Hi, vanlife community! :)


#1

Hi there!

I’m so excited to be a part of this community! I don’t have my van yet, but I will soon. I’ve been doing extensive research about van life for the past 11 months and can’t wait to sell my house and begin my van build. It’s been a long process so far. I want to make sure I do it right. I know you can’t prepare for every contingency, but planning always seems to be a wise thing to do. Anyway…

I’m currently living in Texas with my sweet 12 year old Weimaraner. She’s the best little buddy a girl could ever ask for! I’m so blessed!

Right now I’m working a typical 9 to 5 job – which actually ends up being way more than 40 hours per week (although I only get paid for 40). Every free moment I get I’ve been researching and also systemically preparing my house for sale. My biggest concern at this point is how I will financially sustain myself in my new desired lifestyle. Until that’s more solid, I really can’t move forward with confidence. That’s been my major delay. The goal really is to have a completely mobile job where I can control my schedule and location…but…

I recently received a job offer in the Washington DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia area. The work would remain in that geographic area and require regular commuting within it. This is a great opportunity, however it seems as if vanlife out there may be a bit more challenging than most locations in the midwest/western United States (if you’re planning to mostly boondock). The job would also require me to daily gain entry to numerous high security locations and I’m concerned that driving a Sprinter van through security may get interesting (challenging with all the restrictions) and time-consuming (potential for detailed searching of the vehicle each visit). I’d love to take this job but don’t want to give up on my dream of living in my Sprinter van!

Thanks for letting me share this new conundrum (very recent development). Anybody out there with experience have any insight you could share?

If you’re in the DC/MD/VA area, do you think living the mobile lifestyle out there is even possible? Thanks in advance for your help!

For all you DFW vanlifers – I’d love to meet you around our area! Make sure to introduce yourselves! :slight_smile:

Thanks again for the opportunity to be a part of this vast and amazing community! Can’t wait to get to know you guys on here! Happy travels to all!


#2

Greetings!

The first thing to consider is that despite what you read online, CARGO VANS ARE NOT STEALTHY!!! The simple truth is that the more you try to hide, the more obvious you become. The public, the cops, and security guards take a very dim view of unknown cargo vans at night. Respectable people have no reason to hide. Creeps & criminals hide. I am a city dweller, in an obvious camper van, and nobody bothers me, but I see cargo vans getting hassled on a regular basis. When I had a cargo van, I got hassled a lot too, and the cops will treat you like a potentially dangerous criminal. They approached my van with their guns drawn more than once. People fear what they can’t see much more than what they can see and understand. Cargo vans don’t make good campers either, windows make for better campers, the more the better. Daylight and the view are what makes it enjoyable. I can enjoy the view from my cozy camper van even on days I wouldn’t enjoy the weather outside.

Most regular jobs tie you down to a single location, and multiple short time jobs don’t look good on resume’s. There are jobs that are more travel friendly, and some even require travel, but work from home, or online jobs seem to work better, or better yet start your own online business. The beauty of these is that you can keep your regular job until you can build an income larger than your regular job.

I wouldn’t sell your house or belongings until you’re 100% sure that this is the life for you. Taking this leap has trapped too many people into ruining their lives. Never gamble more than you’re willing to lose. My current van, and the complete conversion, cost under $1500, so I risked very little, but when I spent nearly $70k on a newer cargo van and converting it, I lost over $30k in just over a year. Depreciation is real, and cargo van campers are VERY difficult to sell, nobody wants them.

Simple and reliable systems are the best. Complicated systems are not only expensive, but they complicate your life as well. The simple life is better if you keep it simple.

Cheers!


"I can live like a king because I work like a dog." ~ An anonymous vandweller



#3

I’d find some way to try this out and get your van together before you put your house on the market. For some people living in a home 8’ ft long & 6’ wide turns out to not be as comfortable as you’d have thought.

Buy a van, to get enough van to sleep & eat out of can be real simple then try it out. Do your normal routine for a week or two and see how it fits. If it’s still what you want then build you van & then put you house up on the market.

In January down in Quartzsite Arizona cheaprvliving.com will be having the annual RTR (rubber tramp rendezvous). A whole bunch of vandwellers (thousands) will be there for 2 weeks. Fly down & rent a van, pickup an inflatable bed, a portapotty & a camp chair from Walmart & check it out. Talk to everyone, see what others have done with their vans, actually live out of a van for awhile and see what it’s like.
You won’t be alone…


#4

A few stray thoughts I had while reading your post:

  • there is little downside to getting rid of material possessions, even if you don’t end up in a van. If you wanted to put some pressure on yourself, you could make a vow to buy materials/gear for your build only with funds from selling unneeded Stuff. :slight_smile:
  • one’s own driveway (equipped with extension cord) is a great place for a build. It will give you time and familiarity with the space in the van to help adjust your plans as you go
  • if you plan it right, you can dispose of everything except what goes in the van and be ready for the sale. Then drive off.
  • On security inspections: the company (or should I say “The Company” :sunglasses:) may have a shuttle where you can park-and-ride in order to avoid the lengthy vehicle inspection process. Anecdote: I live very near the border with Mexico and go through checkpoints all the time. The first one took almost an hour; subsequent ones have been 2 mins max.
  • if you will be urban boondocking I’d encourage you to consider multiple ways to keep your bank charged.
  • the DC/MD/VA area will be pretty close to DFW levels of humidity. I was born in Dallas and lived in the area (excepting a stint in the army) until I went fulltime this year. I asked for and got a transfer to a “transitional desert” climate. Much easier on this old body. I probably could have stood 'dwelling in a humid area as a young man, but that was decades ago.
  • expect family and friends to be freaky about the decision, no matter how adventurous you’ve been before. Cow-orkers :smile: may have similar freakiness. At my job everyone knows and is cool with it.
  • as with the rest of life, vanliving is a set of compromises and choices. Only you know what you need and want you want.

I wish you well!


#5

Welcome!

What if you rent your house and live with the rent?
I’m from Europe, and maybe real estate in EU is different.


#6

Hi There!

I currently live in the DC/VA region with my husband and we are also saving for vanlife. We both have accepted that we would need to move in order to live that dream. Where we are now, with both the weather and traffic congestion, we just don’t see it being possible or even comfortable to live out here in a van. Now, neither one of us is from this area originally but we have heard that there are some amazing land areas further west and south of Alexandria, VA that might be possible. Commutting would be the real problem because traffic is always congested so you’re looking at over an hour each way but it might be worth it. The public transportation around here is also really great and many people live in VA but work in/near DC so there are lots of ride share options that might work for you. Weather wise, it can still get very cold and very heavy humid here, which is just something to consider depending on where you plan to park your can most nights.

I hope this helps a little! Good luck in your journey!