How To Live In A Car, Van Or RV For A Stress Free And Debt Free Life
There is no doubt that modern life is stressful; there is constant stream of demands or expectations place on you by society. You are expected to keep up with your neighbors, maintain a full time job, buy a house, nice car and have children and all the associated expenses which go with each of these items.
Keeping abreast of the latest fashion trend or pieces of electronic wizardry means purchasing many items that you do not really need. The end result of this is usually debt and a lower quality lifestyle. However, these things are avoidable. More and more people are looking for an alternative to the socially accepted norm. Some people are finding a way around state planning laws and managing to build tiny houses; something that, that, until recently, was almost impossible.
There are now a variety of options available to anyone who is able and willing to step off the corporate treadmill and embrace a simpler way of life. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of looking at alternative lifestyles is the avoidance of the traditional issues; home maintenance, grass cutting, weeding and even the worry about which developments will go ahead and how they will affect the neighborhood and house prices. Choosing to live your life on the road will end the necessity of these tasks and allow your free time to be quality time doing things you enjoy, not things which need to be done to keep up with the neighbors. This book looks at the options when choosing to live on the road instead of in a house, it looks at the reasons why you would want to take a chance and do something different. It also provides a whole range of tips to help ensure your life on the road is as easy and pleasurable as possible.
Even if you already have the steady job, the house and the children, it is possible to sell your property and start afresh. Your children can still be educated and have the bonus of experiencing a huge variety of experiences and situations; most of which would not be available to those living a more conventional lifestyle. It is also worth noting that you can choose to live on the road without actually travelling! It is possible to park an RV up for as long as you want, trading your house in for an RV; may simply be a financial decision and you continue to live in the same neighborhood! Living on the road is now an option for almost anyone as the advancement in technology has made it possible to work remotely from anywhere in the world. It is now possible to hold down a full time, or part time job whilst travelling around the country or even the world! In fact, current estimates show that nearly ten percent of the population work remotely; and this figure is set to rise. Being able to work from anywhere means it is no longer essential to tie yourself to one location; your house. It is now possible to move with the weather, experience the sights and continue to work in an existing job!
Chapter 1 – Options for Living on the Road
The first consideration must be the number of people who will be living together. If it is just you then you will be able to consider using your car as your new home, this will be significantly more difficult if there you and a significant other are choosing this lifestyle.
The next step up would be a van and the top rung, is undoubtedly, the motor home or RV.
Many people view this as only suitable for those who are homeless, not by choice but by the situation they have found themselves in. However, this can be an extremely good option for people living by themselves and wanting to save money, or get out of debt. There are some important items which you should be aware of if you are choosing this option:
- The bigger your car the more space you will have in your new home. It is possible to live in a small vehicle, but an estate car is usually best.
- You will need to think about how to organize your car; if the back seats fold you will have a good sized bed but may be limited on storage space.
- It is usually best to use a color coded system of bags; one for clean clothes, one for washing, and so on.
- Limit the amount of things you take with you; if it is not essential and practical then it can be left behind.
- Always know where your nearest toilets are!
- Park your car in a variety of different spots; you do not need unwanted attention.
- Carry a twelve volt kettle to plug into the car for when you need a drink and a camping stove for food. Always cook outside the car; if possible eat outside too.
- Curtains will be a necessity; for privacy and to block out streetlights or the morning sun. They can be put up using Velcro, tape or a curtain rail.
- Blankets are essential to help keep you warm; as well as a good sleeping bag.
This is the next step up from a car, more space and more privacy as the back has few, if any windows. If you do not need to use the back of your van for anything else then it is possible to build a variety of items into it.
- A bed! With just a few bits of wood you can create a comfortable space for you to sleep and even either place a mattress on the bed or several old duvets; to give you a soft warm base.
- The sides of the bed can also be cushioned to give you a settee during the times you are not sleeping.
- By building a bed you will be creating a space underneath where you can store items, preferably in plastic containers. A few packs of silica crystals will help to ensure your items stay damp free.
- The kitchen; where possible cook outside, unless you have a ventilation system built into your van. A small cupboard can be made to give you a place to store your crockery, pots and pans and the essential camping stove.
