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(Matt Foley)   Living in a Van. River optional   (blog.priceonomics.com) divider line 33
    More: Interesting, RV park, self-sufficiency, subcultures, dry cask storage  
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4674 clicks; posted to Geek » on 05 Oct 2012 at 6:47 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-10-05 03:17:35 PM  
The cost of living is so high down here, I've honestly thought about living in a small used RV for a year or two to pay off bills and save some money for a home down payment. I'm paying over $1k/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment.

I don't need much, a bed, a small TV, a place for my computer and a fridge/stove for food. My work has showers, and I have a pass to go inside after hours for restroom needs.

The biggest problem though is where to park it. Its $1,200/mo to park it at the cheapest RV park near me, so there's no money savings there. Its illegal to park overnight on the streets. Even the local Walmart doesn't offer overnight RV parking.
 
2012-10-05 03:23:29 PM  
Is it lonely?

Yes. Most people appear to be living in vans solo.


Yeah, I can't imagine 99% of ladies are very impressed when you bring her over to your "place".

Although, for your "one night stand" kind of deals... if this kind of living had enough people doing it, could someone start up an "Apartment" one-day rental type of thing. It would definitely be an apartment though, not a hotel or dorm... the idea is kind of like what "Regus" does for businesses without a real office ("office space" you can use for meetings, etc, when you need to look like you have an office), except, an apartment for when you need it to look like you have a place to live (other than your van). The staff would take care of making sure it is clean/straighten up before each "rental". They could even make it look lived in by you (ie, you can upload some photos of yourself to their website, and they would put them in the picture frames in the apt., etc).

Obviously after awhile, people may start to pick up on this (especially if someone gets invited to the same apartment in a very short amount of time), but, in a really large city, the odds on that wouldn't be as much of a problem, I see this as a NY/Chicago/LA type of thing, not a Topeka type of thing.

Honestly, I could see even people who do have a home (you don't want the other person you just met to know where you "really" live, cheaters, out of towners who want to seem like they are local, etc), wanting something like that as well.

Is there nothing like this now? Did I just trip upon something here? Living in somewhere more like Topeka, I may be totally out of the loop.
 
2012-10-05 03:34:54 PM  

dletter: Is there nothing like this now? Did I just trip upon something here? Living in somewhere more like Topeka, I may be totally out of the loop


There is. There's plenty of people that rent out apartments or condos for short stays, even just overnight. You often have to contact a service that specializes in "corporate housing" to book them though. They're fully furnished, and there's no way to tell they are not just regular apartments or condos. Some places even have houses set up like this.

I've stayed in a few of them. They've ranged from dive apartments to places that were super posh.
 
2012-10-05 03:39:19 PM  
img.photobucket.com
 
2012-10-05 03:40:14 PM  

ShawnDoc: The biggest problem though is where to park it. Its $1,200/mo to park it at the cheapest RV park near me, so there's no money savings there. Its illegal to park overnight on the streets.


That depends on where on the "left coast" you are. There are lots of areas where parking overnight on the streets is completely legal. Hell, there are a bunch of folks who've lived in RVs for years in Venice.
 
2012-10-05 03:44:27 PM  

ShawnDoc: dletter: Is there nothing like this now? Did I just trip upon something here? Living in somewhere more like Topeka, I may be totally out of the loop

There is. There's plenty of people that rent out apartments or condos for short stays, even just overnight. You often have to contact a service that specializes in "corporate housing" to book them though. They're fully furnished, and there's no way to tell they are not just regular apartments or condos. Some places even have houses set up like this.

I've stayed in a few of them. They've ranged from dive apartments to places that were super posh.


Well, I guess I knew there were things like that (especially in the "corporate housing" space), I guess I was just going towards more of the "trickery"/"personal use" end (ie, them putting photos of you put up, etc), and based on that, much more catering towards the 1-2 day thing vs. a week or monthly. Although, I'm guessing the places like you are talking about would do "special requests" like putting some photos out (ie, the idea being, the person, if it is needed, just shows up at the address when needed and it is "ready", they don't have to do any prep work).
 
