Couple quit their high-pressure London jobs to live in a van with their teenage daughter

A couple quit their high-pressure jobs to live with their daughter and dog in the back of a VW van. 

Robert Bambach, 40, grew tired of the 4am starts and 16-hour days he worked as a construction manager in London, and frustrated at the lack of time he was spending with his wife Renata, 42, a carer, and their daughter Ricarda, 15. 

Despite earning £55,000-a-year, Robert decided he was ready to give it all up to head out on the road with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Charlie.

After selling their three-bedroom family home in Birchington, Kent, for an undisclosed amount in December 2018, the Bambachs spent nine months criss-crossing the UK in their £6,5000 Volkswagen Crafter. 

In August 2019 they bought a plot of land near Castelo Branco in central Portugal, again for an undisclosed amount, and upgraded to a larger caravan where they live on a permanent basis. 

The family live on the proceeds of their house sale and keep outgoings down to just £210 a month using solar panels and growing their own food.

Robert Bambach, 40, and wife Renata, 42, quit their high-pressure jobs in London to live in a van with their daughter Ricarda and their dog Charlie. Pictured, the family near Glencoe, Scotland, during the nine months they spent travelling the UK last year

Robert was earning £55,000 a year as a construction manager but was fed-up with the 4am starts and 16-hour days. Pictured, with Renata and Ricarda in London before their adventure

Robert was earning £55,000 a year as a construction manager but was fed-up with the 4am starts and 16-hour days. Pictured, with Renata and Ricarda in London before their adventure

The family set off in a £6,500 van in December 2018 and spent nine months travelling the UK before buying a plot of land in Portugal in August 2019. Pictured, on a canal near Bournemouth

The family set off in a £6,500 van in December 2018 and spent nine months travelling the UK before buying a plot of land in Portugal in August 2019. Pictured, on a canal near Bournemouth

Robert and Renata said they have never been closer and that the experience has given them the quality family time they so craved in London. 

Robert said: ‘It’s a 180-degree turn [from the UK]. That wasn’t a life, we weren’t enjoying family time.

‘Even the house was like a hotel – coming in, having something to eat, having a shower and going to bed, that’s it. The next day it was the same thing all over again.

‘I had loads of sleepless nights just because I received an email before I went to bed and my mind wouldn’t stop going.

‘At the end of the day I was working all those hours to pay for a house and everything in it – cars, insurance – but not enjoying them.’

The couple spent the first nine months travelling around the UK, which saw them rising to sunrises in Welsh forests and meandering through stunning Scottish scenery. 

Ricarda was homeschooled by her mother, doing a few hours of lessons each day alongside activities like hiking and kayaking.  

The family found they were not spending enough time together living their busy London lives and headed off on an adventure. Pictured, the Bambachs' van in Glencoe, Scotland

The family found they were not spending enough time together living their busy London lives and headed off on an adventure. Pictured, the Bambachs’ van in Glencoe, Scotland

The parents are also spending more quality time with their daughter Ricarda, 15, who had become withdrawn while living in the UK. Pictured, enjoying breakfast in the back of the van

The parents are also spending more quality time with their daughter Ricarda, 15, who had become withdrawn while living in the UK. Pictured, enjoying breakfast in the back of the van

Ricarda and Renata at a ski resort near Brasov, Romania, in Christmas 2018. The family have slashed their household bills from £2,500 a month in London to a mere £210 in Portugal

Ricarda and Renata at a ski resort near Brasov, Romania, in Christmas 2018. The family have slashed their household bills from £2,500 a month in London to a mere £210 in Portugal

The family save money by growing their own vegetables and looking after chickens. Pictured, the chicken coop on the family's plot of land in the Portuguese countryside

The family save money by growing their own vegetables and looking after chickens. Pictured, the chicken coop on the family’s plot of land in the Portuguese countryside

The family continued living in the van in Portugal before swapping for the cararvan to give themselves more space. Pictured, the van parked on their picturesque plot in Portugal

The family continued living in the van in Portugal before swapping for the cararvan to give themselves more space. Pictured, the van parked on their picturesque plot in Portugal

By August 2019, the family had bought a four-acre plot of land in central Portugal so they could have a permanent based.

The family have seen their household outgoings slashed from £2,500 a month in London to a mere £210 – by growing their own vegetables, raising chickens, picking wild fruits and making their own wine, marmalade and olive oil.

Most meals are cultivated from the property and the £210 a month is spent on wi-fi, Ricarda’s bus pass, and items like milk, bread, gas, and car insurance. 



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