- You can also strap a water tank to the cupboard or side of the van to create an in-van water supply for washing, cleaning, cooking or making a drink.
- The rest of your space should be kept as tidy and clutter free as possible; you may wish to have somewhere to store paperwork or any other personal items. You may also wish to have a TV mounted on the wall.
- It is best to panel the van on the inside with some cheap wood; this will help with warmth and make it easy to screw hooks and furnishings to the walls.
- If your van has windows then add curtains, you need the privacy and the insulation or protection from the sun. However, keep the van tidy and your items out of sight; this will ensure you can leave your curtains open in the day time and not attract undue attention.
The RV or Motorhome
The best option for living on the road is a purpose built RV or motorhome. It will already be set up with a bed or two, a kitchen, probably a shower and toilet with a few other modern conveniences added in. It is bigger than a car or a van and will allow you room to love around and live very comfortably.
- RV’s are bigger vehicles and you will need to consider where to park overnight. It will be more noticeable parking on the side of the street for any length of time. There are plenty of places where you can park for free and may even meet other people, with the same lifestyle plans.
- The RV will use more fuel than a van or a car; if you need to commute to a job then it may not be the best option for the daily run. You will need to consider this when choosing parking spots.
- This type of vehicle will allow you and a partner to live very comfortably; there will even be room for a couple of children: if you have them.
- Of course, this is also the most expensive of the options for living on the road. It is best, if possible, to plan this type of living in advance and allow yourself enough time and funds to purchase the RV and make any repairs necessary.
No matter which type of vehicle you choose, or can afford; you will discover that you have more free time than ever before. All the usually chores and the draw of the TV will not be present when living on the road; this means you will have to find something to do with your time. It is advisable to spend as much time as possible outside your van; this will ensure you do not become too isolated or feel confined.
Chapter 2 – Reasons for Choosing to Live in a Vehicle
Although there are some issues which you will need to resolve before you can start living in your vehicle, there is also a lot of reasons for choosing your new lifestyle.
- Providing you plan your approach and the essential items you must have in your new home this can be the most exciting and possibly short or long term solution to your housing needs:
- Because you can! Living in a vehicle provides you with a freedom from the majority of your bills. In most places there are no rules against living in a vehicle and choosing to do so is the same as making a statement; you are in charge of your own destiny and do not conform to social norms.
- Living in your vehicle will give you a huge amount of freedom. You are free to park almost anywhere, to pack your belongings in and travel to a different town, or even county. You can change locations daily, weekly or monthly and visit places you would only have dreamed of without the freedom of living in your vehicle. You will also gain a financial freedom as you are no longer part of the everyday treadmill which holds so many people captive.
- Opting to live in a vehicle is, perhaps, the ultimate way of saying that you do not wish to adhere to socially accepted and expected norms. You are choosing to follow your own path in life and are open to any and all possibilities which come your way. It is very easy to follow the path that so many others do; school, college, job, house, etc. This is the path that will lead to years of unnecessary financial pain.
- Living in a vehicle can also be a practical way of either avoiding getting into debt or clearing off your debt. The reduced cost of living will leave you with more funds available with which to pay off debts and start afresh. It can even be the best option for those who are starting their own business; the majority of their time is devoted to the starting up of the business and creature comforts are not needed. Even TV is a distraction which a budding entrepreneur does not have time for.
- It is an affordable solution, no matter what your situation. Most people already own a car and can either use this or upgrade it to a van. Purchasing an RV is a more expensive option and will require a little more planning. However, once the vehicle has been purchased there is little else to pay out for. The majority of the conventional household bills will disappear; making this a cheap, long-term option.
- The great outdoors is often passed through but not appreciated or even noticed enough. Living in a vehicle will necessitate spending as much time as possible outside, enjoying nature. This is also excellent if you have a passion for rock climbing or hiking and do not wish to have the hassle of travelling back and forth from your favorite location to your home. Living in your vehicle will allow you to really appreciate the great outdoors and see sights that most people will never experience.
