Keegan Taccori knows how to live the good life. His sweet van setup allows him to hop from beach to mountains and everywhere in between. But this is no gap year van trip; this is real life baby. Keegan works three jobs and is in his final year of uni. This is how he lives the low-cost, high-mobility dream.
Van Life Highlights
- It’s cheap
- There are dozens of free spots on the coastline.
- You can wake up to the sunrise and a new view every morning before uni.
- You’re always packed and ready to adventure longer distances when you have a free night or morning off uni and work.
- No TV equals more time for swimming, surfing, climbing, hiking, slacklining, exploring, photography/videography, reading & everything fun!
The Simple Life
My story is pretty simple, super easy, and one hundred percent achievable for people that love the outdoors and simple living.
After a fourteen month trip overseas I arrived back to Australia in the turnover of 2017 to finish my final year of Journalism. I’m studying at the University of Wollongong, which is one and a half hours south of Sydney. I had very minimal cash behind me, no house, no car and no job.
Fortunately, I had sold my first car before I’d left for overseas, and hidden that money away in my parents’ bank account. When I arrived home, I accessed that money again and bought a cheap old painter’s van. Over the coming weeks my brother and I kitted it out with a double bed, curtains, shelves, gas stove and rack for my surfboard.
Ever since then this renovated painter’s van has been my home.
Why Van Life?
A lot of people ask me, “Why?” (especially my confused grandparents). I now have three jobs that I bounce between and enough savings for renting, so why continue to live the van life?
The answer is pretty simple though:
- It’s cheap
My whole life is spent living cheap and saving for that next big adventure. Van life allows me to continue full time at uni, go on microadventures with ease and continue to save while I’m at it.
- I get access to thousands of gorgeous and often private spots
The coastline south of Sydney is littered with million dollar views. The sun rises right over the water every morning, which is the perfect time for a dip or surf to start the day. With the Illawarra Escarpment right behind you there’s never a lack of native birds to start your day in tranquility. I used to struggle getting out of bed for work or uni, but now I literally push open my door to a fresh sea breeze while I’m still under my doona and get to roll out into the water to wake me up. How’s that for a morning coffee?
- Life is one big adventure
Having a portable home allows me to shoot off on climbing trips to the Blue Mountains or Nowra at the drop of a hat; visit my family more often around New South Wales; and go on microadventures, hikes and road trips whenever I get a free afternoon or morning. I want to spend literally every free moment I can exploring this beautiful area before I graduate and fly off on the next big adventure abroad.
- I can always sleep in my own bed
A home on wheels also perfect for those nights that alcohol is affecting your ability to drive and you just want to tumble into your own cosy bed, which is conveniently always parked out front!
Sooo, Umm…Where Do You Shower?
This is literally the first question that everyone asks. I shower (almost) every day in many different locations:
- The beach – I live on the shores on the world’s biggest bath. Also on most beaches there are public showers outdoors as well as indoors. North Wollongong Beach also has hot showers for the public at the rock pools.
- The gym – I have a membership to Hangdogs Climbing Gym which has hot showers and I spend a lot of nights there. The same is true of the Dynamite Bouldering Gym, or if you have a normal gym membership there’ll be showers.
- University of Wollongong – There are showers scattered around UOW in many different buildings and faculties, including URAC.
- Friends – All my friends rent houses, so I literally have dozens of homes to shower in if none of the other options fit my fancy.
Where Do You Park?
Wherever the best view is usually. I never settle for less than an 8/10 location. This past year I’ve been slowly mapping out the coastline between Bundeena and Shellharbour, driving down every single coastal road to source the best locations to turn into my backyard for the night. Below I’ve created a map of my favourite spots.
How Do You Eat?
I have a gas cooker with two stoves and bottle. I don’t have the luxury of a fridge in my van (although many do), but I use this to my advantage in my quest to eat more healthily and sustainably by eating vegan and purchasing smalls quantities of fruits, veggies and bread every two to three days.
It’s amazing how much extra time van life gives you to stop by the local fresh foods store for fifteen minutes to pick up the essentials.
How Do You Study?
My degree is entirely centred around my laptop, which makes studying simple.
The bed in my van folds into a sofa and I have a table that I can prop up in front which turns my bedroom into a study. I study on the beach, at the lighthouse, up in the mountains; again, wherever the best view is! The library in town or at uni is also extremely productive to get things done.
Is It Too Hot Or Cold?
It’s crazy how quickly the van heats up in the winter with body heat, especially if there’s two of you. A good doona is literally all you need on the coastline here.
In the summer, all you need is the door/windows to be cracked open at night, and to be up and going before the peak sun is hitting the roof during the day.
Essential Van Gear
- Double bed (essential for a comfortable night sleep, your partner or random hook-ups with other explorers!) If it turns into a sofa as well, even better.
- Decent gas cooker
- A 20L water jug
- Plenty of shelving space for all your gear, clothes, food, etc.
- Fairy lights ($5 from Kmart) for lighting so that you don’t waste car battery
- Hammock for summer nights
- Clothesline on the inside of van around the exterior
More van life insights…