Reader Case: Van Living

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It’s Friday, so you know what means: Another reader case!

Today’s reader case jumped out at me from the pile because it touches on a topic we recently discussed, nomadic van-living. While the movie NomadLand focused mostly on aging Boomers who were forced into the lifestyle for financial reasons, there are a certain number of FIRE people who genuinely enjoy van-life, and want to incorporate it into their post-FIRE lifestyle. Today’s reader is one such person. Enjoy!


Hi Kristy & Bryce!

I hope this message finds you well.. turbulent times, hoping these vaccines will provide a light at the end of the tunnel!  Anyways, I’m a huge fan of what y’all stand for – read your book, devoured your blog, love your style, love it all..

Now to my situation.  I’m not your typical FIRE guy, that’s for sure.  I’ll get crucified for a few of these outlays but I’m a firm believer in walking a delicate line between frugality and overall happiness.. I live in Breckenridge, Colorado (literally North America’s most expensive ski town), a few blocks off Main St.  I’m 33, single, have a dog (she’s my everything) and live to ride my snowboard, hike, paddle board and practice yoga.  Avid traveler and nomad at heart. Now let’s get down to the basics –

  • Gross/Net Income
    • I’m a Residential Mortgage originator that works remotely
      • Moving forward, I’ll receive a base salary of $120,000.
      • Let’s assume 30% fed/state tax rate – $7k net take home a month
  • Spending
    • Housing – I own a small one bed/bath condo two blocks off Main St (walking distance to everything)
      • 15-year fixed at 2.875%, monthly of $1538. I could pay the mortgage in full but the cost of debt servicing is so cheap that my return is better elsewhere
      • My condo is worth $400,000
      • All in housing payment is $1887
      • Factor in about $20 a month in utilities for condo – $1907 total (utilities – $240 annually)
      • My mortgage is my ONLY debt – if I continue regular payments, it will be paid in full in 127 months
    • Transportation – I own a 2015 Ford F-150 free & clear
      • Now to the fun part, FIRE folks will love me for this one – I also own a brand new 2020 Mercedes Benz 4*4 Sprinter Van that I purchased for $66,000 in cash.  I have a reservation with a premium van up-fitting company in CO in May, they’ll spend three months building the van into the most bad ass camper-van, allowing me to go FULL nomad.  The build out is around $100,000 which I will be paying for in cash.  The van will be four seasons ready and given my small condo and proximity to the resort, plan on capitalizing on ST rentals (I rented my condo from 12/23/19 – 1/2/20 and received $3100 cash proceeds; I can literally camp in my van in the back parking lot while AirBnB’ing my unit) – realistically, I could realize an easy $3k a month in short term  rentals in the winter season
      • Auto insurance – I carry liability only policy for $265 annually
      • Annual maintenance costs – let’s use $2k total (super conservative)
      • Gas outlay (when the van is finished, I plan on living in it FT, working remotely from the road, seeing everything) – let’s inflate annual gas cost to $5,000 to account for lots of cross country driving
      • I’ll be selling the truck next year once the van is finished – I estimate at least $16k cash proceeds
    • Food – I’m an extremely active guy, I’m a super clean eater.. still working on keeping my food costs down
      • $350 monthly ($4200 annually)
    • Dog costs – $75 monthly food costs ($900 annually)
      • Vet/toy/treat costs – $500 annually
        • $1400 total annual dog costs  
    • Subscriptions
      • Spotify & Netflix – $25 month ($300 annually)
    • Ski Pass – I’m an avid rider so I get both Epic & Ikon passes
      • $1400 total
    • Hobbies/hiking/paddle boarding/yoga studio visits/weed (I do smoke weed. It is my one vice. I do not drink alcohol!)
      • $500 monthly (**super conservative!! – $6k annually)
  • TOTAL Expense breakdown (ANNUAL basis) –
    • Housing – $22,884
    • Transportation -$7265
    • Food – $4200
    • Dog – $1400
    • Subscriptions – $300
    • Shredding pass – $1400
    • FUN outlay – $6,000
      • TOTAL Annual Expense – $43,449
  • Fixed Assets
    • Condo – $400,000
    • F-150 Truck – $20,000
    • 2020 Brand new Sprinter van (27 miles) – $63,000 (already depreciating it.. it’s cool, I know most FIRE folks won’t understand the van or the $170k total outlay; I live for life on the road and to be free.. I’ll now be able to pursue ALL my true passions every.single.day; yes, they’ll say downsize and don’t buy a BRAND NEW van BUT I’ve had less than nine days off in ’20, spent every waking hour capitalizing on the COVID rate situation and after making almost half a million this year, am finally treating myself)
      • Total Fixed assets – $483,000
  • Investments/Savings
    • Ally Bank savings – $160,000 (liquid)
    • CapitalOne checking – $54,000 (I’m well aware that I’m holding too much cash; I’ve been sifting into the market on a daily basis; I’m also keeping a fat cushion to prepare for the $100k van build outlay in May 2021) (liquid)
      • Total cash – $214,000
    • Fidelity IRA –
      • Fidelity 500 Index Fund – $121,799
      • Fidelity Extended Mkt Index Fund – $51,159
    • Vanguard Roth IRA –
      • Vanguard 500 index Fund Admiral shares – $33,514
      • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Adm shares – $6,954
        • Total non-taxable retirement assets – $213,426
    • Taxable Vanguard investments
      • VTSAX (JL for life)  – $81,998
      • Total International Stock Index  – $15,194
      • Total Bond Mkt Index – $27,119
      • Inflation protected securities – $6,913
      • High Dividend Yield index Fund – $5,021 (once I’m back on par, I’ll be selling and allocating to VTSAX)
      • International High Dividend Yield Adm Shares – $9516 –  not a fan but I’m down..
    • EagleBank stock (previous employer) – $15,000
  • Total taxable retirement assets – $160,761
    • TOTAL Savings/Investment assets – $588,187
      • TOTAL – Fixed + INV assets = $1,071,187
        • Less – $142k mortgage
          • $929,187 net worth

