Welcome to the new sister site of cheaprvliving.com! Like the original,
this site is devoted to living a simple, frugal life in a car, van or RV. As
paradoxical as it may seem, the mobile life on wheels can be extremely
green and earth-friendly. In fact I believe it is one of the most
environmentally positive ways you can live. Let me show you how green
and cheap it can be by looking at my life on wheels:
- I am completely off-grid. I have 190 watts of solar panels and a pair
of golf cart batteries that meets all my meager electrical needs.
- I live in a 6x10 foot converted cargo trailer with the minimal
comforts. It's carbon footprint is tiny. More importantly, it is so small
I can't own much "stuff." It's full with just the essentials of living,
leaving no room for frivolous luxuries. So by necessity I am free of
the consumer culture.
- I use less than 15 gallons of water a week. I bathe and do dishes with
a solar shower, spray bottle and wash cloths.
- While my pick-up gets poor fuel mileage, (10-13 mpg), I drive very
little. That's possible because I work as a campground host in the
Sierra National Forest in the summer. I park the truck and only drive
on my weekends when I need supplies. In the winter I live in the
desert on BLM land. Because it is 14 day stay land, I have to move
every 14 days. So I find a beautiful spot to camp on, set up camp,
and stay there for 14 days until I have to move again. I generally go
into town once a week for supplies and I have a small motorcycle(75
mpg) I use on most of those trips.
- The only other fossil fuel I use is a very small (less than 10 gallons a
year) amount of propane to cook with. Because I am a "snowbird",
moving with the seasons, I rarely am in extreme heat or cold, so I very
seldom need any heat and never use air conditioning.
Now that is a very cheap, very green life!! And there are other stories on
this site which are even greener and cheaper (Living in a Toyota Prius and
Living in a Tent). But I don't want you to just take my word for it, so let's
use the EPA Carbon Calculator http://www.epa.
gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html to compare my life
versus the average homeowner (See the comparison table to the right). A
carbon footprint is an approximation of the total negative affect caused by
a product or activity measured in carbon production. For example, when
you drive your car it burns fossil fuel and emits carbon into the air. When
you turn the air conditioner on at home, a power plant somewhere is
probably burning fossil fuel to make the electricity to run it. (For more
details on carbon footprints click here) Getting an exact carbon footprint is
difficult and controversial, but that isn't what we are doing here, we are
drawing a comparison between two different ways of life to determine
which is greener. This it does very well. It's exactly like the EPA mpg
estimates for new cars, there is no guarantee that you will get that mpg if
you buy it, but it is an excellent tool to compare mpg between two
different makes of car. Here, we are comparing two different ways of life:
So you see that even though my pickup only gets 11 mpg, (the national
average is about 20) because I drive it less my carbon footprint is about
the same as the national average. Where I come out way ahead is not
having any utilities. Moving out of a house means I don't have to heat,
cool and light a huge open space. However, the actual difference between
my footprint and the national average is far more than this shows. Because
I have so little space I buy much less stuff which all has a footprint of its
own, plus I throw less away, again reducing my footprint in landfills. My
water usage is drastically lower than any home could ever be (my water
usage for a week is less than most people usage of flushing their toilets in
one day). Purifying and distributing water to homes, and then cleaning the
waste water afterwards is terribly bad for the environment and my usage is
tiny. I don't mow lawns or paint my house. In a huge variety of small
ways, my lifestyle is infinitely better for the environment.
The cheap RV life is inherently green because it is small, off-grid, and
relatively free from the pressure of consumerism. Now, you might think
that I am living a life of sacrifice because of my devotion to the earth, but
nothing could be further from the truth. I embraced this life because of
how much I love it, because of all the inner joy, freedom and peace it
brings me. Being green was just a wonderful side-affect of the lifestyle I
choose for purely selfish reasons, there is no sacrifice involved! In fact,
if I had a nickel for every-time a camper came up to me in my
campground and said, "Man, you have the best job in the world, how can I
get one like it?" I would be a very rich man! And they are right, it is the
best job in the world! Then in the winter, I have the second best job in the
world--no job at all!! I wouldn't trade my life for anything!
