’s gross, it’s loud, and no one wants to deal with it, but if I don’t let them out I’ll explode. Sometimes you just have to focus on the other amazing aspects of the ones you love, and ignore some of the not so great stuff.

It’s called “Love” deal with it!


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How to Live in a Van As A Couple

4 thoughts on “How To Live In A Van With Your Significant Other Without Killing Them”

  1. Hey I really appreciate these tips, they can be useful living in any small space. I haven’t made the jump to van life yet, but sharing a small studio apartment holds similar challenges. I know exactly what you mean about sharing responsibilities and taking the good with the bad!

    • Yeah, I kind of had studio apartment living in mind when I wrote this one. Relationships are a two way street! Glad you enjoyed, and thanks for the comment!

  2. I know I couldn’t do it. I love my alone time and I like to take naps by myself. I do love your candor and this how-to list.

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