Why some folks select to stay the nomadic van life-style

Why some folks select to stay the nomadic van life-style

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This text was initially revealed on The Dialog, an impartial and nonprofit supply of stories, evaluation and commentary from educational specialists. Disclosure info is accessible on the unique web site.

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Writer: Angus J Duff, Affiliate Professor, Human Sources, Thompson Rivers College

Because the film Nomadland revealed to the world, ever because the 2008 monetary collapse, folks have moved into automobiles as a means of surviving the excessive price of residing. The pandemic additionally fuelled a rise within the nomadic life-style.

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In 2020, my co-researcher Scott Rankin and I checked out how individuals who stay in automobiles stability work and life. In doing so, we found that these folks have been in a position to obtain concord between work and non-work by coordinating the motion of their van with their work life.

This yr, I continued this analysis to raised perceive why folks stay this manner. After residing in a van and touring the southern United States to satisfy with individuals who stay in automobiles, I’ve simply accomplished the preliminary evaluation of surveys answering who and why folks stay this nomadic life-style.

These surveys have been voluntarily accomplished by these residing in automobiles — most completely, some seasonally. The findings present fascinating insights not simply into who or why folks stay in automobiles, but in addition the adventurous nature of those that select to stay this manner.

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Who lives in automobiles?

In all places I went in California and Arizona, I noticed folks residing of their automobiles. Generally they have been hidden in plain sight, parked beside a park in San Francisco or in a neighbourhood in San Diego. Different instances, they congregated in enormous convoys, in locations like Quartzsite, Ariz.

Folks of all ages and genders participate in van residing. My survey discovered that girls have been simply as possible as males to stay in vans. Of the 85 responses to the query of gender, 53 per cent have been ladies and 47 per cent have been males.

The common age of van dwellers was 42. Along with younger folks residing in automobiles, there was an equal proportion of retirees selecting to stay in automobiles.

Why do folks stay in vans?

After asking respondents to rank the the reason why they selected to stay in a automobile, ranked from prime to backside are: 1) freedom, 2) low price of residing, 3) journey, 4) connection to nature, 5) minimalism, 6) avoiding undesirable climate, 7) beginning a brand new life, 8) pursuing work in other places, 9) working remotely, 10) to be on their very own, 11) to hitch a accomplice or 12) to go away a accomplice.

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Above all else, automobile dwellers sought to be free. Whether or not they have been a retiree in a $100,000 Mercedes van, or younger Canadians working from a $5,000 van, respondents wished to have the ability to transfer their house to wherever was finest for them.

For some, vehicle-living supplied a approach to survive whereas minimizing the price of residing was the second purpose why respondents selected to stay in a automobile. As one respondent stated:

“As a millennial, the price of residing has considerably elevated since earlier generations, but wages have for probably the most half stayed the identical.”

For others, residing in a automobile minimized their prices, allowed them to work much less or allowed them to take advantage of their earnings with out paying lease. For retirees, automobile residing supplied a possibility for them to stretch the worth of their restricted retirement financial savings or earnings.

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The next three causes — journey, connection to nature and minimalism — counsel that individuals who stay in automobiles worth an adventurous, out of doors life-style. Van residing permits them to behave on this need and be in nature each time they need.

By residing a easy life that’s totally contained in a automobile — the essence of minimalism — van dwellers are in a position to head out on a brand new journey each time they select. Having the ability to pack up and transfer someplace new additionally connects again to the primary purpose many stay in vans: freedom.

The sixth purpose for residing in a automobile was to keep away from undesirable climate. Most of the folks I spoke to lived a very nomadic life, residing in northern states or Canada for half the yr, working off the land in tourism or agriculture, after which shifting south within the winter to keep away from the chilly by residing and dealing in Arizona or Southern California.

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Residing in a automobile allowed employees to maneuver with the climate as a means of profiting from work alternatives, with out the necessity for winter clothes or shelter. So long as the temperature stayed comfortably above freezing, they have been in a position to sleep comfortably while not having a furnace — just a bit further bedding on chilly nights.

Is that this only a fad?

These preliminary outcomes verify that, for a lot of, the choice to stay in a automobile is a selection with the objective of being free, self-sufficient and being able to stay how and the place they need. The outcomes additionally counsel that van residing is a way of life that isn’t restricted by gender or age, however as a substitute is a viable various for many who search a extra reasonably priced and fewer constrained residing choice.

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And because it seems, van residing isn’t a fad. Whereas many respondents have been new to van residing, on common, respondents indicated they’d been residing in a automobile, full or part-time, for a median of two.5 years.

Seventy-eight per cent of respondents completely lived in a automobile, whereas 22 per cent owned or rented a house and periodically travelled in a van or motorhome. From my conversations with van dwellers, most of this latter class have been retirees who lived of their residence up north for many of the yr, then travelled south to stay of their automobile for the winter months.

Because the housing disaster deepens, we may even see extra folks embrace van residing as a way of surviving the excessive price of residing. It will likely be as much as cities and authorities to simply accept this various residing association, and take into account having parking and amenities to assist those that select to stay this manner.


Angus Duff receives funding from the Bob Gaglardi Faculty of Enterprise and Economics, Thompson Rivers College.


This text is republished from The Dialog below a Artistic Commons license. Disclosure info is accessible on the unique web site. Learn the unique article:

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