2012-10-05 04:10:19 PM  
This is something my father who grew up in working class surroundings in Turkey would say, "hell no, WTF did I come to America for in the first place?"
 
2012-10-05 04:19:33 PM  
There is a propane powered grilled

Fu*king proofread your sh*t..
 
2012-10-05 04:19:39 PM  
Also, the whole DUI-while-sleeping-in-your-car thing.  So, no.
 
Pud [TotalFark]
2012-10-05 04:37:38 PM  

downstairs: Also, the whole DUI-while-sleeping-in-your-car thing.  So, no.


I was threatened with that a few years ago. I was in the back passenger seat waiting on a cab I had already called at the time. The cops actually looked a little disappointed when the excuse I gave them drove up, and honked his horn.

/I think I was still lucky they didn't lock me up for the night just for the "chest puffin'" effect.
 
2012-10-05 07:23:37 PM  
Nobody? Really?

hubgarage.s3.amazonaws.com
 
2012-10-05 07:50:27 PM  

dletter: Although, for your "one night stand" kind of deals... if this kind of living had enough people doing it, could someone start up an "Apartment" one-day rental type of thing. It would definitely be an apartment though, not a hotel or dorm... the idea is kind of like what "Regus" does for businesses without a real office ("office space" you can use for meetings, etc, when you need to look like you have an office), except, an apartment for when you need it to look like you have a place to live (other than your van). The staff would take care of making sure it is clean/straighten up before each "rental". They could even make it look lived in by you (ie, you can upload some photos of yourself to their website, and they would put them in the picture frames in the apt., etc).


airbnb
 
2012-10-05 07:56:44 PM  
All I can think of is Jerry Blank screaming "PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA!" and her date saying "Just shove that into your piehole and then it's camper time."
 
2012-10-05 08:03:02 PM  
I honestly would so love to do that, but I confess I would want a reasonable shower, bathroom, a/c, and not have to tear down the bedroom for the workroom and vice-versa. But then I'd drive a day, work a day, drive a day, work a day.
 
2012-10-05 08:18:48 PM  
FTFA: If you live in a van, you can basically kiss your daily shower goodbye. If you plan on living in one city, you can get a gym membership. However, that's not really a good solution if you want to maintain a mobile lifestyle.

huh? Join Planet Fitness for like $20 a month and you can use anyone in the country. or the YMCA for $40.
 
2012-10-05 08:19:46 PM  
Is government cheese optional also?
 
2012-10-05 08:29:36 PM  

Spanky_McFarksalot: FTFA: If you live in a van, you can basically kiss your daily shower goodbye. If you plan on living in one city, you can get a gym membership. However, that's not really a good solution if you want to maintain a mobile lifestyle.

huh? Join Planet Fitness for like $20 a month and you can use anyone in the country. or the YMCA for $40.


Yep. I was once asked as part of a poll what luxury I would hang onto the longest if I fell on hard times. I said "gym membership" because that gives you a place to shiat, shave, and shower for a dollar or two a day. They even provide towels, soap, and shampoo at a minimum.
 
2012-10-05 08:29:49 PM  

Spanky_McFarksalot: FTFA: If you live in a van, you can basically kiss your daily shower goodbye. If you plan on living in one city, you can get a gym membership. However, that's not really a good solution if you want to maintain a mobile lifestyle.

huh? Join Planet Fitness for like $20 a month and you can use anyone in the country. or the YMCA for $40.


Yeah... most national chain clubs are fairly cheap anymore.... if I was single now instead of in the mid 90s, I might have tried this to save up some dough.
 
2012-10-05 08:33:54 PM  
Sly Stone's home:

cdn.hollywoodgrind.com

Link
 
2012-10-05 08:36:56 PM  
Actually, the van sized RV sounds like a great alternative to a full blown RV for traveling.
 
2012-10-05 09:15:36 PM  
I have a friend who after getting divorced and while living for freaken Microsoft as a traveling installation tech (they would fly him to places to install big corporate systems), took to van living. He traveled all over in the country out of a conversion van, often sleeping it in but occasionally sleeping in a motel for a shower,etc. Working out of his laptop for programming duties and for about a week a month they would fly him from wherever he happened to be to wherever the client was. His coworkers and boss thought it was awesome and he was always presentable for clients. Man that's the life. He eventually gave it mostly up though he still travels constantly, because he can.
 
