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HOT TOPIC Living in a van down by the river

bdb

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Hey guys,

I've been thinking about going full time with my business instead of dedicating my best hours to my slowlane job, but I need to pay for the roof over my head plus vehicle expenses and food every month. What do you guys think about living in a vehicle in order to quit my job, cut expenses and do actual work on the business every day?

I'm a developer and I'm finding it very hard to come home after a long day of work and start coding websites & apps for my business. I tried waking up earlier but again 3 hours a day (max I could do efficiently without it affecting my slowlane job) is not enough time to get some of these development projects to a MVP state. My biggest concern is not feeling comfortable in a vehicle, but then that might be an additional help in forcing me to put the long hours to get out of that self imposed homelessness.

I know this does not apply to those with families but has anyone done it in the past successfully ?
For those who have experience, Is it harder to get a business going if you are living in a vehicle ?
Is it nonsense ? would it be better to move to the cheapest apartment in the cheapest state instead ?
 

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Jakeeck

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I lived in a van while building my business and it was the best thing I could have done for myself for 2 main reasons.

1. I stayed in beautiful remote areas in nature (that still had cell signal for hotspot), which was great for my mental state.

2. No distractions.

Drawbacks?

Limited food options - you can still cook using propane stove but its a pain in the a$$ to do dishes/clean oily pans.

A little uncomfortable depending on how you outfit your van. Sprinters can be big enough to fit in a desk. I was just in my bed propped up with pillows working on my laptop.

If you're not going to be traveling and working from beautiful locations, don't do it IMO. That's what made it worth it for me.

I did it for a total of 9 months. Living in an apartment again but now already wishing I was back out on the road this time of year :D
 
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bdb

bdb

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Nov 24, 2018
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I lived in a van while building my business and it was the best thing I could have done for myself for 2 main reasons.

1. I stayed in beautiful remote areas in nature (that still had cell signal for hotspot), which was great for my mental state.

2. No distractions.

Drawbacks?

Limited food options - you can still cook using propane stove but its a pain in the a$$ to do dishes/clean oily pans.

A little uncomfortable depending on how you outfit your van. Sprinters can be big enough to fit in a desk. I was just in my bed propped up with pillows working on my laptop.

If you're not going to be traveling and working from beautiful locations, don't do it IMO. That's what made it worth it for me.

I did it for a total of 9 months. Living in an apartment again but now already wishing I was back out on the road this time of year :D
Thanks a lot for the input.

In your opinion what is the best state to do this van/car dwelling lifestyle? Ideally I wouldn't want to move that much (gas = money), also wouldn't like to pay to park if possible, unless it's something really cheap.

Did you go back to renting because the business took off ?
 

Jakeeck

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Colorado is the best imo. I stayed in one spot for a month and a half. All places I stayed were free parking.

Campendium.com and sort for free spots.

I went back to renting because in the winter months you're basically restricted to arizona, and it gets boring there quick. I liked being around lakes and greenery, and AZ doesn't have any of that.
 

Real Deal Denver

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I have a brother that lives in a van.

Tight.

Instead, go to Craigslist and you can get a "real" RV cheap. You will not only get a lot more space, but a real bed, and a real toilet. Roof mounted A/C is also a big bonus. Spend more money and you can get a furnace and solar power, with a decent kitchen even.
 
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bdb

bdb

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Nov 24, 2018
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Colorado is the best imo. I stayed in one spot for a month and a half. All places I stayed were free parking.

Campendium.com and sort for free spots.

I went back to renting because in the winter months you're basically restricted to arizona, and it gets boring there quick. I liked being around lakes and greenery, and AZ doesn't have any of that.
Ahh, winter, is it that bad though? I've heard of people dwelling in their vans during winter.

I wouldn't mind boring :) the whole point I'm thinking of doing this is forcing myself to work on the business without any distractions.

Thanks for the site man.
 
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bdb

bdb

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I have a brother that lives in a van.

Tight.

Instead, go to Craigslist and you can get a "real" RV cheap. You will not only get a lot more space, but a real bed, and a real toilet. Roof mounted A/C is also a big bonus. Spend more money and you can get a furnace and solar power, with a decent kitchen even.
That sounds like a great idea. It would be a bit harder to park a large RV in the city though right ?
 

