van life faq
hello again accountabilibuddies. anybody else have an apple watch and hate the stand ring? i understand how it works, but it really grinds my gears on those days when i’m not moving around the office like a madman. 
the last few months, i’ve been drenched in my own sweat, melting into a puddle of fast food and slowly morphing into a permanent concrete water fountain spitting out diet dr pepper and loose coins i’ve been finding around the van.
this is a van life episode btw. i’m gonna answer a lot of the weird questions i get when people find out i live in my great white shark. 
some of my favorites are:
“what do you like, do in here?”
“doesn’t it get hot?”
“how do you poop?”
and my favorite assumption – 

“sooo i guess you don’t shower?”

when you’re car dwelling, you have to be resourceful and creative when it comes to hygiene.
living in your van doesn’t mean that you’re a stinky slob who doesn’t care about their appearance, although you can’t tell with me in the middle of july.
if you’re living in anything other than an rv or trailer, chances are you don’t already have a shower built in.

gym showers

i’ve seen a lot of youtube and instagram people get real creative slash expensive with their setups, and since my biggest goal right now is paying down debt and stacking up cash, i’ve been doing this thing where i try to only buy things i’m really gonna utilize, so MY solution from day one has been a planet fitness gym membership.
it’s $10 a month to have a, ehh semi-clean place to shower and work out, and at 33 cents a day plus not having to buy water, i’d call it the steal of the century.
obviously, with this bitch ass corona crap going on, that put a giant halt to public places, so i moved on to the next best thing – mooching water off my kid brother.
it helps when you throw a little cash their way. 


if this just isn’t a possibility, then i guess you might need to get a bit gritty. 
for less than $10, you can probably get yourself a couple of buckets and a washrag. 

how do you cook in your van?

butane/propane stovetop
bought a instantpot but never use it

what do you do about electricity?

i’ve talked about using electricity in my van in a previous episode, but to sum it up, i have two systems going on for me – my goal zero yeti generator and my solar system.
the solar system is 300w of panels on the roof, connected to 2-125 amp hour batteries. they are heavy as hell, but right now, lithium battery prices aren’t great, so once they go down, i may upgrade.
the goal zero yeti is a lithium generator, i believe it holds 96 amp hours, which might not seem like a lot, but for my needs, this baby can keep my fridge powered at least a couple of days on 12v.
downside of solar is one rainy day means you could run out of power pretty easily. i haven’t yet hooked up my batteries to my alternator, even though i have the parts. i’m just scared of working with electricity, so if you’re in houston and can hook me up…

high top or low top?

this honestly depends on how much time you are expecting to spend inside your van.
if you’re like me and prefer to lounge around outside of work hours, high tops are almost a requirement, but the downside is there is much larger supply of low top vans compared to high top.
this means if you can live without ever wanting or needing to stand inside your van, then you’ll save a lot of money off the top since high tops are more coveted, harder to come by, and therefore, more expensive, even on the used market.
if you can tolerate a low top, then by all means, do it. i know some of you are already living in cars, so this is a non-issue.
but for me personally, i know i would be pretty antsy if i wasn’t able to stand up to cook, especially during those wet or freezing days. i couldn’t do it, so i’m glad i didn’t decide on a low top.
those of you who plan to probably literally only sleep in your vehicle might do okay in a low top, but if you plan to spend long stretches of time in there, then you have to, at the very least, look at some medium or high tops.

class b or cargo van?

my initial wishlist was a roadtrek, but after a few months of research, i realized it was probably going to be a huge money pit for me.
my budget at the time was $30k, which i justified by saying, “hey, this is a combined house and car note. totally worth it.”
except not. because the first problem is my budget meant that i was looking at a class b over 100k miles and over 12 years old.
which means i was valuing all the things inside a chevy chassis, all the things that made it a class b, at over $20k.
okay i get a toilet and shower and stove and bed built in, but at what cost? i just fucking told you. $20k.
and i realized wow i really don’t need all that crap. let me just get a more reliable vehicle and slowly buy what i need as i need it.
because for MY purposes, vandwelling is more about necessity and chipping away at my credit card debt than having a van made for instagram.
so if you’re choosing van life because you need to minimize your possessions or consolidate your debt, get your finances in order, a cargo van you slowly build out makes most sense.
don’t let the words “build out” scare you – i haven’t built a single thing in my van. everything is strapped down with velcro, bungee cables, magnets, and zip ties. 
the only holes i put into my van myself was for the platform bed and to cut the hole for the roof vent.
someone else did my solar and did those holes, so i don’t count those.
most of my storage space is under my bed in plastic containers.

