‘I live in a van in Cornwall because second home owners have made prices crazy’

A bloke who claims he was "priced out" of buying a property in the Cornish town he grew up in by second home owners has been forced to reconsider his living situation. Now, the man has resorted to living in a van due to sky high prices.

Kieran Lewis, 23, says pretty Looe – the setting for hit BBC drama Beyond Paradise – has become unaffordable for locals. He’s not the first person to complain about holiday homes running residents out of towns and villages as Brits have claimed that Cawsand and Kingsand is a “ghost town” in winter.

Unable to find a flat or house to live in, Kieran took things into his own hands. He decided to spend £6,000 renovating a Volkswagen van which he now lives in full-time.

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While van conversions have boomed in popularity in recent years they’re usually used to travel in rather than as a permanent home. But, delivery driver Kieran has no regrets and even hopes to turn the project into a career by starting a van conversion business.

However, he called attention to the "crazy" housing situation in Looe which means houses are out of the price range of many locals. The housing crisis in Cornwall has been growing for years and has even led to labour shortages in hospitality.

Kieran said: "People either do [van conversions] out of necessity or for a bit of fun, but the housing situation here is just crazy. The prices are in the millions.”

The average salary in Cornwall is just £31,261, according to figures published by the ONS for 2022. He added: "So many people have second homes here, and to be honest a lot of the locals hate them because they are pricing them out."

Kieran decided to renovated the Volkswagen LT35 with pal Dan Dayment, 23, in March 2021 when he was studying at college in Plymouth. He did this to avoid the £450-a-month accommodation costs.

The van cost £2,900, with a further £3,000 spent on improvements, but it was supposed to be temporary and Kieran had hoped to buy a bricks-and-mortar home after graduation. But after looking at the huge cost of properties in Looe, and Cornwall as a whole, he decided to stick with his vehicle.

The average house price in Looe over the last year was just over £340,000, according to Rightmove. That’s £50,000 above the UK average.

Thankfully for Kieran, he’s thrilled with his van and it’s given him many opportunities He has even driven it around Europe with his girlfriend Lois Coram, 23.

Kieran said: "I can go anywhere I want anytime. The biggest issues are finding somewhere to shower and finding drinking water.

"Sometimes I go back to my parents to shower as they live nearby. Showering outside using buckets of water in December is not fun – especially when it's -2 degrees."

Kieran currently works three days a week as a delivery driver, but once he has saved up enough he'll dedicate his time to his renovation business called Kip Campers. He claims to spend around £200 per month on fuel, £60 per month on insurance and around £25 on tax.

Plus, the van is solar powered so his energy bills cost nothing and he gets water from public taps or kind neighbours. He added: "Instead of throwing away money every month, you actually get something back if you renovate a van."


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