A question I get often through the years is “What will nomads do when they get too old to live in a van? or RV“, and “What will you do if you suffer an accident or a major illness while you are still young?” I see these as the same question of basically, “Do Nomads have a safety net?”
I’m going to give you my answer on the topic, but first I want to quote my friend Al’s thoughts on the topic that I agree with 100%, he said it so well, I can’t improve on it:
For me it came down to the choice of living a life I wasn’t enjoying—but with a certain amount of safety—or living a life I love without a safety net. I chose the latter, because even if something bad or even life-ending happened, I would have had that time living the way I wanted. What’s the point of prolonging a life I’m not enjoying?
Besides, I think safety is mostly an illusion. Sh@t happens to building dwellers. They get sick, they go broke, they get swindled, their homes break down or burn up or get destroyed in natural disasters… But they feel safe because it’s the way most people live. They’re doing the normal thing, the familiar thing, so it must be the best choice, the safe choice.
I think danger is also mostly an illusion. We convince ourselves all sorts of things might happen to us, but they never do—not because of our vigilance, but because they were never going to happen anyway. Since the mobile life is unfamiliar, we can convince ourselves there are even more dangers out there waiting to get us. There aren’t more dangers, just different ones.
That’s brilliant stuff! (read more from Al here: http://rollingsteeltent.blogspot.com/)
Like Al, I don’t really think there is that much of a difference for a house dweller and a vehicle dweller. Each one has some advantages and disadvantages in a medical emergency, but in my mind being a nomad has more advantages. But first, let’s define the issues, I think there are really two different issues here:
1) Money to meet your emergency or permanent medical needs.
2) People to help you through the worst of it.
MONEY ISSUES: With the money issue, I think you’re better off in a van or RV than a house for these reasons:
- You can live so much cheaper. If there is a medical emergency you can put the RV in an RV Park and live as cheaply as possible. I have a friend with an RV in a RV Resort in Brenda, AZ. it costs him $178 MONTH if he stays year-around–so he pays for the whole year even though he travels part of the year. It truly is a resort, it has a pool, the sites are 50 feet wide, and every one of them has a palm tree in it. Not a bad life! How much better is that than Section 8 Housing in a city?
- Most of us are very low income so we will qualify for more assistance than most middle class home dwellers. Many times people in the middle get screwed–they make too much to qualify for help, but too little to pay for it themselves. You’re probably better off being a poor Nomad than a middle class house-dweller
- A big advantage a nomad has is we can choose the state with the best safety net as our state of residence. A prime example of that for young people is Expanded Medicaid. By choosing a state that offers it, you get better health insurance than those house dwellers who live in a state that does not offer it. By the way, that’s not SD FL or TX, none of them offer expanded medicaid. Nevada is one of the few with zero income tax that does offer it.
- If you are forced off the road, being a nomad will make your house-bound life much better. For example, if you are an Arizona resident, all you have to do is sign up for Expanded Medicaid and buy a cheap used trailer and put it in an RV Park in the desert; you can almost certainly find one for $200 a month or less.
If you follow my standard advice to have $4000 in an emergency fund, you already have a plan B. Lets take an example of a sudden medical emergency or injury, what will you do once you are released from the hospital, but can’t take care of yourself? With $4000 you could rent a motel room for a few weeks while you find a $2000 used travel trailer and got it into an RV Park. That’s still going to be very cheap living, probably less than you would be paying in a house. There are LOTS of really cheap RV parks in Arizona, you want to get one the closest to a major city.
$200 will buy you a portable air conditioner you roll around and the trailer stays home while you drive the van, you have all hook-ups in the park. Once the crisis is over, you can sell the travel trailer for close to what you paid for it and be on your way. What if it’s going to be a permanent change in your life? You stay in the RV Park and adapt to your new reality.
Being stuck in the desert year-around would not be good. But I’m almost certain if you looked around in the Park, or ran an ad on Craigslist you could find someone to tow it to flagstaff or Show Low and pay them $200 and pay for their fuel and lunch. Doing that twice a year should be in most peoples budget, it averages out to less than $40 a month to save for it. How much better is it to move to a different location twice a year and get the much better weather and new scenery. For me, that’s much better than being stuck in one place for the rest of my life!
HELP FROM PEOPLE: About people to take care of you: of course the best solution is family, and that has nothing to do with living in a house or a van. They either take you in or they don’t. In fact, it would be much easier many times if you can come and park in the driveway and be close but not too close. You run an extension cord, and they learn how to dump your porta potti. You both get privacy and you get care with the least sacrifice for them.
But what about friends to help? I am 1000 times better off as a nomad to have friends who would take care of me than when I lived in a house!!!! We have a connection that is rare to house-dwellers!! Plus, they live on wheels. In an emergency, most of us have friends that would drive to us and help us through it.
Another Vandweller Needs Help
Oddly, this is an issue I am dealing with right now in a big way because I have two friends who are facing both problems. A very good friend of mine broke his shoulder and blew the engine in his van in less than a week. His vandweller friends have surrounded him with support and he has lacked for nothing. He ran a gofundme campaign and it raised enough for a new motor in one day. I told you all about that in a post last week.
Since then I’ve been contacted by another long-time vandweller friend. I first met Ed two years ago and we’ve camped many times together since then. He showed me the cargo trailer he had converted and it suddenly dawned on me that it looked very familiar, he had patterned it exactly like mine so I felt right at home! He’s a good guy who has worked hard all his life and through no fault of his own, circumstances have caught up to him to kick him in the teeth. He just needs a little help from his friends. I did a blog post on his trailer here:
His arthritis has gotten so bad he can no longer live in his van, he has to settle down. He’s going to move into an RV Park near his elderly father but they won’t take the cargo trailer, it has to be self-contained. He found an RV to buy but doesn’t have enough money. Even after he sells his cargo trailer, he still needs help to buy it.
I gave him a little money but he needs more. Can any of you out there help a fellow Nomad? If many of us go to his page at gofundme.com and give just a little, then the problem can be solved without sacrifice on anybodies part!
There, but for the Grace of God, Go I
Find his Gofundme page here:
Thank you all in Advance!
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