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The Future of Van Life - Jack - 09-27-2018

Is the future of van life in trouble?

A couple of months ago, I never even heard of van life.  Once I found out about it, each day solidifies my desire to do it.  So, as someone with fresh eyes, as I do more and more research about the life, I can't help but notice some disturbing negative trends that keep popping up along with the good things.

I know van life comes with a stigma.  I'm new, not naive.  I can deal with the stigma.  And I realize that there's an underbelly of van life from folks who give it a bad name.  Got it.  What culture/way of life/belief system/etc., doesn't have those kinds of people making life difficult for the rest of the good folks?  So, I'm not talking about this side of things when I ask if the future of van life is in trouble.  

I'm seeing van life being spoken about more and more in the media.  Even the stories that appear positive still have a smear/judgment about them.  Combine that with legislation that makes it difficult to live the van life without having to be sly about it, as well as the need for 'stealth,' and then throw in the newer stories of places like Florida making it (or trying to make it) illegal to live off grid at all.  (Or grow food, catch rain water, etc.,)  Living in a vehicle full-time is basically illegally everywhere as it is.  

So, when you consider 1) the growing trend of people opting to live in their vehicles (for whatever their reason), 2) the increasing popularity of van life being in the news, and 3) the innumerable number of YouTube and other social media accounts that are basically advertising van life and drawing attention to it, do you think the future of van life is in danger of being specifically addressed and legislated, declaring it to be illegal and punishable?  

If so, how soon, and what steps are you taking to prepare yourself?
If not, why?  

Again, I'm not naive.  I know van life - and the stigma that goes with it - have been around for a very long time.  But the trend, and the attention it's getting, is increasing all the time.  Am I being paranoid or am I seeing the possible reality of the future of van life?  Sometimes it takes fresh eyes on a thing...  I'm not worried and I still intend on living in a van.  I'm just pointing out what I'm seeing and wondering if there's anything to it.  It also has me questioning whether or not it would be smarter to go into van life quietly, and staying completely off social media (as I already am).

The Future of Van Life - Moxadox - 09-27-2018

Jack, for one thing, the East Coast is not set up for van life, or off-grid living. I left North Carolina in 2015 and was amazed to find how much easier and freer life in the public lands of the West is. I've only gone back once, and couldn't wait to get out of that morass of humans and traffic and ordinances. No thank you. There's plenty of room in the high deserts.

Sometimes when people spend a lot of time considering the ins and outs of a thing, the downside can look pretty scary. If you are really truly fired up about getting out on the road, why not commit to a three month trial, with a failsafe plan if you find it's not for you? Three months will be sufficient for you to really experience the reality of living on the road, beyond the pink blush of a couple weeks' road trip.

In other words, it's time to stop intellectualizing and kick your butt out there for real. All your questions will then be answered.

The Dire Wolfess

RE: The Future of Van Life - Jack - 09-27-2018

Thanks for your thoughtful response for my wellbeing, Moxadox.  I can tell you honestly that I'm not concerned, worried, scared, or even questioning whether or not I'm going to live the van life.  I'm living it regardless because that's how sure I am that it's the life for me!  :::insert world's most positive and excited emoji here:::

I posted this question purely from a curiosity/conversation standpoint because of what I've observed and I'm curious if others have noticed the same thing or not.  ???   Should we be concerned and thinking about it?
Is it inevitable?  Impossible?  Or do you think van life will eventually become a validated way of life?  

I can't speak for the east coast personally, but I do know of several east coast vandwellers on YouTube who are loving the urban van life.

RE: The Future of Van Life - lenny flank - 09-27-2018

Meh, the experienced folks will always find a way. People have been vehicle-dwelling since the Model T Tin Can Camper Club, and they will continue to do so. Most of the troubles come from people who are quite frankly homeless and not really "vandwellers", and who bring most of their problems onto themselves. They will likely get swept out. Those of us who are actual nomads know how to keep under the radar and live unnoticed. We'll be just fine. And to be honest, we're just not enough of a nuisance that anybody will bother to expend the effort needed to find us. If we're not peeing in people's lawns, dumping our shit in the street, and panhandling everyone in sight, nobody cares if we are there. Out of sight, out of mind. People cannot object to our presence if they do not notice that we are there.

