Adventures in permanent caravanning!

Nov 8, 2018
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Hi again everyone. I've been mega busy but wanted to give everyone an update on how things were going.

As you will have guessed from my previous post about my sisters caravan, I was in panic mode. The caravan was meant to be a temporary accommodation for two reasons. Firstly, to allow me enough time to find the right "permanent" caravan and secondly, to get a more realistic view on whether this was doable for the long term.

When I went to look at my sisters 'van I was in shock. The place was absolutely filthy and nothing worked. I was at a bit of a low point so rather than doing what I usually do and solving the problems I decided to panic instead. After I stopped whining and got myself together I cracked on with cleaning and fixing this van. I am now happy and very proud to say that absolutely everything now works in it (barring the heating which I am using a small electric heater for anyway). It took a lot of graft but like with most things in life, it taught me a lot about the structure/workings of a caravan (with much help from you guys too).

So this is my 2nd night in the 'van. I got in at 2am this morning after a long a gruelling day moving stuff out of my old place and in to storage. Coming back to the 'van was great and it already felt like "home" which is more than I can say for any other home I've been in. The original plan was to bring my dog here with me but I ended up bringing two (temporatily) due to my ex-girlfriends poor organisational skills. Good news is they have been great. Plenty of treats and while there wasn't much room in bed last night, I slept great (until the cows next door, very vocally, wanted to tell me it was feeding time).

Things I've learned so far...

1. 40 litres of water doesn't last very long (mains adaptor ordered)
2. My oven takes 20 minutes to pre-heat and the temperature varies wildly from top to bottom
3. Caravans are WARM. My previous place we lived in we kept at a steady 12 degree's Celsius in winter due to only having electric heating (which cost a fortune)
4. I need way less storage space than I originally thought. This is a small 2 berth and I have plenty of space for more things.

Overall I am extremely happy living like this. Obviously it's still early days and there will be plenty of challenges ahead but it just feels right. I was expecting the start to be the hard part as I adjusted to a new way of life but at present I'm very happy with things.

I had a bit of a moment when buying a small freezer yesterday. There were people in the store buying tonnes of crap (for want of a better word). £1500 on fridge freezers on credit and the latest gadget that will devalue almost as fast as they lose interest in it. The shocking part for me was that it felt like I was looking at myself and my own habits from years ago. Putting all my stuff in to storage was a stark reminder of that also.

This past year has been the toughest year of my life but even with challenges ahead, I wouldn't change a thing. The lessons have been invaluable and while I may have the odd meltdown when things get too much, I now look at any obstacle as a change to grow and learn.

I'm going to live small like this for a while and focus on "cutting the fat". So far though, I feel like some big life changes have been made and what was originally looking like a means to an end is now looking like a blessing in disguise.

Once again, a big thanks to those that have supported me during the move and apologies for the ramble. I wanted to give an update of where I am with things for anyone who was interested or may be interested in permanent caravanning in the future.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Thanks for the update, and congratulations on getting the caravan sorted such that you and the pooches can now live comfortably in it. An amazing effort. As they used to say were I worked "Bravo Zulu"
 
Oct 12, 2013
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I echo clives comment , excellent feed back compared to when you first started .

Well done for getting to where you are now , I hope it gets better and better and you enjoy it more and more as you go on .

Good Luck

Craig .
 
Jun 26, 2017
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Great update Tombo ! - Sounds like things are coming together :p

Not trying to patronise or scaremonger in any way ...

You don’t say what type of portable electric heater you are using, but unless it’s an electric oil-filled radiator, please be very careful with using a portable electric heater in your caravan. I would strongly recommend keeping it as far as possible from flammable surfaces (easier said than done in a caravan I know), and never leave it on unattended, or on when you go to sleep.

Looking forward to the next update !

Ic.
 
Nov 8, 2018
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Icaru5 said:
Great update Tombo ! - Sounds like things are coming together :p

Not trying to patronise or scaremonger in any way ...

You don’t say what type of portable electric heater you are using, but unless it’s an electric oil-filled radiator, please be very careful with using a portable electric heater in your caravan. I would strongly recommend keeping it as far as possible from flammable surfaces (easier said than done in a caravan I know), and never leave it on unattended, or on when you go to sleep.

