Hello everyone, my name is Dan. Seattle born and raised, veteran, full time remote software developer with a dream of a more nomadic less cluttered life style. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the tiny home community and after a friend of mine pointed me toward Vanlife I fell in love with it. I spent months doing nothing but watching videos on Youtube to try to get a real look into the reality of Vanlife and get an idea of the mishaps and blunders that come with a life on the road. As well as the up sides. My hope is to use the opportunity my position affords me being entirely remote to finally make the leap and start building a van out.
Greetings & Welcome!
Most of vanlife on the internet is pure fantasy, not reality, and is designed to make everyone promoting it money.
In truth, it is only one small step above being homeless, but much more expensive, stressful, and problematic. Even with a steady income, most of us wind up living in cities, because traveling and decent campgrounds are too expensive. For most of us, all that “free” camping is nothing more than a very bad and expensive joke.
If you want to try it out, start with the cheapest factory camper van or motorhome you can find. Don’t risk your current lifestyle, or any more than you can afford to lose. Start slow, in your driveway, and slowly venture out from there. Experience will change your mind about almost everything. Very few people last longer than about a year in this lifestyle, and it frequently costs them their houses, jobs, and life’s savings. Don’t be one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked beyond the glamour shots at this point and have tried to find as many of the horror stories as I could about the lifestyle. I have no doubt that it comes with hardships and issues, but the benefits that it offers from what I’ve seen would greatly outweigh those downsides at least for me. However my plan is to start small, begin with weekends or weeks in a van and work up to extended periods or permanent living. However I do appreciate your candid feedback on the very over glamorized side to the internet and how van life can sometimes be portrayed.
My initial thought was to buy a used cargo van, something like a used ford econoline and then build it out as a weekend camper and slowly transition into it part time to get a feel for whether this is something I truely want to do or if it is just an extension of wanting to live a more simple lifestyle. Then after I’ve spent some time in that van figure out what I feel I’m missing or what I feel could be removed assuming it isn’t something I hate consider my options for moving into a full time situation. I’m not sure what the opinion is on used vans whether built out or not already.
Go for it Danny! And hi! If you don’t like it, which I seriously doubt , you can always go back. Ciao!
I am a full time developer (100% remote) and work with high profile clients consistently in the e-commerce space. I think that Van_Dewller has it right where you need to ease into it. We have been doing so over the last month and have been living in our van full time and traveling minimally on weekends (Fri-Mon). We live in a very expensive city so paying $50 a night for a campground is about the same as or less as paying for rent for us if we were to do so for a full month. We bought an 83 xplorer and restored it ourselves and paid a mechanic some money to fix some things like installing/tuning a new carburetor. All told I think we are into it for about $8k and I would not hesitate to drive it across the country and back at the drop of a hat. My advice would be this.
1.) Buy something cheap and use a site like searchtempest.com to cover a large area while searching. We traveled 400 miles to get what I considered a solid deal.
2.) Find somewhere to park it until you are ready to go - Friend, family, etc.
3.) Invest in a solid mobile hotspot. Personally I think Tmobile is the best for us as we have a grandfathered plan with a huge datacap for throttling
4.) Take a two week vacation when you start so you can travel a bit and iron out some of the kinks.
5.) Most camp grounds have poor internet and if you are a developer you probably have standups and other meetings you need to attend daily or weekly. Their internet won’t work for that or downloading a 10gb database.
We are pretty happy with where we are at with the whole experience and are saving about $1800 a month by not paying rent, electric, water, sewage, etc. In half a year our whole setup will have paid for itself and if worse comes to worse we get another apartment somewhere and end up with a classic ride we can take out on the weekends or on vacation. I don’t see that happening as we find it quite cozy.
My partner is a web and app developer and found the transition to van life very simple in regards to work and income. There are lots of remote roles out their in that industry so it might be worth looking for one as you near the end of your build so when it is ready you are already set up for van life!
You will absolutely love it!
Wow, a few really dim views of this out there. Don’t listen to the naysayers who don’t really live the life. I don’t make any money off vanlife, nor do I want too. I don’t have a YouTube channel that I’m pushing, I just live in a van and travel extensively. I went fulltime the beginning of the year and have already been all over the country. I don’t really use campgrounds all that much because I prefer boondocking and stealth.
I’ll write more in a bit when I fire up my computer.
@TrampAnotherMile Thanks, life is about adventure and it is always better to take the risks that aren’t potentially life threatening.
@Bretly I greatly appreciate the advice, especially the two week vacation to work out any issues idea. I hadn’t thought of that but it likely wouldn’t be a bad plan just to make sure the van is ready before I start traveling a lot.
@GreenEarthling I’ve actually been lucky enough to already start a full remote position, my company is incredibly supportive and before I started with them I’d made it clear that one of the reasons I was seeking full time remote was so that I could travel on my days off. They basically only care about two things, that I make the meetings I need to make and that I do my job as a developer. Thanks for the advice though I’m hoping to start the build process in the coming months after I find a decently priced van or save up a bit for a down payment on something new (still considering this because of warranty and lack of old vehicle problems)
@greeneyedggirl I stopped listening to naysayers when I decided to become a developer through non traditional schooling.
The best way to find out is to try it. You can get really complex and expensive but it doesn’t have to be. There are no rules that say you can’t change your mind & go back to where you were.
If you can truly work remote than find some place else you’d like to be & take a stab at it! It could be a simple van set up or a small used RV, either way will get you actually trying the lifestyle.
There does seem to be some people who are into building a van rather than just living in one, there is nothing wrong with that, hobbies are good!
There’s a huge difference between a truthsayer & a naysayer. Preventing others from making the same costly mistakes we’ve made is a positive, not a negative. Too many people are being set up for failure, so people who don’t deserve it can make a profit.