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"I live in a van DOWN BY THE RIVER!!"

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by enginewitty, May 20, 2016.

  1. enginewitty

    enginewitty

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    I'm looking at getting a van to live in and living mobile.

    Does anyone have any experience with this? tips? advice?

    Actually, if someone knows somebody trying to get rid of a van/RV/car, feel free to post as well :)
     
  2. Artstu

    Artstu Senior Member

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    Hmm, sounds like hard work, fresh water, waste water, toilet waste, electric, gas etc etc.

    It would help to say where you are for the vehicle inquiry too.
     
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  3. enginewitty

    enginewitty

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    Hi Aristu

    I'm open to other ideas...

    As for location, I'll be flying in from abroad and have no home so... anywhere really.
     
  4. Mrs Sowester

    Mrs Sowester Senior Member

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    Mr S and I live in a living van, he's been here 20years, I've been here 8. It's static and plumbed into the mains water and electric, waste water goes to a septic tank. Gas is via bottles and that's the most tricky job, I get someone to do it for me if Mr S is away. We have a flushing toilet and electric shower in a tiny fibre-glassed wet room - I couldn't handle less mod-cons than that! We have a utility room in an outbuilding for washing machine, freezer etc.

    I couldn't manage moving from site to site, which would be hard physical work and has to be done every two weeks in UK law. We're lucky to have our little corner of the world and Mr S has been here so long it is now lawful as far as the planning people are concerned (10 years in one place without a complaint and a wheeled home can have a certificate of lawfulness).

    Our van is about 16' long and 7'6" wide, perfect for one, cosy for two and difficult for more! We have a fixed bed instead of a table and chairs so all meals are eaten off our laps unless we sit in the garden. This has made it difficult for friends to visit which has been a problem in the winter especially. So Mr S is converting a lorry trailer into a double decker home for us, then we can have friends stay over for holidays and give them a meal at a table.
    I'm looking forward to having a bath again, but worried I'll have to walk downstairs to visit the toilet in the night (here in the van it is only 7paces away!). It'll be good to have somewhere else to go if I can't sleep at night; if he's asleep and I'm awake at the moment I'm stuck in insomnia hell next to him snoring happily.
    Also it's been easy to keep this little van clean - which is something that is important to me. If I were trying to keep a larger space clean I think I'd have trouble.

    I think my advice would be:
    Try to get a permanent site with mains water and electric (you don't want to faff around with generators or carry water containers).
    Or at least pitch around the same area so you can develop a support network of friends.
    Get something with a fixed bed AND a table you can squeeze 4 people around.
    Get a composting toilet rather than a chemical loo - far less hassle. Pee can just go down a drain with your waste water and poo will break down into harmless compost within a few months and can be put on someone's garden.
    Be really honest with yourself about whether you can manage carrying gas bottles - we change ours twice a year and only use it for the cooker and to boil washing-up water in the summer, they are heavy.
    Don't think you can do without an electric or gas shower - you will regret going for one of those solar bags on the roof jobs.
    Consider how you'll wash laundry - hand washing is exhausting as is walking to and sitting in a laundrette.
    Caravan and camping fridges tend to be small, consider how often you'll need to go shopping for essentials with limited storage space.

    Hope that is of some help.
     
  5. enginewitty

    enginewitty

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    Thanks so much Mrs. S ^^

    I will take your advice into consideration.

    I hope you are finding a little more relief each day :)

    Best
     
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  6. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I haven't done it, but I have considered it, and researched a lot.

    Try to get a van that never leaked, or there will be mold.

    Just like any vehicle, watch out for the cheapest ones. Usually those sellers are hiding problems that will be a big expense in the first months to years.

    Get good material to block out the windows. Any light will interfere with your sleep. Also, you don't want people knowing you live in there. Some cities are more accepting, but most have laws against it.
     
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  7. Mesurfer

    Mesurfer

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    Lol , best snl skit ever.
     
