Thinking about Van instead of dorm

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Pirl

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I plan on heading to cali for college and considering the expenses of living there im considering living in a trailer park close to campus. Ive heard of college students being forced to live in their cars due to the expenses of living there and i honestly really dont mind living in a kickass van. Ive loved vans and trailers since i was little (mostly because my aunt and uncle had one) and ive always wanted to travel. Ive heard so much about nomads and it sounds so fun! I was also thinking the van would be electric, and i also have a good hookup from my dad for wifi on the van.
 

gone2day

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Trailer park rates in Cali won't necessarily be cheap. Also finding one that allows you to live in a van might be difficult. Do you already have a kickass van? Have you checked on the availability and prices of electric vans?
 

Pirl

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Trailer park rates in Cali won't necessarily be cheap. Do you already have a kickass van? Have you checked on the availability and prices of electric vans
We do not have the kickass van yet, but my dad is recommending me some options
 

gone2day

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^Sounds like a plan! Welcome to the forum where you'll find lots of tips on successful van living. Your experience can be a good reference for other students who would like to try that option.
 
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Frood

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I plan on heading to cali for college and considering the expenses of living there im considering living in a trailer park close to campus. Ive heard of college students being forced to live in their cars due to the expenses of living there and i honestly really dont mind living in a kickass van. Ive loved vans and trailers since i was little (mostly because my aunt and uncle had one) and ive always wanted to travel. Ive heard so much about nomads and it sounds so fun! I was also thinking the van would be electric, and i also have a good hookup from my dad for wifi on the van.
slow2day made some really valid points. If you are going to college in SF bay area then there is only ONE park I know of off the top of my mind that you can stay in with an RV/van/etc... The rest are all the mobile-home style trailers, and the cheapset trailer park I could find (was shopping around for a mobile home for a while) was still $1200/month (this one was mobile-homes only, no RV), and this was back in 2012 so the price has most likely gone up significantly since then so do your research for where you will be going before you decide on a trailer park. They are also getting harder and harder to find open spaces in them too even in places that normally wouldn't be desirable to live.

That being said there are students (and not-students) who do this and live in these areas so it can be done... Just check your specific area first so that you don't get blindsided by unforseen and possibly insane, local rules and ordinances.
 

Pirl

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slow2day made some really valid points. If you are going to college in SF bay area then there is only ONE park I know of off the top of my mind that you can stay in with an RV/van/etc... The rest are all the mobile-home style trailers, and the cheapset trailer park I could find (was shopping around for a mobile home for a while) was still $1200/month (this one was mobile-homes only, no RV), and this was back in 2012 so the price has most likely gone up significantly since then so do your research for where you will be going before you decide on a trailer park. They are also getting harder and harder to find open spaces in them too even in places that normally wouldn't be desirable to live.

That being said there are students (and not-students) who do this and live in these areas so it can be done... Just check your specific area first so that you don't get blindsided by unforseen and possibly insane, local rules and ordinances.
I plan on living somewhere close to santa monica? so if there is a place i park it might have to be close to the college
 

tradesman

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RV parks in Southern California can be very expensive.
I know someone paying about $80/night $2,400/month for long term currently, and they have to move after 30 days and then come back due to some city regulation. That does include garbage, sewer, water, and internet.
Here's a good website for you:
"You can park your RV on and around Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica for free on metered spots from 6pm to 9am on non-street sweeper days and until 7am on street sweeper days as long as your rig is LESS than 20 ft long. There are plenty of signs throughout the Ocean Avenue area with the daily schedule to help you out."
 
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mattvei

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check with security at your school and see if there are dedicated areas or ways people are hacking stays and check with student housing for possibilities
 

bullfrog

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Had a friend in college that had a VW pop top camper van. Used a student parking pass to park during the day at school. Took a gym class each semester so he could use the dressing room/showers (he became a heck of a badminton player! Lol!!!) usually a morning class. He was a cook/dish washer (usually got his meals free there) at a local restaurant from 4 PM till 2 AM Thursday thru Sunday. He would arrange his work and classes to where he could get 15 semester hours of classes in the mornings and early afternoons. He would sleep in the van either after work in the parking lot of his work place or drive to school parking and sleep till the gym opened. He basically paid for his education as he went as his only other expenses were gasoline, insurance and gym shoes. He usually wore his furnished work clothes to school and would use day use areas on his days off to sleep during the day and the Student Union or library to study. You can survive on as little as 4 hours of sleep with a few naps and a good 8 hours on your 2 or 3 days off if you are determined.
 
