- Almost anything on https://www.reddit.com/r/vandwellers/
On Ryobi: "Good question. They pretty much covered the entire cost of the project. But the van and entire site was done before they agreed. Pretty big risk for the amount of time it involved."
"Nope haha. I finished the site and mocked it up as if they were already the sponsor and sent it over in a cold email. Guess they like what they saw."
I don’t yet know enough to evaluate the quality of the instruction here. Why do you think this is a terrible resource?
It offers one specific method for each area which you can see on alot of blogs, etc. The approach in paricular (At least for electrical) is also pretty basic and rough.
For example - the electrical buildout basically just drills a hole in and epoxied into your roof. As opposed to something like a cable box w/ waterproof connectors.
I think it's a great start and would love to see more depth and also a few options like: "Want to power alot of stuff? 400w of panels and 2 deep cycle batteries" vs. "Just need to power a cell phone?" etc.
Here's a great guide for the electrical side that I have been working off of for our van: https://gnomadhome.com/van-build-solar-electrical-wiring/
And here's a nice overview which would be good to have for n00bs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k9qlZM1ars
Google around a bit on you'll see there is a lot of debate on how to deal with condensation to prevent rusting out the metal of your van. It isn't clear if he's intending his system to deal with this by creating a vapor barrier with all that spray foam or if he's just going to end up with a bunch of condensation trapped in the space between the foam and the metal leading to rust.
And reflextix isn't particularly useful between two layers where it isn't exposed to radiant heat to reflect so I think he just wasted a bunch of money sticking it under the foam.
Personal experience outside of van building: His insulation instructions are pretty suspect with even a basic understanding of how insulation works. Electrical is done in a way that works, but will make modifying your rig in the future very difficult.
Personal experience on van building: I'm on my 3rd iteration in 6 months of building. This is because as I build it out and try to live in it, I realized that certain things have to change for comfort/safety/ease of use. It's never really done, you're constantly tweaking things.
If you build it out according to the Vanual, you probably won't die/freeze to death/etc. But it might not a great existence (e.g. comfortable or enjoyable).
I read it when I was considering living in RV myself, that was before vanlife boom so there was not much information available back then.
I was actually surprised to see photos of books on The Vanual website. It looked so clean and small, and then he owns books. Doesn't make sense to me. My e-reader works for weeks, and it can contain thousands of books.
Now go and read that site's health and hygiene, realize the owner never even considers this a possibility, and that his own van doesn't even include a cassette toilet. That he can only defecate during a store's business hours, and he uses a laundry bottle filled with bleach to pee into if he needs to urinate in the middle of the night.
You really want to listen to this guy?
Why can't you leave your vehicle when sick? What's the fear of discovery? "This guy is really sick and needs our help. But wait, he was secretly sleeping in a stealth van - let him die!"
You strike me as particularly risk averse!
I knew a tree planter who lived in a tent within a tent and inside the outer tent was a dozen jugs piss. He never bothered to empty the jugs until the camp relocated.
Also, it’s not impossible to defecate without a bathroom. Tree planters I knew would deficate in the bush a million miles away from a bathroom and they’d wipe their bums with sticks and leaves - they would do this regularly and brag about it. They enjoyed to defecate in front of people too and that’s how you knew they wern’t lying about the sticks and leaves.
If you were sick, you would lie in yr tent until you were not sick puking in garbage bags. If you got too sick someone could drive you into town.
Some people are just hard like that and guess what - those are the people that are going to want to live in a van and save $$$ on rent.
The lifestyle temporarily regresses into a costly and luxurious first-world domestic one when they're too ill to live in their preferred mode.
Your post is uninformed FUD as far as I'm concerned. Anyone living in a van by choice should be able to afford a cheap motel for a few days - and should budget for it, since sometimes the van breaks down and needs to check into a far more expensive motel of its own, the mechanic's garage.
- Someone that has spent multiple years in aggregate living relatively comfortably, by choice, out of vehicles and campgrounds.
