Why not microapartments instead of vanlife?

I’m trying to understand why vanlife has become so popular, rather than microapartment living.

The advantages of the latter are obvious - you can get an easier to park vehicle with better mpg (assuming the microapartment provides parking space) and lower insurance costs, you can have long-term connections to electric, water, internet, possibly gas, and Internet. You don’t have to worry about stealth parking and fines, and, even if you have to share a laundry room (in some cases), full size washers and driers would be a big time saver. Also, you don’t lose your home while the vehicle is being serviced. And you don’t have to be worried someone will steal your home.

I suspect that where microapartments are legal and available, living in one can be about the same cost as living in a van. (Am I wrong?)

Of course, vanlife might make it easier to travel long distances, especially if you appreciate the outdoors, or if your work takes you to more than one distant place for periods of time, but that could be pretty expensive in a large van.

So are zoning laws that prohibit microapartments the main reason people choose vanlife?

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I should clarify that I am talking about otherwise equally well designed and sized microapartments and vans. Maybe 100-200 square feet. Fold down futon & desk, shower, toilet, sink, kitchenette (counter space for a burner, and basic food prep, microwave, toaster oven, cabinets for food and appliances, refrigerator/freezer). And of course heating and A/C.

I forgot to mention that microapartments normally have the advantage of long-term connection to a sewer system. I would consider that a huge plus. Also, trash pickup. And a real mailbox.

I don’t know enough to know whether household pests and inter-apartment noise are a soluble problem in reasonably affordable microapartments.

Neither microapartments nor vanlife would be perfect for me right now. I have kayaks, a bike, and I would love to have my own full size refrigerator/freezer, a washer, drier, and a dish washing machine. I’d need to get rid of a lot of old stuff, but I probably should anyway.

But living in a shared house as I do now with a bunch of guys who don’t keep the kitchen clean is imperfect too. I love having a yard in which to put my kayaks, but yards require maintenance.

I can’t afford to rent or buy a full size home. I could afford an old used mobile home - but ground rent and the cost of connections now runs maybe $1000-2000/month, and is rapidly going up.

Part of my problem is that I like being near a full size supermarket and shopping center, doctors and a hospital, a public swimming pool & whirlpool bath. And I want a safe neighborhood.

I never heard of a micro apartment before

In cities, generally “micro-apartments” are referred to as Studios or Efficiencies. I don’t know the prevalence of this style of housing in smaller cities, but in larger metropolitan areas, they are common. Here in Chicago, you’re looking at starting at 600/mo and that’s with a shared bathroom (think dorm) and in "less desirable areas… You want convenience or a better neighborhood and you start at 850 (and that’s hard to find and it could still be a dump). And in most cases, the rent doesn’t include utilities beyond water/sewer, so you put extra for parking, heat/ac, electric, cable/internet, etc…

Oh, and your basic appliances may be a compact fridge and stove, no microwave.

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An RV of your choosing, in a monthly RV park with full hookups, seems like the best bang for a buck currently.


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