The path to financial freedom, financial independence, and early retirement come in many variations and flavors. It’s a personal journey that is unique to an individual.
The exciting part is that technology is continuing to create new ways for us to pursue these dreams in ways that didn’t exist until relatively recently.
Telecommuting is Here to Stay
Daily routines, long commutes, stuffy offices — the demands of the average nine to five can be stressful. With the rise of technology, this stress has led many workers to start working remotely.
Telecommuting has elevated the pressure of the office job, but some digital nomads are taking this freedom to the next level.
Telecommuting on the Road
Some remote workers are building their careers while living in a van.
With #VanLife sprawling across social media, this adventurous form of telecommuting has taken over the digital landscape. Whether you find it ingenious or romanticized, it’s hard not to be infatuated with the bohemian young professionals writing emails before a morning rock climb.
And it’s not just hip young people living the #VanLife. The New York Times recently profiled the Harteau family, who have spent the last few years traveling the world in their camper, wandering all over Central and South America with toddlers in tow.
Colette is pretty charmed by her new grill (or lack thereof 😜). . Our life on the road, nearing the 5 year mark, is punctuated by moments of change with our two littles. Sierra learning to stand in Torres del Paine, Colette riding a bike with no training wheels just a week ago… oh, this sweet magic of life as parents. How exhausting, how exalting. Policing their squabbles, teaching multiplication, how to hold a pencil… magic in the mundane- whether it be in Brazil or Barstow.
A recent survey found that whether staying in a tent, RV, cabin, bivy, or yurt, the average camper spends 14.9 days camping. But these travelers make the outdoors their permanent homes. Treehugger talked to Sara and Alex James of 40 Hours Of Freedom about their experience taking their digital marketing business on the road.
“Vanlife presented the perfect opportunity to take our home with us everywhere we wanted to go,” Alex told Treehugger. “The professional landscape has changed thanks to the Internet, so we have taken that motivation to create an online business that allows us to travel and work from anywhere.”
Profiting on the Move
Many van residents even turn their lifestyle into profit via social media. About 70% of the U.S. population have a social media profile, with more than half using more than one platform. These markers capitalize on social networking by growing their follower base through adventure photography and making money off of sponsored content.
So, how do van lifers get started? According to Treehugger, Sara and Alex bought their van for $25,000 with 50,000 miles on it. The average car on the road is 10.8 years old, and van residents generally have no problem buying an older van to refurbish into a home. In Alex and Sara’s case, their 2008 Dodge Sprinter is completely solar-powered and has a built-in shower.
Pros and Cons of #VanLife
Living on the road with limited amenities may sound glamorous, it does come with challenges. Elise Tayor and Josh Kilner said in a statement to The Daily Mail that life is certainly not as comfortable as it is while living in a traditional home.
“Van life is raw, it’s dirty, cramped, you can go for weeks without seeing a hot shower, and we don’t have AC,” Taylor said. “The toilet is non-existent along with running water, we can’t stand up in the van, and it may take a day to do the simplest task like washing our clothes.”
Sara and Alex echoed the statement but said that the challenges are worth the perks.
“Being able to adapt and be flexible is crucial,” they said. “Living in a small space can present its own challenges as well. However, I think it has brought us closer together as a couple. Even if we get into a fight we move past it quickly, there’s no time or space for sulking in a van.”
Upgrade to an RV
Of course, you could take this style of living to the next level with an RV. In fact, two fellow PF bloggers are doing just that.
Steve over at ThinkSaveRetire.com is a recently retired guy who travels freely around our great U.S.A. with his wife in their Airstream. He’s still able to blog regularly and contribute a lot to the PF community while consistently on the road.
Likewise, Michelle, at MakingSenseofCents.com, travels full-time in her RV while running a multi-million dollar business! I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed.
I don’t think #VanLife is for me, but I certainly respect the sacrifice and freedom that comes with this lifestyle. Expenses can truly be managed to a minimum which can be quite extraordinary.
When considering FIRE (Financial Independence, Retirement Early), make sure you choose a strategy that works with you as an individual. For me, this was operating a business and getting involved in real estate investing.
Once you choose that strategy, execute and remain consistent. You may just find this is the edge you need to have your money work harder for you.
Readers, are you pursuing FIRE or already achieved it in some capacity? What’s the strategy that matches you the best? Is telecommuting involved?