Van life help needed!

I recently started getting SSI for health issues. I dont get much so I cant survive and pay rent. I really want to get into camper van. Does anyone know an affordable way to get started soon. Im not far from being homeless. Any advise is appreciated.

Greetings & Welcome!

For most people, subsidized housing is the better choice. I would look into that with your case worker. Are you signed up for food stamps, medicaid, free cell phone etc? If not you need to get on that, because they will save you money.

Your current landlord may accept HUD/Section 8/rent controlled/income based etc. if you ask. This would be the best case scenario and you’d be able to keep your place.

Some places have car donation programs. Some of these programs, not all, work both ways. If you can prove you’re needy, you can get a free car/truck/van/rv, EVEN A HOUSE or LAND!!! Watch the online classifieds for free vehicles, or anything else you need, social media, NextDoor, and buy nothing sites.

Learn to BARTER and trade your way into what you want/need. You can build an empire starting with freebies.

If you don’t have a car now, you can build a bicycle/mobility scooter pulled camper really cheap, and still have all the comforts of home without all the associated costs. Sometimes, even if you have a car it can be better to switch to eliminate the insurrance/fuel/maintenance costs. You might be surprised how cheap you can live in FULL COMFORT if you put your mind to it. I’ve built bicycle campers for a few hundred dollars that have all the amenities & comfort of an expensive motorhome.

Then find a significant other, or a partner, and start a business in their name so you don’t lose your SSI, and you’re off to the races and a great and fulfilling life. Go for the money, stay for the enjoyment the money can bring. The business can buy you a house, car, yacht, anything you want, without endangering your SSI.

Done right you could be living the good life in a very short period of time. I’ve seen people go from homeless and nothing to starting a business and making $1,000/day+ right out of the gate. One junk hauler is making $2,500/day+ in profits, and paying his workers $50/hr, even though he is 100% disabled and unable to do any of the work himself. The right businesses rarely fail, and can start making huge profits immediately. There’s BIG MONEY in helping others.


"Opportunities are everywhere, but only action makes it happen." ~ Van_Dweller

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I don’t qualify because I get Ssi. 900 a month doesn’t afford anything! Maybe if I was an illegal immigrant and didn’t pay into social security for 25 years I would get more than double what I’m getting. But I was born and raised here and worked my whole life here so the government doesn’t care about me!


Being on SSI automatically qualifies you for food stamps, medicaid, a free cellphone with internet, and subsidized housing.

Do you have a car you could move into if you can’t afford your current rent? Many people live in cars until they can get back on their feet. At $900/mo it won’t take long before you can afford a motorhome once you’re not paying rent or utilities. Then you’ll own your own efficiency apartment on wheels.

Quit making excuses, you can turn your own life around immediately, without any public assistance, if you set your mind to it. Whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t, you’re always right. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. I grew up being told “You can, you will, you must ________________, with no excuses, and failure is not an option.”. It works. Where there is a will there is a way.

They don’t teach proper life skills in school, but we still have libraries, and even better we have the internet today. If we switched lives and circumstances today, I wouldn’t have a worry in the world, because I know how to make money. I know how to buy houses for nothing down. I know how to build a bicycle pulled camping trailer for nearly free, to live in until I can do better if I need to. I have done all of these things.

We live in the land of opportunity, but nobody is going to come and rescue us, we have to rescue ourselves if we want to live the good life. Public assistance is designed to help you survive, not to help you thrive. Nobody lives the good life on public assistance unless they have money making side hustles.

Today’s world is run on MONEY. So that is what we need. Money solves everything, even if people love you for your money, you can get nearly the same benefits, and you can buy anything else, even happiness. The only thing we can’t always buy is our health, for that, we just have to do the best we can, but money can help a lot with that too. Today, when I take people to Disney World etc. I rent a mobility scooter, so I can enjoy it too, without all the walking. I built both my converted camper van, and my converted bus to accommodate for my disabilities and keep me comfortable.

If you honestly can’t work, (99%+ of all people claiming disability could work if they really wanted to!), then start a business and hire others to do the work. You can start a business for under $50, and start making money immediately. Think homeowner services… All the things people need done. There’s a gold mine there just waiting to be harvested.

Then there’s business services… One of my businesses is selling advertising to businesses, I promote it, and outsource the actual work. All of my businesses are internet based now, because I can’t do physical work any more. If you can type a message on the internet, you can make money on the internet. There are thousands of businesses you can start on a shoestring budget, and outsource the actual work for. Each of my websites cost me under $50/mo. and make me over $1k/mo. ANYBODY can do this, I’m nobody special, and don’t have any special skills that you can’t learn online for free.

