Coping: Gaming the Housing System

Housing:  I hadn’t heard too much from my son for a while – and got to wondering what was up with him so I rang him up and he’s got a new GF.  No news there EXCEPT:  The new GF has figured out how to totally game “the system” in a crowded big city – like Seattle.

I won’t give away any personally identifiable information, but this is totally cool.  As my son put it “It’s up there chill-wise like when you moved onto your sailboat…”  Which I did in 1989, or so, and I wouldn’t change even a single part of that whole experience.

I was on it for almost 11-years and even when we moved to Florida in 2002, there was something comforting about having the ultimate global bug-out platform at the other end of a plane ride to San Diego and a short cab ride out to Shelter Island.

Reason I loved the boat experience?  It was gaming the system then – and it’s the kind of thing that can still be done today.  Except, of course, being a liveaboard sailor just sticks in the craw of government.  They are so determined to put everyone in the same stupid box…it sucks…but they can still be gamed!  Let me tell you how she’s doing it…

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The first thing is this young woman is totally not into materialism.  She’s a first-class adventurer, and that’s something we prize very highly around here.

What that means is freedom.  I will fictionalize this a bit to protect her identity, but let’s say that she’s a world-class rock climber.  She just lives to climb rocks.

The problem that she identified was that in order to fly all over the world climbing rocks, she would NOT be able to afford both the trappings of an apartment AND being able to pursue her passion.

Her solution?

She bought a fairly late-model, low mileage high-roof cargo van.  Her rig has only 30,000 miles on it.

Here’s the surprise:  You can buy a new vehicle like this for around $30,000.  Here’s an example on eBay.  Higher mileage than perfect?  Maybe, but diesel and extra cooling…  Look at the pictures and figure out what kind of “mini home” could put cobble up.

Next, she tricked out the inside:  super locks, darkly tinted windows so no once can see inside, blackout curtains, a few fans, and G2 is helping her put together a small battery-powered dehumidifier.  Winter’s here and whether you’re on a boat, or in some kind of vehicle, people breathe out wet air and that can lead to mildew and such.

Then she designed her schedule.  Goes something like this:

  • Wakes up in the morning.  Tosses on sweats and work clothes (she’s in medicine, so no big on that).
  • First stop is the gym.  Has coffee with friends, morning…er…routines
  • And then she does a few miles on a treadmill and some weights…
  • Then she hits the shower and freshens up for work.  (“If you don’t spend $1,600 on an apartment and more on utilities, an unlimited package at a gym is next to nothing…“)
  • Off to work, she has another vehicle or…well, we won’t spill all the beans.
  • After work is done, it’s off to spend time with friends.
  • For dinner (having saved $1,600 on rent) it’s no big deal to go out now and then.   Three or four times a week.
  • After that, and more chill time, it’s back to the gym for some climbing, another shower, and then off to the van.
  • In bed by 9, she gets up by 6 the next morning (rinse and repeat).
  • Driver to a laundromat when necessary.
  • Don’t park where a permit is required.

It may not sound like a huge deal, but is really is.  The way she’s got life rolled, there’s about $25,000 a year to spend on her passion.

Will she ever break down, settle down, do the “family thing?”  I wouldn’t bet on it.

She also has some very clear views on RV’ing.

I looked at those but they are not stealth and they break down too much.”

I can see why G2 finds her so interesting…he’s got the minimalist genes, too.

They’re working out a “rechargeable lunchbox” battery box for her to charge while at work.  I pointed G2 in the direction of the not-terribly expensive sealed lead-acid batteries that go in uninterruptable power supplies.  I just replaced 7 amp-hours of SLA in one of our Rockfish UPS units in the office and it was $21 bucks.  Can’t beat that with a stick.

And the other savings?

No furniture.  Ka-ching!

No electric bill.  Ka-ching.

No sewer, water, or internet bills.  Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.

And with three days a week off (gotta love them 4-10 plans) when she takes off for the weekend, it’s kinda like when Elaine and I would shove off on the boat on Friday afternoons.