So I’ve got a pretty solid game plan.. continue livin’ the CO high life for the next 127 months, keep making the minimum payments on my fixed rate mortgage.  Once that is satisfied, my expense load will drop significantly to around $21k.. that assumes I’d only need about $525k to live comfortably.  I simply plan on retiring from my white collar Mortgage originator job at that time to pursue life as a snowboard patroller/yoga instructor, a tad less stressful than giving the biggest liability in one’s life!

Regarding my savings rate, I’m a saver.. assuming a take home of $7k a month, I’ll allocate at least $2k monthly into index funds, easily..

See what I mean?  Definitely a different FIRE dude.. a living example that financial independence can be accomplished even in higher cost areas. In the end, our happiness is all that really matters!  And a brand new $170,000 van spells happiness for this guy!

I would love to hear what y’all think!  Do you agree with my game plan of holding the mortgage until maturity, socking away Index Funds while making minimum monthly payment (I mean, $310 total interest outlay is ridiculously cheap and will only continue to decrease) – please let me know of any questions at all – thanks for your time!

VanLife


OK so where to begin? First of all, I always find the idea of someone who works in the real estate industry achieve FIRE by going nomadic kind of funny. It’s also a really great idea. I mean, I can write about why going into massive debt for an unaffordable house is a bad idea until the cows come home, but lots of people are still going to do it, so you may as well take some of their money! FIRECracker has often joked that if she ever needed a job again, she should just become a real estate agent. Sure she’d be part of the problem, but if she didn’t take the Home Boners’ money, they’d just hand it over to someone else, so why not?

Anyway, while VanLife’s spending is a bit on the high side (what the Hell is a shredding pass?!?), it’s far more interesting to see what the impact of this fancy van will be on his FIRE journey. So without further ado, let’s…MATH SHIT UP!

A Van Down By The River

While NomadLand was about the nomadic people who live a lifestyle of spartan minimalism, this situation is not that.

First of all, I didn’t even know Mercedes made vans. I thought those things were mostly luxury sedans that rich dentists drive around to show off to their other rich dentist friends. So I learned something today.

So we start off with a purchase price of $66k. But then, he’s planning on dropping another $100k on a “custom build.” Again, I didn’t even know what that means, so I had to Google that, and apparently there are shops in Colorado that convert existing vans into custom camper vehicles that you can live in, with stoves and beds and whatnot. Check it!

Alright, I have to admit, that is pretty cool. Would I do it myself? No, but that’s because I hate long-distance driving, but clearly VanLife is cool with it, so good for him. Usually, an expensive car acts as a money sink that drags down your retirement, but if this replaces your home, then the math may work out very differently.

