Vandwelling: A Path to Escape Society’s Abuse


This society is so abusive we need to find a path to escape it. Living in a car, van or RV (vandwelling)  is an excellent way to do that.

We have a thread going on my forum that is so interesting and important I want to share some of it with you. First, I’m going to copy the Original Post here in italics, and then I’m going to include my response after it as the text of this blog post. I did elaborate more for this post, but my basic ideas were all in the forum post. You can find the whole thread here:

I’m curious to hear from others who chose the vandwelling lifestyle because they felt like the typical, American lifestyle was sucking the life force out of them? 

I have been feeling like I’ve been selling my soul to the devil for the past 8 years at my current job.  I keep trying to conform to my employer’s expectations just to get my paycheck.  It is literally killing me. 

I know that the vandwelling lifestyle will not problem free, but I realize now that I’m truly in search of freedom. I’ve felt like a prisoner, a slave to my job, and just plain miserable most of the time. Wondering what us the point of all this???

I’ve been trying to reason with myself that it’s best for me financially to stay on this job just 6 more months, until I nearly finish up my lease.  But it is like now that I know freedom does exists and I don’t have to wait until I retire at age 67 to enjoy life, it’s that much harder to force myself to go through the motions and fake it.

I would love to hear stories and/or encouragement from those of you who chose this lifestyle before retirement age!


Some people will tell you that you’re just running away and that won’t help. But running away is perfectly right and healthy when you are in an abusive relationship, and this entire society is built on abusing it’s citizens (I have many post describing how we are abused and I will write more in my next post describing the abuse) the very best thing you can do is to run away from it!!.

But our abusers control every aspect of our lives and they’re doing everything they can to convince us that we’re not being abused. They say to us in a million different ways, “A miserable life is normal, but it’s for your own good !!! You’re required to be unhappy–otherwise you will eat dog food when you get old–and you certainly don’t want that!”

They do what all abusers do and try to convince you there is something wrong with you for wanting to get out of it. You are the unhealthy and sick one–IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!

They say, “You owe it to family, society and country to stay and keep working. Nobody owes you anything–NO-You owe them for being so good to you! You should be grateful, not complaining!”

Not only is that what every abuser says, but sadly that’s what many, or even most, abused people come to believe themselves–they will even defend the abuser and try to convince you to stay and be abused. But you can’t hate them, they are victims of the Stockholm Syndrome and are victims themselves, but neither can you listen to them.

The problem is that for some people this is a very pleasant house of abuse, and the abuse seems so mild and rewards so great they gladly put up with a life of slavery, drudgery, monotony, mediocrity and just barely surviving. They accept barely living paycheck to paycheck while making someone else filthy rich, as just the cost of living.

It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.      ~~J. Krishnamurti

How could we possibly have allowed that to happen to us?

Here are some of the main ways they control us:

  1. Fear for our old age is one of their primary weapons. They want your old age to be risky and dangerous so you have to obey them. They make sure that without them, it will be miserable!
  2. They also use lifelong propaganda (mainly schools and the media) to instill an extremely  deep fear into you that you can’t possibly survive without them. You need them so much that no matter how unpleasant your life is with them, don’t even think about trying to break away!! It will be far worse by yourself!!!
  3. They’ve made our society so specialized that we can’t solve hardly any of our own problems and meet any of our own basic needs. We are so dependent on others we will certainly die without them to provide for, care for and protect us.
  4. They have passed so many laws that trying to live any other way but the way they demand you live is either illegal or so difficult it’s impractical.

IT’S ALL A LIE!! Get out, as soon as you can!

Let me tell you the only debt you really OWE–You owe it to yourself to live a happy life!!

