Today is the one year anniversary of may last rent payment—twelve months of rent free vantastic bliss. Think about how much money you could save living like this, and all the great things you could do with it. You could probably use the money to get laid, get more bikes, or buy that supplement that will allow you to stand atop the podium in the cat 12 masters 90+ local crit series. Saving money seems like the best part of van living, but that’s far from the truth. You might not end up on your death bed wondering why you spent all that money on rent, but you will be there wondering why your life was so boring and average.
Really though, rent free living seems like a great idea until you think carefully about it. Maybe you buy a van or RV and stay in that. Genius move, but it’s still not so easy. Where do you piss? Where does your mail go? Where do you shower? How awkward will it be when your significant other’s parents find out? (I’ll let you know when it happens.) Your mind careens out of control; your thoughts run into one wall after another, hitting road block after road block. You realize that you can’t possibly live without a house for a year. Your lower lip droops. The child next to you winces as he hears your spirit break and looks at you the same way your teacher did you when you lost the 3rd grade spelling bee. You give up and realize that living “normally” is just a part of adult life. Well, f!@k you!
So living rent free can be done but it will take some sacrifice. You need to save up a bunch of cash for a van, say about $1000. Oh wait! That’s not actually that much. You do have to accept that it’s a little harder to do shit when you want—including take one. No cooking gourmet meals, no showers every day, and occasionally you will actually look and smell like you live in a van. It’s a more pure form of living, a throwback to a day when people couldn’t just turn up the heat when it was cold outside, instead they dealt with it.
For every negative there are more positives. Van living frees you up to do a lot of things you didn’t know you were missing out on. You never have to pack for a trip because everything you own is already in the van. Just start it and go. Last night I camped on the beach North of Malibu and woke up to an amazing morning. Even the 90 mile drive with a hangover in So Cal traffic back to work didn’t suck as much as writing a rent check, and the sense adventure that is lost when you have a safe and comfortable place to lay your head down.
It can get wearing, annoying, cold, damp, wet, hot, etc. It’s really just glorified urban camping. Your tent has metal sides and a V-8 with an oil leak, squeaky doors and some “custom” paint on the side. It’s not a polished retirement sled that whips you from KOA to KOA on a cloud of comfort. It’s real living. It’s the modern equivalent of a sheep herder’s wagon and it’s the most amazing year you will ever have. You will learn a lot of things that you won’t learn any other way.
The last year may not have been the best of my life, but it wasn’t the worst either. I wouldn’t have known unless I tried it, and I’m looking forward to the next 365 days of adventure. It may not be the best life out there, but it’s a life that’s less shitty than dreading the first of every month. (I always thought the Bone Thugs’ song should be a little more somber).