Why I Choose Van Life
When I was 21 and fresh out of college, my mother was diagnosed with a terminal form of brain cancer and was given eighteen months (at the most) to live. I moved across the country to help take care of her, as she was the head of the household for herself and my dad. I had the blessing and the curse of being there with her until the bitter end, which came roughly nine months later.
What really impacted me to live a nomadic lifestyle was a conversation I had with my mother about two months before she was diagnosed. She was 59 years old and ecstatic at the fact that she was going to retire early at the age of 62 and be able to spend her time at our cabin in the mountains.
She worked her entire life to make sure my siblings and I had ample opportunities and with the hope that she would get to fully enjoy her time and money once she was retired, but she never got that opportunity.
As a kid you envision your family members and friends always being around, but that was when I fully understood that living to see another day is never guaranteed, no matter how young, healthy, or safe you may be.
I saw a lot of friends out of college whose primary goal was to get the highest paying job and buy the nicest car possible – and while that’s great for some people, I knew I wanted so much more out of life.
How it All Started
I had the blessing of landing a job where I could get to work remotely, and although I don’t love the daily work, it offers me the freedom to work from all over the country.
I began taking my work wherever I pleased, whether it was to visit family and friends, or experience a new place. One summer I visited Yosemite National Park where I met my now boyfriend and was able to live there for an entire summer with him while he worked in the park.
There’s nothing more magical than walking out the front door every morning and looking up to see half dome.
The people and experiences that I had in Yosemite and in my other travels gave me the courage to accept that I am not meant to live a conventional life, working and living in the same place day after day.
Buying our Sprinter Van
After a suggestion by my boyfriend to buy a sprinter van (standing up in your van is a double win if you ask me), I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I am currently working on converting my van, Vanna White, and hope to have it completed in the next few months. My main goal is to check out all of the national parks, especially in the western states.
Challenges I Faced
I’m still new to the van game so I’m sure I will encounter many more challenges as I go, but so far my biggest challenge was having my engine control module go out a month after purchasing the van…
Nothing more frustrating than dropping a couple grand after purchasing what appears to be perfect vehicle, but nonetheless I’m still grateful that I will get to call the van home.
Also, finding insurance that will do full coverage on a homemade conversion has been a struggle for me. Another hurdle is trying to get the van registered while I’m not actually located in the state that I claim residency and hold insurance in.
Planning & Organization
My biggest challenges to the nomad lifestyle in general tend to just be logistical things, which is partly my fault because I’m always trying to squeeze the most out of my time, so I tend to overcommit to things.
How I Financially Support my Lifestyle
Currently I work remotely 40 hours/week for a financial services company doing sales operations, but I am also a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach and am working on building and growing my online fitness business.
My real passion is helping others become healthier, more confident versions of themselves, so ideally I’d like to grow my business to where it can sustain me and allow me to quit my day job.
I’m not sure what my monthly expenses will be as I’m new to van life. I have some rent related expenses that will go away soon and one-time van expenses that (hopefully) won’t be occurring again, so that’s tough to gauge at the moment.
Advice for Enthusiasts
My advice to anyone looking to live this lifestyle is GO FOR IT!
It’s so freeing and honestly if you never do, you’ll never know. I had an aunt tell me once that no decision is permanent (well most aren’t) and you can always change your mind and go back if you choose, and that really helped me to stop stressing about whether I was making the “right” decision. Life is too short to not take chances, and I like to ask myself daily: if I found out I was going to die in six months, would I be happy with the life that I’m living today?