Vandwelling: A Clear Path to Escape the Abuse

Vandwelling is the very best way to do that!!!! If you can reduce your expenses low enough, you don’t need much money and can live as free from the abusive system as possible. It’s fairly easy to earn enough when you live as cheaply as we do by living in a car, van or RV  Here are 8 common jobs for nomads:

Can you see yourself working at any of them? If so then here is a path of escape:

  1.  I know how miserable you are, but that is mainly because you are so hopeless. Once you start on this path of escape I believe you will find so much hope and joy that it will enable you to stay at that job long enough to pay off your debt and get into the vehicle you will live in. The key thing is there is a definite end to your suffering coming up very soon. You can endure anything for a short time, if you are certain it is just for a short time.   Keep your eye on the prize, telling them to take that job and shove it!!!
  2. You must have an emergency fund, I strongly suggest $3000-$5,000 as a minimum.
  3. Start now getting rid of all your stuff and selling it for everything you can, all of that money goes in your emergency fund.
  4. Start taking trips and getting used to nomadic living. If at all possible join the tribe at a gathering near you.
  5. Try to move into your vehicle home and continue to work, paying your rent or mortgage payment to yourself–be the LORD of your own life instead of giving  a landlord that power.
  6. When you’ve nearly got the money you need, start looking for one of these jobs. When you’ve got one, quit your job at home and hit the road. Take some time to be free and travel, and then go to your nomad job. That’ll build confidence in your new way of life and put even more money in your pocket.
  7. If at all possible, come to the RTR at Quartzsite, you’ll find a tribe and build confidence and learn so much.  While you’re there, it’s very likely you can get one of the jobs I describe.

You can do this!

I’m making Videos on my good friends James YouTube Channel. See them here:

Thanks for supporting this site by using these links to Amazon. I’ll make a small percentage on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything, even if you buy something different.



I've been a full-time VanDweller since 1995 and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again! Check out Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA), our nonprofit that I co-founded. HOWA is dedicated to helping nomads in need.

75 comments on “Vandwelling: A Path to Escape Society’s Abuse
  1. Avatar Mike says:

    at-a-boy Bob, Way to nail it. For every person you help to freedom,
    an angel gets their wings. Its commonplace these days to self-abuse,
    the largest sickness on earth no doubt. Thanks for leaving a light on
    in all the darkness. your friend, Mike.

  2. Avatar Steve says:

    Bob, I am glad that you listed the 7 guidelines and suggestions of gradually getting and transitioning to the vehicle living lifestyle. Especially about getting a savings of at least $3,000 to $5,000 before starting out, as well as taking test trips in the vehicle you intend to use to live in or out of. It’s easy to live vicariously through others such as yourself with rose colored glasses thinking it is just so easy and a utopia.

    If someone just walks away from everything in their lives such as their house, apt, job, family, and support system without planning ahead and testing out what the lifestyle is about they could wind up in big trouble after burning all their bridges. I know I have tested the waters in different modes of living in a vehicle and they didn’t work out for me. I am very glad that I was able to come back to the comfort and security of a normal home again. This has given me the chance to test out and try other modes of abodes to see if they will be my just right area.

    What has really helped me recently also was the post Almost There made in answer to my thread on what size cargo trailer to choose. That really opened my eyes and I think everyone that is preparing to start out on this should read. Here is a link to the page

    I like this blog post of yours……I think what you are saying is get out of the rat race but be prepared and get some hands on experience first and use common sense.

  3. Avatar Cae says:

    There seems to be a growing rejection of the “American Dream”. Perhaps George Carlin was on to something when he said, ” they call it a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
    This dream is now built upon so much stress from employment instability, immense personal debt and other negative factors …that it’s started to morph into a nightmare for many people. The logical reaction is to reduce this state of massive discomfort.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Cae, I think that’s the bottom line, it truly is a nightmare. Until the turn of the century, there really was a good life waiting for you at the end of your working life, but anymore that’s gone! Not only is today just barely tolerable, the future appears to be a nightmare of worse misery.

  4. Avatar Tom says:

    I am starting to fear that as us boomer hit the road for many reasons the feds are going to start charging for everything to thin out the herd and have the funds to mitigate the shear numbers that are about to overrun the boon docking life style in the free western states.It is going to cost more money than many think and planning and thrift are the first steps to making it a life choice.