2012-10-05 09:16:15 PM  

MindStalker: living for


working for, that is
 
2012-10-05 09:35:41 PM  
Back in the 90so had a lot of acquaintances go on yours of the country in used vans. We were is our early 20a and would work at labor pools and such. It was quite interesting where some of the folks visited. I should have hopped in the one that went west, but ended up with some buddies and we headed to Chicago. One of the greatest adventures of my life. :)
 
2012-10-05 09:36:49 PM  
I didn't proofread on purpose because I enjoy watching grammar nazis squirm.
 
2012-10-05 10:03:20 PM  
I'm currently living out of my car. A van would be more comfortable than a compact.

/98 Mercury Mystique
//Wisconsin is starting to tell me I need to get an apartment soon
 
2012-10-05 10:18:09 PM  
There's a cool looking '80's Dodge van in the lot across from my work right now. It looks like it has a 4" stack coming out the top of the passenger side right behind the passenger seat for something like a woodstove. Dunno what it's like on the inside. And there's a tent in the trees by the creek just down from that. It snowed last night, so that would be tough. If you're in the forest, you only are required to move every two weeks. It'd be neat to have a motorcycle on the back of the van for runs to the grocery, exploring, laundromat, library, starbucks and stuff in whatever town you're near if you were in the forest. People do (or try to) do it all the time, but I don't know how they can cope with the winter that's coming soon. Also, propane and gasoline costs are pretty high right now and those things aren't very well insulated. Then again, you don't have to pay rent/mortgage, utilities, property taxes, cable TV, internet subscription, etc. You might have to have a storage unit somewhere if you want to keep some stuff from your previous life...

I guess you really have to be organized, dedicated (to cleaning, washing clothes, fixing your POS '80's conversion van, diet changes may be required, etc), and stuff. It would be cool to be so independent though. 

/or just be really good at finding friends to help you out 
//if it were me, I'd want to be in the parking lot of a 24/7 Super Wal-Mart next to a 24/7 gym in a warm place like Mississippi or Louisiana near the coast with a good BBQ restaurant within walking distance. Oh, and a lake. With fish in it. And a nude beach. And a golf course. And a good corner tavern. With a friendly waitress. And a pool table. Also a nice diner. Open for breakfast.
 
2012-10-06 02:35:23 AM  

ShawnDoc: The cost of living is so high down here, I've honestly thought about living in a small used RV for a year or two to pay off bills and save some money for a home down payment. I'm paying over $1k/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment.

I don't need much, a bed, a small TV, a place for my computer and a fridge/stove for food. My work has showers, and I have a pass to go inside after hours for restroom needs.

The biggest problem though is where to park it. Its $1,200/mo to park it at the cheapest RV park near me, so there's no money savings there. Its illegal to park overnight on the streets. Even the local Walmart doesn't offer overnight RV parking.


Parking is definitely a problem. Your profile says left coast. So Cal? Orange County? If so, know that in the People's Republic of Irvine it is even illegal to park overnight in your vehicle ON PRIVATE PROPERTY WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE OWNER! Some other cities aren't much better.

Your best bet is to make friends with some local cops and simply be open about overnight parking. City Hall or Civic Center, even right next to the police station, is often tolerated providing that you:
1) engage in NO illegal behavior - including grass and drinking in the car/truck
2) make no noise and try not to be obvious
3) park in a slightly different spot each night
4) keep the vehicle presentable
5) have a pet that can charm - a cute cat is good
6) (if you're lucky this happens) occasionally call in disturbances to 911 - this makes you an asset in the eyes of the cops.
7) be friendly, dress presentably
8) be frank ("no money, no home, you got any suggestions?")

One thing: do NOT tell your homeless friends where you hang out. Others will then join you. When you're homeless, 1 or 2 are tolerated, 3 or more make people nervous.

