My brain says I should leave Germany to live in a van in the UK

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Active Member
Jan 7, 2012
Stuttgart, Germany
1997 C280T
Hi all,

I want to keep this as short as possible. I'm very unhappy with my life here in Germany and have been for many years now. I'm only 23 but could never really get along with the lifestyle of the western youth (submissively obey, party hard on the we, not care about anything etc). When I got out of school in 2013, I went to New Zealand for almost a year to live on the road and experience a different way of life; a life of adventure and excitement. Once back I thought I should go to uni (it was my curious and questioning mind that nearly got me kicked out of school as a teen) - and I did, but quit a few months later. Now I'm doing an apprenticeship in a professional photo studio because I've loved photography since I was small but I'm about to quit again, for my head is driving me crazy and I'm not willing to waste my life any longer (we're working from 8.30 to 18 and do lots of bs). I've got this incredible urge to break free and leave this system behind, at least for a few years, and work as little as possible (which will of course mean to manage with little money). I want to live, not just survive, ere it's too late (note: I'm a pessimist too :rolleyes:). But that's just my opinion, I have been shaped over the years. And don't get me wrong: I'm no lazy bugger, I can work hard and responsibly when I have to (worked a lot in NZ and in Germany over the last four years), but to me it's just a waste of precious time.

But enough of that. I know most of you will tell me to calm down and finish that apprenticeship (2.5 more years though) or look for something else that I'd enjoy, but let me tell you that I can't. I just can't any longer.
My plan is to get a van and convert it to a mobile home (attaching a caravan to my 190 won't work). I would then like to travel to GB in late spring to to spend the first couple of months in the south of England, enjoying nature and focussing on landscape photography and writing while doing odd jobs every now and then (I'm willing to do almost anything, especially if part-time and I'd also love to work on farms for food and shelter). I know this sounds very fantasy-like but I really hope and believe that this should still be possible, even in 2017 with all the bureaucracy, the fear of the Brexit and all the other crêpe we're forced to deal with.

Now apart from asking you for your opinions and views on this, I'd also like to know about temp work in the UK in general and chances as a young German without proper 'qualifications'. Maybe some of you had to deal with temp work before yourselves or know about the current job market and how they treat aliens like me. I've been learning French and Spanish for a while now too and thought that I could maybe even find a job in tourism (Cornwall, Wales, Lake District, wherever else) at some point. :dk:

That shall be it for now.
Looking forward to your replies.

Thanks a lot,
Interesting post Marvin. You are young and not enjoying your current life, so go for it.
But research what you need just for the driving in the UK alone, re insurance etc. Always have enough money in reserve to return home if you have to.

If you have certain skills then being German is no bar to finding work. A good employer looks beyond nationality.
Come the summer time, farms, especially in Licolnshire hire foreign labour for crop picking. Hard work, low pay but its something. Sorry I can't suggest anything further, but good luck on your travels. A while in the UK may help you appreciate Germany a bit more if nothing else. Its a beautiful country.
Marvin Hi

You have my sympathy and understanding. AMGeed has made some good suggestions.

I would refer you to a book I recently supported on Kickstart entitled The Rolling Home. The couple have travelled 80000 miles across Europe, UK and beyond. Website is Stokedeversince | Creative Studio or Google The Rolling Home.

Im thinking of doing the reverse to you but without the work aspect as Im retired!

Best of luck.

Good luck to you, Marvin. Go for it whilst you can.
Your written English is excellent, that's certainly no impediment to finding work.
I know a few people who live in vans, part time. You may find some good advice and inspiration on this forum; Vegetable Oil Diesel Forum
I'd have loved to do this at your age....but I had two children by then, so that was out of the question lol

I love the idea of being free, with no one to worry about but myself, but that's just a pipe dream for me now. Besides, two more children later and I wouldn't change that now for the world :)

Family has overtaken the need for freedom, and I'm completely happy and content :)

But I am looking forward to when the children are grown and I can finally travel the world and see what's actually out there ;)