My brother has been living in a van for years and he loves it. Yes, there are tradeoffs, but when you are saving the cost of renting, and gaining a lot of freedom WRT your location, some people are willing to give up a lot of comforts.
It's not for me, but I think it's great for people who can tolerate it.
And he's doing it for what? The great experience of having to sleep every night in a wal-mart parking lot or a side street? Not being able to live in one place, invite his friends over to his house, have a long-term girlfriend, and more?
Living in a van is hard. It doesn't become less hard because a yuppie does it as a voyage of self-discovery, or makes a pretty web site about it.
editing my language some. I'm sorry, I get really strident about things like this.
One of many things I took away from that life is that I was truly free. The only money I was required to pay were cruising permits, annual registration, and insurance (you'll want it if you're not a complete idiot). Having to move everyday was a minor, minor inconvenience.
Worse case, you drive to the nearest ER. Worst case, call 911 or stumble out onto the street and ask someone to do so. No different than if I had a heart attack in my house.
Reacting to this so negatively is ignoring the billions of humans around the globe who live in much more rustic conditions and (largely) manage not to die.
Imagine you screw up the ventilation and have a carbon monoxide problem, or, you screw up something electrical and put yourself at risk of fire. I suppose there are a lot of spotty contractors out there that still manage to do their thing on more traditional dwellings too, but DIY in the tight space of a van seems like some of the things described are not without risk.
There was a time when everyone managed to get by without building codes. Sure we had a few fires and collapses, but statistically speaking they were still outliers.
Don't let the 1% risk of bad hold you back from trying good, is my only point.
Your argument appeals to the subjective (and I do love the idea), but the parent's points are more about the objective (flu, health implications, hygiene, etc.); also, having to pee into a bottle at night is definitely not for everyone.
In some countries that is true, in others you have to choose to pay for a bag, so most people don't, instead they re-use their existing (non-plastic) bag.
The UK for example charges 5p for a plastic bag and this has had a significant effect:
I've never seen these lifestylers put serious thought into what goes wrong. They rely on youthful immortality to carry them through.
again editing for language and adding content.
To be fair, having your small, mobile house suddenly become less mobile is typically not a disaster - unless it happens in the middle of a desert, or in the middle of winter. Someone living in a van in Hawaii or California is likely not going to be in serious danger if their engine suddenly seizes up, or if an axle breaks.
Plus, if the alleged savings from not paying rent are actually put away into some sort of savings account, staying in a hotel or motel for a week or two while the van is repaired isn't likely to be a tremendous setback.
It honestly doesn't seem any more risky than living in an apartment - which can flood, catch fire, or otherwise become un-inhabitable as easily as a van, and are more difficult to repair and harder to move your stuff out of.
I think your point about sudden illness or injury is a much more serious problem facing a would-be van-dweller.
What I think you are assuming is that this lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with poverty, in which case the people living it would probably be worse off if forced to sacrifice an even greater portion of their income on living expenses. Why would an older person, assuming equal income, be worse off in a van in the case of a medical emergency? Just call an ambulance like anyone else would.
And by the way, old people practically pioneered the art of van living -- it's called an RV!
> I've never seen these lifestylers put serious thought into what goes wrong.
Then you're not looking, because even as an outsider with a casual interest in this lifestyle I've come across many thoughtful resources online as well as candid accounts from people actually living in vans.
How much have you looked into this subculture? There are people of all ages and they indeed put serious thought into contingencies. There are retirees, there are young travellers, college kids, remote workers who like travelling around. There are people with nothing in their bank account who can't afford to live another way. There are others with money to burn, but just wanting a lifestyle change. Some are solo, some as couples or with a family, others with pets.
It's not for everyone, but then not everything is.
What honestly frustrates you about it? Do you wish that you could overlook the fears and take a risk yourself?
I was wondering the same thing as I got ready to reply, then I realized it’s probably a case of extreme Worrywartitis, and a reply would be wasted. Some folks can throw some tools and a tent on the motorcycle and head off to Alaska for a month. Others will have to pack until they can’t see over the handlebars, because what if? I’m more of the former. If it breaks, I’ll fix it. If I need parts, I’ll put the tent up and wait for FedEx. If I am in a situation that I can’t get myself out of, I’ll fire up the satellite communicator. But in general, if things go wrong I’ll figure it out somehow. Always have. Might not at some point in the future. Hopefully it’s a dramatic end.
