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Author Topic: Living in a Van?  (Read 16114 times)

rgomez

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Living in a Van?
« on: March 07, 2010, 12:42:12 AM »
This might sound strange but while surfing the web for cheap ways to live on the road I found some sites of people who lived in vans. The type to buy for driving not living in Vans. Do not know how but is it possible to survive like that? I know its cheap since some new ones go as low as $20K and have enough room for 1 person to 'live' in if (s)he removes the back seats. Another site I found was from a gypsy type girl who bought a used van and lives on the road doing small jobs like retail or food to pay for expenses and after a month or 2 leave and go back on the road.

I wonder about this since I plan to ride solo and am frugal about stuff and might just buy a new van with 4WD to try it out. Said something on there about using baby wipes and such for cleaning yourself and some type of non wash shampoo and soup to save as much water as possible. For those on a dime it seams like a good but nor comfy thing to do. Another point it brought out was that you would not need to stay at RV parks since parking a van at a store like walmart won't get much attention even in city's that ban sleeping at stores.

http://wendyusuallywanders.wordpress.com/ongoing-added-to-description-of-how-to-live-in-your-van/ <-one of the sites I found but did not save the others.

Clay L

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2010, 08:26:43 AM »
A couple of winters ago I met a guy in AZ that lived in a van. He was spending the winter there.  He said there were a number of people in CA doing it but the police were wise to them and were clamping down on overnight stays in parks and so forth. He complained bitterly about  the police "harassment".

In any case over the years I have seen people living full time in a various types of things - slide in pickup campers, an Airstream mounted on a flat bed truck and one in a bicycle trailer even.

It doesn't sound like fun to me though.
Clay (WA5NMR), Lee (Wife), Katie & Kelli (cats), Sali (toy poodle)
Settled down after full timing for eleven years and snowbirding for one year in a 2004 Winnebago 35N Sightseer, Workhorse W 20 Chassis. Honda toad

seilerbird

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2010, 08:51:59 AM »
I lived in a van for 5 years. It is doable and the police rarely hassled me once I figured out where I could spend the night. The van I lived in cost under $1000 and only had a bed. I got me an old used Class A motorhome with a shower and a stove and all the trimmings and it is 1000 times better than living in a van. Cost me only $2600.

travelafar

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2010, 09:18:58 AM »
I agree, it's do-able to the degree of your own comfort...  I plan on going full time this summer and decided when I bought my vehicle that a van would be a little too small, even for a single guy.  I decided on a 23ft class C and I think I'll have enough room to move around..
1979 Shasta

rgomez

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2010, 01:16:22 PM »
http://cheaprvliving.com/index.html <- Another site made for people in vans and such.

I would like to try out a Van such as a Ford Escape or Honda Element for living I wonder what you do if you are snowed in up north at -4 and your battery dies cutting off your 12V heater  :-\. I'm going to be 19 in a month so I thought about saving up for a Van since I won't be doing any full-timing for years to come and just need a vehicle for driving and working where I drive. From what I read I should put all the money I would be spending on rent + utilities into a savings account. If lets say if I spend $700/month on rent+utilities thats $8,400 I will be saving a year making a small little nest egg to use on the road. No one really notices cars or vans parked at busy stores that are open 24/7 while parking in a lot that will be empty come night-time is not a good idea.

rogersteen

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2014, 06:05:34 PM »
Ever since Saturday Night Live did a comedy bit on “Living in a van down by the River” (which was hilarious), some people assume that it's a pretty shabby way to live. In reality, if a person doesn't have a problem with small spaces, you can turn a cargo van into a very pleasant little micro-RV that’ll go just about anywhere.

Mine is a Ford E-150 cargo van. It's fully equipped with wi-fi, pro photography gear, a mountain bike, an inflatable kayak, a very comfortable chair and bed, cooking capability, a toilet, and a solar system. I wash my body (just like you would your face) with a soapy microfiber cloth, using a plastic dishpan for a sink and gallon jugs of water refilled at Glacier water machines. It may be unconventional, but it gets you squeaky clean.

