The Future Of Van Living

Just like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and that four pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Dusty bought for me on Valentine’s Day, all good things must come to an end.

What the hell does that have to do with the future of van living?

It’s becoming apparent that counties all over the United States are starting to crack down on people living in their vehicles.

Now, more than ever, people are taking notice of suspicious vehicles parked on the street and are beginning to report them.

And it’s only a matter of time before it happens to you.

Why Is This Happening?

future of van livingWell, I believe the answer is twofold. First of all, we have a huge homelessness problem in the United States.

I live in Portland Oregon which is a beautiful city with a relatively mild climate. While it does rain a lot, it rarely snows and almost never freezes. It’s perfect for outdoor activities and the food can’t be beaten.

Unfortunately what happens in cities like this, is that they attract people with problems. Younger homeless people love it because the drugs are cheap, and they can make a ton of money stealing bikes. Mentally ill people love it because they can easily beg for money, and the police leave them alone for the most part.

They flock here like moths to a flame because the city is a huge enabler. Portlanders, unlike some other city dwellers, are incredibly kindhearted and want to help everyone. The problem is that they attempt to do it in the worst ways.

Instead of, for example, helping people find homes, and get them off of drugs, the mayor made it legal to camp on city streets.

Now we have tents and trash piles EVERYWHERE.


That is not even remotely a solution to the problem.


Instead of giving some tough love, cleaning up junkies, and forcing them to become productive members of society, we’re basically rewarding them.

It’s like telling a teenager that hates to bathe that it’s totally OK to stop brushing their teeth. Sure, they may get instant gratification, but their fucking gums are going to start to rot.

Letting people sleep in the streets is not an effective solution.

Giving them real-life mental and medical help is.

While I would love to say that van living would be a great solution for these people, it just won’t work without the additional help of getting them clean. Too often I see pockets in the city that are filled with run down RVs full of junkies. You can tell they’re up to no good because they never actually move their RVs and they are surrounded by stolen belongings.

These aren’t your typical van dwellers just looking to save money or live simple, these are people that have every intention of getting high all day, every day.

making drugs inside rv

They steal things, don’t work, and take shits out in the middle of sidewalks. And those are the good ones.

The really bad ones manufacture meth and accidentally set their RV on fire creating a hazmat zone in an otherwise beautiful neighborhood.


Trust me, I want these people gone just as bad as everyone else, but creating ordinances outlawing sleeping in your vehicle isn’t the way to do it.

That’s like saying “we want school shootings to stop, so we’re going to stop allowing all white males between the ages of 16-24 on the premises.”

That type of thinking sucks because it punishes all the other people out there that have done nothing wrong. It’s an easy way for a city to say:

“Fuck you, you’re not my problem, now move along.”

I read a heartbreaking story the other day about a family of four that was found dead in a van in a parking lot. It was a mother, father, and their two young children.

Now, they didn’t kill themselves or anything like that, they just backed up against some hedges in a parking lot and blocked their exhaust pipe. Their van filled with carbon monoxide and they died in their sleep.

Initially, I was really outraged by this story, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was just shitty luck.

These weren’t people that chose van life. These were people that had to live in their van to give their children some sort of roof over their heads. Had they been given the resources that they needed to survive, they never would have chosen that option for themselves or their children.

And now they’re dead, and that’s a shame.

Of course, it’s not just the homelessness epidemic that’s behind the recent crackdown. Once people stopped buying real estate and started buying tiny homes, things started to change. Suddenly new ordinances were being put in place regarding homes on wheels.

What was once OK, or at least overlooked was now getting serious scrutiny by the people that make the rules.

The Man Wants To Keep You Down

the government wants their share
This Dude In Particular

Those of us that aren’t smoking crack all day and live outside of traditional society just don’t generate revenue.

That REALLY seems to piss off Uncle Sam.

Remember my Stealth Living 101 post where I addressed how the people paying property tax generally won’t want a family living in a school bus in front of their house?

Well, that one is kind of a big deal.

Towns HATE the new tiny home culture because it’s showing a shift in how people buy and consume. And for some big business that is very troubling.

family living off grid
Living With Less is Super Cool!

Think about it, if you’re harvesting rainwater, using a composting toilet, eating food you’ve grown yourself, and utilizing solar energy, no one can make money off of you.

How do they get us to start buying these needless services again? By lobbying local government into creating ordinances that make it illegal to do so!

As much as I want to believe that human beings are mostly good and have each other’s backs, sometimes it’s just too hard to imagine.

There was a story about a woman in Cape Coral, Florida a few years back that owned her own house but lived totally off the grid. The city fought tooth and nail to make sure everything she was doing considered illegal. They kicked her out of that house countless times and even went so far as to have her animals taken away.