Real Deal Denver

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That sounds like a great idea. It would be a bit harder to park a large RV in the city though right ?
The big ones, which look like city buses - will have issues.

There are much smaller ones that look like a van in the front, with a built in RV in the back. Those are very manageable and much easier to drive.
 

Jakeeck

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Ahh, winter, is it that bad though? I've heard of people dwelling in their vans during winter.

I wouldn't mind boring :) the whole point I'm thinking of doing this is forcing myself to work on the business without any distractions.

Thanks for the site man.
:D I actually stayed in Denver from October - beginning of December. Worked at a co-working space. Basically spent all my time there and then slept in my van on the street, and it got down to 9 degrees as a low one night. It was manageable enough with a couple layers of warm clothing, a good sleeping bag and 3 other blankets (one being heated), but it was definitely a challenge. Some people have heaters and better insulation and have less of an issue.
 

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If you're actually doing it for your business, then do it.

If you're doing it because you like the idea of living in a van, then don't.

The mindset in the first scenario will allow you to succeed. The mindset in the second scenario will lead you to being a mediocre low paid bum.
 

ChrisV

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I think it's an amazing idea. I've literally lived out of my car for a while while building a business. As strange as it sounds, It was honestly the happiest I ever was... no rent.. no house payments. Jacked wifi from whereever. Sometimes stayed at friends, showered at the gym. It was the least stressful period of my life. Hakuna Matata.
 

Vitaly the Winne

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I think it's an amazing idea. I've literally lived out of my car for a while while building a business. As strange as it sounds, It was honestly the happiest I ever was... no rent.. no house payments. Jacked wifi from whereever. Sometimes stayed at friends, showered at the gym. It was the least stressful period of my life. Hakuna Matata.
What did it take, and where did you park your car?
 

ChrisV

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What did it take, and where did you park your car?
Anywhere parking lot that's open 24 hours I found best. Or Rest Areas work, but there's no wifi at the ones around here. But Fast food places were open 24 hours/day and usually you could get wifi outside, so that was honestly the best. I would switch it up so I wasn't over-staying my welcome at any one place. I had a power-strip in my car so I could charge my laptop, a sleeping bag rated for 30 below if it ever got cold and didnt feel like running the engine all night

Also the confidence you gain from it it unbelievable. Like my whole life I feared 'what gonna happen if everything hits the fan and I lose everything' but I really don't fear that anymore. It show you that almost no matter what.. if you were to lose pretty much everything you can still live pretty well. I honestly recommend it for everyone. Part of me kinda wished i didn't even have the car and make it with only camping gear.
 

Vitaly the Winne

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Anywhere parking lot that's open 24 hours I found best. Or Rest Areas work, but there's no wifi at the ones around here. But Fast food places were open 24 hours/day and usually you could get wifi outside, so that was honestly the best. I would switch it up so I wasn't over-staying my welcome at any one place. I had a power-strip in my car so I could charge my laptop, a sleeping bag rated for 30 below if it ever got cold and didnt feel like running the engine all night

Also the confidence you gain from it it unbelievable. Like my whole life I feared 'what gonna happen if everything hits the fan and I lose everything' but I really don't fear that anymore. It show you that almost no matter what.. if you were to lose pretty much everything you can still live pretty well. I honestly recommend it for everyone. Part of me kinda wished i didn't even have the car and make it with only camping gear.
That's awesome man, I was seriously considering this as an option in case everything breaks down and I've got my car and mind to rely on. How did you get mail, and have your car registered?
 

Jakeeck

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Anywhere parking lot that's open 24 hours I found best. Or Rest Areas work, but there's no wifi at the ones around here. But Fast food places were open 24 hours/day and usually you could get wifi outside, so that was honestly the best. I would switch it up so I wasn't over-staying my welcome at any one place. I had a power-strip in my car so I could charge my laptop, a sleeping bag rated for 30 below if it ever got cold and didnt feel like running the engine all night

Also the confidence you gain from it it unbelievable. Like my whole life I feared 'what gonna happen if everything hits the fan and I lose everything' but I really don't fear that anymore. It show you that almost no matter what.. if you were to lose pretty much everything you can still live pretty well. I honestly recommend it for everyone. Part of me kinda wished i didn't even have the car and make it with only camping gear.
Can second all of this. Also, staying overnight in any motel/hotel parking lot is really easy so long as you don't make it obvious you're in there.