- Your time is yours! Many people spend large amounts of their free time cutting the grass, clearing the yard and maintaining their homes; all essential tasks. However, if you choose to live in your vehicle you no longer need to concern yourself with these mundane tasks. Your free time becomes yours to do what you like with!
- Chase the sun! Providing you either work remotely or are freelance it is very easy for you to move from one town to another. In effect you can travel with the weather. If you love the sun, go south in the winter and explore the north in the summer; alternatively head for the snow and move with the seasons. You can follow any dream you wish and are mobile enough to do so.
- Clean less. Just as your time becomes your own through the lack of household maintenance which requires completing, living in your vehicle will reduce the amount of cleaning you need to do. Living in a smaller space will ensure the cleaning is less and that you are more organized in your approach to any task or job you need to complete.
- Neighbors; in the unlikely event that you stay long enough in one place to have neighbors you will not need to worry about what kind of neighbors they are. If, for any reason, you dislike your neighbors you can simply fasten your items down and drive away. It doesn’t matter if they are loud and obnoxious or simply too friendly; a new neighbor is a short drive away!
- Best view in the house! It is possible to simply park in the supermarket car parks and side streets; however, living in a vehicle also gives you the freedom to park at some of the most beautiful natural sights in the world. It is literally possible to have a view that is better than that from a penthouse department; and a different fantastic view every night!
- Living in a vehicle will mean you need to examine which items you really need to have with you. Space is limited and you simply cannot have all the luxuries you would expect in a conventional home. It does not take long to adjust to this new approach to living and the majority of people who engage in this type of lifestyle will quickly focus less on material possessions and more on the experiences which are available in the world around you. In effect, you will appreciate the beauty of nature and the importance of quality over quantity.
- Make Friends. It may be surprising to realize that you can actually make more friends living out of a vehicle than in a conventional home. There are two reasons for this:
- There are times when you will be parked next to other people living the same lifestyle as you or even just vacationing. You will be able to make an immediate connection and swap stories, tips and favorite locations.
- Mobility is an essential factor in being able to meet up with people you have connected to online. Equally, living in a vehicle gives you the freedom to visit places where an event or conference is being held and meet like-minded people. You may not have considered attending if you did not live in your vehicle.
- Relatives. It can be surprisingly difficult to visit some of your closest relatives when they live on the other side of the country. However, with your own house on wheels you can visit at anytime and never be an imposition to them. The journey there can also take as long or as short an amount of time as you wish; depending on what you see and who you meet on the way!
Chapter 3 – Helpful Hints on Living in a Motorhome
Living in a house on wheels can be a lifestyle choice or simply something you do for a few years; whatever the reason it will provide you with some of the best experiences of your life. The following tips and hint will help to ensure your transition to a mobile lifestyle is as smooth and painless as possible:
- Choosing your vehicle. In many ways big is better, although it is essential to consider your budget and having enough funds left for emergency repairs or breakdowns. It is also important to consider the amount of space you will actually require; running a full size RV will cost more in fuel than a smaller option. It is also essential to look at the layout of your van and the amount of storage and facilities on board. Onboard water tanks, showers and toilets can be a godsend, even if you don’t use them all the time!
- Mail. Before you embark on your adventure it is essential to sort a mailing address. A PO Box is usually a good option and relatively cheap. This mail can be collected by a friend or relative and forwarded to your current location. Alternatively, there are many forwarding services which will bring the mail to you. It is also possible to have your mail rerouting to a friend or relative’s house and deal with it from there. Whichever option you choose you will need an address to deal with financial institutions, insurance and the government.
- Lighting. Having acquired your van it is a simple and easy adjustment to change your current lights for LED bulbs. You may be surprised at how much difference this makes to your electricity consumption.This is an important consideration when you are mobile and only have the battery on your motorhome to run the electrics. Even when plugged into the mains LED bulbs will reduce your consumption and therefore your costs. Keeping your bills to a minimum will enable you to maximize the potential of this lifestyle; the fewer funds you need for day to day items the more you will have available for the luxuries or the tough times.
