The “van life” boom of the early 2000s has been studied intensely by many sociologists. Was it driven by a need to reconnect to “natural” landscapes? Was it a reaction to exorbitant housing costs? Or was it the basic human need for adventure, and/or the adulation of one’s fellow social media users?
Whatever the cause, hordes of people packed themselves into re-built vans and mobile homes with dated diesel engines, and descended upon parking lots near picturesque beaches, forests, and mountains. The craze lasted until high diesel prices and increasingly aggressive parking regulations made the lifestyle all but untenable for most people. Many returned to normal life (or what was left of it), but a hardcore few refused to give up the vehicles that had become their homes, and the lifestyle that went with them, instead parking up for the long term and forming semi-permanent van villages.
The biggest such community in Skåne, Vanville is located west of Bjärnum. Formed around a core settlement consisting of nearly 200 vans, the residents have over time expanded their living space into tree houses, sheds, and the odd shipping container. By now, this community is largely self-sufficient in energy and food. Low-energy usage was by necessity a principle of the lifestyle, and so the solar panels that cover the roofs of the most exposed cars provide enough wattage to go around. Foraging for mushrooms and berries, the wild boar hunt, insect farms, and a well-regarded agri-forestry zone provide most of the calories needed. Barter with other nearby settlements (and with visitors) takes care of the rest… though quite who it is that buys up their handicrafts, still gravitating hard to the “Instagram aesthetic” of the 2010s, is a mystery that baffles the country’s leading cultural economists.
Vanville is a dynamic and characterful place, brimming with conflict and camaraderie. Those who were drawn to vanlife for the peace and quiet are not huge fans of the moonshine-fueled “raves” of the over-65s, but as their homes are no longer mobile, they’ve reached a compromise: every day, there is a silent hour devoted to the sounds of the forest between 10 and 11am. (so if you happen to be on site, put a sock in it!)
Generally speaking, the Vanville community is tolerant of guests, sometimes even welcoming—pitching a tent is usually fine. But we recommend taking a few hours to assess the “vibe”, as the locals like to call it; things are not always peachy in Vanville, and you won’t get much sleep if someone declares a horn war overnight…