I even ran into a couple sketchy folks in the places I stayed.

One guy seemed to be an old military vet. I ran into town for 30 mins and left my tent and a couple other things in my spot. I come back and he had my tent tied up to his truck and put my stuff in the bed of his truck.

It was dark out at this point, and he was in an enclosed cage in the back of his pickup. I yell into him that he took all my stuff. He says "okay take it" with a kind of pissed off tone.

He ended up tying my tent to the tree and his truck and I couldn't untie the crazy knot he did in the dark. I kept asking him for help but he ignored me or was passed out already. I ended up just cutting the damn tie for my tent. He also bent the tent rods lol. I was fuming pretty hard at this point because I felt like he was just ignoring me asking him for help to untie my tent.

I was going to leave a couple nails propped up to pop his tires along with an angry note. I wrote the note and then I was like "nah just let it go everything's fine now".

Ended up just driving a little farther down to a new spot. Actually ended up being a pretty friendly guy when I passed him walking a few times around the lake. Strange.

Then when I was sleeping on the street in Denver, some guy opened the back door of my van at about 3am (forgot to lock it), and was going through my stuff stored under the bed. My dog started growling and woke me up and then when he saw someone was sleeping in there he got scared shitless and booked it.

Also had a sketchy run-in with an angry farmer who said his neighbor would shoot my dog if he saw my dog chasing the cows that were on this public land. Got out of there the next day.

So yeah it def does give you the confidence to not only sustain yourself on very little, but also to deal with confrontation since you'll inevitably run into some weirdos.
 

ChrisV

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That's awesome man, I was seriously considering this as an option in case everything breaks down and I've got my car and mind to rely on. How did you get mail, and have your car registered?
Well part of the time I actually owned a place, it was just too much driving (long story.) But after that I just had it sent to my parents house and they would call me if anything important and I'd go pick it up. Worst comes to worse you can get a P.O. Box. They're like $60/year around here. And car registration you just pay every 2 years here. Insurance I had to pay for too.

Hey guys,

I've been thinking about going full time with my business instead of dedicating my best hours to my slowlane job, but I need to pay for the roof over my head plus vehicle expenses and food every month. What do you guys think about living in a vehicle in order to quit my job, cut expenses and do actual work on the business every day?

I'm a developer and I'm finding it very hard to come home after a long day of work and start coding websites & apps for my business. I tried waking up earlier but again 3 hours a day (max I could do efficiently without it affecting my slowlane job) is not enough time to get some of these development projects to a MVP state. My biggest concern is not feeling comfortable in a vehicle, but then that might be an additional help in forcing me to put the long hours to get out of that self imposed homelessness.

I know this does not apply to those with families but has anyone done it in the past successfully ?
For those who have experience, Is it harder to get a business going if you are living in a vehicle ?
Is it nonsense ? would it be better to move to the cheapest apartment in the cheapest state instead ?
Go try doing it a few nights a week as a trial run if you already have the van. I think you'll be fine. A van you can literally install a small desk inside lol. But I mean you can always go to a Starbucks and use the WIFI. I actually prefer Cafes and the library and still use them to this day.

Living in an apartment again but now already wishing I was back out on the road this time of year :D
That's what I'm saying. There's nothing like that freedom. I had friends texting me like 'you can come stay here if you'd like' I was like 'no that's okay lol.'

In my opinion it's best to do this somewhere urban. That way you can just get food whenever you want and everything is near by.

I went back to renting because in the winter months you're basically restricted to arizona, and it gets boring there quick. I liked being around lakes and greenery, and AZ doesn't have any of that.
Not if you get a nice 30-below sleeping bag ;)

So yeah it def does give you the confidence to not only sustain yourself on very little, but also to deal with confrontation since you'll inevitably run into some weirdos.
Absolutely. It makes you really realize how little you really need to have a good life. It's almost Zen or Fight Clubby in a way. I went back to my house with all the couches and nick-nacks and bookshelves and books like 'what is all this shit and why do I ever need it?' But I definitely think this is easier to do in the day of iPads and WiFi everywhere. Dunno if i'd be hardcore enough to do it without that lol.
 

Jakeeck

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That's what I'm saying. There's nothing like that freedom. I had friends texting me like 'you can come stay here if you'd like' I was like 'no that's okay lol.'