Do it! Live a life you enjoy, as we only get one go at it :thumb:

And you'll get work anywhere, it really is that easy.
Give it a go over here. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Scratch that itch. Convert that van and get your **** over here. Fear not the Brexit **** floating about the news. This is about you and a dream. I had a dream at 15, I wanted to join the Army and I did. Spent a lot of time in Germany and I loved it. However I did live alongside the German populace and sometimes even in the same block of flats. Jeez you guys have some rules. First Saturday of the month, clean the cellars (even if they were clean!) If it snowed you were out there clearing it away by 0700 up to the middle of the road. Life for the German civilians was very regimented and I guess it still is. If it is still like that no wonder you want to break free. Oh and German tradesmen, say decorators, in your Army Quarter, banging on your door to gain access at 0700, bring all their gear in and first beer break by 0730. And eclectic mix to say the least.

Hopefully someone on the forum may be able to give you a start over here but that would be to "Disney" Being German you will get the basics right before you launch yourself across the channel.

You have a whole bunch of friends over here even before you set a semi permanent foot ashore.

Good Luck.


I suggest spending some time constructing your Curriculum Vitae (a summary of your experience, skills and education, in America and other places it is known as a résumé)

You have clearly gone through the German education system (a well respected one), have current skills from your training, have good life skills (you have travelled widely n the UK so you are organised, can plan, have good interpersonal skills etc.

You also clearly have drive and enthusiasm as well as multi language skills.

To the right employer (possibly as you say,n tourism) these would be valued.

Tourist season is starting soon so get searching, send your CV out (there are many on-line guides as to how to put one together) and most importantly, keep going despite the knock backs you may get.

Good luck!

Marvin .Life is to short .So do just what you want to , before life over takes you .
And i wish you good luck.
I was in a rut 30 years ago .We ,my wife and i ,sold up and moved to a mobile home in the Wyre Forest .Best thig i ever did .
Lots of wild animals .And miles and miles to walk my dog
Fishing shooting was just up my street . But as you get older , we wanted a warmer home .Thats when we moved to the bungalow we are in today .Good luck
Go for it Marv.

Bear in mind that a man sleeping rough in a white van may not be quite as acceptable to some factions of the community as a man sleeping rough in a Merc saloon. Just saying ;)

And just make sure it's a LWB you buy.

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Your communication skills are excellent,you come across a nice what you

want,not what the system dictates,with the right preparation you can do almost anything!
Ever thought about running a backpackers accommodation facility, great career if you are into that type of thing, can travel around the planet getting paid while doing it.

Good way to meet nice women too Marvin... :)
We only have one life, and when you are young and without partner or children is a good time to follow your dream.

Once you've followed the dream, you can start to settle - probably with someone who shares your dream.

Just one question. I'm confused why towing a caravan "won't work". Can you enlighten me?
Marvin, good luck with whatever you do, an observation though about earning in tourist work in Cornwall. It's a short summer, the hours are dreadful and the pay is rotten.

As to agricultural work, my Father volunteers at the Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau where he helps a lot of EU nationals working on farms. Dad speaks fluent French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian and he says that workforce is treated dreadfully and often not paid. As most of these guys have no English and no money they are treated appallingly. It's backbreaking, casual work in often unpleasant conditions. Aim for something different - you'll be competing against people who will take very little.

Have you looked at - - lots of opportunities to get to different parts of the UK (and most of the world really) and do a bit of work or just help out. There are thousands of ideas and opportunities on that site and you could find something that provides accommodation, therefore leaving you free to keep the 190E!

There is a huge community of people that live an exciting and fulfilling life like you describe in your post (and through helpX). Its a great thing to do but at some stage you might decide to jump back into mainstream society, so its always good to have a plan B!