  5. I love the analogy of the abusive relationship. So perfect.

    I wish I had understood all this sooner, but at least I do now. A few years ago, maybe even for the previous decade, I was miserable and drifting. I knew I wanted a change, but all the options just looked like more of the same with only slight tweaks. Same crap, different location. Same crap, different overlords. Then I had the breakthrough. A phrase came to me from out of my past, from out of the ’60s counterculture: Opt out of the system. Ah-ha! There’s the door, but then what? Fortunately, I discovered your site (thanks, Google) and all the advice and how-to’s. I am deeply grateful.

  6. Avatar Gil Palmer says:

    Most jobs I’ve had feel just as you describe. In fact, I was ready to retire this year because I had had enough. But then something strange happened. I was promoted several months ago and have to work twice as hard and long as I ever did. But instead of just misery, I’ve found twice the satisfaction. The extra status is nice. The increased influence on decisions is nice. The praise for doing a good job and the feeling of competence and being seen as competent is nice. The more frequent opportunities to help others is nice. So now I have a dilemma. Although I expected and even sought support for the “work is exploitation” narrative, here I am delaying my retirement a bit at a time because in many ways I’m actually enjoying what I’m doing and earning money doing it. Do I have freedom? No. But what I do have ain’t so bad.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gil, it’s a personal decision you have to make on your own. When I face a dilemma, I think ahead to my deathbed. What will I wish I had done at the last moments of my life when everything becomes crystal clear. What will leave the fewest regrets.

      Who knows, maybe you will be the one who regrets not going to the office more?

  7. Avatar Vagabound says:

    Dagnabit! I planned to contribute that quotation from Krishnamurti, but you beat me to it, Bob!

    Good you did though. That one deserves to be highlighted just as you’ve done it, and it is really worth pondering. For some, it will take a lot of mental work and a long time to wrap their minds around it. For others who may have done a lot of that work already …

    When I found that quotation several years ago, after a very long time of struggling and concluding on my own that we had a “profoundly sick society”, I had an “Oh, thank God” moment. Finally, vindication for what I was already thinking. Maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. And as important, a form of “permission through common conclusion” (for lack of a better term) to stop feeling guilty for feeling that way. After that, I never looked back.

    Agree with the use of the abusive relationship/domestic abuse model to explain this. It isn’t just similar. It is the same dynamic at work.

    Plus, if something basically tracks with Thoreau, ethically speaking, how can you go wrong?

  8. Avatar Cindy says:

    Great post Bob! Just Looking at the grid lock picture of traffic stressed me out. I am still trying to get a van to live in and make the leap. I need a van to practice. I am one though who usually just jumps in.
    Thanks for all the support and information.

  9. Avatar gb says:

    Kudos again! Could not agree more. Your analogy of abusive relationships as Al pointed out was perfect

  10. Avatar gb says:

    Sorry Bob, I don’t know where the “your comment is awaiting moderation” came from, I did not type that.

  11. Avatar Mr Gadget says:

    Along somewhat the same lines

    A little more detail

    Time, Words, And Money — Tools Used To Enslave Us

    For the youtube video ..

    of course it IS the internet

  12. Avatar Debra says:

    This post was very educational for me. I am planning to retire next spring and will be living on social security. I would like to make some extra money. Most of the information I have read about workkamping involved working through the summer months. But those are the months I want to be free to travel. So I would like something during the winter months. The Amazon and sugar beet harvest seem like good options. I will be researching for other winter options.

    Like the OP, now that I have a plan for my future these last few months are almost unbearable. I was planning to work thru next June as I will be eligible for Medicare in July. Now I’m thinking May and just pay for insurance for a couple months. Need to research the options.

    Thanks so much for all the great info you provide on your blog & website!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Here are 8 jobs, give thought to being a traveling poker dealer at tournaments. It’s $30 an hour and during the winter. You deal to pros only.

      • Avatar Debra says:

        Thanks Bob, yes I did read that post. I will check out the poker dealing. I work in the accounting profession now (but not tax accounting). So one thought I had was to contact temp agencies. I may be able to work short-term contract assignments. Have you heard of anyone doing this? Or any other type of accounting work?

