Living in a car is something you’d only do if you failed at life.
That’s the illusion, at least.
When I talk about living in a van, I get looks similar to the ones I got when I talked of dropping out. Even those who aren’t judgmental adopt an inquisitive smile and ask “So, um… how will you make that work?”
I’m glad you asked.
Why Live in a Van?
First, why the hell would someone want to condemn themselves to a mediocre existence of not having a 75″ Samsung TV and $2,000 wardrobe?
This is is the number one reason. Vandwelling equals freedom. It’s not just freedom of location, but freedom from unnecessary possessions and expectations.
You get to be wherever you want. You get to do whatever you want. You can wake up to a new area every morning. You can wake up to the most spectacular sunrises and fall asleep under the most extraordinary starry nights.
Every weekend can be a vacation and every day is an opportunity to do something new.
Being tied to a location is the first step of not having unending freedom. Combined with an online income, there is no more autonomous state than one of vandwelling (other than full-blown digital nomadship, you could argue).
Vandwelling means releasing from almost every unnecessary physical object in your world. It means taking a step back, looking at every item, and saying “How important is this to my life? What value does this bring me? Do I only own this to own it? How often do I really use this?”
We live in a world of things. We chase more impressive incomes, newer iPhones, more bedrooms, new clothing, new food, new laptop, new TV new dining table new cups new plates pans rugs curtains hats lamps couches loveseats shoes movies fridges paychecks—
It’s too much.
We look to a glamorous future state and chase this fabled point when we can call ourselves successful.
Once I own a Tesla S, once I double the square footage of my home, once I can shop at nice furniture and clothing stores. It’s an unending chase and it’s just not correct if you’re searching for real happiness.
Living simply frees you from all of that. From the endless pursuit.
What would you do if you didn’t want more than you currently have?
Vandwelling doesn’t fit into the one-size mold of success. It has nothing to do with items or money or glamor. It doesn’t match external expectations of success and because of that, you’re forced to let go of how other people feel.
Full-grown adults telling their parents they’re living in vans is such a thing that people started filming “van announcement reaction” videos.
You accept some will classify you with kidnappers, pedophiles, and drug addicts. You learn to not care about the people that don’t matter. Just like letting go of the physical possessions that don’t matter, you let go of the people that aren’t important in your life.
There are a bunch. Let’s go over them.
Most vandwellers work online. This isn’t a rule, though. Van Dwelling isn’t just for being on the move. It makes sense for a single location too. It can totally replace an apartment or house if you’re fixed to one location. Think otherwise? This guy at Google did it.
The options here are limitless. Some people park at Walmart. Others park in campgrounds. Many vandwellers even pay property owners $50 per month for a parking spot and wifi.
If you work at a specific location, the best option is to set up right in the parking lot. If you can access the wifi like this it’s a mega-win.
- Showers: it’s not as hard as you think. The easiest way is to buy a gym membership. When you do this, you force yourself to go to the gym and exercise and you also get clean private showers (depending on the gym). Other options include high-quality campgrounds, making friends who own showers, and truck stops (least preferable).
- Restroom: the biggest concern of people who don’t get vandwelling. Use public restrooms. It makes you flexible develops a bodily awareness you never had before.
- Laundry: the laundromat and merino wool everything.
Luckily for vandwellers, spacious portable fridges exist. You do have to visit the grocery store more often but it just means you waste virtually nothing.
When it comes to cooktops, fear not. The number of portable stove options is more than you think. Many vandwellers are avid cooks and set up entire kitchen areas.
Living in a van saves you thousands on rent, utilities, wifi, and so much more. By being forced to minimalize, you buy fewer things and focus on what you need. Since you need less money, you might even take more time off to focus on what really matters.
“Van life” comes in all shapes in sizes. Some dwellers live in buses. Others, in tiny houses. It’s all the same idea and there aren’t any rules. The options are endless.
This isn’t about living in a van. It’s about releasing the preconceived idea of an ideal life and redefining, from the ground up, the difference between experiences and temporary comforts. Van life is just one way of appreciating everything around you.
The endless pursuit for more will never leave you feeling fulfilled. Whether or not you end up in a van, start looking at every single item in your home and saying “Why do I need you?”
Still, you might not be convinced to even consider it. “I just could not do that,” you say. I propose a question: