Freedom On Four Wheels: Van Life On The Rise

By Amelia Arvesen
Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As the cost of housing balloons and as 20- to 30-year-olds increasingly embrace mobility and minimalism, living on wheels in vans and vehicles is rising as a viable alternative to traditional housing.

Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.

Rain patters on the roof of John Salhany’s 2006 Mercedes Sprinter van as he points out the half-finished ceiling of tongue-and-groove pine paneling that will eventually continue down the walls over layers of plywood and reflective insulation.

Items strewn in the hollowed back include a dusty climbing rope, a road bike and a six-pack of Upslope Brewing Company’s Citra Pale Ale.

All his essentials will soon have their places once the van build-out is complete, when Salhany will have a bed big enough to accommodate all 6 feet, 2 inches of him, a countertop with a sink and drawers, and maybe even a backsplash with the cutout of the mountains — amenities like that of a house.

“I have a lot of friends who are buying houses right now who are just getting to that age, all on the East Coast and I’m just like, how do you guys know where you want to live?” said Salhany, 25. “You’re buying a house 20 minutes from where we grew up in small-town Massachusetts, but you don’t know what the rest of the country has to offer.”

As the cost of housing balloons in growing cities, such as in Boulder County, and as 20- to 30-year-olds increasingly embrace mobility and minimalism, living on wheels in vans and vehicles is rising as a viable alternative to traditional housing across the nation.

“I love Boulder, but I’m not ready to buy a house here even if I could afford it,” said Salhany, who is tied to a lease through August 2018 while he works on the van. “There’s so much more to explore. I’m just not at that point in my life where I’m prepared to be like, I love this place, I’m going to settle down.”

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