    • I don’t know about your particular health situation, but I won’t qualify for Medicare until April next year. And South Dakota didn’t expand Medicaid. I’ve been going uninsured for over ten years. It was just too expensive. From my point of view, and from my experience, going uninsured for one or two months is no big deal at all. But you have to decide for yourself. How big of a risk is it actually? Perhaps part of breaking free of society’s abuse is rejecting their insistence you need medical insurance all the time.

      • Bob Bob says:

        I gotta agree. It’s cheaper for me to get Obamacare health care or I wouldn’t bother either.

      • Avatar Debra says:

        Al, you make a good point. I am in excellent health and not on any meds. I have considered going without insurance for a couple months. I am not concerned about illness so much as the possibility of an accident. A few years ago I was in between jobs for a couple months so I took out an individual policy. The first month I was skiing and fell and broke my wrist. If I didn’t have the insurance I would have had about $20k in medical bills. I believe my premium was about $300/mo. I was really glad I had the insurance!

        That was the first time I have broken a bone and the chances of it happening again are probably low. But an expense of that magnitude would be pretty catastrophic for me at this stage.

      • Avatar Lucy says:

        I see the reasoning behind what you’re saying, medical insurance is very expensive,& hard to afford, however, there are many of us having few medical conditions that require frequent visits to doctors, treatments & medications on a steady stream, therefore we have no choice than to pay monthly medical insurance even thou we have to pay out of our nose. In other words- unfortunately- we can not do without it.

  13. Avatar Izaak says:

    Great blog as always. So…3000-5000? I take it you wouldn’t recommend someone ditching their current life and hitting the road with say, 1000? Especially if they didn’t have a job lined up?

  14. Avatar Tim says:

    My wife and I were out for 8 years straight and had the best times of our life. We had to come back east for a year and a half to do a lot of things around the farm. We are just about ready to leave again. selling the farm is not really in our plans right now but our youngest son will be living here and doing all the work. As much as we love the farm and all the kids coming over we would rather be out west camping. This past 18 months have seemed to drag on forever even with all the things to do here. So by mid October we will be leaving again and hopefully for 8 more years. Funny thing is even being home for this long we have seen all of the kids about the same amount as when we were on the road and flew home every year for a few weeks. Cannot wait for the last 5 weeks to go buy.

  15. Avatar Patricia Taylor says:

    Hi Bob,
    I’ve been following you and your site several years now I think. I’m not a vandweller but would love to be a snowbird! I have some concerns about when the collapse comes and the vandwellers are all out there somewhere out of gas, out of food, and water, and have nowhere to go. It’s the only thing about this lifestyle that really scares me and I mean scares the heck out of me. Was wondering what your comments would be on this. Thanks so much,

    • Avatar muddy says:

      Well Patricia, what are you going to do when the collapse comes and you are in your house out of gas, out of food, water, and have nowhere to go?

      I’d advise not worrying about such a thing which is entirely out of your control anyway.

    • Avatar Lucy says:

      Hi Pat, that’s been thru my mind as well, but we, living on brick-and-sticks in towns & cities will go thru the same phenomena as well, probably it will take longer for us to ‘ be hurt ‘, but if everything collapsed we will be affected as well, wouldn’t you think so, hat is a dilemma, isn’t it ?

      My regards, Lucy.

    • I don’t want to survive the collapse of civilization (which I don’t think is all the imminent anyway). I don’t want to be in that world. So I’ll gladly end my own life if that should happen. I will have had the life I wanted, and I don’t fear death.

    • Avatar John Bruce says:

      Muddy is correct. People will gather in tribes. Yes, though things can change quite quickly, the consequences may be better than one expects.

      • Bob Bob says:

        John, it’s very easy for me to see it being better in many ways. At the minimum it should be better for the planet which is really all that’s important for the future. Bob

  16. Avatar Pat Taylor says:

    Hi Bob,
    I’ve been following you and your site several years now I think. I’m not a vandweller but would love to be a snowbird! I have some concerns about when the collapse comes and the vandwellers are all out there somewhere out of gas, out of food, and water, and have nowhere to go. It’s the only thing about this lifestyle that really scares me and I mean scares the heck out of me. Was wondering what your comments would be on this. Thanks so much,
    It keeps saying it looks like I already said this when I try to post my comment but I didn’t already say it so I don’t know what’s up! FYI if this does go through.

