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Back on the Coast

Back on the Coast

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Living and Workin' when Vandwelling

Lately, I've been seeing queries on the Vandweller's forum about work and jobs that can be done when vandwelling. The talk seems to center around campground work and things you can do when travelling from place to place. While this definitely works for one crowd, I believe there are many choices available to the vandweller. In fact, I think vandwelling provides a distinct advantage for some situations. I can't think what job couldn't be performed by a vandweller, as long as they were up to the challenge.

Way back, I mentioned how I am finding a lot of work which is temporary in nature. A six month management contract in a summer resort, followed by a one year administration contract in a big city and now a winter doing home renovations on a rural island, has had me jumping from place to place. Sometime this spring, I'm going to look up more work in another big city, but commute weekly back to the rural island, to provide home care for my elderly parents. Although all this work is within a certain region, there would have been no point to have a fixed home, like an apartment or house. I wouldn't have been there for the majority of the time. I would not have been available to take advantage of the opportunities that I did, because my work life was fixed in one specific area, due to conventional housing.

I think you can work almost any type of position or career when vandwelling. The only thing stopping you is working out the details or putting out the effort involved. Granted the challenges are definitely there, and it's not the easiest way to go. People in North America are used to having large homes to spread their tons of belongings all over. The fact is, we don't need all that stuff. Stereos, TV's, gizmos, tons of clothes and on and on, junk up our lives. Do we really need all this stuff? NO!!! Now, I agree that I have more stuff that what fits in my van. That's fine, there's lots of conventional buildings for me to store things in. But, it's amazing how little we can get by with, when it comes to day to day life. That's what I like to do when vandwelling, streamline my possessions to just what is needed to facilitate my basic needs.

For working when living in a van, streamlining and methodical approach are key to success. Whatever system that works for you is great. But, that needs to worked out for each and every unique situation. For example, it was an interesting and complex routine that I worked out, when I worked in an metro office for a year. Daily, I had to feed myself, shit, shower, shave and present myself at the office in a clean, pressed outfit. In a van, these things take much longer than in an apartment. I went to a fitness club for the personal grooming. I went to a laundromat for washing and pressing my office clothes. I went to city parks for tailgate morning breakie and evening meals. I arrived early and left late for work, so I could slip easily in and out of the office, avoiding too much personal contact with my co-workers. My feeling was, if people weren't going to be coming to my home, why should they know I was living in a van. Doesn't make any difference to them, but could involve major complications for me. No thanks!

But one of the great things about this lifestyle is the weekend. When you feel like taking off, all you do is make sure you got some gas and food, then go!! No packing, you are all ready in the first place. So right after your last shift you split. Easy, peasy...

The other neat thing about vandwelling is taking advantage of what an area has to offer. Most people work their workweek, more or less going back and forth from work to home. Once you get home after work, quite often all you want to do is hang out. So, you don't go out. To the gym, the park, movie or jam nite at the pub, your friends' or families' place. You cocoon instead. When you live in a van, you are already out, so it's no bother. You bounce around and see, do, visit, play and live lively. Work hard and play hard!!!

I imagine if you tried to work lots of insane hours in a week, like 50 or more, living in a van would be tedious and very arduous. You may not get enough rest because your routine would be too demanding, without enough personal time to relax and just live. One great aspect about temporary contracts, is that there are always breaks between positions. A couple of weeks or months off in between, allow for a constant flow of holidays for travel and fun. Usually, you have the extra funds available because vandwelling is a cheaper lifestyle than most.

I've lived most of my adult life in a rather nomadic way, and it was only an eventuality that I would become a vandweller. Back when I worked a summer at one resort, a ski season at another, I just fell into being a vandweller in between, roaming, visiting and bouncing around. In the last couple of years, events just worked out in such a way, that again it made sense. So there ya' go. Life is an adventure, so if it seems a little crazy to live this way, so what. I love this alternative lifestyle, for now. Maybe you will too.


Jo said...

A fascinating post and insight into the 'urban vandwelling' mind. I think that when I embark upon my cross-continent road trip, it will be with a 'hippy spirit' and I will want to meet up with other likeminded people and not have to keep my vandwelling ways a secret. Mind you, I'll only be doing it for a short spell. But already, at work, when I mentioned my plans to some people, I got the raised eyebrow and the "what the hell do you want to do that for?" series of questions.

Um, because I don't want to live in suburban hell arguing over what shade of beige to paint the walls, that's why. I'm not cut from that cloth, thank you very much.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

You should come up to the 1000 islands.

Come to st lawrence county.

Its on the Canadian border of NY and its where Abbie Hoffman hung out in a van ( and with locals) during the 70's when he was hiding from the FBI!