would you choose a different model vehicle?

you know, i’ve tried not to put too much thought into this question because i’ve already invested so much time and money into my van, but i did have probably around 3 to 4 recalls with this van (this van being the ram promaster 2500 high top).
that being said, i haven’t had any actual mechanical issues with this thing, knock on wood. she had water coming in through the back door area, but once i figured out the source, it never happened again.
with the recalls, i just stopped idling my car until i finally received a notice there was a fix.
even with the fix, i’d still rather not idle my car, so in the hottest of days, like during every lunch hour in the summer, i literally take off all my work clothes and cook slash eat in the nude.
i sweat a lot so i dab that shit right before i throw on my clothes, spray myself with febreze and get back inside to clock back into work.
so no, at this point, i wouldn’t choose a different vehicle, but mostly because what’s the point of re-thinking such a major decision that’s already been made and can’t be undone?
it’s like me saying what if i never got married to these skreets? where would i be?
who cares where i’d be – i’m here now.

how’s your clearance?

so the obvious is, my great white shark does not fit into any parking garage whatsoever. i think a lot of parking garages are in the 7 foot range, so that’s out of the question. 
drive thrus are also a pain in the ass, but thankfully, some fast food places have curbside pickup, and also, if my fat ass wants to eat fast food, i should probably roll myself out sideways and let the momentum roll me to the front door of the bk.
lengthwise, she is a natural. she’s no longer than a dual cab pickup truck, so she fits in most parking spots. i think she’s a little over 17.5 feet, the 159″ wheelbase, so she’s not quite the itty bitty short one, but she’s not the extended cargo either.
how long do you plan to live in your van?
well at this point, i’ve been slumming it full time for a year and a half.
and every time summer rolls around, i tell myself, “this is the last summer in the south.”
but of course, i’m not one to drop everything without a plan, so the real answer is, my entire life goal is to minimize my expenses, and maximize my income, and honestly, the only way i can see myself achieving this is to never pay rent again.
in a year, i should have my credit card debt paid off, so the money freed up from that can snowball into my car payments, hopefully cutting my time in half.
i’m also working on pushing those balls forward so i can earn money independent of my location.
because the end goal is putting my tires to pavement without the fear of not having regular income or being unable to escape my monthly expenses. 
this whole covid thing got me fucked up. anything can happen. all i say every day is “i’m not ready to be let go yet” but this isn’t something that’s really in my hands and that kind of thing is the whole reason i reduced myself to my van anyway. my whole mantra has been for a long time “the less i have, the less i have to lose.”
i don’t know how that mentality is going to serve me in the long run, but hopefully not as negatively as “don’t trust anyone ever.”
thanks, mom.

what would you do differently?

number one, i might buy a slightly bigger fridge.
i didn’t wanna go too big because i figured i wasn’t gonna have a lot of groceries at once, but once i bought the stove, i surprised myself. i’m almost always stocked up on eggs and i actually cook sometimes.
and it turns out, every so often i need a little extra space without smashing those damn eggs because i swear to god it happens every time.
you gotta be gentle with that lid.
plus, the power consumption on the alpicool line is pretty decent for the price.
never buy the instantpot
i would probably return the instantpot. i’ve never used it.
the only reason i bought it was because i was afraid of blowing up my van, but there is nothing convenient about the instantpot when you’re just cooking for yourself. although everyone says it’s good on electricity, it gives me anxiety when i watch my estimated time remaining dwindle down on my yeti to hours i can count on a single hand. 
i don’t like it. not one bit.
honestly, i might probably buy the shorter wheelbase. it would likely help with mileage, and with just myself, i don’t really feel like i need all this space. even though i’ve consolidated all of my belongings to whatever is inside my van, it still feels like i have way too much crap.
all right speaking of way too much crap, i’ve babbled on long enough, and mama is parched.
if you’re cool, head over to the website hihowareyou.US so you can get notified every time i drop a new episode.
it would also be super duper rad if you would rate the show wherever you are, maybe share an episode or something.
i will be back very soon with something new, and if you need an accountabilibuddy, you know where to hit me up. blue@hihowareyou.US.
see you when i see you.

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