As you can probably already tell, this website is unlike every other
environmental website out there. Most of them come from the point of
view that the earth needs us, so it is our duty to make sacrifices in order
to protect it. They stir you up with stories that fill you with guilt and
outrage at the way we are treating the earth. Of course I understand and
agree with their sentiment, but it isn't my point of view. I want you to live
a green life because the quality of your life will be improved right here
and now. Everything I suggest you do will improve the quality of your
life, and is good for the earth. When you are done reading one of the pages
in this site, I don't want you to react in outrage or guilt, but in delight:
"Wow, that sounds great, I want that!" You know the old saying, "You
can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," well it is just as true
with people. Guilt and outrage are very motivating for awhile, but for
most of us, it quickly wears out. On the other hand the cheap, green, RV
life is a life of simplicity, freedom and joy, and that is something we all
want more of. If this life is for you (and it isn't for everybody) then it
won't wear out, you will actually live green for life.
Since this site is first and foremost about attaining the highest possible
quality of life, the first thing we suggest is that you examine the quality of
your life right now:
- Are you happy, or are you just treading water, only getting by?
- Is your life full of joy, or is it full of stress?
- Do you love your job and wake up wanting to get to work, or is it a
- Are you sick of the constant competition at work, in traffic, and even
for parking spaces?
- Do you ever look around your house and say, "Where did all this
stuff come from, why do I have it? I feel like I am in prison." And
yet you keep going to the store to buy even more.
- Do you like fighting traffic, breathing bad air, spending fifty weeks a
year looking forward to two weeks of happiness? When those two
weeks come, do they just fly-by, leaving you no more happy than you
If you answer those questions honestly, and you don't like the answers,
then cheap green RV living may be for you. If the American dream, has
become a nightmare for you, you may be in the right place. If you are sick
of the rat race and decide to drop out, you won't be alone. There is a
small army of us out here (many more than you would think) happily
living in our cars, vans and RVs who made a clean break with that life.
We wanted to embrace simple living as a lifestyle choice by clearing out
all but the essentials.Generally, we needed a new vehicle because the one
we had was unreliable or too small. An easy way to get rid of junk or hard-
to-sale vehicles is to donate cars to a charity to begin the process which
helps people in need. After shedding the old life, we bought a vehicle,
moved out of our houses and into them and embraced a life of wandering.
For entirely selfish reasons, we started to live very green lives. The stress
and emptiness of our old lives fell away. A sense of contentment and joy
replaced them. Our bodies lost weight and became healthier. Nature
became our healer. Oddly, in our new life as "loners," we made many new
and deep friendships based on a common lifestyle. As we traveled to
different states, and even different countries, our minds and hearts were
opened by the things we saw and felt. We were deeply moved by the
beauty we found in nature and in people.
There is a second way this site differs from most green websites. Nearly
universally they are focused on the problem of the environment and
specifically with global warming. Since you are here, you have probably
been concerned with the plight of the environment for some time now, but
whenever you thought about taking steps you may have found yourself
paralyzed with the thought, "The problem is so big, what possible
difference can I make." And you're right, the more you read about the
size and complexity of the problem the more certain you become that you
can't possibly make a difference! All too often people drop-out of green
But what if we didn't focus on the problem, but instead focused on the
solutions? On this site, we are focusing on the benefits you will gain by
making even small changes. One of our motto's is "Green, Greener,
Greenest." The idea is that you aren't responsible for the whole earth, you
are only responsible for your own actions. By living in a vehicle you are
automatically very green, anything else you can do is just icing on the
cake. For example, we have stories about someone who lives in an old RV
that gets 7 mpg (but tows an economy car that gets 35 mpg), another one
about someone who lives and travels for months at a time in a Toyota
Prius that averages 45 mpg, and another one about a fellow who lives in a
tent in the desert and drives a scooter that gets 100mpg. There is no
judgement here about your choices. We are all different and we all have
different comfort levels. None of them are better than any others. If you
are content with your choices, and the earth is better off because of them,
we rejoice with you!! Green, Greener, Greenest!
Finally, there is a third way this site is different from other environmental
websites: we aren't anti-anything. We aren't anti-coal, anti-oil, anti-big
business, we aren't even anti-Republican. What we are is pro-happiness.
