SpaceX's $200 Per Month Starlink Is Great News For #Vanlifers

Who even needs a home any more?

  • Starlink's satellite internet service is now available globally for $200 per month. 
  • Forget about cellular—vanlifers can work anywhere they like. 
  • Wait, though: cellular is still faster, more reliable, and cheaper.
Two people enjoying life together from the road in their camper van, which is parked at a lake.

Alistair Berg / Getty Images

Starlink now offers internet anywhere in the world–and we mean anywhere–for $200 per month. If you live in a van and work online, then this is pretty awesome. 

Folks who live in vans, aka #vanlifers, are pretty independent. But while you can carry enough food and water to last a while in the deep, deep wilderness, and solar can juice your gear indefinitely with the right weather, for the internet, you're stuck in areas with cellular coverage, which generally means populated areas. Satellite connections offer a way around this, and thanks to Starlink's new global roaming service, that last limitation has been removed. 

"Over the past three years, we've seen a large uptick in van lifers needing internet, or at least cell phone reception while out on the road," A.J. Turner of Off Highway Van told Lifewire via email. "Always available internet is a necessity for our customers, as most of them have busy professional lives, jobs, or businesses that need to periodically check in on. They're able to extend their weekends into longer weekends or even weeks on end due to having this reliable cell phone or internet access."

Roam If You Want To

Starlink has been available to RV users before, as Starlink RV, via a $600 portable antenna or a $2,500 antenna that can be used while on the move. The new part is that Starlink is now Starlink Roam, and it can be had globally for $200 per month and regionally for $150. If you never leave the US, you can stick with the cheaper version, but the global option is well-priced in comparison. 

A person sitting on a bed inside a camper, working on a laptop.

Cavan Images / Getty Images

The advantages of Starlink are pretty clear. Users say it is faster and offers lower latency than other satellite internet options. Latency is important because your clicks already have to travel up to the satellite, down to whichever server you're connected to, and then back up and down again before you see any result. Even with a speedy, high-bandwidth connection, latency can make things feel like molasses. 

Liz Ho, camping guide, travel expert, and the founder of Camping Guidance, told Lifewire via email. "When it comes to satellite internet options, I prefer Starlink for a few reasons. First, it boasts incredibly fast speeds and low latency, which is a game-changer for anyone who needs reliable internet for work or leisure."

Fred Hoffman, professional camper and founder and chief editor at The True Wilderness, agrees. "Unlike traditional satellite services, Starlink offers much faster speeds than most other internet providers, with its current download speeds averaging around 30 Mbps."

Roam Around The World

For mobile living, the benefits of reliable, fast, and affordable internet are clear. If you work on the go, you no longer have to hunt for a decent cellular connection to get things done. You can stop anywhere, safe knowing you can make video calls, send email, sync to the cloud, and all the rest of it. 

That's not to say that it's for everyone. For example, if you travel in Europe, you can enjoy pretty good cellular coverage at very high speeds and also take advantage of international roaming. All EU member states mandate free roaming for data and calls, so you can buy a SIM card or eSIM plan in one country and use it across the entire EU. Limits do apply, but only after a while, and you can always switch to another plan if that happens. And cellular has other advantages too.

"While Starlink offers a reliable connection, there are some advantages to occasionally relying on cellular connections. For example, it can be easier and more cost-effective to use cellular connections if you only need occasional access or if you're in an area with spotty coverage. Additionally, cellular connections can be more reliable and faster than satellite services, depending on your location," says Hoffman. 

However you look at it, though, a reliable, fast, and comparatively cheap always-available internet connection is gold for some people. And if you need it, it's there.

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