Looking forward to the next update !

Ic.

It's not patronising if you're trying to stop me burning my new home down haha.

It's an electric free standing heater. It has some functions like automatic cut out etc but I've never been comfortable leaving these things on when unattended. I've been a bit over cautious if anything as I turn all the electrics and cut off the gas every time I leave. I was just thinking today how I would prefer an oil filled radiator as this one gets fat too hot even when it's on low. I'm going to take a look at the in built heater properly first though. I'm not sure if it's broken or just me not understanding how it works.

Thanks for the kind words everyone. Onwards and upwards!
 

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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Good luck and thanks for the update Tombo. It's great that you managed the move OK. but don't forget to add your name to local authority housing waiting lists. Steve in Leominster who added much good advice to the permanent caravanning thread eventually moved into a local council bungalow.
 
May 7, 2012
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Well done and good luck for the future. The only thing I would say that if it is really cold then you need heat on when you are out or there is a risk of the water freezing. From what you say an oil filled radiator ought to be the next thing you buy.
 
Nov 8, 2018
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Parksy said:
Good luck and thanks for the update Tombo. It's great that you managed the move OK. but don't forget to add your name to local authority housing waiting lists. Steve in Leominster who added much good advice to the permanent caravanning thread eventually moved into a local council bungalow.

Cheers Parksy. Right now though I'm happy with this set up. Probably the happiest I've been in a long time. It's cost effective and I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of the farm. If I'm happy and living well within my means I see no need to burden the system by housing me when someone else could be housed instead.

We will see if I still feel the same in 3 years time though haha. So far I've found the permanent caravanning community very welcoming and honest and it's becoming more apparent that I may be happy living like this in the long term, as crazy as that might sound.
 
Nov 8, 2018
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Raywood said:
Well done and good luck for the future. The only thing I would say that if it is really cold then you need heat on when you are out or there is a risk of the water freezing. From what you say an oil filled radiator ought to be the next thing you buy.

Thanks very much. That's a good point about frozen pipes. I've got a small oil filled radiator to keep the ambient temperature nice and comfortable. I have a heater in the 'van but I'm struggling to figure out if it's broken or if I just don't know how to use it. I might make it today's job to figure it out.

On the topic of frozen water though. The pipes leading up to my 'van have frozen so I'm going to have to find a solution to that. I was thinking some lagging but I'm unsure if it will make much of a difference. I have a constant supply of water from the mains now too (aquaroll with a mains ball **** type thing attached) and I was considering some sort of submersible water heater rather than insulating it. If the water in it is fairly warm (in comparison to outside) it may heat the rest of the pipe to keep the water flowing. Maybe not though, I'm just brainstorming here haha.

So far living in the caravan has been great. Sure there's downsides but the pros massively outweigh the cons. Plus, this caravan isn't exactly the best one out there...
 
Nov 8, 2018
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pensioner said:
I'm following this topic with interest as I may well be in a similar situation myself in the near future.
Good luck Tombo

I'll try and keep this thread updated, warts and all to try to give a realistic portrayal.

I'm not sure if your situation would be voluntary or not but if it isn't then know there's plenty of hope if you have the right attitude.

Best of luck
 
Oct 22, 2016
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This is what I do. My Aquaroll stands on two inch thick polystyrene. It has a insulation jacket, which is badly designed, having a loose fit lid. But, I have a heated plastic pad wrapped round it and several layers of bubble wrap. This plus my onboard water heater has kept everything working. My only problem so far, was the underfloor waste pipe for the shower froze last winter – I solved this by putting a teaspoon full of salt down the waste after each shower on cold days/nights.
As an aside, over a year ago, I bought a pipe heater, this is an electric wire that is wound round the waste pipe, to stop it freezing. It has a temperature sensor that only switches on at near freezing temperatures. I keep meaning to fit it.
Electra 5 metre Frost protection cable 60 watts.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Is there any reason why a heater from a fish tank cannot be used to stop the water in the aquaroll from freezing?
If the caravan is set up correctly, water should not freeze in any of the waste pipes as it show all drain out. Plus shower water should be warm and melt any ice in the pipe. The main issue would be waste water freezing in the waste master. Not sure how to get around this issue, but we are leaving the waste master partially in its bag so a bit of insulation. In the past we have used half a cup of blue which seem to work but now we carry the tablets and not the fluid.
 
