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 hard in New York City, we decided to go explore the beautiful places in this country. We converted our Ford Transit Connect into a campervan and we traveled the country for a year. Now, we use our van during weekends to discover more.
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” 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.
In this context, we can say that the following factors play a role in our case :
- We have no debt and we are savers.
- We don’t need much, we are okay with dry camping and stuff like that (low-maintenance). We DIY a lot of things.
- We work as we travel (freelance web development, social media, software translation).
- We are healthy and don’t need much medical care (there is no satisfying healthcare system in the US).
- We don’t have kids, which can make a lifestyle like this expensive and challenging.
Our expenses (in U.S.$) before taking off :
- A van. 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.
- Conversion & Equipment: about $500
- U.S. 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 $ 100 / 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 don’t buy junk food, we almost never go to the restaurant.
- Gas : $ 2,20 a gallon on average, from $100 to $300 a month.
- Health / Travel insurance : the big taboo.
Everything feels less costly than living in a big city.
How do you go to the restroom/shower etc.?
There are public restrooms EVERYWHERE in the US. Seriously. And there is toilet paper. 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 and a 28-70 mm Tamron lens, and I have been learning how to use it. We think recent iPhones can make great pictures.