We’re not homeless!!! I remember having that thought distinctly when talking to a clerk at the DMV when we were trying to register our vehicles in Florida. In fairness the clerk was only trying to determine if we needed any other kind of assistance from the state. All the same, if you live in your RV or van, the day may come when you’re also confused with being homeless.
People Who Live In Houses Don’t Get It
So many people have the trajectory of their lives plotted along a very traditional path. They get married, have kids, and buy a 3/2 house in a good school district. The idea of casting all that aside and living a mobile existence is, in many ways, a foreign concept. Already at the outset, you’re at odds with tradition.
A Few Spoil It For The Many
Many are forced into mobile living by financial necessity. Perhaps that’s what motivated our DMV clerk. Some of the hardship mobile don’t keep a neat RV and living space. Trash around their RV, trash on the street, and shabby RVs parked on the street raise the ire of neighbors. Some neighborhoods have street parking almost completely occupied by vans, RVs and campers and the neighbors don’t like it. I can kinda see their point. We don’t even like camping next to messy campers, let alone have one parked on the street in front of my house.
There is a problem in some cities of RVs being abandoned on city streets. Portland has hundreds of them.
Vandwellers Have Additional Hurdles
Vandwellers win on cost and convenience. Vans are stealthy enough to park on many streets without looking like someone living in a camper. If your goal is urban stealth camping, then a van conversion, is really the only practical choice. Choosing a van means you’ll have problems staying at some campgrounds. Vandwellers are sometimes regulated to campgrounds that have facilities for tent campers.
Criminalization of Homelessness
The risk to getting lumped in with the homeless is the creeping push by many cities and neighborhoods to criminalize homelessness. One city near here hires extra security guards to make sure homeless people stay in particular areas, well away from the downtown business district. That effort is being played out on a larger scale in many cities. A few communities are getting militant and employ law enforcement as the pointy end of the spear when dealing with homeless issues.
Problem Is Not Going Away
The core issue is the cost of housing. We just stayed at a county campground in a very fashionable city north of Miami for $40 a night. I can tell you that trying to find a place to rent in that area, that close to the beach for $1,200 a month (including electric, water and sewer) is mission impossible. To keep full timers from taking over and monopolizing spaces, the county parks limit your stay to two weeks at a time.
If you stay in campgrounds and RV parks and keep your camper in decent shape, you’ll likely never be bothered, even by the occasional Good Samaritan trying to help the needy. But when visiting friends, parking on city streets, or catching a snooze at a rest area, you may need to be prepared to explain that you’re not homeless, your house merely has wheels.