- Solar Power. This is becoming a very popular option for everyone; whether mobile or not. It is a way to reduce electricity bills and do a little bit to help the environment; solar power is clean and free. It is also comparatively cheap to install in a motorhome and very easy to do. It offers more than just the obvious reduction in costs; it also offers the ability to stay in almost any location without needing to find somewhere to hook up to and obtain your power.This creates a freedom to explore and live in even the most remote of places.
- The majority of motorhomes come with a diesel engine and you must make sure that yours does. Diesel engines are generally more reliable and will last for far longer than their petrol counterparts. They are also more economical and diesel fuel is cheaper to buy than petrol. An addition benefit is that diesel engines generally have more torque; this is a great benefit when pulling off in a heavy vehicle, a petrol engine, no matter how big, may seem very sluggish when pulling away; particularly if pulling off uphill.
- Extras. When choosing your motorhome it is worth looking for one which has electronic mirrors, cruise control and a good stereo. These are not just features on a motorhome; they are valuable accessories which will help to give you a more comfortable life as you travel and live in your home.When you are living in a smaller space, the benefit of little things, such as these, can be greatly amplified.
- Parking. The average motorhome is a big vehicle and not something you want to be parking in the dark or in a small space without assistance and a lot of care. There are many places where you can stay for a night or two for free; supermarket car parks are a popular one and some of them even have waste disposal units and a supply of water to refill your tanks. If you do not mind relocating every couple of days this is an excellent way of keeping your living costs down to nothing or a bare minimum.
- Medication. You may be on medication already or may need to go on some for a specific reason. It is advisable to check the side effects of any medication you need to take, many of them will create drowsiness and this is not something you need when in charge of a big motorhome. Medication can also slow reaction time or make you more susceptible to various other issues; these side effects should be noted and precautions taken accordingly.
- In colder parts of the country or winter time you will probably need to use a heater to stay warm. Many motorhomes come equipped with a propane fuelled heater which is very effective at heating your home. However, it also has a tendency to guzzle your gas and can empty a bottle relatively quickly. In order to keep costs reasonable it is advisable to purchase a portable space heater; it will provide the same amount of heat at a fraction of the cost.
- Reversing. As already mentioned the average motorhome is not a small vehicle and it takes practice to drive one smoothly in a variety of different scenarios. The majority of people can drive a motorhome without needing to take an additional test and a little practice can go a long way! It is best to take your new motorhome to your nearest car park when it is nice and quiet. Develop your own course, including corners and reverse parking. Practice makes perfect and will build your own skills behind the wheel; you will be grateful for theses skills when having to park in an unknown spot, late at night in the dark!
- Pre-departure. Whether you have stayed in one spot for one night or several months it is always worth doing a pre-departure check. This involves walking around your vehicle, checking lights, tires and for any signs of damage. Finding them and sorting them before you leave will save time and hassle when on the road. It may even be the difference between the inconvenience of breaking down in the middle of the night or in the middle of nowhere.
- Cleaning. The much smaller space offered by your motorhome is quicker and easier to clean than a conventional house. However, it is important to spend some time on the outside of your home. Regularly cleaning the roof will reduce the likelihood of oxidation; where the color fades and the surface underneath can become visible to the elements. A lived in motorhome will be exposed to the elements most of the time, this will ensure it is at a higher risk of damage than one stored inside a garage.Reducing the chances of oxidation will help your home to last longer and look better. It is also worth cleaning the grime from the rest of the vehicle including underneath; this will prevent a buildup of dust or mud which can be harmful to your home.
- Toilet. Most motorhomes will come complete with a toilet and shower and these should have been an essential part of your shopping list when looking at potential vehicles. Having these items on board will make it easier to stop where you like and avoid the fees which approved sites charge. However, there will be times when you need to empty your toilet; this is done by connecting your waste outlet up to a special tank and turning the valve to release the contents. Living in your motorhome and using your facilities regularly will mean the tank needs to be emptied regularly; in between emptying it is best to look after your toilet system by using biodegradable paper.
- The tanks can be emptied in numerous different locations and most of these sites will also provide you with the opportunity to refill your water tanks. Some of these sites will charge, whilst others have the facilities available for free. There are several websites which can assist with finding the free sites and these will save you a sizeable chunk of money over the course of a year.