I’ve been van camping for a year now, in the western U.S., and I wrote a book about putting my little camper together. I took a “casual” approach to the interior, so it’s not so much “house-like” as it is practical and reasonably priced:
Roger
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 05:07:19 AM by Tom »

robertusa123

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2014, 03:49:41 PM »
If your looking for a stealth camper van. I'd go with a high top convention van.    That few extra inches of high make a world of differance
1996  26ft. 3 kids 2 dog and the wife too

smept

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2014, 05:31:56 PM »
Yep, it sure does make a difference. It makes cops and thieves think your van is full of stuff (like dope or weapons) I've lived in a mini-van for many months at a timeand nobody notices you.  Simply put the dark, "privacy tint" sheeting on your windows. The side windows do not need to be transparent at all, so you can block those very cheaply.

Remove the rear seats, of course, and the passenger seat too. Install, in their place, 3-4 low chests of drawers (cut down some tall ones if need be) and have 3 of the large plastic storage containers from Dollar General.  anchor them in place with bungee cords stretched to  eye bolts in the sides and floor. The cords also keep the drawers shut. When you need room to sleep, simply set the containers atop the chests. One chest for your week's worth of clothes. One for food, food prep gear, food storage gear, and utensils.  One for miscellanously useful stuff. I also keep a toolbox to help me repair the old $1000 van. :-) It's 15 years old, with 240,000 miles on it (Dodge caravan V6) Living like that only puts on about 100 miles per week, and at  20 mpg, it costs very little for gas.  Park near where you work (or hang out or attend college). 

If you havent used up your college loans and grants, there's 26k waiting for you, for just a year's worth of easy classes (jr college level). if you've got  3.25 gradepoint average, there's 6k more available, in that same time span.  Add in 2k for a year's food stamps and 3k for a year's sales of blood plasma, "flying a sign" at intersections, a bit of day labor, some small "gigs" on craigslist, and you're talking 35k in a year. Cash in your hand, basically.  Your first loan will be only about  6k, but there's no background check, no credit check, and you don't owe on it until 6 months after you leave school (which can be 6 years, they'll pay towards your master's degree for  2 years and it's twice as much per year. )  your actual school expenses for this time period can be as low as 8k. the textbooks are in the school library, so don't blow $600 per semester buying books!

smept

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2014, 05:37:30 PM »
your actual living expenses, for this sort of thing, run under 10k per year. so you can get-together on helluva grubstake pile of money, pretty quick and easy. If you know what to do with that 20-25k, it can set you up really nice.  What you do is spend 5k or so getting a third worlder here, who is an engineer, physicist, MD, etc, and who can/will pay you 40k per year, for 5 years, for making it possible for them to make 150k+ per year here. It takes them 5 years to become citizens, you see. If they divorce you sooner than that, they must leave the USA.  That aint gonna happen.   Then you need not care that the Dept of Education wants back $400 per month on your school loan, eh? Repeat the 3rd worlder if need be, but don't push it any further than that, cause Immigration will say that your marriages are "shams", which is then a Federal crime.

poncho62

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2014, 05:47:06 PM »
WOW...Talk about using the system. No wonder taxes are getting higher
Hanover, Ontario, Canada

smept

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2014, 05:55:01 PM »
I"m 62, just started SS, and have a (small, but exandable) vet's disabilty. I got a jr college degree without using my loans/grants, so now it's time to get mine. :-) I've got a lovely 22 year old Asian wife who has a Bachelor's in Nursing (in her home country) So she has to take  30 hours of nursing in a US college, in order,to have a Degree here. Then it costs her 10k per year for graduate studies, but  she'll get  40k per year (2 years) of loans and grants towards her master's degree.  Then she'll start out making  $80 an hour. Half of what she clears is mine for 5 years.  What's left over after her expenses, I will invest for her, in apartment buildings (big old houses, converted) bought with my VA home loans, divided up into small rooms, rented out for  $100 per week (20 or more per house) as "sober-living' contracts.  :-) HUGE return on investment, that sort of deal.  She'll own several of them by the time she's a US citizen, and be clearing 20k per year each.. So will I, of course.  If she wishes, she'll be retired at age  30.  So it's a great deal for both of us.

