Need Help selecting a city for minivan life!

Van Living Forum

Help Support Van Living Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Lance22

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2022
Messages
85
Reaction score
58
places I been thinking about were Eureka, Salinas, Everett, and outside edges of San Diego..

I’m just looking for an area with a population 100k to 1million ish

Temps 40-75 year round (mostly, with few bursts of heat waves or cold snaps)

Areas where overnight camping at Walmart and other places are easy to come by.

Places where rent is higher so I can snap a good paying entry level job like stocking shelves and go to the gym and work on my side business developing my long term plans..

Prefer to have several massive parks in the area, to spend the weekends cleaning out the van in peace!

Also several packed in gyms to retail centers be nice so I can go from work to gym to sleep spot easily.

I done van life for over a year so I’m not worried about that.. it’s just I need advice on a good city to jump in and get a good lifestyle going to start with.

I’m from Minnesota but currently just got back into minivan life in Oklahoma. It’s decent here since it’s winter, but I wouldn’t survive the summer plus the rents are cheaper so wages are low (under 15, typically 12-13)

Maybe Santa Rosa be good? Richer place. So nice entry wages.. but would they run me out of town? ..

Right now I work overnights so I nap in my minivan in the parks in the afternoons and sleep overnights at Walmart parking lots on my weekends ( I tend to sleep most of my weekends lol)

I still got to develop my stealth skills but I’m learning fast.. I just would appreciate advice from anyone who is an urban vanlifer.

Right now I have 3 gyms I rotate and about 5 parks spots I rotate too. Looking for the same deal at least or similar.

Thanks in advance. I have many skills and I’m no novis, I just never been to the west coast so I just don’t know where to park and start.
 
I would say the PNW would be a solid bet, like portland or seattle. But then you gotta worry about the meth heads out there. It sounds like you've lived there before and want something different. Maybe the northern parts of the midwest?
 
I'd suggest working seasonally in two different places in the west... nice climate all year.

May I ask why larger cities? That might limit you. Yuma (can even park on Native or BLM land close to town), Tucson, and Phoenix in winter. Lots of places are good in summer.
 
the weather you describe is the san diego area, its sunny year around. It only gets in the 40's at night, once the sun comes out its back in the 70's. In the summer its mostly in the 70's/80's, sometimes you go years without a heatwave (heatwave is in the 90's hot and humid). Winter if your van is insulated you shouldnt need a heater, and in the summer all you need is a swampcooler. The city is perfect for solar, even in winter you get good sun.

Lot of places to park your van, as long as your registration is good and don't park in one area for more than 3 days your good. After 3 days just move across the street. The walmarts/shopping center that I been to don't allow overnight parking, but out on the street you see RV's parked there. There are some areas where you can't park on the street overnight during certain hours, but they will have signs on the street that say that. Also you can't park near (150 feet) houses/apartments. There are gyms everywhere in all areas of the city, 24 hour fitness has many branches, you can get the plan that allows you to use all of them.

Lot of places are hiring, even fast food start at 15 dollars. The only drawback is gas is 5 dollars a gallon, but if you just drive to work and back to your parking spot you won't spend much.
 
Eureka, CA has a lot of parking restrictions and all of the downtown area has limited parking and lots of restrictions. All the residents in that area of the town have to apply for an annual sticker in order not to get towed away when parked on the street at nights and weekends. Eureka parking restrictions are easy to find online doing a web search. That online availability of parking ordinances is true of most towns and cities.

What you won’t find in the ordinances is how eager to tow you or fine you the local constables are. But every town I know of along the Pacific Coast has major issues with a large influx of nomadic vehicle dwellers due to the mild climate and people’s desire to be near water and beaches.
 
Eureka had a huge (for Humboldt County) homeless encampment near Bayshore Mall; this may have affected the views of residents on "homeless/houseless" people. I was not aware of the parking restrictions downtown. Fortuna has some parkings tags requirements near the high school and Arcata may have some restrictions on parking near the plaza; they even "towed" President MacKinley in February 2019 for overstaying his welcome.
 
a)
In your March 2023 thread...
https://vanlivingforum.com/threads/...3-29&utm_content=daily_newsletter#post-589641...you say you have a significant income.
You also describe your significant debts.
.
With about six months of contemplation behind you, how are you doing at moving beyond this stagnation?
.
b)
We are in one gym daily... every afternoon about the same time every day.
We chat with folk, we volunteer with the maintenance crew, we offer to stand the counter if the greeters need a break.
.
We are visible.
People see us, and invite us to backyard BBQs, to sing in their church choir, and ask for suggestions about canine decisions.
.
We operate a small organic teaching farm near the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon.
We bring baskets of produce to share.
.
We build community.
Weird, eh?
 