By around 7 PM, we would be in a whole different city with a fresh assortment of restaurants and entertainment venues.  And we never had to worry about “forgetting something at home” because home was always with us.

Are there downsides?

Eventually, she might want to put a name on the van so it looks more like a commercial rig.  X and Y Plumbing always sounded good to me. Plumbers can go anywhere.  So can electricians, but with the price of tools and copper, plastic pipe tools seem less of interest to the no-good-nicks.  Or, how about something like “Mildew Recovery” – who’d want anything to do with that?  (Bug spray outfits use smaller rigs, but be creative.  Piano mover?  Acme Services…

Toss in a passenger plate (don’t want to get a CDL, right?)  “HI RCKR.”

Well, yes; downsides.  No big screen.  But you can follow most videos on YT or others on a 6-8 inch phone, right?

A pee can for the middle of the night is useful.  But we discovered a device called the Little John that we took in the airplane.  (You can’t fly without coffee!)  That was useful in the sky, but it would work in this situation, too.  There’s a “ladies adapter” for them.  They also don’t leak, so off to the gym and… well, there’s that.  Hole in the floor for when it’s raining, maybe?

Mail could be an issue, but if you arrange with your employer to get mail at work for a while (“moving between apartments”) then you have an address and that’s what you need to get a mailbox set up…

All in all, pretty slick way to live.

Different, sure.  But with very little housework, and always time for an adventure literally every weekend, why not?

Would it be something to do each and every year for life?

Hell no.  But it’s one way that someone who is determined could live on the cheap, stack a bunch of cash, and try the minimalist lifestyle approach, for sure.

Write when you get rich,

11 thoughts on “Coping: Gaming the Housing System”

  1. Great idea! It is like “boondocking”. Living off the grid in remote areas but it can also imply living in urban areas. There are websites that have useful information about “how to”, especially in an urban area. George Jr. GF is an expert!

  2. “Living on the street’s sure fun, when you’re twenty-one,
    But Mister, I ain’t twenty-one no more….”
    – Shel Silverstein

  3. Go to youtube and search-living in a van-convert a van-stealth camping-cheap rv living.
    There are tens of thousands of people doing this.
    Search -work camping.
    Thousands gather in Quartzite AZ. each winter.
    Many plate their vans in South Dakota. There are mail forwarding services.

  4. Love it when millennials reinvent sliced bread and think they are soooo cool. But if she is going to eat real food without a kitchen/refrigerator it is going to get really expensive. A properly maintained RV never breaks down.

    I was doing that in SoCal 25 years ago in a Toyota mini motor home, used a motorcycle to get around because I could split lanes and averaged 50 mph during rush hour getting anywhere I desired. Registered the vehicles in Oregon for $14 a year, had a post office mail box, otherwise zero footprint and zero taxes in California. All income went through my Nevada Corp for a zero tax kind of situation.

    Illegals in SoCal do the same thing, except they bunch up in a rental, 4 or more to a bedroom. But to a white American, the thought of sharing living space is anathema. But not for much longer.

    • I’m happy I don’t know you. You are one of the most consistently negative reads. For someone who writes how happy and satisfied they are with their move your writing is morose. People like you destroy teams.

  5. Bought an acre septic tank outhouse 24X32 carport 24’ RV in shed on grid health club 30.09 p/m for showers and workout taxes 300.00 p/y neat and sweet

  6. I was watching the TV Show “Live Free or Die” & decided to live out in the woods of NC in December (temp in the 30’s). I bought a tent, sleeping bag & air mattress, ax to cut wood, freeze dried food, etc. I set it up in the back yard to see if I could last. So the Grandkids & I set out to live in the tent for the weekend. We lasted one night & went back to a warm house. I “Lived Free” for one night, but would have “Died” after a couple more. Crossed off Bucket List. It is good to see young people pursuing their dreams before it is too late. That is what makes life interesting.

  7. This is disturbing.

    The ‘van life’ would be ‘fun’ for a while – but unlike ‘life at sea’, one cannot be or is free to travel anywhere without consequences. At the very least your van could be stolen or hauled off, God knows where . . . and technically you are homeless.

    No thanks.

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