Vandwelling Economics

A Nobel Prize winning economic formula: sell your house, move into the van, keep paying yourself.

One of the questions I hear all the time is “Can I afford to be a vandweller?” My answer is always the same, “How can you afford not to be?” The long-term costs of owning a home or renting an apartment are so extremely high that the total costs of vandwelling fade to non-existent by comparison. Whatever job you have now you can probably keep working as a vandweller. Your income will be the same, but your monthly costs will drastically be reduced. You don’t have to be an economist to know that is an extremely good formula. For example, if you are living in a $600 a month apartment and buy a cheap van and move into it, you now have an extra $600 a month to live on. If you put all that money in savings, at the end of one year you will have $7,200 cash. That will give you a nice nest-egg to buy a new late-model, low-mileage van or emergency fund to pay for repairs on your older van.

The reason this comes to mind is that I have several friends who are in the throes of indecision about becoming a full-time vandwellers. One of them is a retired widow who lives in a house, but she has itchy feet and has already bought a nice Ford conversion van and is taking long trips in it, including a multi-month long trip to Alaska where she saw the whole state and even drove the haul-road to Prudhoe Bay. She is falling in love with the lifestyle, but is torn between going full-time and keeping her house. And I can completely understand that. Home ownership is truly many peoples primary goal in life and the idea of walking away from it is very frightening. But as we sit around and visit in camp, she has to admit that this is as good as life gets. She admitted that when she is at home she just spends all her time inside puttering around and it really was a pretty empty life. But since she has been here she has found friends, connected with nature and the stresses of life have fallen away and been replaced by contentment.

Then we got to talking about finances and the economics of home ownership. Her house payment is $750 a month and she pays another $500 a month for insurance and taxes, so she is paying a total of $1250 a month. But that isn’t all; she is also paying for utilities and maintenance on the house. That’s hard to average out but $250 month is a reasonable number. That’s means she is spending $1500 a month for a house she isn’t sure she wants to own. That may sound acceptable by the month, but when you think about it in a longer period of time it starts to sound horrible:

  • $18,000 per year
  • $54,000 for three years
  • $90,000 for five years
  • $180,000 for ten years

She is going to spend $180,000 for the dubious “pleasure” of living in that house for the next 10 years. She is in her early 60’s, in very good health, and the genetics of her family are to live healthy well into their 80s. So she can easily expect to live in that house for 20 years which brings the total cost to $360,000 (*See note below). That is a lot of money. Think if she had the discipline to keep making all those payments, but instead wrote the check to herself and put it all into a money-market-account!! She would literally be rich!!

I don’t know about you, but I would gladly give up a tract house in the Suburbs to wake up to this every morning!

But there is more to her story. She has a pension and Social Security which she can comfortably live on, but it doesn’t cover both her living expenses and the house payments so she has to draw out of savings every month. She can look down the road and see the day coming when she will have to go back to work to keep paying for the house. That’s a fate much worse than death!!!! so she has decided to put the house on the market and become a full-time vandweller. At first she will live in her current van, but if she decides she needs more comfort she will take some of her savings from not making those huge payments and buy a nice Class B.

I think her story has a lot of important lessons for many of us.

  1. When you think of the cost of home-ownership (or living in an apartment) over a longer period of time, it becomes starkly obvious that the cost is so high as to be incredible. Even if you live in an apartment and are paying half as much per month, it is still a huge amount of money.
  2. Buying a van and getting it ready to live in may cost you some money at first, but then you own it (you will probably NEVER own your house). Other than insurance and maintenance you don’t have to pay again. Your long-term costs are nothing by comparison to a house or apartment. If you add solar panels you are essentially off-grid and don’t have any cost for utilities except a few dollars a year for propane and water. I’m sure I have never paid more than $100 in a year for propane and water combined.
  3. Maintenance and repairs on a van can get pretty expensive in the long run, but again, it is nothing compared to the long term costs of a home. Eventually every house will need a new roof, furnace or air conditioner, and they are very expensive.
  4. Buy the best van you can afford now, and then move into it. After a few months or a year you can take your savings from not making those monthly payments and upgrade your van, travel or simply work less.
  5. Do whatever it takes to not have to work or to work less!!