  8. Jennifer J

    Jennifer J Senior Member

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    Hi, Andy.

    I understand the draw to this, especially when we have no money, little health to be around others, and the mobility is appealing. Not to discourage you, here's some more things to consider.

    My friends live in a trailer on the streets. She has ME/CFS, can't afford rentals here and needs money for medical. He has health problems too, can't work much and doesn't want to go on disability.

    It's hard. They have to move between certain hours every night because people living in vehicles aren't allowed to be parked I believe between 2 am- 6 am. Also, if it breaks down and needs to be in the shop or someone needs to fix it, they can't always stay in it. They also have had problems with leaks and mold. You'll need to watch out for formaldehyde and I don't know what else, it was a big problem with the FEMA trailers people lived in after the hurricane in Louisiana. The formaldehyde made people very sick.

    My friends have a bike they ride to places close and an extra vehicle because the gas cost a lot to drive their home on wheels, and they want to be inconspicuous as possible, too, to prevent break ins and more. For some reason, I could be wrong, I don't think it's legal to live in your vehicle here.

    I think the best situation, if you wanted to have one, is to be able to live in it in someones back yard and to have use of their house. That's tricky, too. I don't think it's legal to do this either, have to be stealth about it and have neighbors that wouldn't mind.

    There's lots of people that do live in vehicles. It's done. In one town by me, some park by the beach, bbq and have tables out where they play games. These are healthy people though.

    I know in the desert there's an area where people live in their vehicles and can do so legally for free for many months of the year. Then other months I think there's a fee. A lady I knew, her significant other musician lived out there. It's hard. Nearest town was many miles away and she said a lot of the people who live there, not sure now how she said it or how to word it, they were problem people.

    Sorry, hope I'm not discouraging you. Just some things to keep in mind as well as what others wrote. Some of what I wrote may not be the case in other areas, so it might be easier in those regards. I hope you find something that works well for you so you can rest and get the help you need.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
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  9. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    Have you looked at alternative, eco-type communities as an option? There are a lot of them out there, often based around simple, communally-built structures. You'd have to explore eco web forums and message boards to find out about them, but it could give you many of the same freedoms along with more security and comfort than a van down by the river.

    p.s. as a Brit I hadn't come across the SNL "van down by the river " skit before ... it's brilliant! I'll be hearing that in my head every time I encounter a "motivational speaker" from now on
     
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  10. out2lunch

    out2lunch Senior Member

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  11. Jennifer J

    Jennifer J Senior Member

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    I was just thinking yesterday before reading this thread, that maybe we could raise funds, buy some land and have a main house and little studios/cottages built or already on it, to help all of us in need of better housing and who don't have enough money. We could have vans and trailers on there, too, and a river! ;)

    Seriously, I wonder if it could be done.

    Hi, Sarah. That's very interesting. That could be ideal. I haven't heard of those. The closest I've come to it as I've tried to find something over the years close to me, is sadly the slums in Tijuana, or a cultish religious community north of here. Other such communities you needed to have energy to contribute a lot or a good income.

    If you or anyone happens to run across something on the web about the alternative, eco-type communities, that are very inexpensive and don't require being able to put in hours of work each week, would you post it here please? That would be great and so helpful! I'm not sure, is it easier to do something like this (live on land that you didn't buy) in England than here in the U.S. (maybe there's parts of the U.S. you can?)? Thank you, for posting that @sarah darwins, and @Mrs Sowester for sharing all you did! :thumbsup:
     
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  12. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    I live in a co-housing community in the US that qualifies in many of these categories. It is built with non-toxic materials, no pesticides allowed, we have solar panels, harvest rain water, have a community vegetable garden, a community room and guest house. The underlying purpose of co-housing is living in community and helping each other out.