I volunteer, helping the homeless get off the streets & to live the good life. Addicts need rehab, but the elderly & disabled just need a better income. That’s one of the areas I specialize in. I go on Craigslist, and find a number of people wanting the same type of job, then I start a business to give them jobs while making the absentee business owner (The elderly or truly disabled person) money. Problem solved, and everybody wins.

If a dummy like me can do it for others, you can certainly do it for yourself now that you have the formula. Find a need, and fill it. It really is just as simple as that. Read the help wanted ads, not for regular businesses, but the ones from individuals. There will be trends, a number of people needing the same things, maybe it’s lawn mowing, or house cleaning, gutter cleaning, pool cleaning, window washing, pressure washing, painting, you name it. If there’s a number of people needing the same thing, then the market is under served in that area, and a perfect opportunity for a new business.

One of my websites is a local business directory for homeowner services. Roughly 100 service providers pay me $20/mo to be listed in the directory. Like a smaller version of Angie’s List, that’s also cheaper for the businesses. Another is a job board to connect local businesses with workers. It doesn’t matter that there’s 20 or more other websites doing the same thing in the same area, I’m still making good money. It doesn’t matter if everything I offer is also available via google or CL, because my sites are smaller, simpler, and easier for potential customers to navigate. A better mouse trap.

Live in too small a town, no problem, start your business in a bigger town, and you don’t even need to leave home to do it. Nobody is forcing anybody to be trapped in the rat race. People trap themselves due to a lack of learning techniques. We live in the land of the free, and the home of the brave. To be free, we must exercise being brave, and not give up until we succeed. Not everything works for everybody, but something will always work, if we search for it.


"Opportunities are everywhere, but only action makes it happen." ~ Van_Dweller

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** Cannot add more than the previous posts but this thread is more valuable than many four-year college degrees. This method of starting from the basics and working your way up to a level that you are comfortable with is, well, basic, but it works in many aspects of life.

Fixing things, of course, everybody needs things fixed. It’s recession proof it’s pandemic proof and it’s AI proof. I started a business fixing (and building) things 40 years ago that I am trying to to retire from. The work is all referral so I may never retire.

I would go into Home Depot or Lowe’s parking lot and look to chat with the owner of a van that looked like he knew how to fix something. I would tell him that I’m in the business of getting work and that comment would generally peak an interest. Talk about what you do, talk about what he does and you can exchange numbers and photos. That’s a starting point that resulted in working relationships that lasted decades.

There are volumes of books written on the subject and what to do next. I never read any of them. I just started with the basics, and that proved enough to succeed.

If I had to earn money at my age, I would do what I know the best, which is to fix things**

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Well said my friend, well said… Somebody (Maybe Famous?) once wrote that “Every problem has a solution.”, and it’s true, although it may not always be obvious, it is still always true.

It would seem that the OP has put themselves in a rather precarious position. Once on SSI or Disability, your income will be tracked & scrutinized. Often trapping people into a life of poverty & misery, if they can’t figure out a way to better their position.

While there’s always solutions, the most obvious are either more money, or learning to live within your means. While subsidized housing could be a partial solution, it can take years to get, so it’s not much help for the immediate future. A camper van might be a poor choice for them as well.

The OP also isn’t giving us much to go on, such as describing their disabilities, where they’re located, or anything else that could help us to help them. It almost seems like they’d rather play victim than do what it takes to improve their situation.

OP: If you’re reading this, please know that we’re here to help. I love challenges & happy endings, and honestly believe we can help you solve your problems.


"Accountability, responsibility, self sustainability,
& creative solutions for the win." ~ Old_Soul

Hi tedious,
Regarding entry level living in a vehicle, I have seen many Bob Wells videos on his organization Homes on Wheels Alliance. Most of their activity is southwest USA. They seem to be devoted to helping people, that have motivation and some ability to help themselves. Lots of positive videos, meet ups and some give aways where they actually help individuals build in their vehicle. Videos on people car/van living on $1000/mo. Uplifting just watching their content and may be a good starting point to see how you could get involved. They also provide hope in a community to be part of. You may converse with people who are at a level that you want to be at and a level that you can achieve. I do not have personal experience with them, I just like their mission and make an occasional small donation.
The public assistance advice on this tread sounds really solid. I would read it over and over, make a list of the key points and follow up on what applies to you.
The motivation on starting your own business will require that you are on solid ground as you will have to face the reality of licensing, insurance and taxes as required in the location of your trade / business. Lots of regulation and compliance costs in the northeast USA, other areas may have less.
Speaking to people who have advanced up one or two levels to where you want to be may show you a path to a better life. Focus on the details of what you need to do next, one step at a time.
Thought Homes on Wheels Alliance may be a helpful suggestion.