Nov 8, 2018
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I've bought a compact submersible fish tank heater for £15. It's 150w so in a normal room temperature home it could comfortably heat 200litres of water to 34*c from my previous experience of keeping fish. Obviously it's going to be much more of a challenge outside so it's very much a case of "suck it and see". For the sake of £15 I thought it was worth a bash. My water container only holds about 20litres below the ballcock so it should heat up fairly fast. If some of that heat transfers through the pipe also it will be happy days.

Its very much an experiment but if it doesn't work then my ex needs a spare heater so she can have it haha. The only thing I can see happening as a possibility is that the water will never get to the 16*c (lowest) setting on the thermostat so we could find it burns out from being on all the time. I'll test it out and report back.
 
Nov 8, 2018
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Tombo46 said:
I've bought a compact submersible fish tank heater for £15. It's 150w so in a normal room temperature home it could comfortably heat 200litres of water to 34*c from my previous experience of keeping fish. Obviously it's going to be much more of a challenge outside so it's very much a case of "suck it and see". For the sake of £15 I thought it was worth a bash. My water container only holds about 20litres below the ballcock so it should heat up fairly fast. If some of that heat transfers through the pipe also it will be happy days.

Its very much an experiment but if it doesn't work then my ex needs a spare heater so she can have it haha. The only thing I can see happening as a possibility is that the water will never get to the 16*c (lowest) setting on the thermostat so we could find it burns out from being on all the time. I'll test it out and report back.

An update on this. Firstly, I had a brain fart and didn't realise that the pump I bought wouldn't fit through the hole. After christmas I'm going to do a bit of jiggery pokery to get it in there haha. After testing it outside in standing water though I'm pretty confident it's going to be more effective than I first thought.
 
Nov 8, 2018
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I wanted to give an update on how things are going for anyone who is interested.

I've been living here for about 2 weeks now if memory serves and so far there has been very little drama. My habits have changed a lot since living in a small space. I was always fairly tidy but it's a necessity when in a caravan which is great. The only time it gets dirty is after a dog walk but I've managed to find ways around that until a more permanent solution (probably an awning) can be sorted out. Another thing that's changed is I hardly ever watch TV or play games any more. I'm spending a lot of time just chilling out and thinking or listening to music. As well as this, I am cooking a lot more despite the appliances not being as good as I'm used to.

My whole perspective seems to have changed for the better. It's really shown me what is important in life and also how much space/storage we actually need compared to what I have been used to. I've got room to spare here and it's only a small 2 berth caravan. Anything larger would really just be for a bit of convenience, somewhere to eat/separate bed and sofa area etc but most definitely not essential.

Right now I'm considering what I want from the future. Building my own home (possibly a tiny home on wheels) is something I've wanted to do for a while as previously mentioned. That is something that I almost certainly see in my future now. The other thing is that I'm not in a position where I have very little tying me to this location. Whereas I used to have a business/partner/family here I now find myself with a father who lives in Cambodia, a deceased mother, single and working for minimum wage at a job that while I don't hate (and I am grateful for) doesn't really fulfil me in the long term. Because of this I could really go anywhere and do anything within reason. The limiting factor is money as always but that can be worked around with time. Right now I'm considering whether I want to stay in this country or not. For now though, I'm happy on the farm living rent free in exchange for feeding the cows every now and then ;)

So the general goal now is to live in a caravan until I figure out what I want to do with my life. I'd like to travel a bit but that would require working remotely. Alternatively I can look for a job anywhere and look to see if I can relocate. It's important for me to have a job that I enjoy as you spend 2/3 of your waking life working. Having no ties gives me the change to really find the right job as I have a lot to give to a good employer.

Thanks for listening to me ramble :cheer: Have an awesome Christmas and New Year everyone!

All the best,

Tom
 

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