All because they were scared of losing money…

Now, their claim is that she was using the sewage system without paying for it, but the fact is, this woman knew about off-grid living. She had done it before and took the proper safety precautions. Sure, nab her for the sewer issue, but what these guys were doing to this woman was extreme harassment.

You see, it scares big businesses when we stop buying what they’re selling so they resort to thug tactics and harass widows in Florida. It’s kind of sick.

Will VanDwelling Survive?

the future of vanlife
The Future Looks Handsome…

The Instagram #VanLife crowd will probably survive just fine. Sure, they’ll have to sell the $40k Sprinter they bought for that South American road trip, but they’ll make back a good chunk of change on it.

For the rest of us, we’ll have to get a little more sneaky.

We will probably start seeing less full timers in RVs. And unless converted school buses are hidden away on private property they will be towed immediately in most municipalities.

Vans, like my Ford Econoline, will probably rise in popularity for a bit because they can be very stealthy when outfitted correctly.

After that, it’ll be down to cars and station wagons…

…but by that point, people will move on to the next thing.

As for me, I’ll try to ride it out as long a possible and then move onto the next thing. There is a ton of international travel I would like to get out of the way before I even consider settling down.

At this point, I can’t even imagine a life outside the van.

And considering all the opportunities I’ve been afforded because of it, why would I want to?


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4 thoughts on “The Future Of Van Living”

  1. This sucks I’m a nurse an move into a van to pay off debt I have work 2 jobs to get by. It’s said that it’s illegal to live in a car. I don’t have to but there ppl that have live in car. It like ppl bitch about homeless in the street then bitch if there in the car ( now don’t park in front of a house or school) but if person is not cause issue or nasty ( leave trash not having old van or rv because duh there homeless an don’t have money ) what gov should do is help ppl fix up there car make parking lots with a guard
    Lucky I’m woman with 2 cats work not shift nor seen threat but I am black so could call issue but lucky at my job ppl know my van I work one or 2 days day shift an I sleep at night outside my patient house an have state beach pass for day time i think it’s 7am to 10pm or 6am to 10pm it’s only 195 for year pass so if u want wast time till 10 pm state beach ( I’m in ca ) is way to go

  2. vanlife= bum life. what happens when your cancer shows up? how do you think all of the services, roads and fuel for your vans exist? how do you think the tires get made and changed at a tire shop? because tens of millions of people you disregard and disrespect are getting up every day and doing the grind. if the only the reason you can come up with for why they dont want you parking in front of their house for good or permanately inhabiting their neighborhood is because you represent freedom then any sensible words are lost on you. easy rider was a film for entertainment. ken keasey was actually an accomplished screen writer who owned and ran a farm after his road trip, he was productive. vanlife’rs are simply lazy, avoiding any responsiblity or real productivity. its should be called peter-panning, never willing to grow up and develop some ambition beyond poaching off of the very system you decry. and be careful how you decide to frame me, i am now who or what you think by any stretch. super tired of all y’alls super entitled nonsense.

  3. Hello everyone!
    Car-dweller here.
    This summer, I was in Bolinas, California sitting on a bench that I was sharing with coiffed 60 something/70-year-old women with their sun hats, pretty gemstone jewelry, waiting their turn for a game of pickle ball. These ladies were not the old guard dreadlocked Bolinas types, but ones that had just had sold their homes in Berkeley and bought homes in west Marin county after retirement. One of these women casually pointed to the sprinter van in the parking lot nearby as the owner of the van brought his son and their surf gear back to the van. When she said, “they are living in that van,” I realized that I had to find more stealthy means to continue to do what I was doing. One of the women brought up ordinances that the city of Berkeley had just created to ban over-height/overhead vehicles like the Sprinter. The conversation then took a right turn and quickly devolved between their “tsk tsk” and my explaining the Bay Area has become overpriced and that people like myself who work in the medical field and make decent income can’t afford to save money while paying the high rental prices. I then knew my Sprinter plans were becoming obsolete as pissed off homeowners, like these women, were catching on. I could just hear the banging on the windshield. “You need to move your van.” I also explained to them that they purchased their homes at a time when prices of those Berkeley homes were $70-80K and they could afford to move up the “property ladder.” They nodded while still commenting on the drugs, “clean up those RVs parked in west Berkeley.”

    Is vanlife over – maybe sprinter, skoolie, RV van life.

    Meanwhile, I make decent income. I’m not a druggie. I get regularly drug tested for the job. For those of us that have service jobs that counties need, we can’t wait for the rental prices, mortgage rates to drop.

    But with new overhead vehicle bans – what’s the new option?

    • I wish I had an answer to that. I recently purchased a taller class b type van that is definitely above the height requirement in most of these places. Now I just make it a point to spend more time in BLM land. It’s certainly not the answer for someone like you though who relies on having to park in the city for work.

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