HueyPilotVN

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2014, 07:16:35 PM »
I just feel the need to post a response to this latest turn.  I think that this is just wrong on several levels.  I should probably just keep quiet but it does bother me and morally I have to say I disagree with this scenario.
Bill Waugh
40' Country Coach DP
34' Stacker Trailer, Trailer Toad
Jeep Commander
Mustang Bracket Race Car
35 years on the road

Dan23

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2014, 07:21:12 AM »
Quote
WOW...Talk about using the system. No wonder taxes are getting higher

I just feel the need to post a response to this latest turn.  I think that this is just wrong on several levels.  I should probably just keep quiet but it does bother me and morally I have to say I disagree with this scenario.

I will assume you are talking about getting college grant money while living in a van? How is that either immoral or the cause of taxes that are alleged to be "getting higher?"

I'd rather see people striving for a GPA above 3.25 than many, many other things that really do raise your taxes.

I call for lock down of this thread.  LOL
Slide-free 1998 Winnebago Brave 30'
2009 Kawasaki KLR toad on carrier
If needed, wife follows with 2010 Mazda 3 hatch or 1995 Miata

HueyPilotVN

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2014, 03:17:21 PM »
I have no problem with anyone living in a van whatever the reason. 
Bill Waugh
40' Country Coach DP
34' Stacker Trailer, Trailer Toad
Jeep Commander
Mustang Bracket Race Car
35 years on the road

poncho62

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2014, 04:50:47 PM »

Nothing to do with living in a van.......I think the problem is getting grants for education and then only using part of it for that...and pocketing the rest. The 1st of his posts are more of the same.  Thats the way I read it anyways.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 04:52:57 PM by poncho62 »
Hanover, Ontario, Canada

smept

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2014, 10:40:53 PM »
if you move the vehicle, morning and night, and have no living features showing in it (no sink, toilet, shower, clothing, etc,) you are legally parked and there's nothing the cops can do about it.  harass you, tell you to move, but that's it. guys are too stupid or lazy to do this, use high top vans, or get noticed in other ways, they have trouble. But I did it, with a mini van, for the better part of a year, never had a problem.

A clue, tho, is to take at least one class (a very few hundred bucks per semester) at a small town college. You'll have access to a shower, microwave, library, charging-power for phone and laptop, cheap, fresh food, etc  A major benefit to this is that the local cops will have been told to be very nice to all  the students. :-) You'll have a parking pass for business hours on campus, too. :-)

Dan23

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2014, 10:25:26 AM »
if you move the vehicle, morning and night, and have no living features showing in it (no sink, toilet, shower, clothing, etc,) you are legally parked and there's nothing the cops can do about it.  harass you, tell you to move, but that's it. guys are too stupid or lazy to do this, use high top vans, or get noticed in other ways, they have trouble. But I did it, with a mini van, for the better part of a year, never had a problem.

A clue, tho, is to take at least one class (a very few hundred bucks per semester) at a small town college. You'll have access to a shower, microwave, library, charging-power for phone and laptop, cheap, fresh food, etc  A major benefit to this is that the local cops will have been told to be very nice to all  the students. :-) You'll have a parking pass for business hours on campus, too. :-)

For what it's worth, you may be wrong on the bolded above. In my understanding, more locales than not have laws expressly banning sleeping in vehicles. I can't cite more detail on the laws or locales for you, and RVs must somehow be exempted but people are regularly arrested for sleeping in cars. At a minimum, you will be shaken down for possible DWI.

This may be my last post in this thread because it really has turned into a topic astray from the board's intent.
Slide-free 1998 Winnebago Brave 30'
2009 Kawasaki KLR toad on carrier
If needed, wife follows with 2010 Mazda 3 hatch or 1995 Miata

John From Detroit

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2014, 04:29:18 PM »
I agree that many places are trying to solve the homeless problem by making the laws more and more and more restrictive.