  17. Avatar Vanholio! says:

    Vandwelling ain’t the life for everyone. But I sure wish everyone would wake up and find the life for them. Here’s some good reading on why, maybe, so many jobs are busywork to keep us compliant:

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks vanholio! Bob

    • Avatar Vagabound says:

      Vanholio: Thanks for the Strike magazine article. It was very good. Written by someone who might actually know from carefully studying it vs. just pissing and moaning. I wish he’d have done a better job of connecting the dots, but he made some excellent observations.


      At face value, my following statement will likely strike most people as either extreme or absurd:

      “Our economy is actually one large Ponzi Scheme” (PS).

      There are different definitions, or aspects of a PS, but they have some features in common. In general, there is one or more fraudsters / con-men at the top of a plan / structure who manage a continuous system of payments that mostly enrich themselves and their friends and bilk a lot of lower people who participate based on a promise of greater, but typically undelivered rewards.

      No matter which type of PS it is, if you try to apply that general definition to our economy, does it seem applicable to you?

      Think for a minute about the word “growth”, as in economic growth. Nearly every single prominent business person and media talking-head participates in a constant drum-beat for growth. Growth is key. Growth is crucial. Lack of growth is the scapegoat for every problem, just as growth is the silver bullet solution.

      The fundamental problem here is that _unlimited_ growth (our economic obsession) in a _limited_ system (our world, environment, resources, etc.) is simply, physically, and indisputably impossible. Any occurrences of unlimited growth anywhere in nature always collapse.

      So, before you’re tempted to dismiss the idea that our economy might really be a PS, ask yourself this one question:

      Why do all of those very smart, very educated, very informed people all talk and behave, and encourage the rest of us to behave, as if this unavoidable growth limitation did not exist?

      To the best of my ability to determine the reason, it is a combination of two main factors. First, a Stockholm Syndrome-like condition for the mid-range participants. Second, for the top level people, the same reason that Charles Ponzi did it in his original scheme in 1920.

      We should escape the current system just for self-preservation. But we should also escape because it might be the only thing that can ever lead to eventual system-wide redesign and improvement.



      • Bob Bob says:

        That’s really good!! Thank you!! Bob

        • Avatar Vagabound says:

          Thanks. I should have mentioned the greatest irony: PS’s are illegal.

          So, the world’s largest PS officially made PS’s illegal. That’s one way to control the competition … make sure that no one else’s fraud gets in the way of your fraud.

  18. Avatar Lucy says:

    It’s my believe that IF ‘ the collapse ‘ takes place the people that will easier survive are those that live in the country area, that have a farm which is productive, or it can become productive; a place where to raise small animals & an area where water is not hard to be found. But like Muddy said, why to worry about something we have no control over ? Might as well we live the ‘ here and now ‘ and forget about a possible doom-time.

    My humble opinion. Lucy.

  19. Avatar Michele says:

    I had a counselor once tell me (in response to me saying that I didn’t want to run away from my problems), that in fact, I needed to run away…run as far away as I possibly could from the dysfunction that was occurring in my life at that time. It made a lot of sense then and it does now. And so when you wrote about that in your response to my post, Bob, I was reminded of that period in my life and of the same wisdom. I am in disbelief of how many lies I have believed and have just taken as truth. I’m so thrilled to be seeing the light!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thank you Michele, your comment brings great joy to me knowing that my work is impacting people and eyes are being opened! Thank you!

    • Avatar Vagabound says:

      Hi Michele,

      Your comment struck a chord with me.

      You said, “I am in disbelief of how many lies I have believed and have just taken as truth. I’m so thrilled to be seeing the light!“.

      I know the feeling. Finding what is actually true is like those Russian nesting dolls. The thing you need to know is buried deep inside multiple shells of falseness. Falseness that is taken as true by millions of people, including family, friends, and other people we care about.

      Removing the shells takes time, a lot of work, and some luck actually. And just when you’ve done that and have had your “Eureka” moment, you look around and see another complete nesting doll sitting off to the left, waiting for you.

