February 28, 2012

An Interview with "Em"

If you read this blog regularly you know how fascinated I am by our lifestyle and the many reasons that we all choose to live this way. We’re such a diverse group, some live almost off grid while others live in cities and have full time jobs. I asked Em of I should Have Done That Yesterday… to answer some basic questions that readers often ask me.
What's your ideal vehicle? If I could afford to buy one, I'd choose a large conversion van.  There is a lot more you can do with one of those.  I currently am in a Oldsmobile Silhouette mini van.   No matter what, stealth is the most important, which is why I would not choose a more spacious camper.  A Chevy Astro would also be nice.

How long have you been vehicle dwelling?  Just for a couple months in the fall of 2011 before moving to CO.  I'm looking forward to moving back into my van in April.

What is your reason for vehicle dwelling?  One day about a year ago, I was sitting in my apartment surrounded by piles and piles of boxes and stuff.   I seemed to move once a year, and never really unpacked everything before moving again.  I had a lot more stuff stored at my parents house, and even rented a garage to store some of my things.  I felt overwhelmed.  I wanted free of my stuff.  I constantly felt like I was trying to unpack and organize, and it just never happened.  I found out about vandwelling online and started dreaming of it.  I would be free of all this clutter, and it happened to be a lot more affordable plan.  I spent about the next 6 months getting rid of stuff, selling what I could, but I wanted it gone, I just drove most of it to Goodwill, and I moved into my van.   

So basically, the idea was formed to get rid of stuff.  One major bonus that made me seriously consider it was how cheap it would be to live.  Once I decided to move into my van, I realized how I would be able to travel, and that is what made me most excited about it.

Do you tell people (ie: coworkers and friends) about your living situation?  I just told my first person a few days ago.

If yes: what are their reactions?   I was talking to two co-workers and mentioned owning a van.  One of them responded "You should gut the back of it and live in it!"  After that response, I had to come clean.  She apparently lived in her van for a year last year, and our discussion only lead the other co-worker to the reaction of "This conversation is making me so jealous.  My boyfriend is going to wonder what is wrong with me when I get home and announce we're moving into a van."  I can't bring myself to tell anyone else.

What kind of work do you do?   I'm a preschool teacher.

What general area of the country are you in?  Currently Colorado.  My vandwelling was in Ohio.

How does your family feel about your lifestyle?  They have no idea.  I just told them I lived with co-workers.  One weekend I met my parents camping, I pulled out my mattress and threw it in my tent.  Told them that is why I had it.  We camp a lot as a family, so a lot of the things found in my van can be linked to that.

Has a cop ever knocked on your window?  Not yet!

Do you have any good stories from you time tramping?  None of those yet either!  Hopefully I'll get some this summer.  I plan to travel around the US a lot more via van.

What blogs do you read that you have found helpful?  I have about 40 blogs on my Google Reader of people living in vehicles at least part of the time.  My favorites are TheTuckerbag, Spartan Student, Our Take on Freedom, and To Simplify

Any tips for beginners?  Just do it.  Don't worry about all the details.  If you try to figure them all out first, you'll never move in.  Just move into your vehicle, and figure out all the details as you go.

What's one thing you use in your van that makes life easier?  My window covers, and my clip-on book light.

Many thanks to Em for sharing her story! Like I said, this is a diverse group. Em is one of the many who change between vehicle and sticks and bricks depending on weather and work. There is no one right answer, instead it's about finding what works for you.


  1. You young folk make me happy and give me hope in what seems like a hopeless world sometimes.
    I get to live vicariously some of my past.

  2. Ash

    Your blog is 1000 better, seams like this girl has only spent a few nights in her van.
    Not as good as your Wwoofer.......he was great.

    1. I should really have an extended chat with "my" Wwofer. Seems like he'd have some pretty awesome stories:)

  3. Thank Ash! Too bad my blog is pretty out of date right now. It'll get a lot better in April!

    I would love to see a photo collage or something of a bunch of our faces. I thought of it when you posted about revealing your real photo on here. "The New Homeless"..or something like that. You said that you look pretty 'normal', as do I!

    1. I'm really looking forward to your blog starting up again! One reason "normal" citizens think vehicle dwellers are dirty crazy people is because it's hard to imagine the guy at the grocery store or the woman who does your hair living like this on purpose. There are misconceptions which I think need to be addressed and stereotypes that should be overturned.


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