Richard exchanges his house and job for a camper van: ‘I want to be closer to nature’

At the De Drie Morgen campsite in Zoetermeer, Richard van der Hoek (51) is temporarily staying in his eight-square-metre camper van. His backyard is the Westerpark and the Nieuwe Driemanspolder. Next summer he will resign and leave for an unknown destination together with his girlfriend Kelly for an indefinite period. Whatever his place, Richard trusts in what is to come. “I want to spend more time outside and live in and with nature.”

For years, Richard has lived the life most people do: children, a single-family home, mortgage and a steady job. But for years he has been thinking about being less dependent. “Most are stuck in a pattern with a house, car and vacations. It takes two jobs to pay the costs. From the moment I bought my first house, about twenty years ago, I started paying off my mortgage.”

Flying kitchen items

Ten years ago, Richard bought his T5 Volkswagen van. After his divorce, and after his children have left home, Richard trades in his Volkswagen for a larger courier van, which he calls Globus2. “I built in a kitchenette, a bed, electricity, benches, lighting and a diesel heater myself. “I love gadgets so WiFi was added and a system that allows me to turn on the heating while I’m still at work.”

There is room for two washing lines behind the passenger seats and in front of his bed. In the seating area, Richard works with his laptop on the extendable table and with the screen on the wall. “The drawers in the kitchen unit close with electromagnets. Otherwise my kitchen items will be flying around every turn.”

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Richard in the sitting area of ​​my camper van. Photo: in the Zoetermeer neighborhood

Saying goodbye to his things

Richard drives to Scandinavia for a three-week holiday in the newly furnished bus. “I loved the freedom,” he says. The plan has been in his head for some time, but after that holiday Richard decides to live permanently in his camper van. “At home I went to declutter. I sold everything, gave it away or took it to thrift stores. I found it quite difficult to part with my personal belongings with sentimental value.”

Richard has a collection of rocks and polar bears at home that cannot be taken into the camper van. “I took stones with me from my holidays as a memory. So they are much too heavy for the bus. I have taken the time to consciously give up my rocks and polar bears. They are now in my memory.” The only thing he cannot part with is his collection of books. “I put that in storage.”

I consciously said goodbye to my rocks and polar bears

Where do I put my curling iron?

At a campsite in Drenthe, Richard meets Kelly, who is camping in a tent with a friend. Kelly, like Richard, loves nature. They fall in love and meet up on the weekends. “Kelly lives in Enschede where I visit her regularly. We also regularly visit the campsite and go for walks or visit nearby towns. The living space in my van is of course much smaller than her house. At first she wondered where to put her curling iron. But now she would rather be with me than in her own life. We chat for hours and don’t get in each other’s way.”

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The kitchen in Richard’s camper van. Photo: in the Zoetermeer neighborhood

You have to go for your plan

Richard usually receives positive reactions to his plan. “Most say they think it’s cool and that they want it too. Some doubt they can do it. Others comment that I can make this choice easier because I have a position as director. But: everyone can do what I do. As long as you make the right choices and have a plan. I also had to give up things, such as eating out less often and buying unnecessary things. But not everyone wants that. All the money I have left is in my paid-off mortgage, the camper van and my piggy bank.”

Shaking bus in the storm

Richard looks at his departure next summer with mixed feelings. “I am very sad to leave the company I work for. But at the same time, I don’t want to sit in an office every day anymore. I want to go outside, hear the rain on the roof, feel the summer heat on the bus. Being more aware of nature and the seasons.”

Of course, living in a camper van is not always all roses and moonshine. Richard: “Leaks, frozen pipes and the bus stuck in the mud. Walking back to my bus with muddy legs after a shower, and a shaking Globus in the storm I just see as bumps.”

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Richard’s bedroom. Photo: in the Zoetermeer neighborhood

In August, Richard and Kelly leave Zoetermeer for Europe. “I like to work, photography and coaching. Along the way I write my blogs to inspire people and keep them informed of my journey. But I do need an income, so I rent out my house in Zoetermeer and I start looking for work. Filling shelves, picking grapes or managing a campsite, everything is welcome.”

Richard and Kelly are going to travel through Europe without an end time. “Maybe I’ll stay where I am, or I’ll go back to Zoetermeer. We’ll see how it goes. I’m curious who the Richard of today is.”

Do you enjoy following the adventures of Kelly and Richard? Then read their adventures on their blog.

Who is the next Zoetermeer of the week?

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