Van Life: Affordable Rent and Amazing Places Worth Visiting

My van at the very beginning: March, 2021. I had help getting my van for a good deal. I also had lots of help with getting her road- and life-ready.

I started living van life for a number of reasons, of which saving money is near the top. When I was renting rooms in my twenties, I started out paying around $5,000/year plus utilities, which rounded out to roughly $6,000 a year. I got good at finding individual owners to rent from so I could continue on this track for awhile. I found places equally cheap in western Massachusetts, then in Colorado.  In my late twenties I moved back to Massachusetts and I found “cheap” apartments at $900/month. That meant I was spending $10,800 a year—or roughly $13,000 a year, including utilities—just on living in a place. That didn’t include car expenses, gas for the car, food, groceries, or anything else.

My dad let me stay in his empty apartment for a few months, while I readied my van. This place was a cute studio apartment where the damn kitchen pipes got clogged, but everything else worked well.

I got a lot of help on the road to van life. My dad is a used car dealer and was able to get me a low-cost van at auction available to dealers only. He let me stay in a couple of apartments that were empty at the time. I slept on my air mattress for a few days, until my sister gave me her old foam mattress and bed frame. I cooked and ate food with a fry pan, a pot, two plates and two bowls, and one set of silverware.

Van life is a hugely different experience than apartment living. I will say that ever since setting off, I’ve relied a lot on friends: I stayed in friends’ driveways in my home state of Massachusetts, as well as in northern Ohio and Colorado. I cheated and stayed in a friend’s guest room for a few days in western Ohio. For this reason, I haven’t had to pay for many campgrounds, showers, or laundry. I’ve spent very few nights nervous that the cops will knock on my window at 6 a.m. and tell me to move along.

Saving money is a good reason to van life. Another is to see beautiful places all around the country. This picture is of the Bridge of Flowers, taken in Shelburne Falls, Ma.

Follow my van life adventures here in the “travel” section of my blog, or on Instagram @artemissavory

1 thought on “Van Life: Affordable Rent and Amazing Places Worth Visiting”

  1. I love this ‘maiden post’ and am looking forward to many, many more! You are always welcome here on the ‘left coast!”

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