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Full Version: I'm failing at Van Dwelling
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There were many things I thought I could handle but I've come to the conclusion that living in a van is not one of them.  In fact, I've learned I very much dislike it almost to the point of hating it.  I got so fed up I took a break from the discussion boards.

I thought I'd done my homework.  I read these and other forums for years, chatted with people online and in real life, watched hours and hours of videos, read books, watched documentaries, etc.  I'd previously restored a couple of cars, had mechanical experience, knew how to use power tools, and so forth.

I was also aware of my limitations; brain damage, carpal tunnel, mental illness, arthritis and an overall grouchy personality.  Still I thought I could swing it.  I was wrong.

What I NEVER should have done was allow myself to be convinced I was overthinking it, I wasn't.  I learned that I should have trusted my gut and not be swayed by the color glossy brochure descriptions of an amazing time and how easy and wonderful van life would be.

One thing I DID get out of this experience is I've learned a lot about myself and that it's okay, I don't have to be a van dweller.  I've learned a lot from others failures as well.  It's the old saying; you learn more from your failures than your successes.

The negatives:

I was very disappointed at how many people I met blamed Bob for their failures rather than taking responsibility for their choices.  This mostly had to do with products that Bob reviewed and/or recommended.  I can't be around this kind of person very long because I'll end up saying something they won't like.  Personal accountability is a very important character trait, especially living this way.

I had a really hard time around people who demanded respect but required I earn mine.  I also had a very hard time around entitled people or those who took advantage of the generosity of others and treated them badly when they didn't immediately jump on demand.  I ran into a lot of these kinds of people.

It sucked that my poor sense of direction is worse than I thought it was.

I learned that initially this can be a very expensive lifestyle and until I figured things out would continue to be.  This is one of those instances where I allowed myself to be mislead by videos telling me how wonderful it was.  Budgeting was a nightmare because the original budget I created didn't match the reality I ended up living.  Most of the time I was too broke to go anywhere or spent too much money in order to deal with things like mechanical repairs.

I had no clue how isolated I would feel.  This exacerbated my depression.  I couldn't sleep at night because of the insecurity I felt.  Not feeling a part of "the tribe" magnified that.  It got worse when despite my detailed descriptions I was unable to get the help or information I needed which made me feel frightened, alone and unimportant.  I tried to hook up with others but most of the time it didn't work out if I got a response at all.

I should have never, ever bought a van without a raised roof of some kind.  I have spinal arthritis.  I am suffering and in pain almost all the time.


The positives:

I did meet some very cool and genuine people.  Some I've kept in touch with.

I learned a lot about myself and some of it was surprising.

I learned I have a great love for indoor plumbing especially in regards to the bathroom.  I learned not having this in some capacity is a deal breaker.  Washing my hands is something I don't want to be without and hand sanitizer just isn't good enough.  However I did learn I could tolerate using a bucket.

I learned I could not live in the desert long term and thankfully before I bought property.

I learned I need to listen to myself more and others less regarding how ready I am.  I know my medical issues and only I can address them.  If that means taking longer or spending money to deal with the issue so be it.


There is much more but I'll save that for another day.  Right now I'm in the process of having yet another repair done so I can be on my way to AZ once again.  See y'all at RTR 2019.


The grouchy and reluctant van dweller.
Welcome to the real world.
Sorry things didn't work out the way you had hoped. You did have a great adventure, though. You came back maybe a bit wiser, minus some illusions but plus some probably pretty good stories. And now you can go back to your regular life without some nagging question about how you really want to live remaining unanswered. That must bring some measure of peace. And it makes it sound like your attempt accomplished something important for you, telling you some things you needed to know.

Perhaps, all in all, still a worthwhile attempt and some good memories?
Bob may be a little bit too overly-enthusiastic about van life. I'd say it's much more suited to a male, and also to one who has spent a lot of his life camping, and traveling minimalist at that. I think of my van as a *metal tent*, and not much else. Personally, I think a "real" RV, like a Class-C or a well-equipped travel trailer, is more suitable for most women. Essentially halfway between S&B and van.

The other thing is, before I came to this forum with its "cheap living philosophy", I've known many people who retired, bought RVs, and traveled for several years, but then settled back to S&B. The RV sits in the driveway. I think that's really the "norm", and Bob doesn't talk about that (at least that I've seen). 

RVing is not a 1-way street. Not doing it is just another choice in life. You try things, and then you try other things. That's what life is to me. I travel part-time, and that suits me.
That's an unsettling report. I do appreciate it, though. I'm planning to give up a very nice apartment this spring because I don't want to maintain it... the money is such a waste, especially if I won't be in it most of the time. So your report of vandwelling failure bothers me.

I don't know if, because I'm a woman, I should have a trailer or RV rather than a van. I am completely new to insulating, building, and everything involved in making a home within a van happen. However, I have some confidence I can create a nice bedroom in the space of a van, and I will have a bathroom... I think that's essential for my needs.