In my opinion it's best to do this somewhere urban. That way you can just get food whenever you want and everything is near by.



Not if you get a nice 30-below sleeping bag ;)


Absolutely. It makes you really realize how little you really need to have a good life. It's almost Zen or Fight Clubby in a way. I went back to my house with all the couches and nick-nacks and bookshelves and books like 'what is all this shit and why do I ever need it?' But I definitely think this is easier to do in the day of iPads and WiFi everywhere.
I wouldn't have enjoyed it in an urban area. My time in Denver was my least favorite part. The places I stayed were still within civilization - 25 min drive to grocery store/town with restaurants an hour to big city if I wanted to get fancy and go to whole foods or something.

And for sure with the furniture and stuff. I moved into my apartment 4 months ago and have almost no furniture still. No living room furniture, no TV, I still only use my hotspot instead of paying a cable company for internet.

This does a couple things:

1. I want to be more social with friends when I don't have the option to crash on the couch and numb myself with TV.
2. I have limited data for hotspot so I have to spend it wisely to not end up with terribly slow internet speeds at the end of the month, which means no Youtube/streaming binges.

It also does another thing for me... makes it basically impossible to have a girlfriend. One because I have next to no furniture, and also because I still drive the big ugly van as my daily driver :D
 

ChrisV

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I wouldn't have enjoyed it in an urban area. My time in Denver was my least favorite part. The places I stayed were still within civilization - 25 min drive to grocery store/town with restaurants an hour to big city if I wanted to get fancy and go to whole foods or something.

And for sure with the furniture and stuff. I moved into my apartment 4 months ago and have almost no furniture still. No living room furniture, no TV, I still only use my hotspot instead of paying a cable company for internet.

This does a couple things:

1. I want to be more social with friends when I don't have the option to crash on the couch and numb myself with TV.
2. I have limited data for hotspot so I have to spend it wisely to not end up with terribly slow internet speeds at the end of the month, which means no Youtube/streaming binges.

It also does another thing for me... makes it basically impossible to have a girlfriend. One because I have next to no furniture, and also because I still drive the big ugly van as my daily driver :D
Yea, everyone's different. I'm totally a city boy. But it wasn't like.. a big city. It was just urban. But I do think it would have been dope to be out in nature.

Honestly if it weren't for girls I'd probably just do the van thing and travel the country. But then again, I'm sure there are girls that would love that too. I remember reading a data analysis on OKCupid's data science blog and they found these three questions were the best statistical predictors of if a couple were likely to stay together:

25627


Oh well, maybe one day.
 

Jakeeck

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Yea, everyone's different. I'm totally a city boy. But it wasn't like.. a big city. It was just urban. But I do think it would have been dope to be out in nature.

Honestly if it weren't for girls I'd probably just do the van thing and travel the country. But then again, I'm sure there are girls that would love that too. I remember reading a data analysis on OKCupid's data science blog and they found these three questions were the best statistical predictors of if a couple were likely to stay together:

View attachment 25627


Oh well, maybe one day.
Yeah the girls thing is difficult. I actually found myself not caring about it, but that may not be sustainable long-term. I also used to be a hardcore lifter/stayed in pretty ridiculous physical shape, but out in the van I lost all care for that. I had nobody to impress. Walking a lot was good enough exercise for me.

You could def find a girl to do the whole van thing if you really put effort into it by:

1. Going to more popular camping areas
2. Going to van life/RV meetups.. there are actually quite a bit of them.

 

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loop101

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If you live in your car, will you have a place to eat, work, poop, sleep, shower, and park? Will you have a legal address, healthcare, electricity, wifi, food, and water? Designing websites in your car does not sound like a lot of fun. Most successful stealthcampers I've seen spend as much time outside of their vehicle as possible. The best states ("Big 3") for a mobile life-style are South Dakota, Florida, and Texas, all 3 have legal ways to live in a vehicle, for different reasons. SD always had a lot of mobile farm hands who moved around a lot. TX is similar, plus they don't like Feds telling them what to do. FL has a lot of people who live on boats, and don't have houses. There are a bunch of YT channels about it, though the most legit ones have disappeared. Now it's a lifestyle niche, and there's a ton of people trying to milk the niche. There are a lot of people who live in their vehicles while working a 9-to-5 job, they shower at Planet Fitness for $10 (monthly), and keep their rent money for themselves.
 