* Footnote: To be fair there are tax breaks and appreciation to offset a lot of the cost of home ownership, but it still works out to be a lot of money. Most vandwellers don’t work much (Hurray!!) so they don’t make enough money to need tax breaks. And who knows if the housing market will ever be the same after this huge crash. Society is changing; people buy houses less often and are becoming much more mobile so houses don’t fit for them anymore. So many people are working at lower paying jobs home ownership is simply not an option for them. The bottom line is that the appreciation of home prices we have seen in the past may not come back, eliminating one of its main selling points.

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

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52 comments on “Vandwelling Economics
  1. Livinfree(randy) says:

    Hello Bob,
    I really enjoy your blog and websites as it lifts my spirits in these troubling times. I have been trying to figure out my “escape plan” as far as supporting the economics/expenses for myself. I currently work as a building maintenance tech in Colorado but am having a hard time performing my work as i have been fighting severe complications of back/spine issues. I just had a MRI done last Friday, and was told yesterday that i have multiple slipped discs and advanced arthritis in my spine/hips. I want to get on permanent disability for all this and be done with the 9 to 5 crap. It appears to be a complicated process to get the ball rollin’ with SSI, especially since i am only 48 years old. Finding good/solid advise/coaching for this goal i am wanting is difficult. I have to work to make an income, but unable to perform my routine tasks. I read that i would have to be unemployed at least a year due to my health issues before any lawyer would step in and help. I can’t afford to be without income for that amount of time on a gamble! Sorry to ramble on, it’s just very frustrating/stressful. I have already bought my first “home” on wheels months ago after being inspired from all of your experience/exploits….I’M ready/willing to join the “tribe”. I t would just be easier if i could secure permant disabilty that i have paid into for years.
    Anyways…. I am going to make this happen somehow!

    Best regards!

    Livin’Free 1964

    Randy

    • Offroad says:

      You can rent your house out, temporary (house sharing), or long term. Given the house costs mentioned in the article a one year lease would retain ownership. Only do this if you can make enough to pay for all expenses (including all catistrophic repairs). If you can not pay for a roof that caves in from ice damage, or a heater-cooler system failure, or water heater flood; then you should sell it now. Have seen many articles about buying and renting real estate, all written by excellent repairman, who get the rock bottom repair costs, due to experience. We normal non repairman mortals can’t get that.

      • Bob Bob says:

        Offroad, renting the house out is a very good idea. The problem is with managing it. You either have to be close by and manage itself (which can be a royal pain in the a*ss) or hiring a property manager, which is usually at least 10% of the rent and as much as a full months rent when they have to rent it out. Plus, they hire a repairman for everything, including changing alight bulb. Renting is very often an iffy situation. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s horrible.

        But it is still a great suggestion to at least consider. Thanks for reminding me! Bob

    • Shelly says:

      Hey Randy. Look for the local disability resource center in your town, or the closest one near your town. It is usually a non profit place that helps folks with disabilities negotiate the disability system. They will know the ropes. No matter what you should apply for SSI now with the knowledge that you wil be denied the first time. Most people are so plan for it. Good luck with this.

      • Livinfree(randy) says:

        Thanks Shelly for the good suggestions, i appreciate any advise. I am so impressed how engaged/caring everyone here on the vandwellers “tribe” is toward other peoples problems. I always look forward to checking the blog and forum everyday as it lifts my spirits!
        Love ya all!!!
        Randy

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Randy, life can be very complicated and convoluted. SSI is especially confusing. I am going to be applying myself but I have one last doctor visit first. The one thing I have been told is that you should apply now even if you might be rejected. Apparently being rejected the first time is normal. But, if you are eventually accepted, you will get back-pay to that first application. So, you really have very little to lose by applying and maybe much to gain. I wish you the best on that.

      Good for you for already getting your vehicle. Now no matter what happens you will never be homeless, you can always have a roof over your head. I wish you the best as you try to sort it all out! Bob

      • Livinfree(randy) says:

        Thanks Bob,
        I want everbody to know that everybody’s help and mental support gives me a renewed since of hope for mankind as it is a very “cold” world we live in!

        Randy

        • Bob Bob says:

          Randy, I know what it means to loose all sense of hope and one of my primary goals in life is to provide a little ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Of course I can’t do that, so my goal is to create a community where there is an abundance of mutual support.

