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When P and I met he was living in his camper on the back of his truck. While I loved his nomadic lifestyle and regularly sent him articles about van dwelling, we had a lease and I have a job. That lease expires January 31st, 2018.
P & I haven’t talked much about what we want to do once we’re no longer tied to our apartment, we just know we don’t want to be obligated to monthly rent. Easier said than done. We’re currently living and working in Portland, Oregon where the cost of living is increasing at staggering rates. While we’re both sort of over Portland, we’re also sort of stuck with it for the time being.
Still, our hesitation toward committing to another year in the city is palpable. When it comes to making solid commitments, we’ve been flaky. In a normal Fall season we’re anxiously awaiting season ski passes to go on sale, checking the snow report for our local resort, and setting aside money for when it comes time to take the plunge. These days just asking us what resort we’re planning to ski will have us wringing our hands.
The thing is, come February 1st we don’t have a clue where we’ll be, let alone where we’ll be skiing. We’ve discussed selling items, keeping items, minimizing, budgeting, but it’s mostly all been in passing. A casual conversation at best.
From Flaky to Focused
Then the other day P dropped the bomb on me: he wants to pursue a bus conversion (the bus conversion idea has evolved, but the general plan remains the same). He followed that up by rattling off all the places he’d like to go once the project is complete: Baja, the Grand Canyon, even Kansas (where I’m from).
I did a pretty good job of containing my enthusiasm at the time but I’ll admit that less than 24 hours later I’ve already spent too much time looking at bus conversions on Pinterest. The idea of hitting the road again, living with less, traveling, spending more quality time and being with those I love and doing the things that set my soul on fire . . . well, that all sounds just lovely.
Learning from Experience
Fortunately, or not so fortunately, I have a little experience with the vagabonding life. I know that the enjoyment we get from living in a bus/van/RV, whatever it may be, will be proportional to how many sacrifices we make now, not to mention the thoughtfulness we give to planning. Now, as P always says, “you don’t know until you go” and in many ways that relates to this perfectly. No matter the planning or thought you put into a life decision like this, you’re bound to have some unexpected surprises.
While the original plan to pursue a bus conversion has evolved, the general plan remains the same: buy some sort of vehicle that we can live in as well as travel in. We’ve given a lot of thought to what the ideal vehicle would be and ultimately we both agree that a Sprinter van would be the best possible option. However, we’re also not ready to make such a huge investment into a lifestyle that we’re not 100% certain we’re going to enjoy. So, we’ve set a budget of 1 year’s rent which for us totals out at nearly $13,0000.
Establishing our Essentials
Since setting a budget we’ve been able to narrow down our other must-haves as well as our would-really-super-prefer, here’s what we’ve come up with:
- We should be able to stand up completely in the vehicle.
- Insulated well enough to keep us warm in the winter and provide us with hot water (we like to ski and snowboard, so we spend a lot of time at mountain resorts).
- Ability to navigate narrow roads – we don’t want to have to reverse it all the way down a windy forest service road, so it needs to be able to flip around if we take a wrong turn.
- Room for our skis, snowboard, mountain bikes, and the plethora of gear we own.
Our Would-Really-Super-Prefer list looks something like this:
- The bed doesn’t need to be put up/taken down every night
- Room for the dogs to sleep
- Awnings! We want to be able to sit outside, after all.
So now the hunt begins! As of today we’ve got 116 days before we’re officially homeless, here we go!