RE: The Future of Van Life - Jack - 09-27-2018

Lenny, what you explained is probably the most important reason for staying stealthy.

The Future of Van Life - John61CT - 09-27-2018

The concerns are valid, and if / when huge numbers of people doing it

**not by choice** but as a result of the economic system failing them, especially an under-regulated unaffordable housing market

escalates dramatically, then the enforcement issues could go either way.

Some communities will be compassionate and find ways to accommodate the needs.

Others will just use LEO to systematically move us on outside their jurisdiction.

Personally I think it will trend more toward the latter.

No stealth measures will help if they are actually seeking us out, automated heat-detecting video gear coupled with some AI, license plate readers, facial recognition, all that tech is already here and well within their budgets.

The relatively wealthy people doing it it for fun in big expensive "land yachts", those who still own comfortable homes to return to, they will not suffer much if at all, the law disproportionally targets the poors.

So yes, IMO staying under the radar is better than forming a visible "movement".

But advocating to help the more-truly homeless, fighting for dignified housing, just as with food & education,

as a fundamental right of citizenship,

will help address the underlying causes of the problem and prevent it escalating.

The Future of Van Life - AMGS3 - 09-27-2018

I think that perhaps the biggest thing nomads have going for them to protect them from any future local laws banning vehicle dwelling is our mobility. Are they going to ban people from going on vacations? Ban road trips? I suppose that urban/stealth dwelling in place in the same neighborhood for months at a time wouldn't really fit with a claim of "I'll be moving on in the morning, officer."

Also, what is the alternative? Do they force us out of our vehicles or trailers and into tents or onto the sidewalks? Do they force us into rentals or mortgages? Do they physically make us live in s&b? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm just truly not understanding how any such outlawing of this way of life would be enforced. How can they MAKE us purchase s&b housing?

I don't think that outlawing this on any sort of large scale would be enforceable.


Sent from my VS501 using Tapatalk

RE: The Future of Van Life - _KJ_ - 09-27-2018

I’ve been at this for a very long time and there is no way it’s going to stop. Ever, in fact I see it getting bigger and ‘society’ will be forced to accept us nomads from all walks of life and just deal with it. I feel it’s just going to get better!!

I’m 52 and I was stealth camping in a van in sanfran when I was 19yo. Did it all the way down to Cali and back to Vancouver Canada.

RE: The Future of Van Life - lenny flank - 09-27-2018

(09-27-2018, 10:15 AM)John61CT Wrote:  But advocating to help the more-truly homeless, fighting for dignified housing, just as with food & education,

as a fundamental right of citizenship,

will help address the underlying causes of the problem and prevent it escalating.

Yes indeed. Sadly, though, as a society, we have already decided that we don't give a shit about homeless people or what happens to them, as long as they are not bothering us personally--then we want them arrested or moved.


RE: The Future of Van Life - Jack - 09-27-2018

I have to say, I'm with John on this. Yes, I think folks will continue to live in vehicles but I can absolutely see it being legislated. Technology (one of the reasons I hate it) is not on our side if this becomes the case and is part of the reason why I asked in another thread about de-computerizing a vehicle. To my understanding, all they have to do is flip a switch (or something to that effect) and it can shut down your vehicle.

It's also why I wonder if I'm considering all I could be when it comes to choosing a place of permanent residence. Out of state plates are basically a dead giveaway. It could come to the point (again, at some time in the future) when vandwellers might have to keep to their "home state" to go undetected for longer. If that could be the case, then I would choose my state of residence more carefully than just considering whether they have an income tax.

Again, I'm just trying to think ahead given the current trend and attention vandwelling is receiving. I'm not nervous or scared.