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I’ve Lived in a Vehicle for Three Years. I Now Have $150K


How much can you save by living in a vehicle instead of paying rent? In this video, I breakdown my expenses of living in my van vs living in my SUV vs living in my old apartment. Hopefully this financial overview will give you an idea of what costs to expect, and how much you might save by living on the road

2:20 Insurance
3:30 Phone + Internet
3:55 Utilities
6:12 Gas
7:58 Vehicle Maintenance
9:17 Food
10:21 Gym Membership
10:54 Storage Unit
11:14 Private Mailbox
11:27 Hotels, Airbnbs, Campsites
12:41 Subscriptions + Software
13:13 Parking
13:50 Taxes
14:24 Rent
15:36 How Much I Saved
17:45 Is Van Life Affordable?

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Hey 🙂 I’m Christian Schaffer, and I’ve lived on the road full-time since May 2018. This journey began in 2013 when I left the corporate world to build my career as an outdoor adventure & travel photographer. As a semi-minimalist, I eventually decided to donate/sell most of my belongings and move into my 4×4 Nissan Xterra. After 14 months of SUV living and falling madly in love with the open road – I bought a van and hired a team to build it out. Van life enables me to experience and document the beauty of our natural world on a whole new level, all while having my home and office nearby. My hope is that by sharing my own personal highs and lows along this (sometimes) wild journey, you might be inspired to hit the road or spend more time outdoors. Maybe one day I'll see you out on that open road 🚐

**My van is a 2019 Ram ProMaster 1500 High Roof, 136″ WB with 27K miles**

#vanlife #digitalnomad #selfemployed


Date: September 16, 2022

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37 thoughts on “I’ve Lived in a Vehicle for Three Years. I Now Have $150K

  1. Just found your excellent channel recently. Really beautiful, high quality, thought-promoting, honest videos. I wonder if you've ever tried to compare your carbon footprint living in your van vs. in an apartment or house. My mom moved from a house in an RV and she figured her footprint went down, even considering the first one she had was a large one that had pretty low MPG. Hopefully this hasn't been asked and answered already. Thanks for putting together such marvelous material!

  2. You miscalculated, if I'm not mistaken. You said you would have spent $131,400 on apartment rent if you were to rent an apartment during those three years. That comes out to $3650/mo on rent. You could have lived at $1,300/mo for rent and saved $84,600.

  3. I wasn't going to comment on the food expense…but I will. I'm a single male and I spend $125 – $150 every " two weeks". It used to be weekly….but considering how things are now I'm making my food last a bit longer. Oh I'm also Canadian….so things cost more up North (13% sales tax) 🙂. I wish I could budget $200 a month.
    I like the video ….excellent narrative 👍👍👍

  4. Based on my experience, I'd say don't do it, it can be a trap. It's tempting to jump in, but the safest problem free way is to set everything up first. As it was said in the video – everything. If you can't, then stop.

    Otherwise, make sure your background check (credit and criminal) is impeccable. Maintain an ideal street address. Get it updated to your license; then get a post office box as a backup.

    The Post Office or Banks only accept a street address. Nowadays, some places that used to accept a drop box street address can check and deny service.

    Some places don't care, especially if you have a large account. I'm not sure how she got hers to work, it's a lot harder to get away with this now.

    Keep your credit record and score active with an active bank account in case you ever decide to get back to an apartment. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, be prepared to accept your homeless transient status.

    Btw, when you get stopped for any reason, it's best to let them assume your docs are in order from their POV; and, have a mindset that you have a job. They'll want to know. This is an easy one for people old enough to say they're retired. Just make sure it's not silly, such as saying you won the lottery or that you're a rocket-surgeon.

  5. Hi Christian, great video, thanks for sharing this important info! I'm just getting prepped for the road warrior life and wondering… how do you pay only $17 for a private mailbox? I've searched around and can't find such a competitive rate. Does the mail service you use also do mail forwarding and/or scan your mail and send it to your email to let you know what has arrived for you?
    Looking forward to your response. Thanks in advance!

  6. I've been doing this in my Chevy Cruze for over a week and I did it to test if I could it's not bad I'm a laborer construction and what not so it's not hard to find work and truck stops are easy to find

  7. How do make a small fortune by investing? You start off with a large one. How about the can't miss Bitcoin, perhaps? It was #65,000 per coin on 11/21 and now it is $20,000 on 9/22. The biggest Depression since 1929 is just around the corner and gest being in cash.

  8. Umm…you need an address…for everything…bank account, driver’s license, insurance, cell, vehicle registration…how can you just live in a van and be normal?

  9. But what about the depreciation on the van? Three years depreciation on the van needs to be deuducted from the $94k saving. And if a person had to finance their van, then the finance costs would need to come off too. If the van cost say $150,000, 3 year depreciation will be around 26% ($39k) and finance rates are going to be at least 5% (probably going up as we speak) so that's another $22,500 – so two thirds of that $94k saving disappears and the real savings are about $12k/year.

  10. I know you left out taxes for privacy but shouldn’t your returns be higher with the van? I mean if you have your business and you practically work out of the van can’t you claim the van expenses?

  11. I'm a web developer, I can make your website much cheaper, so one time payment for the website and then you own it and then a small fee if you want me to maintain it. I can also install the website and all you will need to do is to pay for the hosting. I don't pay anything for my website XD

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