C.Hamp

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This is an interesting concept.
I currently live in a bit of a shithole. A couple weeks ago I was all about "I gotta get the hell outta here". That was my motivation.
Now, having read the books, I'm thinking more along the lines of "stick it out while its cheep".
I can't beat the $450/mo. I'm paying now. Already do most of my work at the local library.
Not sure if the mobile nature of a van would be inspiring or distracting for me. Certainly something to think about now.
 

ChrisV

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If you live in your car, will you have a place to eat, work, poop, sleep, shower, and park? Will you have a legal address, healthcare, electricity, wifi, food, and water? Designing websites in your car does not sound like a lot of fun. Most successful stealthcampers I've seen spend as much time outside of their vehicle as possible. The best states ("Big 3") for a mobile life-style are South Dakota, Florida, and Texas, all 3 have legal ways to live in a vehicle, for different reasons. SD always had a lot of mobile farm hands who moved around a lot. TX is similar, plus they don't like Feds telling them what to do. FL has a lot of people who live on boats, and don't have houses. There are a bunch of YT channels about it, though the most legit ones have disappeared. Now it's a lifestyle niche, and there's a ton of people trying to milk the niche. There are a lot of people who live in their vehicles while working a 9-to-5 job, they shower at Planet Fitness for $10 (monthly), and keep their rent money for themselves.
Lol, I didnt even know this was a YouTube thing. Man they have everything on YouTube.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7379aanKuZE


This chick is freakin awesome. You gotta love her Energy.

How to Live in Your Car, Save Money and Be Free
 

Jakeeck

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This is an interesting concept.
I currently live in a bit of a shithole. A couple weeks ago I was all about "I gotta get the hell outta here". That was my motivation.
Now, having read the books, I'm thinking more along the lines of "stick it out while its cheep".
I can't beat the $450/mo. I'm paying now. Already do most of my work at the local library.
Not sure if the mobile nature of a van would be inspiring or distracting for me. Certainly something to think about now.
If you're only paying $450/mo for rent you wouldn't be saving much if at all, unless you're just going to stay where you are and not travel around at all.

Gas + repairs that come up will equate to about that.

I put about 4k into my van in repairs in the 9 months I had it. Didn't buy the best van but it wasn't a total beater either. Then there's the upfront cost of making it livable (if you don't buy an already converted van). Mine was only semi-converted with a bed, but my solar setup was about $1k, and then another $500 for a nice low-energy RV fridge. Then a bunch of little things like propane stove ($50) and stuff starts to add up pretty quick.
 

Jakeeck

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Lol, I didnt even know this was a YouTube thing. Man they have everything on YouTube.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7379aanKuZE


This chick is freakin awesome. You gotta love her Energy.

How to Live in Your Car, Save Money and Be Free
Hobo Ahle is pretty cool.

It's trendy nowadays. If you search "van life" on youtube you'll find so many channels. I hate them all except for one, Eamon and Bec.

They all do the exact same boring videos nowadays but I really like Eamon and Bec because they were the OG's and seem like great people.
 

C.Hamp

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If you're only paying $450/mo for rent you wouldn't be saving much if at all, unless you're just going to stay where you are and not travel around at all.

Gas + repairs that come up will equate to about that.

I put about 4k into my van in repairs in the 9 months I had it. Didn't buy the best van but it wasn't a total beater either. Then there's the upfront cost of making it livable (if you don't buy an already converted van). Mine was only semi-converted with a bed, but my solar setup was about $1k, and then another $500 for a nice low-energy RV fridge. Then a bunch of little things like propane stove ($50) and stuff starts to add up pretty quick.
Thanks for this! You beat me to the question.
 

loop101

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The whole YT vandweller craze was started 8 years ago by a guy named Chad, who was trying to save money so he could make a feature film about motorcycle racers who build their bikes only using free parts.

Chad, the guy who started it all:

His movie:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMIiBYhuk08


Some others:

CheaperRVLiving/RTR guy who interview everyone:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SqJCR0t6rE


Justin (pimp)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxxQOUd2mRM


Nate (young person)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMhSrz-BJ4E


Mike (friendly beer head)
 

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