          It’s wonderful people like you and all the other commenters that makes that happen. Right now there are 11 people in camp here, and when someone new comes in they are welcomed by everyone. Everyone is kind and helpful to everyone else. It’s a joy!

          Everyone is welcome, the more the better! Bob

    • Trisha says:

      Might have an answer for you. email me at [email protected]

    • ILDan says:

      You need to contact a local SSI attorney. You could go with one of the ads on TV, but I’m dubious of anything on TV. Ask your family atty for a referral to a SSI specific atty.. He/she will usually charge a percentage only if you collect. The paperwork is horribly tedious and is set up to trip you up. Having a guide makes all the difference in knowing what to say and what to expect. Good luck and good health to you!

  2. Kadi says:

    This was an encouraging blog for me in that I also am a retired homeowner who will never “own” the house. The costs of owning a home for the long haul were impressive however, there was no comparison to van living. Maybe I havn’t explored the web site enough but I would like to get a picture of how much van dwelling costs – campgrounds, travel gas, etc.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kadi, it is very difficult to give you an estimate on how much vandwelling will cost you. I bet I have more than a dozen friends who live on less than $1000 a month very comfortably. They never seem to lack money. I also have many friends who make up to $1500 a month and at that end of the month they are always broke. The difference is the lifestyle they choose to maintain. The least income I am aware of is a guy who lives in his van on $400 a month and from everything I can tell he is quite happy, healthy and content. I know several people living on $600 a month who are also very content.

      You don’t have to spend anything on campgrounds if you live in a van. In the 10 years I have been full-timing I have spent $10 on campgrounds. In the city you can stealth park and in the country you can disperse camp on free BLM or National Forest Land. As far as traveling, that is totally up to you. Some travel a lot and budget for the gas, and others travel very little. I know someone on a very tight budget who sets aside $100 a month for gas. When that’s gone, he stops driving.

      The bottom line is it is possible to live on very, very little money when you live in a van. Bob

  3. ced says:

    All the talk of money makes a lot of sense. the main thing that holds me back is that I don’t want to lose the one place where the law can’t harass me. In any vehicle they just drive up, knock, and say ‘move on pal’. You know most will see you as a vagrant.

    • Bob Bob says:

      CED, it does happen, but I think it happens a lot less often than you imagine. In my ten years it’s happened to me less than 5 times. And each time it was no big deal, I listened politely and said “Yes sir,” and moved on. It was no big deal.

      While that is a freedom you lose, there are so many freedoms you gain that to me the loss is non-existent in comparison. I feel I live as free a life as is possible in modern America. It’s not hassle or problem-free, but it is wonderful beyond my ability to describe to you. Bob

    • Trisha says:

      That is why city dwelling is not the optimum in van dwelling, however, there are ways around that too.

      • Bob Bob says:

        I agree totally Trisha. Out of my 10 years of vandwelling, 6 were in a city. I had no choice but live in a city and it was a good life that made me very happy. I’m much happier now boondocking in the country, but if I had to I could stealth park in a city again. Bob

  4. Brian says:

    Hi Bob, one thing that never seems to come into the picture when you are talking about the virtues of van living vs house living and that I believe to be critical.

    It seems the idea of home ownership that you and many have is to buy something so beyond their means that they never own it. That is only one, not very smart way and something I have never done.

    If one decides to buy a home, it is important, in my view, to think about doing it only if you can pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. I have done that with several homes, all under $100k and currently I can live in my home for less than what many spend for van living….my taxes are currently $500 a year, my utilities are what I make them….if I leave in the summer, I avoid the high cost of A/C or I can use a swamp cooler. That could be inverse if I chose to live in the colder, northern climates.

    If I need more income, I have a smaller cabin/studio that I can rent out or I can live in it and rent out the main house, or live in the van and rent them both out….

    I think it is important to recognize that there are many ways that one can own and live in a sticks and bricks and still van-dwell as much or little as they want…

    There really are no absolutes or a hierarchy of one being a better choice than the other. I realize your agenda and think it is good for you, but for anyone not wanting to sit in one place, vandwelling can become quite expensive.

