Wednesday, March 21, 2012

200 days Van Dwelling in a VW Westfalia

March 19th was the 200th day of Van Dwelling for me. To mark this generic milestone, I will take a look back and reflect upon what I have learned and observed.

First off, I moved out of the van right at the end of a hot summer. There were days when I had trouble sleeping due to the high interior temperatures but cooler weather quickly came. My lesson is that anyone can survive living in Houston without heat (Although, I wont be trying to survive without Air Conditioning this summer). There were times when I wanted to have heat but my only choice was to generate it with my body. Crawling under my blankets and comforter was initially shocking due to the cold but I would soon be fast asleep. Getting up to go to work is far more difficult when it is cold. A few cold nights I used a candle to provide ambient heat/light and it made the mornings much easier to deal with so I would recommend that. Cold down here is when it is 40-50F. It did get below freezing a couple of times but I survived. In a pinch, the stove can be used for comfort heating but you have to open a window.

In November my dividend income was very low and it would only cover approx 9% of my yearly expenses. Since then I have made it a priority to save/invest all my "extra" income. Currently my dividend income is approx 20%. It has been both exciting and depressing to see it rise, exciting in that I've increased it by 11% but sad that it took so long to do and it is really depressing to think about how much I would have had if I had been saving this way when I started my job in 2009.

When I moved out of my apartment, I had a storage unit stuffed with unnecessary items. Bread makers, toasters, extra Tupperware, chairs, etc... So much stuff that it was difficult to get in/out of the storage unit. I still have a storage unit but I can walk in/out without a problem and most of the bulky items are gone (still have the mattress). The remaining items either have emotional or useful ties and are difficult to throw out. I've started setting price levels of items I am willing to get rid of if they cost less then the price of storage.

Window tint is required for van dwelling. With it, you can be sitting in front of Starbucks using the wifi and feel as comfortable as being at home. However, having some does not mean that you can turn on all the lights or have loud music.

A dedicated parking spot is the best thing you can have when van dwelling with long term work. The stress of moving to a new location each night was wearing me down.

Space is a premium and it takes very little time for the van to get messy. I spend a few hours a week putting things away and cleaning, afterwards I feel at ease with the van. The mess brings stress.

That is all I have for now, I'll add to the list as I think of more things.


  1. We should probably have a party to celebrate. Your place ok?

  2. Sounds good to me! Ill put the champagne in the fridge.

  3. Congrats on reaching 200 nights. If you have come that far then chances are you are going to continue. Are you sure it's worth paying for a storage unit? I understand when you can't get rid of sentimental stuff but perhaps you can sell enough to bring the size down and move into a smaller locker? Things that would be easy to replace if you were to settle down again. It's a tough decision.

    I'm getting ready to find a van to purchase for van dwelling but I'm hoping to camp in national forests.

    I agree tinting or curtains is a must since I would hate people look in on me every time a car pulls up in the next parking spot.

    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog.

      I do not feel that it is worth paying for the storage unit. Unfortunately I am not very good at throwing/giving everything away and so it takes me quite a long time to mentally justify getting rid of something. I could transfer to a smaller unit but the savings is minimal because the prices of the units have gone up since I acquired my unit. Right now, I would guess that 15-25% of the stuff is going back to my parents house which includes sentimental stuff.
      I could cut my wardrobe by 30% if I no longer worked a corporate job and I could also get rid of the ironing board and iron.

      Good luck finding a van, pick something that is simple to fix and build the interior to your liking.