    I had been interested in co-housing for years and when a community popped up in my city, I visited and knew it was for me. It is not super-inexpensive (though one could be developed with "tiny homes") but the houses are small and well under the median price range. We do have to contribute to the community but recognize that we have different skills and different levels of physical and mental functionality. I am not a severe patient and my contribution is mainly computer work and organizing things that I can do by phone. If I am having a bad day and need something from the pharmacy or health food coop (which is next door!) I only have to stick my head out the door and ask. We do that for each other regularly.

    This is not in any way a patient community but it works for a patient like myself who is in the moderate range.
     
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  13. sarah darwins

    sarah darwins I told you I was ill

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    I'm interested in this stuff, and over the years I've come across many references to such places - in articles and on tv shows etc, so I know they exist. And Sushi seems to be living in one! How cool is that!

    I do think getting yourself plugged into forums devoted to greener living would be a good starting point. There's a whole other internet devoted to that kind of thing and a lot of it seems to go by word of mouth. I imagine a lot of folks here have thought about alternative living arrangements, for both practical and health reasons. This illness kind of forces us to live differently, anyway, so we're natural members of that tribe.
     
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  14. enginewitty

    enginewitty

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    Thanks Jennifer :)

    I think I got the sleeping for free thing figured out and have some ideas for shopping but yeah, repairs could be problematic and I never thought about if i need to leave it in the shop for an extended period of time. that was something I overlooked so thanks for pointing that out :)

    the biggest issue I'm having right now are what to do for income until my disability comes in. I'm doing my best to release as much stress as I can. trying to increase my energy levels just seems to ignore the core of the problem and exacerbate things you know..

    the formaldehyde reference was good to know about too although I'm guessing that's not a problem in standard vans. still, will make sure. thanks :)
     
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  15. enginewitty

    enginewitty

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    Chris Farley was a legend :) Always glad to help put a smile on people's faces :)

    regarding Eco-communities, yes, I actually was previously in Indonesia and that kind of lifestyle is abundant among travelers so I had the opportunity but for me, being around other people is exhausting (unless they're fully aware of my condition, respectful of it and actively helping me to heal) so as much as I would love to have support, I'm so far distant from normal people's energies that it just makes my condition worse. I think it's best for me to be by myself at the moment even though it sounds contrary to what would be best.

    thanks for your input :)
     
  16. Mrs Sowester

    Mrs Sowester Senior Member

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    I get you enginewitty, people are exhausting. Ideally you need one or two peaceful friends you can call on in times of need, friends who are comfortable in silence.
    Mr S works away a bit in the summer so I find myself alone for up to 3 weeks at a time and I quite like the peace and quiet, when I do talk to a real life person I get head fog really quickly but can't stop wittering on!
    I also struggle with keeping up with housekeeping like changing the bed, cleaning out the chicken coop and standing to water plants when he's gone - we've got a friend popping down to help a couple of times a week this summer.
    I think being alone, or with a peaceful companion, in nature away from crowds and noise is really good for ME. In my fantasy life where I get better I plan to rent the pretty field full of wild flowers next to my plot. I'd have a few shepherds' huts for pwME holidays, it would be an ME sanctuary. It would be all eco friendly and have an out door bath under the trees...ahh, heaven!
     
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  17. enginewitty

    enginewitty

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    yup, exactly. you get it ;)

    nice meeting you here :)
     
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  18. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    It's a beautiful dream but we would probably need at least 2 healthy people to organize it.

    Also, there are few places that will allow lots of tiny houses or RVs or vans :( The places that allow it are usually out in the country, which isn't good for most of us because it's far from doctors, grocery stores, banks, etc. Hopefully some cities and states will change their laws.
     
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  19. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    And there is the catch!:oops: The community I am in was developed by three totally healthy professionals with knowledge of building and community development. It was very hard for them for the reasons below.
    My community was the first of a kind in this city. The zoning and permit people were not impressed initially. It was a long uphill battle. The local government even polled our neighbors on whether they wanted us here. They did! We are in the oldest developed part of the city and close to hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies and everything we might need.:)
     
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  20. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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