Van Heilan: Full-time Van Life for The Aye Life

Well, folks, it’s been a wild ride now hasn’t it? Woof. One minute you’re flying high, and the next minute, you’re flying higher. The higher flight is the really knackering one. I speak from experience. I thought selling a house and relocating 3 hours away was the hard part. Lies. Being displaced with literally 5 different addresses for different things, to basically live “in the interim” is the stressful part.

We’ve now been up in the Highlands for 2 whole months. I’ve now been living back home near Inverness for the first time in nearly 8 years. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to settle in. I was so ready to leave Inverness when I left. But I was also so ready to leave Aberdeenshire when I left. We’ve kept our plans fairly quiet whilst we’ve been settling in. But I can now share that we are currently living in a static caravan on a small Highland croft whilst we do our next project. We are absolutely going to run out of time at the croft, so we will be moving in with family whilst we complete said project. I would say, “hey brother, pour the wine” but honestly, I’m too tired for wine. Which just shows how serious things are right now.

Van Heilan

Our initial plans were to look for disused land somewhere in Scotland to build an above-ground eco-home. Those plans aren’t completely off the cards. Plot twist. We couldn’t, in the short period of time we had, find a piece of land that we loved enough to buy. That, and we still don’t really know where we want to settle. And if we want to settle. And when we want to settle. Which doesn’t leave us with much of an idea of anything haha. We even explored the idea of converting a cruiser boat into a full-time home. We might even still do that one day. In fact, we probably will. I just don’t put anything past us. Everyone is else is growing up, getting married and having kids, we’re on the 30 mark and acquiring questionable properties. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. After selling our house in Aberdeenshire, we always knew there would be a “middle of the road” set up, and we had considered temporary van life. But the more and more we explored temporary van life, the more and more we wondered why it had to be temporary.

We have spent the best part of 4-5 years on the road with The Aye Life and The Aye Agency. We’ve always come home, eventually, but we’ve mostly been flitting from A to B. The house was used to wash clothes, and sleep, and occasionally go fishing. I think, after doing this for so long, we didn’t want to flit anymore. We wanted to travel, for work and for pleasure, but we want to slow it right down and enjoy the moment a little more. A lot more.

So, we took the money from the sale of our house, banged a decent whack of it in savings and used the rest of it to buy…

A Citroen Relay H2L3 Van

We have never done a van conversion before. We don’t know anyone who has done a van conversion before. Oh yeah, and we have no idea what we are doing. But after thinking about it in some depth, and doing some research, we decided that we could design a life on the road around the things we love; exploring, building our business, wild swimming, living The Aye Life. We could create a wee off-grid home, that would cancel out our flitting, and offer us not only a wealth of experiences but a wealth of savings. We aren’t saving for anything in particular, but we are definitely keen on using this opportunity to build up our savings/pay off any debt we have. By doing full-time van life, we will reduce our monthly outgoings by over 70% whilst ramping up our life experience. I have never been so ready for a culture shock in my life.After much research, we decided to go with a Citroen Relay H2L3 van over a Mercedes Sprinter because we want to be able to lay out our bed widthways. You can’t do that in a Mercedes Sprinter and still be able to lie straight. This also gives us a little bit more floor space. When considering we will be joined by our two doggos, and I need a wardrobe, this seemed like a sensible decision.

Van Converting

Thankfully, there are lots of fantastic resources out there for converting a van, including endless YouTube videos and some really helpful Facebook groups (I am speaking to you VanLifeUK). We are going to get some help with the tasks that fry our brains more than all eggs, but we are doing the majority of the work ourselves, and we are trying to do it within a 3 month period. Nae pressure!We have a huge task ahead of us and will be sharing our progress on our social media channels. If you’d like to follow along on our journey with Van Heilan, you can find us on Instagram and Facebook at @theayelife.

Huge thanks for reading, if you have any experience with van conversions and would like to share any tips, we’d be eternally grateful. It will be worth it, but we have one heck of a journey ahead of us. In more ways than one.



The Chief.