    It becomes that way for myself, and I speak for several others I can think of, and I actually need to come home to save up enough to be able to go traveling again…

    Just another view…..
    Bri
    Brian recently posted…Thanks to my friends and family…My Profile

    • ced says:

      Bri, well said

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Brian, you are right, I should have made myself clear, I wasn’t comparing the total cost of vandwelling to the cost of home-ownership because that is comparing apples to oranges. I was comparing the cost of finding shelter, one being a van, the other being a house. I think it is unlikely there are many of my readers who own their houses, but lets assume they do. They have still paid lots of money for that house, I am sure the average is well over $100,000. The interest they paid on that was also a huge amount of money. Then they have been paying taxes, insurance, utilities, and repairs. Over 10 years it must be at least $250,000 total (and it would probably be much more than $250,000). That includes the $100,000 cash for the house, plus interest (assuming they didn’t write a check for the total amount and made extra payments for 10 years), utilities, taxes, insurance and repairs.

      And what has that $250,00 bought them? Now they own the house and still have to keep paying utilities, taxes, insurance, repairs. For the average homeowner, my guess is that averages at least $5oo-$800 a month. Those things will never stop, in fact they will all just keep going up. I admire how wisely you have lived, but I am fairly sure most of my readers are paying much more. With the states in trouble, even though the value of the house is going down, their taxes are still going up. With all the natural disasters and the cost of oil skyrocketing, I think we all know insurance and utilities are going to keep going up and maybe dramatically. I think for most people, “owning” a stick and brick is very expensive.

      To complete the comparison, my next post will be the total cost of providing shelter by living in a van. I will try to include all the costs of shelter that are increased by living in a van. Bob

  5. Kim says:

    Yes to everything you said about the expense of home-ownership. And those oft-mentioned tax advantages are smoke and mirrors. The money you pay in financing over the years seriously offsets the minimal deduction on your tax bill. And then there are property taxes!

    I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the only people who benefit financially from home ownership are contractors, banks, and the government.
    Kim recently posted…Tech Upgrades Galore!My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      You aren’t alone in reaching that conclusion Kim! In the past you could always count on the house appreciating and in the long run being a very good investment. That’s especially true if you do as Brian suggests and buy a smaller house for a lower price and make extra payments. For the great majority, that was a smart move. Of course right now that isn’t true, but in the past recessions always ended and things got good again. I honestly wonder if that will happen now. But none of us can know for sure. Time will tell.

      What I can tell you is that if you live in a van you will always have a roof over your head and your total costs of providing that roof are extremely low! My next post i will try to itemize those costs. Bob

  6. Dan, Phx. says:

    Just for fun, If anyone wants to see a fun site, go to tumbleweedhouses.com. They are houses built from 65 square feet to 900 square feet. Many are all solar. Some are 12 volt systems. They are building them all over the world because of the high prices of homes. I prefer being mobile, but they also build these tiny homes on flat bed trailers. There are alot of other websites like this also. Good luck to all. Thats a beautiful picture Bob. From what I have seen, I don`t know why you think you can`t go Pro. Dan.

    • Bob Bob says:

      That’s a great website Dan! Thanks for your kind words about the pic. I guess the bottom line about going pro is laziness. It’s a lot of work and I am pretty happy with my life just as it is. The blog gives me an outlet to sharing my photos.

      I haven’t forgotten the idea of a post a month with just photos and descriptions of some of the places I’ve camped. That is coming up. Using that shot made me inclined to start in Colorado, one of my favorite places. Bob

      • LaVonne says:

        I agree that you could totally make money off your photos, Bob. An easy way to do it without a lot of work would be to register and sell your photos through stock photo sites. Here’s one example of how it’s done: http://www.istockphoto.com/sell-stock-photos.php

        In fact, this could be a source of income for lots of vandwellers with good cameras and a bit of skill.
        LaVonne recently posted…Vandwelling WomanMy Profile

        • Bob Bob says:

          Thanks for your kind words about the photos laVonne. I thought about trying to make money with them, but I have so many things on my plate it just wasn’t worth the effort. You can buy professional level 13×19 photo-printers very cheaply now, so I thought I would get one and set up a booth at fairs and flea-markets with samples of my shots and then print them right then on-demand. I could charge $30 to $40 each for large prints and would only need to sell a few to make some money. I even bought the printer, but it was just too much work so I never did it. But I do agree, that it is possible for vandwellers to make money at it.

