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09th Jun 2023

‘I’ve saved £22k by sleeping in a van – I live rent-free in the UK’s poshest areas’


Mel hasn’t been on holiday for two years and lives ‘frugally’

Meet the woman whose van lifestyle has allowed her to save more than £22k – and live in one of Britain’s poshest areas rent-free.

Mal Jones is currently parked up on Bristol’s Clifton Down, where houses regularly sell for millions of pounds.

The 30-year-old is paying a fraction of that to stay there – only stumping up for parking and the city’s clean air zone.

Mal, originally from south London, regularly tours the country due to her job in performing arts.

And she says she quickly realised buying a van would work out much cheaper than staying in hotels in each location.

Mal, who works in stage management, said: “I very specifically live in a van for financial reasons.

“I live frugally, and I haven’t been on holiday for two years.

“Now I’ve saved £22k – working in the arts that’s unheard of. I’m very, very lucky to be able to save that.

“I’m 30 and single – so why not do it now when I have freedom to move around and do what I like?”

Mal was renting in the capital when the pandemic hit. She decided then to move into a van full-time – and has been on four wheels ever since.

She plans to return to living somewhere more permanent in the future, when she has enough for a deposit.

Mal said: “Financially it makes a lot of sense [to live in a van].

“I was going to end it this summer but now I’m looking at going back out on tour.

“I think I’m going to have to go back to renting.

“Eventually I do want to buy somewhere and a big reason I did this was to save up some form of deposit.

“But I’m not paying council tax or utility bills so I have no real credit score.

“I would have to go back and rent just so I have some kind of record if I wanted to try and buy somewhere.”

Mal says she doesn’t have a ‘home’ in the traditional sense, but views Bristol as her base.

She is currently parked on Clifton Down, a 400-acre park located just outside the city centre.

The green space is bordered by some of the country’s most affluent areas, including Clifton and Sneyd Park. Mal says her costs are much lower than if she rented – but are not immune to the rising prices nationwide.

She said: “Sometimes I pay for parking every day which is still less than rent but my outgoings are going up.

“Clean air zones are making it more expensive, and parking is also getting more expensive.

“At the moment I spent £80 to £100 week on fuel and food but at rent alone I’m looking at £1,300 per month in London.”

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