Good luck and go for it.
well done for listening to your heart and your head, and for refusing to keep doing what you should do, but really don't want to.
Hi Marvin
We came across this place touring Scotland last year.
The Applecross Studio & Gallery | Jack Marris Photography
The photographer has set up a studio on a tourist route in an old converted telephone exchange. He spends his time out and about taking fantastic photos and has a lady at the studio selling them, various size prints on various media, framed or unframed. Looked like he was making just sufficient money to support his chosen way of life.

All sorts of possibilities out there for talented people
Marvin, at 23 you've got your whole life ahead of you. Certainly at your age I didn't know what I wanted to do, had a job that was going nowhere and would have welcomed the opportunity to travel and work abroad.

In my case, I was lucky enough to land a "proper" job when I was 25 which led on to a career that's still going strong. The rest of the "life" stuff has kind of fallen into place - mortgage, marriage, etc. and all of a sudden I'm old (by your standards, anyway - I'm still 18 in my head ;)) and wondering how it all happened! There's been plenty of obstacles along the way, but actually it all worked out OK.

So, do it while you have the chance is what I'd say - but do try and put a little aside so that you've got an exit plan if it does go wrong. You seem like a decent chap - I wish you the best of luck.


I also think a cheap caravan would be a better bet than a van conversion ... for not much money you will have a comfortable bed, heating, good insulation & proper ventilation, toilet, fridge, hot water, cooker (maybe even an oven), etc.

Then you still have a normal car if you need to drive around (e.g. to a place of work).

But whichever route you choose I wish you the very best of luck!
....Now apart from asking you for your opinions and views on this, I'd also like to know about temp work in the UK in general and chances as a young German without proper 'qualifications'. Maybe some of you had to deal with temp work before yourselves or know about the current job market and how they treat aliens like me. I've been learning French and Spanish for a while now too and thought that I could maybe even find a job in tourism (Cornwall, Wales, Lake District, wherever else) at some point. :dk:

That shall be it for now.
Looking forward to your replies.

Thanks a lot,

Marvin, great post.

Clearly from the replies already you've struck a chord with many. No one here knows you, but you've generated excellent advice and very genuine well wishes.

I reread your post again and it doesn't say you've been to the UK before, but there is no doubt you've got excellent written English. If your speech is as natural and good as that, in the UK you will get on very well with most people. A few years back a young German guy from Potsdam was coming over for a training class in the office and the recruiter in Munich was begging me to take him on as an Intern. I'd not seen her so enthusiastic about anybody before. Like you, he had little in the way of formal qualifications, but he was bright, energetic, eager to learn and very personable. I hired him right away and gave him two options: intern with me in Guildford or take an open junior engineer position on a team I was building in India, with same conditions as the Indians I was hiring. The money was about the same. Guess which option he took? A decade on and he's running a piece of LinkedIn.

The point is, his character, outlook, adventurous spirit and positivity were the reason he got on. There are plenty of sad gits in jobs they hate, but not moving because they've already put too much into it already and feel the need to keep building their retirement pot. The lucky ones love their jobs. Ultimately you make your own luck, so keep on being positive.

Back to the advice and suggestions. You've highlighted some excellent areas in the UK. Good for seasonal work in the summer are any large seaside town, for example Brighton, Hastings, Bournemouth, Worthing. A good way to meet people and not spend your money is working in a pub or restaurant. Many pubs have accommodation too, if you needed that good a change. I'm sure you'd find a good spot. Another option, if you really like excellence and a challenge, is to work your way up in a very good restaurant - there are many in England, towns can be very foodie.

You should also be aware that there are the distinct and vibrant traveling communities in the UK. There's the classic travellers (gypsies) in generally shiny caravans, new-age travellers in grungy vehicles and then there's the holidaying Caravaners, of which there are tons who mainly stay in the UK. So you're in good company. On vehicles, driving costs in the UK are generally lower in my experience than the continent, especially Tax, annual test (MOT) and Insurance. It might pay you to buy here. is a good start

As for your age, its a good time to travel and follow your heart, before you get responsibilities however pleasurable, from a more settled life.

You are already making a unique life for yourself that suits you. Well done and keep going!

Best of luck!


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