          When you hit the road this April, stop by and see me and I will help you in any way i can to get set-up and off to a good start. Bob

  7. Andy says:

    Bob, Have you ever considered getting a cheap metal detector and checking out where you stay. I am sure you could find some interesting stuff! No better way than picking money up from the ground. Maybe some nice artifacts as well in those deserts and hills.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Andy, that really is a great idea. I used to mess around with gold prospecting, I was even a member of GPAA-LDMA ( a national club for gold prospectors) once. I started out full-timing with gold pans and a sluice box, but I simply didn’t have the room for them so I gave them away to a thrift store (somebody got very lucky).

      Now that I have the van and trailer, I have the room for them, but no longer have the time. The websites keep me pretty busy. Are you a gold prospector and do you use a metal detector? Have you had any luck? Bob

  8. Fred says:

    I can not agree more with your points. I have been RV’ing it for fives years, with my wife! I often told her that I can not see us ever paying rent again. Sure there are some things that are a little bit of a hassle, for me it’s getting up at 4am to move, but every day is a new day, different from the day before.
    There is also a great camaraderie between van dwellers. I have made some really good friends and if something goes wrong with the vehicle, or finances or whatever, they are all very willing to help.
    I am planning to get a smaller class B to go on extended trips and leave our 27′ RV here as ‘home base’.
    Actually I want to sell the 27 and just go, but the wife is not convinced that that is such a good idea. (she will see…and come around).
    Thanks for all your blogs, insights and information.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Fred I couldn’t agree more. I never plan to live in a house again. Mostly for reasons of freedom, but just as much because I simply can’t afford to live in a house, period. I live very comfortably as a vandweller, but if I tried to live in a stick and break, I would have to live like a pauper, barely surviving.

      The only thing that could force me into a house (a fate much worse than death) is bad health. If it comes to that, my solution is one last trip out into the desert with my .357. Bob

  9. Josh says:

    Did you take that mountain image? It looks like an image that is a known fake.

    • Josh says:

      My apologies. The image it resembles is not the same. Please delete my messages. http://tinyurl.com/cys4jys

      • Bob Bob says:

        Josh, no problem at all, I’m glad to talk about my photos. It looks to me like that shot in the link is heavily enhanced. It is a terrible shame the harm photoshop has done to photography. Now whenever I see a truly outstanding photo (especially with extremely vivid colors) I have to wonder if it is fake. I took classes from a pro once and I said one shot i always wanted to take is a great lightening photo. His response was that it was super easy, he could show me how to “paint” a perfect lightning bolt into a photo and no one could tell it was fake. I was horrified!! I would never even consider doing such a thing. I love being in nature taking photos!! It is my greatest joy in life. Some of my best memories are the hikes to locations and standing around waiting for good light. I could talk about them for hours. That’s heaven to me. But I hate sitting in front of a computer working on them and only do it under protest. I could get better shots shooting in RAW, but I can’t stand the extra time the processing takes. JPEGS are fine and easy. Bob

    • Bob Bob says:

      Josh, I did take that shot. With photoshop it is incredibly easy to fake photos, but there is nothing special about that shot that needs to be faked. I took it as about 11:00 am when the light is not very good, it is a little harsh. I did use a polarizer that really helps harsh light. Gorgeous wildflower photos are a dime-a-dozen in Colorado! That is Beckwith Pass in Colorado and I can go back there next July and take the exact same shot. It’s a good shot, and I really like it, but in Colorado it really is easy to take shots like it all day. A lot of it is that I am a hiker. I walked maybe 3 hours to get to the top of the pass where I took that shot. Plus I was a campground host, so on all my weekends I drove around to places that were famous for great shots (I own a dozen photo-guides to Colorado). I had job offers in three other states that would have paid more, but I chose Colorado just so I could take photos. Later in the month i will do a post with pictures from Colorado.

