What inspired you to pursue van life?
I first had the idea because my brother’s girlfriend was living in a van and I thought, “Oh, that doesn’t seem as hard as I thought it was in my head.” I got to spend a couple days living in the van at the end of August last year, and it was fun and adventurous and I guess more convenient … like, your home is just right there. I started looking at vans after my landlord decided to raise my rent at the end of October. Part of the reason I wanted to live in a van is because when you’re renting, all your money just disappears. You’re not putting it toward anything, but with your van … you own it. I was tired of not having my money go anywhere I would see in the future, and decided to buy a big purchase—my van. I put in my 60-day notice [at my house] and moved into the van a month later, in the beginning of December.
Was it difficult to transfer your life from living in a house to a van?
Yes and no. I’m really good at organizing and I already didn’t own a lot of things. The main things that I owned were furniture that I had to sell or put in my parents’ attic. I took the things that I knew would bring me joy and the things I knew that I would use. Arts and crafts and hobbies definitely were coming with me since I’m going to have a lot of time in my tiny house and I wanted to make sure that I’m doing things that I love. I got rid of things I hadn’t worn in six months or a year. I got rid of probably 70 percent of my clothes.
What are the biggest challenges and changes you’ve had to make to adjust?
Not having a constant water source. My water tank is only seven gallons, and I can’t really shower and brush my teeth and wash my dishes on seven gallons of water. Showering is also a big one. I have a gym membership and I just go there, or when I’m hanging out with a friend I ask if I can use their shower, or use dry shampoo which is a lifesaver. I have baby wipes if I feel gross, and I wash my face and bangs everyday. I didn’t get enough solar [power] the past couple of snowstorms we had. My power kicked out, which means that I didn’t get enough sun and it didn’t generate enough power on my battery so my battery shut off …. I had to go and find a plug-in. It’s just a basic, three-prong wall outlet that plugs into the back of my van. I found some outlets in downtown Raleigh, and sometimes I just go and plug it in there. It literally just takes 30 minutes to power fully back up.
What is your favorite thing about van life so far and why is it important to you?
I think the movement that it allows me to have…getting out of constant stagnancy, having to stay in one place forever kind of freaks me out. I’ve always related to people that say that being in a cage is one of their worst fears. Not moving and not being able to move. So having that freedom is a really beautiful and sacred thing to me. Having the ability to wake up in a different place every day… or not. Having the option to choose. I always tell people that it’s a very interesting balance of convenience and inconvenient. Yes, it’s convenient that my entire life is within arms’ distance, but also it is inconvenient because my house is on wheels and if I hit a curb, my life flys off the wall. It’s a constant keep up of the van, but it’s also so tiny that it’s easy to keep up. It’s really beautiful having that balance put in a different perspective. For a lot of people, their heat runs constantly through the winter and they don’t have to even think twice about it or they take for granted the running water that comes through their fingers. For me, I’m thinking how tiny I can get this stream so I can wash my hands. It’s inconvenient, right? But it’s so convenient because I live closer to work than anyone else since my van fits in a normal parking space.
Who would you recommend van life to and how does living in a van enrich your life?
I’d recommend [this lifestyle] to anyone who considers themself flexible and adaptable. If you do not travel well, do not like compromising your beauty, your space or your comfort, then I don’t think I’d recommend van life to you. But [I would] if someone is tired of all of those things being considered the “cookie cutter picture perfect life.” Which I am. I think that life is more than six figures, two kids, a dog, and a roof. I value experiences more so I think that anyone that is looking to get out of the norm and experience more in general, I would definitely recommend van life to.
I just got my skydiving rig. I’m hoping that I can hit as many drop zones around the country as possible and then, once I run out of drop zones in this country, I can maybe go up into Canada or go down into Mexico and bring my van and my cat with me. Just travel and skydive and learn how to surf, keep skateboarding…do all the things that bring me joy in life.
It has definitely been a lot of change really quickly, but it feels like home. Every time I come back my cat greets me and I feel rested. That’s something I was afraid of initially, that I wasn’t going to have a sense of peace because it is a lot of work taking care of a van. There’s clutter everywhere all the time and you have to clean constantly. But it is home. My brain has already adapted that this is my safe place and it’s comfortable.
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