Live in the Condo, Travel with the Van

So first, let’s figure out the FIRE math for the most obvious (and most expensive) lifestyle: VanLife continues living in his condo and travels in the van, leaving the condo empty while it’s gone but still paying for all its expenses. In this scenario, we can’t use the condo’s value as part of the portfolio and we have to calculate his FIRE target using his current housing expenses. We also spend $100k on tricking out the van and sell the truck for $16k. Here’s our starting values.

SummaryAmount
Income$120k gross, $84k net
Expenses$43,449
Assets (investable)$588,187 – $100,000 (van) + $16,000 (truck) = $504,187
Debt$142,000 (mortgage)

At his current expenses of $43,449 and his net after-tax income of $84,000, that makes his savings rate $84,000 – $43,449 = $40,551. That actually makes his statement of saving about $2k a month a bit off. Using his own savings/spending numbers, he should be able to save $40,551 / 12 = $3379.25 a month, so that $2k a month number seems abnormally low.

But anyway, we have no choice but to take his spending number at face value and use it to calculate his FIRE target of $43,449 x 25 = $1,086,225. How long does it take for him to get there?

YearBalanceSavingsROITotal
1$504,187.00$40,551.00$30,251.22$574,989.22
2$574,989.22$40,551.00$34,499.35$650,039.57
3$650,039.57$40,551.00$39,002.37$729,592.95
4$729,592.95$40,551.00$43,775.58$813,919.52
5$813,919.52$40,551.00$48,835.17$903,305.70
6$903,305.70$40,551.00$54,198.34$998,055.04
7$998,055.04$40,551.00$59,883.30$1,098,489.34

About 7 years.

But this analysis is assuming that VanLife keeps paying his mortgage on his condo forever, and we know it’s not true. In fact, he said that at his current payment schedule his mortgage should be paid off in 127 months, or about 10.6 years. At that point, his mortgage payment of $1538 a month will drop off his spending, bringing his annual spend down to $43,449 – $1538 x 12 = $24,993. That makes his post-mortgage FI target only $24,993 x 25 = $624,825.

So that seems to indicate just sitting on his condo and paying the minimum on his mortgage will cause him to save way too much by the time it’s gone. On the other hand, he’s right in that paying off a mortgage at such a low interest rate may not be the best thing to do either. So what’s the right thing to do here?

Turns out, something in between.

If VanLife sticks to his current mortgage payment, we can add a column to the right of the table showing his what his remaining mortgage balance looks like over time, like so…

YearBalanceSavingsROITotalMortgage
1$504,187.00$40,551.00$30,251.22$574,989.22$129,414.50
2$574,989.22$40,551.00$34,499.35$650,039.57$116,467.17
3$650,039.57$40,551.00$39,002.37$729,592.95$103,147.60

And then, we realize that he will be FI if he pays off his mortgage at the moment that his total portfolio size minus the mortgage amount is greater than his post-mortgage FIRE target. If we add another column to the right of this table to track this, we see that this number hits his FIRE target of $624,825…

YearBalanceSavingsROITotalMortgageTotal After Mortgage
1$504,187.00$40,551.00$30,251.22$574,989.22$129,414.50$445,574.72
2$574,989.22$40,551.00$34,499.35$650,039.57$116,467.17$533,572.41
3$650,039.57$40,551.00$39,002.37$729,592.95$103,147.60$626,445.35

In just three years!

So there you have it. If VanLife keeps his condo and travels with the van, he should keep paying his mortgage, then kill it when doing so will make him FI, which should happen in three years.

Sell the Condo, Live in the Van

OK so now that we’ve run that math, what if he does the opposite? What he lives in the fan full-time like he’s planning, and sells the condo since he no longer needs it?

In this scenario, his living expenses drop drastically. By eliminating his housing costs completely, his expenses drop from $43,449 down to $20,565.

He would also unlock the equity from his condo, which would be $400,000 – 5% (real estate commission) – $142,000 (mortgage) = $238,000.

His new FIRE target would be $20,565 x 25 = $514,125. And since he already has $504,187, adding the condo equity to that would bring him up to $504,187 + $238,000 = $752,125, or considerably more than he needs to become FI.

So if he were to commit fully to the van life and live exclusively in his tricked out Mercedes, he’d be FIREd instantly.

What About AirBnB?

You might be thinking, hey what about using AirBnb? He could go travelling in his van and rent out his condo and get the best of both worlds!

