Who are you?
We’re Coralie and Henri. We are French citizens living in the US since 2014 (we won a green card at the US DV lottery).
After two years working in New York City, we decided to convert our Ford Transit Connect into a campervan and go explore. We traveled for a year across the country and explored Northeastern USA during weekends while spending one year in the Hudson Valley. We will take another US cross-country trip starting in May 2019.
How much does it cost to move into a van and live on the road?
There are people living in their car permanently, not by choice, but because they can’t afford a “normal” sedentary life. Henri and I are obviously privileged enough to be able to enjoy sleeping in a car and moving all the time for pleasure. We are very, very well aware of the privilege that it represents.
A few factors:
- We had saved some money before doing that and we’ve always been debt free.
- We don’t need much, we’re low maintenance. Dry camping is ok. We DIY a lot of things and buy few things.
- We work while we travel (freelance web development, social media, software translation).
- We are healthy and don’t need medical care -there is no satisfying healthcare system in the US.
- We don’t have kids, which can make a lifestyle like this way more expensive and challenging.
Our expenses (in US$) before taking off :
- A van or car that gives you enough space to sleep inside. This can go from $500 (with a lot of repairs afterwards) to no limit. We spent around $10,000 for our used 2012 Ford Transit Connect. You can also just use a regular car and camp in a tent everyday, but it’s not as comfortable.
- Conversion & Equipment (storage, mattress…): about $500
- US. driver’s license, as our French ones were not valid as permanent resident, about $300
- A nice camera (Canon EOS 5D Mark II) and lenses, about $1,200.
Some examples of monthly expenses to consider while traveling:
- Overnight parking : from $0 to $77 per night. On average, 25 $. We started in the East, so this is only going to decrease as we go West.
- Car insurance: about $50 / month.
- Unlimited Verizon data and tethering : about $150/ month. This is expensive but it allows us to work anywhere, so the return on investment is good.
- Food : about $400 a month for two. We cook a lot, we try to eat healthy, we buy organic and no junk food. We almost never go to the restaurant except if there is iconic food to try somewhere.
- Gas : $ 2,20 a gallon on average, from $100 to $300 a month.
- Health / Travel insurance : we don’t have any when we travel as it’s not affordable, even under Obamacare and it wouldn’t even work out of NY state. We could never figure out how people actually do in this country without spending hundreds of dollars a month. As a result, when we travel we save whatever we don’t spend in monthly US healthcare, and do all regular check ups in France, where it’s a little above $20 (fixed legal price) for a general check up.
How do you go to the restroom/shower etc.?
There are public restrooms EVERYWHERE in the US. Seriously. And there is always TP. And it’s usually clean. If not, nature is your best friend. Showers are relatively easy to find, but it’s also okay to not shower every single day when you are closer to nature.
What Camera do you use?
We have a Canon EOS 5D Mark II. I have been learning how to use it. We think recent iPhones can make great pictures.