Last edited:
My post was deleted under the claim it was demeaning! I told the truth! Salinas is a very dangerous place with a murder rate so bad the Feds have moved in! Avoid it! It is not safe!
Any supporting evidence for your opinion? It used to be high, but the latest data shows that the murder rate has dropped below the state average.

https://www.thecalifornian.com/stor...ital-salinas-california-rate-drop/1621075001/https://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Salinas-California.htmlhttps://realestate.usnews.com/places/california/salinas/crime
Gang violence is responsible for great majority of murders. High murder rates coincide with gangs fighting each other over drug turf. Authorities like to congratulate themselves when the rate goes down, but unless they've really cracked down on the drug trade, it usually just means one of the gangs won the war.
 
I'd suggest working seasonally in two different places in the west... nice climate all year.

May I ask why larger cities? That might limit you. Yuma (can even park on Native or BLM land close to town), Tucson, and Phoenix in winter. Lots of places are good in summer.
I just "vibe well" in larger cities.

Typically larger cities have more & or better amenities like larger public library, a destination public park that you could walk miles around without crossing the same place twice. Also several chain fitness gyms so you can frequent DIFFERENT gyms to shower and change up your route so you don't become to much of a "regular" who just comes in to take a shower.

My last van life between apartments I worked 4 days a week and rotated between 3 different gyms then on my weekends I would frequent 2 other gyms. All within a 20min driving commute I had access to 5 gyms under the same name (meaning my membership to one gym permited me this ability)

Plus Ability to rotate overnight places like Walmart is crippled if there is only two walmarts in town. Having access to 4 walmarts within that 20min drive ontop of 2-3 trucks stops and a few other quick and easy overnight sleeping spots made me feel comfortable I didn't have to worry about finding a place to park the night.

I lived in a small town before, I know it still possible to make van life work, but for me I just see it as being harder and more undesirable.
 
the weather you describe is the san diego area, its sunny year around. It only gets in the 40's at night, once the sun comes out its back in the 70's. In the summer its mostly in the 70's/80's, sometimes you go years without a heatwave (heatwave is in the 90's hot and humid). Winter if your van is insulated you shouldnt need a heater, and in the summer all you need is a swampcooler. The city is perfect for solar, even in winter you get good sun.

Lot of places to park your van, as long as your registration is good and don't park in one area for more than 3 days your good. After 3 days just move across the street. The walmarts/shopping center that I been to don't allow overnight parking, but out on the street you see RV's parked there. There are some areas where you can't park on the street overnight during certain hours, but they will have signs on the street that say that. Also you can't park near (150 feet) houses/apartments. There are gyms everywhere in all areas of the city, 24 hour fitness has many branches, you can get the plan that allows you to use all of them.

Lot of places are hiring, even fast food start at 15 dollars. The only drawback is gas is 5 dollars a gallon, but if you just drive to work and back to your parking spot you won't spend much.

I have thought about the San Diego area a great deal..

However what gives me pause is that it seems to be "overcroweded" with others doing the van lifestyle as well. Parking restrictions terrify me.

What about the Texas gulf coast? Does anyone live there year round living the van lifestyle?

I wouldn't do Houston, but the outer reach of the area make me curious.

Corpus Christi Or maybe even Galveston Texas although maybe it's to touristy?

Or even staying somewhere 9-10 months then driving up north to Green Bay or Duluth for a 2 month vacation from work might be a better option if nothing is comfotable to live year round.

granted that's a lot of gas but in a minivan that wouldn't be that bad. However if I had a tow right I would simply rent a space for a few months to park it and NOT drive it up north with me and then I'd just live out of the minivan for 2 months on vacation.

Or even short term housing options like weekly motel rentals to get easy access to AC during the summer heat might be a better option.

I guess we won't know what it's REALLY like until we just get up and actually DO IT and see how much we hate it or love it or can't afford it.
 
You can camp for free on the beaches off Galveston and Corpus Christi, which are quite beautiful, but I believe there are time limits.

There are also no amenities on the beaches, tho private and public campgrounds as well as most anything you may need are nearby.

It is a long drive down in there and back out, too, if you are looking to work in these cities.
 
Last edited:
Of the places you mention, I'd go with Eureka, simply because it is reasonably close to National Forest land. I am sure that Eureka, like many other west coast cities, regulates overnight parking. But it might be easier to find a rotating schedule of places to stay that works for you which includes free camping on Forest Service land.
 
We both worked at the Escapees park in Livingston Texas. Got a full hookup site for cleaning restrooms and serving ice cream on weekends. The park had showers (we had our own in the RV), library and club house as well as volunteer positions are the Care Center. We worked full time at the local Walmart and Lowe’s at the same time as one of us was always off on weekends. Being an Escapee and having an RV makes it pretty easy.
 
Used to camp/recreate from around Ukiah (Mendocino National Forest) and north. Pretty country if its not burned down or soon to be.

Between that and the Oregon border is beautiful country.
 
I think in the long run a work-camping job at an RV park near a big city will give you income plus a stable and legal parking place with hookups, laundry room and a shower room, maybe even a gym for workouts as well.

There are a lot of websites and Facebook groups where you can connect up with jobs being offered. You could work near Phoenix in the winter and other cities further north in the summer. Or even work year around for an RV park on the California Coast.
 
Top