      Now, let me admit that my Thanksgiving post with the photo of the sun behind the cactus is photoshopped. The yellow flare around the sun is what I saw, but the sky was not nearly that orange-yellow to my eye. I did that with software (upped the saturation) so that it fit in with the theme of fire. Whenever you see extremes of color, you should be suspicious, but the Colorado mountain photo was just what my eye saw when I looked through the viewfinder. Bob

  10. Izaak Diggs says:

    Another excellent blog making valid points. Home ownership and even apartment leases are another thing locking people into stressful jobs people can’t stand. With the money you can save living in a van, you can resign that awful job and have something to fall back on while searching for something more suitable.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Izaak, that is such an important point. For so many of us, our entire lives revolve around providing shelter. We work at jobs we hate, with people we don’t like, to buy things we don’t want. I believe it literally is insanity. Throughout human history, homes were no more than protection from the elements. But today our entire life from sunrise to sunset revolves around them. For me, NEVER AGAIN!! My cozy little converted cargo trailer is a wonderful little home. It keeps me safe, warm and dry. I love it!! It’s total costs were $5,000 (including solar and Honda generator) and every 5 years I have to renew the plates. And best of all, every morning I step out of it onto gorgeous public land and I am struck by such a sense of peace and joy with my life. That never once happened while I lived in a stick and brick!!!!! Bob

  11. Calvin R says:

    I have done the numbers for myself and studied Bob’s and other people’s. I don’t question that I would be better off living mobile in terms of money, health, and spirit.

    At this point, I am waiting for Greater Powers to show me the way to a more liveable vehicle than my old 2-door Chevy with its “issues.” My $9.00 an hour job is just keeping me in financial trouble despite my rent being only $375. I took the job to get experience in retail because it’s a portable job; you can get this work anywhere. Today I’m getting ready to do a comparison; I might have been making more at short-term temp jobs. At the same time, my coughing and related issues (I’m uninsured, of course) might force the issue. I can move to my brother’s place in the next state if I can get there and if I can part with almost all the “stuff” at once.

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” (Janis Joplin) My version of that is “Freedom’s realizing there’s nothing much to lose.”

    In any case, I take Bob’s numbers as a fairly cautious estimate. Your mileage may vary.

  12. ziggy says:

    Hi Bob…I have been enjoying your blog for a few years now and also plan to hit the road if I can still collect a pension by the time I reach 65. I tried van living up here in Canada back in the 1990’s and had limited success doing mostly back breaking farm labor in the warmer months of the year. But I barely made enough money to pay for gas and vehicle insurance as well as feed myself. Luckily my van did not have any major mechanical difficulties otherwise I would have been hitch hiking back to the city where I now live. As far as van dwelling in Canadian cities thru the winter it is only really doable here on the ‘WE*T COAST’ but when ya factor in the extra costs for fuel, maintenance, car insurance, health club fees and police harassment just for the sake of living rent free in a cold wet tin can I am much better off renting a warm room (hydro & internet included) for five hundred dollars a month thank you very much !!!

    • Bob Bob says:

      You are right Ziggy, no one solution works for everybody. Some people are much better off living in a van, and others are better off in a house. Living in a house is especially attractive in a place with harsh, unpleasant weather! I hope you like it more when you try it again later! Bob

  13. gretchenrose says:

    Well said Bob!!
    I’ve owner, rented, been a roomie and traveled in my GMC Safari for two months camping a few years ago through AZ.
    Counting the days when I can be there again and out of the northwest rainy season. Everyone has valid points and thanks Bob for spelling out the financial incentives. I knew there was a reason I quit owning last May and now rent working toward vandwelling at least for a year or two. I’m placing my possessions that furnish a very small one-bedroom aptm in storage. I know paying for storage isn’t the best idea but I’m not willing to let it all go, just yet. I’m hangin in there with Fred’s wife at least for awhile because I’m a nester astrologically and at heart. I like having Plan B and once I’m out there in the greater world I may change my mind, sooner than later, once day at a time. Sometimes you just have to conquer the “fears” walk through the fire and come out the other side a courageous and a more deserving less stressed individual especially when there are sooooo many folks out there ready, willing and able to help it happen.
    Bob, you are definitely one of those people!!! Blessings, Gretchen

    • Bob Bob says:

      Gretchen, I can sure understand the desire to be out of the rainy northwest! Dreary rain and drizzle can get old fast!