      There are really so many of these “false belief” situations. Some are so large that they form the very foundations of our lives. For that reason, they are very hard to crack. Try getting your head around the fact that 5 billion people can believe something and it can still be wrong. After a person comes to accept that, this work becomes easier to do.

      It’s easy to feel alone doing this “un-shelling” work, especially when you’ve finished one and you see that most other people don’t realize it yet.

      Keep digging and don’t fret. Others are going through this process, too.


  20. Avatar Jeff says:

    Hey Bob, just finished watching the documentary you have the link to. Found the interviews inspiring, as I sit and mull over getting out of the rat race myself.
    Also, thanks for the great ideas, and guidance in how I might be able to covert my Montero into an adventerous living space.

  21. Avatar Jenny says:

    Dear Bob,

    I subscribe to many Blogs and I have to say this post “A Path to Escape Societies Abuse” was really one of the best blog posts I HAVE EVER READ. It spoke so deeply to the conclusion I have come to finally. Yep took a long while. I will keep this post stored away forever. Love your writing and passion. Hope to make the leap one day before the retirement years. So far I run around half the year in my car. My first big leap was taking a Seasonal job 1,200 miles away in the Tetons. Great travelin’job site
    Thanks again for this article Bob!

    “Oh the Places you’ll go”- Dr. Seuss

  22. Avatar Wander Lustforlife says:

    Bob, I am happy to announce that I got Jan 9-23 2017 off of work to try and make it out to RTR.I hope i can make it! (over 2200 miles one way)

  23. Avatar CelticCat2015 says:

    Dear Bob,

    I’m a new viewer to your site…have loved the videos I’ve seen so far…and am now a subscribed follower.

    My husband and I (and our 9 yr old kitty-girl) have been living in our 23 foot ’84 Class C Ford Jamboree since we bought her back in October of 2011 for $2,000.

    (I’m a retired nurse who sold most of my ‘stuff’ and drove from New England to southern California in 2001…joined up with a carnival that my oldest daughter worked for…and met my husband who’s been working for shows since he was 17. We were married in 2005. Best decision ever! Lol.)

    Long story short: lots of traveling…lived in bunk rooms, a ’75 Class C motor home with a roof that leaked like a sieve, a small house, the back of a Ford Ranger pickup truck with a camper shell over the bed (our kitty included), and now our ’84 motor home.

    We did have a hiatus from traveling, though, for almost 2 years while my husband worked as a hotel maintenance man in Florida. (We had to live ‘on site’ so the motor home was used only for shopping purposes.) But my husband left that job when his youngest brother in North Carolina kept begging us to come up there and help him finish a second house his girlfriend owned so they could move into it…and we’d then move into the first house.

    Needless to say, my brother-in-law reneged on the deal and now we still sit 1 1/2 years later in the backyard of the first house, trying to save up money on a retirement income to get out of here…which we plan to soon have. (No jobs around…figures!)

    Our next destination is a small park in Florida that has “retirement-affordable” monthly rates and seems located in a decent area…on a bus line…and near a bay so we can go fishing and crabbing.

    My hubby wants to get a job…have us live off that money and sock the retirement money away…and in 6 or 7 months be able to buy a newer motor home.

    Well, that’s The Plan, anyway. 🙂

    Maybe by then he’ll be ready to go boondocking out in Arizona. Heaven knows I’M ready. Lol.

  24. Avatar Anne says:

    If I quit work now that will lower the social security I will get and what about health insurance? What happens when I get too old to drive? I don’t want to wait till retirement age. I’m 61 and want to go now.

  25. Avatar Riley_Vanner says:

    Hi Bob!
    I’m a newcomer to all of this and I absolutely Love your Videos! I’ve found myself looking into Vanning/Rving Life not only due to financial strain but because I want to live a different Life. I’m glad to see the good, bad, and the Ugly in all of this because it will allow me to make smart decisions and how to go about it! Thank you for your videos!

  26. Avatar nderson says:

    I just started watching your videos ,great stuff!!! Hope to meet you when I get out there!!(still gathering funds)You have inspired me thanx!!!

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