I will not post my opinion of that.... Other than to say that I feel there must be a better way to go about it.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

NLRevell

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2014, 07:52:29 PM »
One option is "Wally Docking", like boondocking/dry camping, but using WalMart, Flying J/Pilot truckstops, and other stores with large parking lots amenable to overnight camping.  Some do over-stay their welcome and get booted, but if one is careful to not cause a problem, it's an option.  Just ask the management if it's alright to sleep overnight - most will say 'yes'.
Another option is a night job allowing you to park at night there, then you can park elsewhere during the day like any other patron.
Do some Googling and Youtubing on 'van dwelling'.  "It ain't rocket science"......    8)

RodgerS

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2014, 09:21:28 PM »
I lived out of a backpack for one week when I was 25. Could have done it for a year, easily, but chose to get a job.
Probably, thinking back, could have delayed that job a year.
I'm 62 now and could do it again, but there are other interesting options. To imagine is to find ways.
I'm married now and frankly would like to have her company, but I'm not convinced she would follow me living out of two backpacks.
One backpack too far.
It's really about available dollars and relationships. What one man can do, another can not do or would not want to do.
If the idea of living in a van appeals to you, it would probably work for you. Actually, besides sleeping, you don't need much more if you put your mind to it. Mosts exits have restrooms and there is always the bushes. You don't need anything more than a pot and cookstove to get buy. Water is quite available, so are relationships.
Gone RVing with Susan
Class B- RV: 2001 Mercedes CLK320 Soft Top

ganchan

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2015, 01:54:54 PM »
I've been thinking about a used van as the most affordable entry-level into solo full-time RVing. I wouldn't even do much to convert it, apart from removing the seats. I'd just add:

A portapotty
A lighter adaptor for charging small electronics
A little ceramic heater to warm the place up for bedtime or first thing in the morning
A 12V electric kettle and "lunchbox oven" for non-cold meals
A camp stove for whenever I can cook out in the open
A cooler for icing things down in the summer
Maybe some extra carpeting or other non-permanent insulating material on the walls (or maybe not)
A futon mattress and/or sleeping bag
A couple of battery-powered LED lanterns
Wash bucket for sponge baths
A folding TV table and folding chair
My laptop, of course  ;D

When I'm ready to move on to a trailer, maybe I could just add a hitch to the van and let the van become my "walk-in closet"....

(I'd be saying in RV parks with hookups about 50 percent of the year, so I might occasionally have access to more perks than this. but I wouldn't necessarily NEED them.)

What do you think? Doable?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2015, 02:01:30 PM by ganchan »

John Beard

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2015, 02:04:25 PM »
Sweat equity and money for all those parts...and it's very doable. When I got out of the military in 1975 I lived in a 1967 Pontiac La Mans for about seven months. If you have the proper mind set and can do with a lot of inconveniences, then anything is doable. Good luck on your adventure.
John & Susan
2014 Winnebago Aspect 30J
2005 Jeep Wrangler X, Toad, a little modified
Northwest Las Vegas, NV

ganchan

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2015, 02:12:08 PM »
Good to know. One question, however -- would living in a van be much different/better than living in a truck camper shell? I'm considering both possibilities, since apart from headroom the amenities would be about the same (that is to say, nada).

John Beard

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2015, 02:25:20 PM »
If I had my choice of the two and were limited to the two, I'd choose the van over the truck, unless you are going to with a trailer in the near future, then of course the truck would be most beneficial. Whatever way you choose to go, I can tell you from experience that it isn't fun, what you are proposing. Back in the day when I lived out of my car, I was 21 years old, worked at a Short Stop Store, and I was used to physical inconveniences coming straight out of the military, albeit US Navy.

The life you are proposing is one-step from homelessness. The lifestyle (living out of a car) is not a society norm, so you have to accept that you are living on the fringe. Then there is the "where do I park at night?" question that is ever present. Living out of a car presents its challenges in that regard. Preparing two to three meals per day living out of a car is most challenging.