      Don’t be down on yourself for being tentative in changing your life. There are no wrong ways to do this!! If keeping your things in storage makes it easier, then I am all for it! You don’t have to prove anything to us or live up to our expectations. All you have to do is feel as happy and safe as you can as you follow your dreams! it can be very scary out here! My first night in a van I cried myself to sleep, but from that rocky start came a way of life more wonderful than I can describe! I wish that (Minus the crying yourself to sleep LOL) for you to.

      If it works out, come and visit us either here in my camp or the RTR. There is a whole tribe out here looking forward to welcoming you into the fold! Bob

  14. Abbe says:

    Hi Bob. 🙂 I look forward to crossing paths with you sometime in the near future. I’ve been RVing on and off for a while, but will be a full-timer in less than a few weeks. It took a lot of effort to make this happen — working to get a pension, downsizing my stuff and putting the rest in storage, getting my house sold — it will all be worth it though, when I turn the key on my rig, and literally DRIVE AWAY, ha ha! I’ve been ‘plotting’ my escape for some time now. 🙂

    BTW, you will go gaga when you reach the Canadian Rockies. I drove (by myself) across Canada, and by far the most stunning scenery I have ever scene in my life was driving through the Canadian Rockies. I would look to the left and say, “Wow, that’s beautiful!” Then I’d look to the right and say, “Wow, that’s even more beautiful!!” Every turn was more amazing than the one before — it will literally take your breath away.

    I’ll start following your blog now that I’ve found it, as I love hearing about people’s full-time travels in their rigs. Thank you Bob, for giving so freely of your time to your readers, and for the generosity of spirit when sharing knowledge.

    See you on the road, Miss Abbe Kitty.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Abbe, I admire your persistence in making your dreams come true. Sometimes you just have to set a goal and plug away at it till it comes to pass! I’m sure you must be aglow with excitement now that it is so close. I think this is one of my favorite moments, when something I have worked for is just about to happen and all the hard work pays off.

      I can’t wait to see the Canadian Rockies! It’s been a life long dream! Most people dream about a trip to Alaska, but when you grow up in Alaska, you have to dream about the other beautiful places.

      Maybe you should consider starting your own blog! You can do it for free and it gives you something to do with your time. I read quite a few blogs and I think I follow slightly more women than men. Women are more interesting! Bob

  15. mel candea says:

    I love your blog- we’ve been living in our VW van for a few months now. From the CZ Republic to Bulgaria and now Istanbul. People really don’t realize how economic it can be- this article really spelled it out. Of course, there are always people that react in shock ‘You live in your van-???’ but generally people have been supportive and envious. Keep preaching to us converted, it makes me smile more than my alternative lifestyle.
    mel candea recently posted…Food Is the WordMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Mel, thank you for your kind words! You and your boyfriend are very brave to travel the world in a VW van. I am afraid I am a typical parochial American and the thought of that is outside of my comfort zone. Some people think I am brave for living this way, but reading your blog makes me feel like a fake: YOU are brave!

      You don’t have an “About Us” page on your blog, are you Americans traveling the world? Bob

  16. Bob says:

    I plan to retire in a year, Lord willing and hit the road in a motorhome towing my Jeep. Money is a factor but the big difference for me between the nomadic and stick/brick lifestyles is feeling alive versus feeling dead. If I continue to live in suburban Philadelphia I’m confident I’ll be more comfortable and my days will be more predictable and less stressful but I’ll be bored to death. When I’m on the road I connect with people and the envirornment in a way that I never do here. Maybe because there is less social stratification amoung nomads. We are just people who feel good enjoying the incredible beauty.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Bob, that is very, very well said. I really like this:

      “the big difference for me between the nomadic and stick/brick lifestyles is feeling alive versus feeling dead.”

      I feel totally the same way! Hopefully one of these days our paths will cross!! Bob

  17. Dan, Phx. says:

    Hey Bob, I am still a member of the GPAA. I always thought If I needed a place to hang out for the winter, the arizona gold fields would be a good place. Since I live about 40 miles from the place where they have found the most gold in AZ. I just go from home. Quartsite is famous for its metal detecting, the gold is supposed to be closer to the top of the ground in that area. The problem is It`s been over worked. There is a large gold mine about 5-6 miles from where your at now. Anyway, Its a fun hobbie.