Takes all kinds to make a world, the nonchalant and the less so. Problem is, the latter often can’t leave the former alone about it.
Serious question: I couldn't find a section for the 3 Essential Ss for every man - Sh*t, Shave, Shampoo.
What do these guys who live in Vans do for that? I know that the Google dude who lives on Campus in Parking lot can use the Company showers and Toilets, but what about the average everyday man in the City who wants to try this?
If you really want to try it though just do it some night, I started by just folding the seat down and putting a sleeping bag and pillow across it. It is pretty uncomfortable, but the absence of repetition really slows time and makes each day seem more vivid. Also if you have any qualms about using public restrooms you will get over them real quick.
If you're in the US, a motorhome counts as a house. Which means loans are mortgages: 15-30 yr terms and tax-deductions on property-tax and interest. (2018 may change that of course).
Shave: Grow a beard, truck stop restrooms in the morning, you'll blend right in with the truckers doing the same.
Shampoo: In the city swimming pools are a decent bet, sometimes you can just ask if you can just shower and they'll let you. Gym memberships like Planet Fitness can be reasonably priced for just the shower. In more remote areas, campgrounds are a good source of showers, sometimes free, sometimes a modest fee. Plenty of van dwellers will even setup a cleaning area in their van, usually some sort of bucket they can stand in a pour heated water over them selves, or at least a sponge bath.
I'm not a fulltime van dweller, I started off just skipping out on hotels during 2-3week long road trips, eventually moved into my car (Pontiac G6) for 6months in the Boston area. Now its more sporadic, a month or two here and there while doing some long distance hiking.
What's the difference between a thru hiker and a homeless person? Gore-Tex.
That's crazy! May I ask where you parked in the evenings?
Though I guess I phrased that a bit poorly, I spent Dec-Mar in the Boston area and fled south after some significant snowfall in January and February (record breaking snow in 2015). While moving it was almost always in rest areas or trail heads (backpacking on the weekends).
If you have a bigger vehicle and are doing some modifications you also can fit it onboard - basically add the same kind of bathroom setup any other small RV would have (small enclosed/encloseable space, shower-pan as the floor, chemical toilet, fold-out sink)
(Assuming some minimum degree of limberness and agility.)
I mean, the whole thing is a living standard compromise to save thousands on rent. That doesn't make it an exciting destination - quite the opposite.
Actually I think you would find that almost universally, that's not the outlook of van dwellers.
> What would be exciting about going back to a guy's van?
I'm a heterosexual man, so nothing at all would be exciting for me.
But I'm willing to consider that others would find it exciting. And quite frankly, I can think of quite a few ladies I know who might.
You have not explored a viewpoint other than your own on this topic.
> You have not explored a viewpoint other than your own on this topic.
What is the outlook of van dwellers?
So she can tell her girlfriends that she did it in a Van. Jokes aside, isn't it true that most women just wanna have fun / adventure? So it might be a new thing, depending on the lady in question.
Is it though?
Your problem living in a van in SF would be parking somewhere reasonably quiet without being harassed by cops, ticketed, or towed.
2) proper toilet and shower instead of chemo toilet and something that's more a droplet distributor than a shower; in addition you can physically separate the toilet and its gases from your living room.
3) trucks and buses are designed for maintenance by the fleet owners and have space to actually work on the components, in contrast to loads of car based RV models
4) RVs at truck/bus scale are either expensive or so worn-out that a rebuild is the same cost
5) customizing - I like building stuff, for one, and normal RVs don't come with adequate 230V outlets or other IT infrastructure.
I wanted solar and lithium batteries so I would have had completely redo the electrical system. None of them come with a desk or work area.
I remember reading old dystopian sci fi about middle-class people sleeping on the stairs, is that a reality now?
> Well, la-de-frickin-da, we got ourselves a coder here