I'm not trying to talk you out of your choice to live a nomadic life style. But you should be fully aware of its challenges. The life you are proposing differs VASTLY from the life of a full time RVer.
John & Susan
2014 Winnebago Aspect 30J
2005 Jeep Wrangler X, Toad, a little modified
Northwest Las Vegas, NV

jdq1986

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2015, 03:05:32 PM »
I'm not really interested in an argument, but I'm a dad and the OP is quite young, and is obviously seeking advice from those more experienced in what he is considering doing, as well he should.  As a dad I can't not mention at least one thing.  Food stamps and such are NOT for making it easier and more profitable to live in a van/rv whatever else.  They are for feeding yourself when you have no other way to do so.  If you need them to feed yourself, by all means, use them.  If you want them to buy food in order to use other money to buy other commodities, don't.  That's dishonest, and one of the reasons the system is so broken right now.  In the same manner, getting college grants and such for something other than going to college (even if you attempt to "keep up appearances" by taking a class or two) is very wrong, abuse of the system, and since these grants are governmentally funded, very likely a felony.  FWIW, prison cells are even harder to make comfortable than mini-vans, not to mention hard to travel in.

OP, if you want to full time RV, more power to you.  It works quite well for many Americans.  Yes, you may have to start small/inconvenient but you will enjoy the freedom it gives you so much you will work hard to continue to upgrade until you have the RV you want.  There are endless benefits to this lifestyle, which is why I, like so many other full-timers, wish I would have started long before I did.  Stick around this forum and heed all the good advice and stay focused on your goals, and by the time you are 30 years old, quite possibly sooner you will be very well set as long as WWIII or a the next great depression doesn't get in your way.  And even if it does, you will still be better off than any of your peers.  Ten years may seem like an eternity right now but you just have to get busy working on getting to wherever it is you want to be, and before you know it, it will be here.  Then you blink your eyes one day and you're fifty years old, but that's another story.

Molaker

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2015, 04:54:29 PM »
OP, if you want to full time RV, more power to you.  It works quite well for many Americans.
Uh..."OP"?  This was OP'd in 2010.  He (she) has probably married since then and has a kid or two. ;D
Tom & Joyce and Ditto the "don't tell her she's a dog" Westie
U.S. Navy (Ret)
2014 Winnebago ERA 70X 24' class B Sprinter chassis

jdq1986

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2015, 05:12:21 PM »
Uh..."OP"?  This was OP'd in 2010.  He (she) has probably married since then and has a kid or two. ;D

My mistake, I didn't notice the start date.  Doesn't change my opinion for anyone doing the same, but hopefully this person has figured it out.  He/she works awfully fast if they went from considering living in a van to married with two kids in 4 and a half years, but I'd sure like to hear how it all turned out!  Though it doesn't look like they're coming back...

Molaker

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2015, 06:47:59 PM »
My mistake, I didn't notice the start date.  Doesn't change my opinion for anyone doing the same, but hopefully this person has figured it out.  He/she works awfully fast if they went from considering living in a van to married with two kids in 4 and a half years, but I'd sure like to hear how it all turned out!  Though it doesn't look like they're coming back...
I went from single and living on a boat, earning less than $100 a month to married and 2 kids in 4 1/2 years (I didn't stop there, though) :P .  So, it's not difficult...except for the less than $100 a month part.  Besides, living in a van may have started the entire kid thing. :)
Tom & Joyce and Ditto the "don't tell her she's a dog" Westie
U.S. Navy (Ret)
2014 Winnebago ERA 70X 24' class B Sprinter chassis

eric2015

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Re: Living in a Van?
« Reply #28 on: January 10, 2015, 03:26:07 AM »
Ah...I just want to say people will even live in a container in some poor city... :-[
Eric
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Was a Led Engineer for 12vonline and now ready to move to California
Looking for brand new fifth-wheels any ideas?

RoyM

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