    • Bob Bob says:

      You are right, metal detecting is very popular here. There is a very large and active metal detecting club and a gem and mineral club here and they have regular outings to detect. Where we held the RTR the last 2 years had a GPAA claim about 1/2 a mile away. there were people working it constantly. I’m sure it is very overworked. It’s a great hobby, especially for RVers-Vandwellers! Bob

  18. Janet W says:

    Thanks for putting the numbers in perspective. I am still in my very modest stick built, but hope to get rid of it in a year or two. I have lots going on right now that keep me here, but in two years, that should all be cleared up and I will be on Social Security. The extra income (I have a small pension and work part time right now) will help pay off bills, get the house ready to sell and let me get on the road. I have an older, but reliable 4WD SUV that I like and can tow it with that. I have lived in a travel trailer before and it worked out fine.

    Because I work seasonally, and am a nester by nature, I think I will start out with a lightweight trailer. I can put my treasures in storage and visit them (and redecorate the trailer) when I am working. I work in the winter (tax preparer) and will put it in a park for those months, and then hope to travel, park two weeks, travel (rinse, repeat) during the nice months. I figure if I am working in the rainy months, I won’t care too much – I will be indoors anyway. The summers are HOT where I live (Central Northern CA) and I look forward to the days I can leave the hot valley.

    I am nervous as I am an older single woman, but lots of women do it, and I think I can too. I am not a nomad by nature, but this should enable me to save enough money that I can get out of debt and get some money into savings. In a perfect world, I would love to get to the point where I could buy a small piece of property, put in a well and septic and park the trailer in my own little RV Park. If I never got beyond that, I would be okay. I like the idea of having a place to call my own, but don’t want to do a mortgage again.

    My current house payment is reasonable by most standards, but add on utilities, taxes and the dreaded maintenance, and it adds up. I have to admit that my biggest cost, however, is health insurance, and I can not do without it. But when I add in all the costs for paying for a home I will never own outright I could easily offset the cost of my health insurance by getting rid of the house.

    I would also be one of those with stuff in storage, as I am the keeper in the family: Mom’s hope chest, Grandma’s treadle sewing machine etc. and I am not ready to give up those pieces of me. Thank you for recognizing that many of us live with one foot in each camp and that to live in a house, or live mobile in a van are not our only, mutually exclusive choices. So many blogs make me feel guilty for wanting to hold onto my treasured family heirlooms for a bit longer. You recognize that many of us are not ready to simply leap into a new life. Some of us need to wade in a bit at a time.

    I will keep checking in, as you seem to have a tolerant and realistic view on the various ways a person can live out their days.

    Many thanks for maintaining the site and providing the amazing photos.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Janet, I think you have a wonderful plan!!!!
      I totally recognize that we are all very different and I admire that you have been honest with yourself and know what you need and are making plans to get it. Our whole purpose is to live our BEST lives, and that isn’t the same for any two of us. I highly recommend a blog by RV Sue. She is woman about your age and she lives and travels full-time in a Cassita TT. It might be exactly what you want! Check out her blog at:
      http://rvsueandcrew.com/
      I think she can be especially helpful to calm some of your fears.
      No guilt here!! My only hope for every reader is that they be HAPPY, whatever that may mean to them. Bob

  19. Al Christensen says:

    In preparing to sell my house, I did the math on how much I’ve paid out servicing my mortgage the past 17 years. I was stunned. And I had 13 years left. I know I saw the numbers they showed me when I took out the mortgage, but even then I knew I would be selling the house long before I paid it off, and everyone was saying the value of real estate was rising so fast that I’d make a killing on it, so I didn’t think anything of it. Then the bubble burst and I’ve been waiting for the market to rise back enough that I can make a little money after I pay off the bank. I’m lucky that I didn’t go underwater. I’ve hated being a homeowner the past few years. I didn’t want to be dumping money into a house I didn’t really want anymore. But I had to in order to “protect my investment.” Yeah, right. If I had put that mortgage money in savings I’d be a LOT further ahead now. Even without the tax deduction. But after decades of renting, I bought into the home ownership story. Damn me.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, sometimes it comes as a big shock to people that home ownership isn’t everything it is cracked up to be. To be fair, it works extremely well for some people, but not for everyone. I hope you do well selling it. In some parts of the country housing has rebounded, I hope you are in one of them!
      Bob

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