City worker quits £100k-a-year job to live in van: 'I feel so much more free'

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·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4-min read
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Dominique Niemandt, 29, was a director of a London accounting firm before taking the plunge in January to live in a van. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)
Dominique Niemandt, 29, was a director of a London accounting firm before taking the plunge in January to live in a van. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)

A high-flying career woman has quit her £100,000-a-year job to live in a 7m-long van and feels much "freer" as a result.

Dominique Niemandt, 29, was a director at a London accounting firm before taking the plunge to leave her high-flying role this year.

Having spent £25,000 to buy a converted VW Crafter, Niemandt is now travelling around Europe with her one-year-old chihuahua, Kevin.

"I feel so much freer and so much more like me," Niemandt says. "Before, I felt like I was in a hamster wheel for so long. I just thought there must be more to life."

Before leaving her city career, Niemandt used to work 60 or 70 hour weeks. According to Statista, the average working week duration in 2022 is 36.5 hours compared to 34.2 in 2021.

"On holiday I would be the loser working in the corner," she explains. "I felt like I didn't have a choice."

Read more: Couple who live in a van save over £1,000 a month on bills

The van cost Niemandt £25K and she now spends her time travelling around Europe. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)
The van cost Niemandt £25,000 and she now spends her time travelling around Europe. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)

Niemandt says she spent eight years working at a Big Four firm (the insider description given to the top four ranked accountancy firms in the UK, PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG) before taking a director role at an accounting company in London.

She was living in the capital and earning more than £100,000 a year before resigning in order to pursue a new more relaxed lifestyle.

Now, she lives off her savings and is currently considering taking up a consulting role for a few months of the year to fund her new way of life.

"This lifestyle is so much cheaper," she explains. "I've got enough money for nine months.

"I might work two or three months of a year, which should then fund the rest of the year."

Read more: Woman transforms old van into glam motorhome to travel Europe

Niemandt says her new lifestyle enables her to enjoy a better balance. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)
Niemandt says her new lifestyle enables her to enjoy a better balance. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)

When it comes to expenses, Niemandt spends £250 a month on insurance and petrol for the van, with food and activities costing extra.

Though her outgoings vary from month to month she estimates she spends no more than between £600 and £1,000 a month.

At the moment she is in France and hopes to travel to Spain and Portugal in the coming months.

Watch: 5 tips to boost your mental health

Niemandt says her lifestyle u-turn was inspired by a desire to break out of her busy day-to-day routine.

"I saw a news article in October about vans being converted into homes and a month later I'd bought one," she says.

"I had a three month notice period at work and then I left in January.

"A lot of people my age feel pressure to live a normal life but it doesn't necessarily make everyone happy.

"I want to see people doing what makes them happy."

Neimandt says she's loving hew new slower paced life. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)
Neimandt says she's loving hew new slower paced life. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)

Despite some doubts about undertaking such a drastic lifestyle change, Niemandt is really enjoying her new way of life.

"It sounds cheesy, but it just feels like you're living" she says.

"Sometimes I still feel like a failure for giving my job up, which is kind of weird.

"Telling my family was the hardest part - I think they would have preferred I was working and focusing on my career instead."

Read more: Eco-farming couple who have lived off the land for 10 years hope to inspire others

Niemandt left her £100k salary behind to live in a seven-metre-long van with her pet chihuahua. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)
Niemandt left her £100,000 salary behind to live in a seven-metre-long van with her pet chihuahua. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)

Niemandt says living on her own can sometimes be lonely but she has met new people along the way and really connected with nature.

"There are little things and moments that get you through it like speaking to someone in a bakery," she says.

"If I like somewhere then I'll stay and explore. If not I will try to find the next place to stay.

"I do a lot of walks and active stuff."

Neimandt says she's loving hew new slower paced life. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)
Neimandt says she's loving hew new slower paced life. (Dominique Niemandt/SWNS)

But though she's enjoying a slower paced way of life, living life on wheels doesn't come without its challenges.

"It's not always easy," she adds. "Everything is slower in a van. It can take an hour to do the dishes and washing."

Additional reporting SWNS.

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