Not the easy, surface-level happiness of consumerism, but a deeper, soul-
level happiness that can only come from reconnecting with nature. You
see, we evolved for millions of years to be connected to nature, and then
10,000 years ago we adopted civilization and threw away that essential
connection. While it made our lives much more comfortable, even
luxurious, it did so at a very high cost, our souls. Today we are alienated
from the earth, from our inner soul, and increasingly from each other.
Depression, divorce, neurosis, addiction, suicide, burn-out and stress
related disease are rampant in a modern world at war with nature (for
more on this see the article on Carl Jungs beliefs). It's so sad we can't see
that by being at war with the earth, constantly damaging and degrading it,
we are really at war with ourselves, damaging and degrading our soul. Our
only hope for happiness, for survival, is to surrender and to embrace the
earth. Like the James Taylor song says, "...we've got to get back to the
garden." Living cheaply in a vehicle allows us to do that, so we are pro-
If what you've read here resonates with you, we hope you will join us.
You don't have to become a full-time vehicle dweller to enjoy this site.
Perhaps you will buy a tent, or a tent-trailer and start camping again. Or
perhaps you will just live vicariously through our stories. It doesn't
matter. What's important is that you take some of the things we will cover
and apply them to your life, wherever it is. If you do, the earth will be
better because of it, and the quality of your life will be improved. And for
that, we will be very, very grateful.
A few comments about the site:
- We are going to use the term vandwelling as a generic term to
describe our alternative mobile life. It doesn't mean you have to live
in a van, although that is probably the most common choice. It
describes a lifestyle whether you live in a van, car or RV, or even
still live in a house and just dream of vandwelling or travel part time
in a vehicle. The term is all-inclusive.
- Vandwelling is inherently more dangerous than the typical stick-and-
brick life. Since lawyers now rule the world, see our disclaimer page:
- The irony of having advertising on a page about minimalism is not
lost on us. But the site (and the forum that goes along with it) cost
money and need to be supported. We have made a strong effort to not
let the advertising be a distraction. And remember, the site isn't about
guilt, outrage and sacrifice, it is about a higher quality of life. As you
embrace vandwelling you are going to get rid of a huge amount of
stuff, but you will also need to buy new stuff for a new life. The ads
can help you find that stuff.
- Some people have wanted to help support the site out of gratitude and
I understand that. It makes you feel like you are a part of something,
which is a very good thing, so there are donate buttons on the pages.
But, please, don't feel any obligation to donate, this is a labour of
love for us first and foremost. If you do want to donate, then make it
very small, no more than $5.
- Initially I will do all the writing, but that isn't good. This is your site,
and it needs to have your stories. Our collective wisdom and
experience is infinitely greater than mine alone. So email me with
stories and pictures about your green vandwelling life. Anything and
everything is fair game and can help someone else. It can be as
simple as product reviews (which are extremely helpful) to stories
about how you are living green, jobs that work with vandwelling, or
converting your van or car. Also, we welcome your comments about
the site and ways to improve it. See the Contact Us Page, or Email it
to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Consider giving a small
donation to support this site.
Welcome to Cheap
Green RV Living!
"What's the use of a fine house if you haven't
got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
~ Henry David Thoreau
|This website takes no responsibility
for dangers you may encounter by
following our advice. See disclaimer
Finding the Joy of Green Living by Living in a Car, Van or RV.
|The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth. ~Chief Seattle
|Plan Now to Attend the Summer
A Gathering of Vandwellers to
Celebrate our Wonderful Lifestyle
January 8-22, 2013
|Cheapgreenrvliving is now
Follow my travels and learn from
a 10 year green vandweller at:
|Carbon Footprint Comparison
6500 miles @
|Propane: 1 gal
For help finding wonderful campsites all
across the country, Check out a site
owned by good friends of mine who live
in a van and are living the life, not just
talking about it. You will be glad you
did! Find their site here:
| I've written a new
book on Vandwelling
with all new material.
If you like this website,
you will love the book!
Available for the Kindle
on Amazon.com for $2.99
How to Live in a Car, Van or RV by Robert Wells