- Living in a motorhome will create challenges; one of the biggest is the amount of stuff you own versus the amount of space you have. There are two options which should be used in conjunction to ensure you have everything you need:1-Look for a motorhome with as much prebuilt in storage or option to add storage as possible. Even the best designed homes will have dead spaces which are not used but could offer valuable addition storage space. Be sure to check any motorhome carefully before you commit to purchase it.2-Reduce the amount of belongings you own, particularly clothes and shoes. It is essential to be realistic and dispose of all the items that you are unlikely to wear again. Ideally if you already have your motorhome then you will be able to fill the available space with your clothing and dispose of the rest.
- Knowledge is essential. Basic mechanic skills are extremely useful but not necessarily essential. However, knowing what amps your system produces or where the plumbing is routed will make a huge difference should you develop a problem whilst driving between locations. Understanding how the systems on your van work will enable you to both carry a few essential spares and repair it, if necessary.
- Tools. It may seem like your tools will not be needed as you will no longer be living in a conventional home. However, you do not know what issues you may face and what tool might help you out of a tricky situation. Having built up your collection of tools it is better to find a storage space for them and keep them with you, for when they are needed.
- Parking can be difficult when in a large motorhome. You must pay attention to whether there are any low hanging branches or nearby vehicles, rocks of fences which could cause a nasty incident. If you are parking in the dark it may be beneficial to have someone outside guiding you in; just be sure that you can see them! Once parked up you may need to level your home using little ramps and you should always chock the wheels.If you are on a site and have an electric hook-up available then be sure to locate it as soon as possible and pug your home in. Then don’t forget to switch the power source to hook-up instead of the battery. Finally, be sure to locate the sewerage point and the water tap; this will allow you to empty the tanks and refill the water as needed.
- Warmth. In the summer your motorhome will probably be warm all the time and, quite possibly, a little too warm at night. However, the winter will bring much colder temperatures and overnight the motorhome will probably become quite chilly. Aluminum foil can be used on the insides of the windows to help heat retention and make your motorhome a little more comfortable through the night.
It is possible to change your lifestyle and move, permanently, into a motorhome, or even a van or your car. Whilst at first this may seem like a strange way to choose to live; this is simply because of the standards and expectations placed on people by society. In reality, few people are brave enough to attempt a lifestyle so different from the norm. This is why, when you announce your intentions you will be greeted with either disbelief or jealously. Both reactions are, in effect, the same; people do not believe that someone else could have the audacity to choose a different lifestyle to the one most people have and they are jealous that you are prepared to try it.
Living in your vehicle provides a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else in the world; a freedom to explore, to travel; and to see new, wondrous sights. Best of all, this can all be achieved whilst working remotely or as a freelancer; the only tools you need are a laptop and the ability to connect to the internet.
This will provide the finance required to live comfortably; whilst enjoying the nomadic lifestyle. The most important advice which should be taken from this guide is the need to plan your new life, before you undertake it. This does not mean delaying it or talking about it forever and never actually doing it. What it does mean is deciding what you want, doing a little research and then buying the right vehicle for the job. Essential elements include:
- Buying the right size motorhome
- Working out which clothing and belongings are essentials
- Learning about the systems of your chosen home and basic mechanics
- Test driving and practicing
- Knowing where to camp and creating a rough plan or direction for your travel; assuming you wish to travel and not simply live within the same area you currently do.
- Exploring and finding beautiful places; off the beaten track.
Owning and living in your vehicle can provide a freedom that many seek but never find. However, it is not necessarily the life for everyone; some people prefer the comfort of four walls. If you attempt this lifestyle and have tried to make it work then there is no shame in returning to a more contemporary house. It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all! A final point that should be noted is that modern society demands a connection to the internet, no matter what your lifestyle. Living in a motorhome still provides this opportunity. It is possible to get internet over a 4G dongle, by using your phone as a hub, or by using one of the many free Wi-Fi’s around. This will ensure you stay connected to your friends and those who are important to you. It will also provide you with the opportunity to meet online with other people living in their vehicle and swap tales; perhaps even meet with them in person! Whatever your motivation, living in your vehicle is an option worth considering.