USA Van Suber Newb

Hey there Project Van Life community! My name is Chelsea, I live in Washington state. I am quite new to even researching van life. I’m just now getting more into the detailed research of owning and living in a van or potentially a Class B RV.
Currently I work for a Naval Shipyard where I make decent money to fund my future home. But I plan to quit in no less than a year. My goals are to work my independent business out of my van while moving and living in places where family and friends are located. Staying a couple months to a couple years at each, whichever feels right. Eventually I’ll start branching out and picking random places where I don’t know anybody!
I’m excited to start this new chapter of my life and am looking forward to the knowledge I will gain from this community!

Greetings & Welcome!

Okay, first things first… Do you already have this business up and running? If so, is it making enough to support your future life? Lack of money is one of the major reasons people fail at becoming full timers. Is your business recession proof and future proof? You want your business up and running, making good money, and all the kinks worked out BEFORE you quit your current job.

Vehicles are easier. Every shape, sort, and size are available. With rare exception, building your own is NOT a good idea. Building your own will usually cost more than buying a completed one. The possible exception to this is if you plan on spending a lot of time in below freezing areas, because plumbing and below freezing temperatures don’t play well together unless you have full hookups, and can still be problematic even if you do. Spending time in extreme temperatures, I build my van with no plumbing to avoid any freezing problems. I still have everything, toilet, shower, double sinks, etc; just no plumbing. Most full timers follow the good weather, so they’re rarely anywhere freezing.

Street camping in the same area for a month or more is going to be difficult in many places. I would budget for staying in RV parks, and this can change everything. If you’re staying largely in RV parks or campgrounds, many people choose to either have a camper van AND tow a trailer, or get a motorhome and tow an economy car, so your living quarters can stay hooked up and in one place when not traveling. I’ve done both ways, and preferred the camper van with a travel trailer. That way for weekends or time off, I could take off in my camper van, but my trailer would be waiting for me when I returned.

Now I’m back to just a home made camper van because I travel more. So there are many options, but you should never gamble more than you’re willing to lose, and always have a large enough emergency fund to buy your way back to a better life, get repairs, and live on long enough to figure out something better. I keep a $$10k emergency fund that I basically never touch. Way more in savings, but that’s a whole different story.

My current van plus the conversion cost under $1500 over 10 years ago, and it’s the most comfortable, convenient, and functional one I’ve ever had. I’ve learned that all the expensive stuff people like to recommend is all bad choices. The better choices are all cheap and easy. Once you discover the benefits of passenger vans and modular/portable systems, and the pitfalls of solar panels, roof vents, and 12v compressor fridges, life gets both better and cheaper.

I’m available for any help or advice you need, and to help you avoid all the pitfalls that so many people get suckered into. The vandwelling community is unfortunately run by scam artists whose only true goal is to line their own pockets. By the time people figure out their mistakes it’s too late, and the their money is long gone, and their entire lives frequently ruined. Too many wind up broke, homeless, and jobless, while the scam artists are living the good life.


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