The issue with your spinal arthritis and needing a high roof tears at my heart. I can imagine your pain - it sounds excruciating - but more, I'm sad because most people cannot upgrade to a HR van and so many are saying that is almost essential to happy vandwelling.

Maybe vandwelling takes a bit of desperation. If people can afford to move back into s&b then leave their RVs empty in the driveway, maybe they're just not desperate enough.

I have no roots, no home town, no husband, no children with me any longer, and I have never owned real estate. I feel that I'm able to wander. I've been hoping for road trips in heaven but as it turns out, I'm able to do it right now if I give up the s&b apartment, so that's my plan. I hope I don't get out there, months from now, yearning for the good old apartment days, thinking I can't take anymore and must settle down.

My mother was a wanderer, and only stopped because of a serious medical condition.

I'm sorry you are calling it quits but it does sound like there have been an extraordinary number of difficult challenges, and I thank you for sharing your story and observations with us.
I think success is overrated.

The Dire Wolfess
With your medical issues most days will feel frustrating for many of the hours.

Some of the things you talk about are pretty much going to happen in any type of location other than perhaps in a contemplative life/retirement center. That puts you into a community where others can't bother you and you are forbidden to say anything grouchy to others because the focus is on finding inner peace with yourself and your environment. These places work with you to help you get to that place where you can cope. It keeps you from having to engage in a lot of physically painful activity but makes sure you stay as active as possible to maintain your function. Of course they are also used to having members of the community who are coping with brain damage. This is not a nursing home as such. Sometimes Christian organizations run them, sometimes they are Buddhist.

Your daily needs are met and it will be clean as well as quite. The funds you have to contribute might be enough as most of these places are non profit. But as it is not a nursing home medicare or medicaid won't cover anything other than your regular medical care bills. They won't pay any other associated expenses of living there. If you go looking for a place like this be very careful to run background checks on them such as talking to the State Attorney Generals office to see if there are complaints about the organization and the operation. There are both great places and some not very good places when it comes to such centers. You can't rely on the information from the "pitch", you have to do a deep research and that for you means working with a trusted friend or family member who has judgement independent of what you think. You need a trusted advocate in your life when you have difficulties with your brain processing information.
Interesting, maki. An advocate would be wonderful. Social services for the elderly and disabled here where I live, anyway, has many truly admirable and dedicated people. They really wow me, and I've been around this sort of thing for years now as a guardian/conservator and caretaker too.

The sort of living situations you describe sound wonderful, but it's hard to imagine how they might not be prohibitively expensive for all but those with a great deal of money in the bank. And very narrowly dispersed geographically as well. It just doesn't sound like an option for any but a very small percentage of people, especially as you say medicare and medicaid won't cover it. That's all many people have. It helps cover the typical bills my clients have, which are generally $4k a month and up, commonly $6k/mo. or more. And that's not counting medical. Skilled nursing care facilities are closer to $9k/mo or more, and that's for pretty industrial/humble places. Not in the least bad, and with really nice people, but irritatingly loud and not in the least relaxing or homey, I mean.
We have lived in an old 28' motorhome for over 15 years. While in the motorhome never pooped in a bucket, were always hooked up to 110 power or ran a 7000 watt generator and most of the time had "city" water and sewer. We have almost always lived much cheaper than if we lived in a house as most times all utilities and a lot were furnished or cheap as we were able to take seasonal jobs in remote and beautiful places. Similar to living in a house just more hands on and smaller. The last 6 years we have begun to boondock mainly on BLM land in smaller tents,trailers and trucks several months a year. Similar to what Bob does in a van but because there are two of us our campers are slightly larger than a van. Unlike our motorhome using bucket or a seperating tiolet, camping shower, solar, grey water disposal, and ect. are totally a different experience and in the long run even cheaper if living simply and boondocking. These two ways of living and saving money are totally different, sure you can adapt a RV to simple living and boondocking which will cost a large amount to adapt. If you do it several years it may save you money but you have to first find out if you will enjoy living this way. If you are happy where you are with the life you are living be thankful and enjoy. If you are courious, try a few weekend trips. There is a learning curve involved to be able to meet the demands of living fulltime even in a RV and even more so in a van as it is a smaller space. There is plenty of help and how to here but first you need to know what you need to enjoy and be happy in your everyday life. This style of life may not meet those needs and therefore not be for you. If you can afford a cheap apartment and like the conviences of city living without having to figure out where you will park tonight. You can still travel and work seasonally at jobs with furnished housing or van camp a few months of the year. You may appreciate after living this way being closer to doctors and hospitals in an apartment or tiny house.













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To Headache and TravelAround, I really do think the van life is not that well suited for ladies. Bob literally gloats about poopng in a bucket. I prefer to camp in CGs that have toilets myself. However, everything is a process of partial solutions and compromises. Nobody said life would be simple, certainly not our parents.

Perhaps a better solution if the van works out to be too inconvenient would to pull a small trailer like a Casita or Scamp, which provides standing room, toilet, and shower. RV-Sue did this quite well, and brought her 2 dogs along for fun and company.
- http://rvsueandcrew.net
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