Yes, he could, and it might work out great for him since he lives in a resort town, but if we’ve learned anything from 2020 when it comes to real estate investing, it’s that AirBnb is not a dependable source of income. During the pandemic, multiple cities around the world have thrown up rules around AirBnb that have completely derailed people’s financial plans. Here in Toronto, investors are no longer allowed to rent out units that aren’t their primary residence for less than 28 days, and even then you have to get a license from the city and pay hotel taxes, and that’s forced many of these people to convert their units into long-term rental markets or sell their units. So if you build AirBnb into your retirement plans, you are always one pen stroke from city council away from your entire plan being screwed over.

That’s why you shouldn’t factor AirBnb into your real estate plans. If your property still makes sense assuming you’re not allowed to use AirBnb, then it’s fine.

Fortunately in this case, VanLiving has his bases covered. If he can’t AirBnb out his condo at all and it’s forced to sit empty, then he has the above two options: Leave it empty and travel in his van, in which case he’d hit FIRE in 3 years, or sell the condo off in which case he’d hit FIRE immediately.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Despite what, on the surface, seems like pretty extravagant spending on a tricked out Mercedes, a combination of a modest level of mortgage debt and the ability to use the van as a second home have made this FIRE plan pretty solid. Would you ever consider retiring and living in a van like our reader? Let’s hear it in the comments below!


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34 thoughts on “Reader Case: Van Living”

  1. I’ve got a neighbor around the corner who retired a few years back at 62 and bought one of these crazy converted Sprinter vans. It’s pretty snazzy, and seems just the right size for one person to get out on the road. Totally not my thing (I try to structure my life around NOT driving rather than the opposite) and to me his tone comes off a bit defensive but I can see the appeal.

    The shit maths up good — I’m psyched for him!

    1. The shredding pass is the ski passes 🙂

      Also, like someone else pointed out, the condo fees, property taxes etc weren’t mentioned at all – just mortgage. I feel like that should be put into the equation.

      1. My prediction: he meets “someone special” of the non-dog variety and then we all have to read new blog post on Scenario 2…

        1. *raising hand* Can I volunteer to be that someone? This guy sounds awesome, LOL Come on over to Van Life Mecca (Bend, OR) – there are literally three people converting vans in my condo parking lot as we speak! And side note: I think his entire mentality is full-on FIRE. He’s taken the time to think through what makes life worth living for him, saved and invested in those things, and didn’t buy anything that he couldn’t afford!

  2. The condo doesn’t magically become free when you pay off the mortgage. You still have property taxes, insurance, an HOA, and maintenance to pay. Keep that in mind when budgeting for the future!

  3. ” Auto insurance – I carry liability only policy for $265 annually [for a $170,000 car] ”

    Seems like you’re under-insured on so many levels.

    1. Not if one can afford to replace it from assets, which is pretty much the case here. Otherwise one is just paying extra money to the insurer…

  4. The van conversion seems a bit expensive, but I guess it might be worth it if you are going to live in it full time . There might be some additional fees for staying in campsites. Also, you might want to keep the condo in case you get tired of van life in the future. Best of luck!

  5. I’d keep the condo. Vanlife might get a little old after a few years and it’s good to diversify assets.

  6. I’ve been following FIRE for a year and a half now and prior, have wanted to do van life that past 7 years or so. I will be at a partial-FIRE point in a year or two from now depending on a few factors. It’s good to read a case study that is particularly relevant to what I am trying to accomplish… but I am hoping to get a used van and convert it for a total of 50k or less! 170k is bananas!

    1. I also think that it’s too expensive $170K! I like this couple who used to have a house and sold it and then bought a used van for $18K and they build the van themselves for less than $$18K but looks very fancy and with solar panel for heat and appliances. I am thinking of contacting them someday to build a van for me and just pay them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYrqw5RCWjk&list=WL&index=43

      1. These guys are SO cool! I lived in a tiny house on wheels for 20 months and I can tell they really thought their van concept through. Good luck on your project!

  7. real estate has soooo many extra fees .. renting it out is not tax efficient

    sell the condo and invest in monthly div funds … like i do ( virtually zero taxes , fees etc )

    i can rent anything i want anytime .. i can buy RE in a down market if i feel like it

    freedom is the key word here ..

    try living in your van … why not . . when/if you get tired of it .. rent somewhere .. . easy easy

  8. I live in Whistler, also a ski town. Can very much relate to this guy. When he said “All-in housing payment” I assumed this meant property taxes, insurance, an HOA, and maintenance rather than just mortgage. Also the “shredding pass”. Ha ha love that some people didn’t understand that one. But once he becomes a snowboard patroller one of these would most likely be free if not two depending if he patrolled different resorts. Many people live in Vans in ski towns.And while ski towns are notoriously expensie there are some cheap ways of living and becoming FIRE in them. While Airbnb rules do change. In Whistler, like Breckenridge it is pretty much a year around resort. Even with covid, last summer and a lot of this winter the town was still buzzing with tourists and super high rates on the Airbnbs at times.

