Home > Unquantifiable


May 7th, 2014 at 03:07 am

This isn't directly related to PF in itself, but it'll also make sense why in a minute.

When thinking about vandwelling, the numbers completely make sense. There is no rent or mortgage. There is no homeowners insurance. No property tax. No HoA fees and regulations.

Certainly, there are vehicle-associated costs, but they are usually ones you would normally incur from just having any regular vehicle. Well, maybe a bit more, but the cost savings are still a no-brainer.

The real downsides are more psychological and social. For example, full-time vandwellers can pretty much forget most social and dating scenes because even voluntarily choosing to live in a van down by the proverbial river still carries a lot of negative social stigma. The loneliness can be hard to bear, and heaven help you if you are also claustrophobic.

The unquantifiable variables are what really gets you. I also realize that this level of living is most likely below the standards of even many here at SA.

That's also why I can't quite get as excited about this prospect, even though this is what I am ultimately choosing to do. I am fairly confident it is physically doable. I just have to get over that hump in my mind that perhaps I am resigningmy fate to something worse or less human somehow.

Then again, I am living well in a fairly big house right now, and in a great neighborhood. Everybody else in the neighborhood thinks I am well-off somehow. And yet, I already feel the loneliness, the resignation of my fate, and so forth. So, me making this choice to experiment with vandwelling may not be as bad as I imagined.

And it is only an experiment. I don't know if it will actually work out. I don't know how far I will be able to take this. There are lots of unknowns.

Luckily, the small kid in me thinks this awesome, like some kind of goofy summer camp adventure that I am going on. I am going to hang on to that part, because there's nothing to be gained by simply dreading it. Plus, it will also push me out of my comfort zone, and towards something that I hope will actually better my life in some way. The same way it got me here on SA in the first place.

6 Responses to “Unquantifiable”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I think I'd have some worries about the change, too. I suppose it might have similarities to moving to a foreign country for me. Do you know if there are any vandwelling communities near you. That would sure make a big difference with loneliness.

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    Locally? No, and that doesn't surprise me seeing as how vandwellers are a generally elusive group to begin with, due to both legal and social factors that may be at play.

    This is especially true for female vandwellers, which I was surprised to find out there are several. It seems women in general feel especially vulnerable in cases like this, and often need and have extra stealth and security.

    Anyway, there are vandwelling communities online, and the general feedback I am getting is that some amount of anxiety about making such a transition is entirely understandable, although if it continues and the lifestyle doesn't work for me, I can always go back to regular living.

    However, many stress that they have found this life much preferable and are happier than if they were living in conventional houses.

  3. CB in the City Says:

    I hear you. I remember back in my pre-frugal days when I had a negative reaction to a man I was dating who confessed he lived in a garage. He hastened to say it was a very fixed-up garage with all the amenities, but I still didn't like it. Of course, if I had really liked him, it probably wouldn't have made a difference!

  4. BuckyBadger Says:

    I assume you've heard about this guy:


    I read his blog, too. Fascinating.

    (A Duke grad student who lived in a van while he went to school so he wouldn't have to take out loans, for those of you who don't want to click on the link.)

  5. Broken Arrow Says:

    Hahah yes, I am well aware of that guy. Interesting factoid, but I live about an hour away from Duke University. Gorgeous area with a gorgeous campus. I'll never forget the night I spent there with a female friend I once knew, who took me to an organic ice cream shop there. There we were, sitting outside at around 9pm at night (yes the ice cream shop was still open) with all the other couples out at the small park benches in their light hippie outfits and sandals, after spending a day walking around the campus garden. It was, I dare say, almost magical if not for the one homeless man snoring harmlessly on a park bench beside us. However, she was dangerously spendy, so things did not last past that night, but I digress....

    Anyways, the Duke grad student was both the first and the last student that have or will ever be able to live in their van on Duke campus. The university has quietly drafted new regulations to specifically prevent this sort of thing from happening again, and future students can be expelled if they are caught doing so.

    Anyways, I was indeed planning to meet up with him, but he has since graduated, and last I read, he was backpacking somewhere in Alaska. I guess that too is not surprising as many vandwellers are also outdoorsy by nature. Whether it is the untamed wildlands or the fresh snowboarding slopes that beckons them, for this lot, living out of their vehicle is merely a means towards their primary passion.

    As for me, I am simply a crazy man who is out to save money. We shall see if this will suit me as well.

  6. ThriftoRama Says:

    I read Walden on Wheels, too, and frankly, I just gave a copy to a 17 year old heading off on his own next year. Not because I want him to live in a van, but because I want him to be aware that there are creative, interesting options. Yes, you can save money by working somewhere crazy like Alaska all summer. Yes, you can afford not to go into debt if you're creative with housing.

    And frankly, I'm angry to hear about Duke drafting those rules. It's like making rules saying "you aren't allowed to be poor and be a student here."

    That, in my opinion, is heading in the wrong direction.

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