Alternative Housing

Andy and Jenna

My friends Andy and Jenna, their daughter and dog. Alternative housing allows them to spend more time with their daughter and for Jenna to pursue medical school on a limited income.

Let’s face it: Living on a boat is hard. There are significant barriers in terms of both cost and experience. Experienced cruisers are the most stoic people I’ve ever met. Very few people who try at cruising succeed in the long term. It’s simply not a practical lifestyle for most people.

VanDwelling on the other hand is catching like wild fire. Since beginning my amphibious lifestyle I’ve been pleasantly overwhelmed with the number of people who are successfully and enthusiastically living in vehicles. When considering RVs and travel trailers, this alternative housing choice is becoming the preferred alternative to people marginalized by the outrageous cost of traditional housing. It also acts as a springboard to an adventure-filled, minimalist lifestyle of contentment.

My friends Andy and Jenna are perfect examples of this. Their family of three recently moved into a travel trailer and couldn’t be happier about it. It was in nearly new condition and they purchased it for less than $9,000. It’s parked on family-owned land and they live rent free. Andy’s work is seasonal, employing him only part-time in winter. Jenna has been studying to be a doctor and is currently applying for medical schools.

Van Bed View

The view from the bed inside my van.

This alternative housing choice allows them to stand on firm financial footing despite a precarious income. That security means Andy can spend his off-season travelling and taking care of their daughter without worrying about money or needing to work another job. Should they decide to move for medical school, transporting their home will be almost effortless compared to the effort of packing and moving that people living in traditional housing would go through.

This last weekend I met up with them on Cypress Island. They have an Albin motor-sailor which acts as the family’s watery Winnebago. We rendezvoused on a Thursday night, all of us having Friday off. Instead of sitting in a cubical, staring at a computer screen, I spent the morning hiking around Cypress Island with them in the crisp fall air. After parting ways, I sailed to the Anacortes ferry terminal to pick up Julie.

Van Living

The view from the drivers seat looking back at the bed.

At a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, I met a couple who live out of their van. They operate a raft guiding company out of Leavenworth, Washington in the summer. In the winter they move to Arizona for the winter raft guiding season. Their workers are all seasonal and van life keeps their overhead low. They don’t make a lot of money but they are passionate about their lifestyle.

Glenn of was a huge inspiration to me when considering the move to a semi-nomadic life. He’s currently touring with a band in New Zealand. He does gigs like that for a couple months a year. It’s fun and it nets him living money. The other ten months of the year he chases his whims all over America in his van, living out of it.

The things these people have in common is a passion for life and the lack of a mortgage. I share these traits with equal zest. The financial efficiency of these alternative housing options allows us to mitigate the coercive forces of a money-driven society. Serendipitously, it also lowers are carbon footprint, and that feels good too.

Evening View

Living a semi-nomadic life, alternating between the boat and van, allows me to make needed money and find places to go to bed looking at views like this.

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