    Would love to see more case studies from guys+girls like this. Or people in non-skilled work. Especially in tourist towns where tips are a factor like Vegas, Miami, New York or ski towns or beach towns. Servers, Bartenders, Strippers(remember the scene in The Big Short), Doormen, Snowboard instructors. Also people who already live this sort of free lifestyle while working some of these jobs would be great.

    1. I’d say I fit this and have been thinking to write in, we do unconventional stuff and plan to live a weirdo life in campers, in between my gigs and abroad (though we will likely keep the house), kinda at some breaking points and figuring out how much to go would be useful. I don’t know my fiance’s #s 100% (though I’m not sure he does either). TBH this dude doesn’t seem like he’s really lived the lifestyle to be considering to spend that much. But what do I know, I’m just some dirty hikertrash (who passed through Breck on the CT btw…crazy tourist scene for sure)

  9. Love the plan! 100k to trick out the van seems very high, assumed it would be well under half of that. Sounds like a side hustle I should take on in our post-FIRE life as my neighbour does this for himself and his friends….

    My only word of caution is that you likely will not end up living the van life forever. So you’ll want to account at some point in the future selling the van and either doing a nomadic life/slow travel/renting around the world or settling down somewhere and buying a place. Assuming the van depreciates down at that time, I’d want to have a “future home fund” accounted for somewhere. So working for the next ~3 years and earmarking your paid off condo proceeds for a future post van home makes the most sense to me. And who knows you may end up meeting someone, getting married, having kids, etc and will want a larger place.

    Very jealous of your plans and sounds amazing! Enjoy!

  10. Well, Alan Donegan made me put up a stupid $100 website during the first Popup (now Rebel) Business School in Longmont CO back in 2017. That one silly action totally changed my retirement plans because I landed a couple of amazing gigs because of it. That income, combined with market appreciation has nearly doubled my net worth since I quit Corporate America 5 years ago and I’ve actually worked maybe 6 months of that time.

    So it was time to spend/live a little. I just spent $585,000 building a house, $126,000 on a van + custom conversion, $23,500 on a UTV (dune buggy) and $4500 on the trailer to tow it. Now Amy and I plan on spending a few months a year living in the van and exploring as many back roads as possible in the UTV – all over the US. Another few months/yr will go to international travel, and the rest of the time we will be recovering in our new home.

    “Fly first class or your heirs will.” Granted my situation is unusual, but I just can’t understand why so many people live their whole lives never enjoying the money they earned and instead obsess over numbers on a computer screen. I guess if you FIRE’d at 30 and you have 70 years ahead of you it’s understandable, but once you hit your 50’s what the hell are you waiting for?

    Of course my attitude was very different pre FI, I was very frugal and still am except for the toys. Pre FI every dollar I saved bought me one step closer to being released from Corporate America Supermax Prison, located in blisteringly hot and humid Houston Texas. I really wish the internet existed in 1985, I would have made shockingly different education and career choices!

  11. As someone who is about to buy a converted van at $60kAUD that $160k figure makes me think of how insane his build will be. Good on him. All scenarios seem to work out pretty damn good!

  12. Whyyyyy are you spending this much on a van conversion? You can easily get something like this for $5-10k. I bought a fully converted van and lived in it for 2 and a half years, it cost $3k a few years back

  13. One thing you ignored, his plan is to live in the van and use his condos space to park. If he sells the condo, he won’t be able to do that.
    I don’t think he plans on being on the road all the time .
    Not sure what it’s like in the states, but having spent the last 6 weeks living in a rented van in Australia, there are not so many free places to park.

  14. The cost of the expensive van, its customization expenses and the ownership expenses related to his Condo will not hinder VanLife from reaching the FIRE state, especially if he plans to remain single. He is young, has enough income, a good asset portfolio and above all, the right mindset. The equation will change if he plans to start a family, which does not seem like he’s not planning to.

