I’ve been living in an RV/Camper Van for a few years now, and though there have been some significant challenges and hilarious failures (which I will blog about in due time), on the whole it has been a highly rewarding experience.
From virtually getting free gym membership for months (by trying out all the free trials in the country) to parking on the richest estates around, or to learning how to hook up solar panels, I’ve had a rollercoaster ride that I don’t feel like giving up even during the coldest and loneliest nights.
Here are the reasons why I wholeheartedly recommend the adventure:
This is the obvious one. If you shop around carefully you can probably get a second hand vehicle for less than $20000/£13000. You’ll have to make some improvements based on your personal desires (if you want a shower or a fridge or good heating), but the initial investment is still incredibly low.
Add to that the fact that you can sell your car, and you’re seriously in the green. Your utility bills (I mean gas) could be quite high, but since you’re now mobile, you can forget about paying for your internet connection and things like that. You can also use FreeCycle to its full effect and pick up a bunch of free stuff from a variety of locations.
#2 Never lose anything
Following on from the last point – because you’re living so minimally, you’re cut down to exactly what you need in a camper van. I feel that this is a very positive factor, as so many people with large homes are effectively in hovels, with so much of their space full up with junk.
You’re forced to go with the bare necessities and discard stuff when it no longer interests you. I used to have bookshelves crammed with all sorts of tomes about evolutionary psychology, Victorian literature, quizzing reference books – things that I rarely consulted.
Now, my small bookshelf only includes books that I am going to read this week. After I’m done with them, I either return them to the library or sell them. The internet can be used for reference.
Living like a spartan is pretty damn cool. Hoarding thousands of possessions is selfish and pointless, and you have to clean it all.
#3 Live wherever you like
‘Living wherever you like’ has to come with a disclaimer, for it is not always easy to park in a city. My vehicle is stealthy – it has a transfer on the side which makes it look like a utility van – which means I can do whatever I like. But for those with a purpose-built RV or camper, you’re more limited, and you’re also unfortunate if you work in a particular place.
But that aside, just think of the possibilities! I went from parking at a girlfriend’s house, to a trip round the French coast, to messing around in the Welsh mountains, to finding the perfect spot in the South of England where I am now relatively static (here I have a good gym, a well-equipped library, some friends, and free internet all nearby). The whole time I continued working via the internet.
If you live in a house, you’re at the mercy of brutish neighbours and a crippling mortgage/rent: the pleasantness of where you live is reflected in your income. But in a motorhome, you can stay in a nice camping park or in a really uppercrust road just as it pleases you.
If you’re American, you can live in South Dakota and avoid both income and property tax.
#4 Get out the house!
Let’s face it, in your own home, your bastion against the wild, it’s too easy to waste time and forget the world outside. Yet if your ‘home’, like mine, was geared up only to provide the raw resources of living, then you’d be encouraged to spend more time exploring the planet.
Local cafes, gyms, countrysides and libraries are often surprisingly good places to relax and work. Your productivity will increase, and the different ambiances that you experience can give you more confidence and spiritual energy. Besides, just being out there can expose you to a number of opportunities and funny episodes.
I won’t forget that time that I got a prime spectator view on a nude photoshoot whilst parked on a hill near the Peak District. Nor that time when I was working in a small county library when a mother stormed in, furiously demanding a refund because her small child had torn up some library books. Wtf?
I’ve learned some excellent DIY and mechanical skills over the years. The documentation, manuals, and support that you get from internet forums full of like-minded individuals is fantastic.
I feel more like a human should feel with this lifestyle. I’m in charge of things, and the emphasis is placed on my health and environment rather than my possessions. This is how it should be.
And we must not forget either the great people that you meet on internet groups. They’re an exciting bunch, and very chilled out and have some outstanding stories to tell.
So there we have it. On the whole it’s been a great ride, although during tougher times, I have only got out of trouble with my store of self-determination and my unconventional outlook.
If I’ve convinced you to abandon your home, then I suggest that you check out this forum http://www.cheaprvlivingforum.com/, this general intro: http://tynan.com/living-in-a-small-rv-introduction, and blogs like this, and also consider mobile income streams. Months of research and hard work are required to make the switch, but the freedom you achieve is worth it all!