Weapons: don't carry any. DO have a couple of cans of Hot Shot Wasp Spray (the kind with the 27 foot range). I guarantee that a chest or head shot with that will stop any bad guy who isn't on bath salts, and will at the very least put him into a critical care unit for a week. It may kill.

When you live on the street, it's who you know that counts for EVERYTHING.
 
2012-10-06 06:56:44 AM  
We're sorry

Our servers are over capacity and certain pages may be temporarily unavailable. We're working quickly to resolve the issue.

Apparently the servers are located in a van that is "offroad"

A few years back I was unemployed and homeless for about 4 months, I lived in my VW Eurovan Westfalia. It was over a summer, so it was very enjoyable - basically like an extended road trip. I loved it. They're roomy, the fold out bed is comfortable, and they're not that bad on gas. I spent most of it parked out on the Outer Cape (Cape Cod). Parked on the street, etc. I tried parking in municipal lots but the local police kept hassling me. Parking on the street was much easier. I have a wife and baby on the way, so the only camping we'll be doing is on weekends.

Link
 
2012-10-06 06:57:37 AM  
Derp - I meant to post the photo, not the link:

images.dealercarsearch.com 

(Mine's red, but same thing)
 
2012-10-06 11:22:39 AM  
When I was doing it, most Walmarts would let you park overnight for free. Now they wont even let you park there for an overnight at all. I suppose you could get by this by being somewhat of a night owl, and sleeping during the day, but that would suck. There's a fellow in my town who has been living in a beat-to-shiat Westfalia at our Barnes & Noble for over 2 years now. I wonder how he pulled that off in our uptight little community. The cops around here are generally tolerant of "vagrants" for a period of time; they must not have gotten many complaints about him and let it slide.
 
2012-10-06 11:54:28 AM  
I've been living in this on-and-off for about a year now:

sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net

My current solution is risky but has the potential to be stable. I have a lease on a house and I rent out the rooms and live out back. This gives me a safe place to park, internet, a shower, a kitchen, a laundry room and a place to store all my extra crap so I don't have to pay for a storage unit. And in theory I can make about $1-200 a month when all the rooms are rented out.

Bonus: Once my roommate situation is stable, I can use the money I save from not paying rent to take road trips.

Obviously this isn't for everyone, but if you are low income and like to live simply it seems a waste to throw away half your income on a roof over your head just so you can go to work all day.
 
2012-10-06 01:06:33 PM  
Part of me thinks this would be awesome. Put a trailer on the van for my Vespa, put all my crap in storage and live simply for a year or two.
 
2012-10-06 09:14:25 PM  

ravenlore: Part of me thinks this would be awesome. Put a trailer on the van for my Vespa, put all my crap in storage and live simply for a year or two.


It was pretty awesome, all told. I was doing it at sort of a low point in my life where I had lost my girlfriend, house, and job, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have had I been had I planned it as a sabbatical. I had been camping and vacationing in it for up to a week at a time for a while, so going full-time was not that much of a stretch.

I think after the first week you'd hate having a trailer. Part of the allure of van living is you're totally mobile. A trailer would kill that the second you went to some place cool that had limited parking. In 4 1/2 months of living in my van, I had my mountain bike and I never had the desire for anything else.

The biggest concern I had was storing the base essentials for living. It requires cutting down to the bone and living as simply as possible, but there's still stuff to manage, like food and keeping clothes clean and being organized with cooking stuff. I had a cooler for food and that was OK but ice is expensive to buy every day. I quickly learned to eat more simply with canned and dry food that didn't require refrigeration. I would get fresh vegetables and meat, but I'd only get what I could eat that day. I also had no shame about eating in soup kitchens.

Despite living in a van, I had no problem eating well, getting a shower every day (I had a solar heated camp shower), and staying connected to the world through the internet. It's amazing how frugal you can get when you give up all the pre-conceived ideas about living standards and just take things simply, as they come. I will probably never do it again because I have a family to take care of - new wife, a baby on the way, and a sick dad - but if I ever found myself alone again, and I could figure out a way to earn money on the road, I would go back to a van life.
 
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