  15. Next week my wife and I will take our 2 toddlers into a converted sprinter van for indefinite traveling. I say traveling and not living because living sounds like it has a little too much “down by the river” connotation to it. We are excited to travel and spend time with our kids. We’re excited and terrified for our upcoming adventure as we downsize our life. How hard could it be with 2 toddlers 😉

    But for us this will be luxury having already spent 6 months living out of a tent while bicycling in Asia (pre-kids).

    Good on ya for thinking outside the box and doing what makes you happy! Maybe see you out there on the road…

    1. This is going to be me in a short time. Anywhere that I can follow you on social media for tips on traveling with young kiddos:) ?

  16. Ah this sounds like a dream (to me). Yes, Mercedes makes vans and pretty good ones. I’d go for one. I’ve owned the same Mercedes SUV for the past 12 years and the cost of owning it is low. Things rarely break. Friends of mine have the vans and it’s the same story.

    But I too would keep the condo (and the mortgage). Especially at first. I follow “van life” people on YouTube and first, they often admit they’re only showing the fun side, second, some of them have stopped doing it. I would test the waters and keep the condo empty or rent it out long-term.

  17. I am an avid RVer and will definitely be incorporating that lifestyle into my FIRE life next year and beyond.

    Trust grandpa here don’t spend that kind of money on the van. It’s beyond the pale. What will make you happy is the freedom and lifestyle the van life will bring, not how sick the build is. You can achieve a badass van for a small fraction.

    One thing you might consider is making it a project and doing it yourself. You could hire a handyman to help you and even learn in the process. YouTube baby!

    You are going to lose a ton of money on this deal. Remember JL, “you can buy a lot of things with money, but none more valuable than your freedom”.

    Keep your condo for at least a year. Keep the other peoples cheap money you have paying for it. See how things go. Airbnb that bad boy. ST rental can be very lucrative. If the laws change and prohibit it, you are right back where you are now. You can always sell it or rent it LT.

    PS please please get full coverage for your $170K vehicle somehow!

  18. Where do you park it at night?

    Also. Two words that haunt me as I read this: Medical Insurance. IF he gets expensive ObamaCare (around $1200 a month) it only applies to one state you live in. Now what? I live in the US too and we do not allow medical insurance. At least not affordably. Any ideas? That’s the only thing that keeps me from retiring right now.

    1. I have “free” federal healthcare coverage at my job and it’s what will eventually inhibit me from taking the plunge. And having kids in the mix makes it that much scarier. I plan to look into direct primary care models (subscription based care) in conjunction with a catastrophic health plan. I was also just informed of another subscription based plan for emergencies called Spot, and its for the outdoor minded- check it out! When outside of the US, travel insurance will provide coverage for a very reasonable price. After saying all this, I will be partial – FI; i.e. just need to “cover my expenses” from age 30 to 59.5, perhaps a bit less because of the big nest egg I’ll have. But because I’ll have earned income, I likely won’t qualify for Obamacare subsidies like full FIRE individuals. Good luck to you!!

  19. Keep the condo and the van and enjoy life to the maximum! The real estate market is probably going to continue going out for the next several years. So I would just write it as long as possible.

    Hopefully the equity market also continues to do well. The time to enjoy life to the maximum is now.

    Sam

    1. Amen! Sam, I religiously follow your blog and am humbled by your feedback. Couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.

  20. Okay, so if he sells the condo and lives in the van full time he’s “FIREd instantly”, but you can’t expect to live in a van for the rest of your life because a van’s lifespan is more limited than a condo’s. At 200,000 miles, or maybe as long as 300,00 miles, the van will be dead and need to be replaced. The vanlife budget needs to include money to replace the van periodically.

  21. WOW, truly humbled by these comments! I nixed the Sprinter build and settled for a sweet little Ford Transit camper van, purchased it brand new, not nearly as extravagant as the $170k Sprinter (I know, I agree with everyone – bananas indeed!) – I paid less than half of $170k for the fully built Transit. I sold the Sprinter and used some extra cash on hand to pay the condo mortgage in full – boom. I’ve been living in the Transit since mid-April and couldn’t be happier. My annual expense dropped to $15k-$20k so I’m technically considered financially independent… but I’m making $57.69 an hour working from the Tetons/Zion/Arches/Yosemite/Sequoia/Kings Canyon.. maxing my 401k and capitalizing on a $6250 annual employer match coupled with a pretty epic health insurance plan… I reckon I’ll stay in the workforce for the foreseeable future. See y’all on down the road..

    1. So happy for you! Way to cut costs going with the less expensive van AND pay off your mortgage. When is your book coming out? 😉

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