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Frood

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Had a friend in college that had a VW pop top camper van. Used a student parking pass to park during the day at school. Took a gym class each semester so he could use the dressing room/showers (he became a heck of a badminton player! Lol!!!) usually a morning class. He was a cook/dish washer (usually got his meals free there) at a local restaurant from 4 PM till 2 AM Thursday thru Sunday. He would arrange his work and classes to where he could get 15 semester hours of classes in the mornings and early afternoons. He would sleep in the van either after work in the parking lot of his work place or drive to school parking and sleep till the gym opened. He basically paid for his education as he went as his only other expenses were gasoline, insurance and gym shoes. He usually wore his furnished work clothes to school and would use day use areas on his days off to sleep during the day and the Student Union or library to study. You can survive on as little as 4 hours of sleep with a few naps and a good 8 hours on your 2 or 3 days off if you are determined.
When I was at UC Riverside years and years ago your student ID allowed access to the rec center (which had showers, etc, as well as gym equipment).

As an aside, I only found out that there was an RV park on campus at UC Santa Cruz after graduating. If I had known that before accepting my admission that's where I would have wound up going to school. Ce'st la vie.
 

afblangley

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I plan on heading to cali for college and considering the expenses of living there im considering living in a trailer park close to campus. Ive heard of college students being forced to live in their cars due to the expenses of
Mobile home parks (not RV parks) are typically one of the cheapest housing options in an area. We're talking about parks that cater to full time residents not travelers. Most MHPs don't allow RVs (vans, 5th wheels, travel trailers, class A/B/C). Those that do are almost always very run down, not a place most college students would be comfortable living.

living there and i honestly really dont mind living in a kickass van. Ive loved vans and trailers since i was little (mostly because my aunt and uncle had one) and ive always wanted to travel. Ive heard so much about nomads and it sounds so fun! I was also thinking the van would be electric, and i also have a good hookup from my dad for wifi on the van.

If you're thinking electric van, unless you're several years away from starting college, it's probably not realistic. The choices in the US are the eTransit or eSprinter. As someone who is going to trade in my 2020 Sprinter for an e powered one from Ford or MB, as soon as reasonably possible, I'm following market developments closely. Demand is high relative to production volume. Supply chain issues have still not been resolved. Dealers prioritize their fleet and small business customers orders (read: allocations). The bottom line is that neither van will be readily available over the next couple of years and could cost more than 4 years in the dorm. Figure a minimum of $60-70k for the van and then $20-25k to make it "kickass". Make no mistake, drool worthy vans are not affordable housing alternatives.

Living in a vehicle is challenging, and most world choose to live in a fixed dwelling if they could. You're glamourizing it. Otherwise you'd be posting about how to find a 2008 era Econoline and build it out on a shoestring budget.

Again more fantasy. If you're in school, you will not be nomadic. Your traveling will be to class, to the library, to the cafeteria, to the rec center...

I lived in a dorm freshman and sophomore years. Although I didn't know it at the time, it was essential to my maturation and socialization process. The immersive experience, being away from the guidance and supervision of my parents, the quantity and depth of relationships formed living with a group of people 24/7 were the most important elements of my education. Commuter students are deprived of a very important aspect of the college experience.

I am not discouraging you from buying a van. I think having a van is awesome, I'll never go back to owning cars or SUVs. If you/your parents can afford it, vans make excellent everyday vehicles. Buy one and put it in the dorm parking lot. You've got plenty of time to try out vanlife. You only get one shot at dorm life.
 

bebewanna

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Just one California experience with sleeping in my then VW bus...

I was coordinator for Bill Clinton in Santa Barbara in 1992... Made lots of friends attending UCSB.

Maybe a year later I am visiting the area. Parked in Isla Vista I get a knock on the door.. A Sheriff threatens me with jail if I stay there and I should go over to Buellton and sleep in the rest area.

I was only vacationing for few weeks and the harassment never ceased... Twice a County helicopter above me.... Quietly above the water one cop snuck up on me and threatened to shoot my dog, that was ignoring him lol.. Honestly I never understood the problem but I have not been back. Paranoid, too much crime, I don't know but...

Just my opinion but California however much fun it is, is a police state and I cannot imagine living on streets there...

I wish you luck.. And to add... I went to CU Boulder and my time in the dorm was a fun experience. It's how you make friends you will have through college.
I would think twice before eschewing that experience... 😉
 

NomadCat

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I live in my van in California, and it’s doable. Current law says you are allowed to sleep in a vehicle (on the street, not private property like parking lots) if there aren’t enough homeless shelters available; these days that’s always true. RV parks are way too expensive, and most won’t accept vans anyway. One idea I’ve considered, but not actually tried, is finding someone to rent me nighttime only parking in their driveway or small lot, for a reasonable fee (maybe $150 per month or so). No access to house etc included. During the day you’ll park near campus. Showers at the college gyms. I was going to just scout out potentially good parking places (homes with relatively flat parking areas off the street, in areas where people might really want that $150 per month), and leave them a nicely written note introducing myself and describing what I was looking for etc), and see if anyone would call/text me back…
 

LargeMarge

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re -- rent-a-driveway overnight
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1990.
My pal Naomi purchased a home in Sacramento, California, next to a downtown bureaucracy specifically so she could rent her driveway and front-yard 7am-5pm weekdays.
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The four bureaucrats parking on her place during the day just about paid her mortgage payments.
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I think some homeowners would jump at the chance for off-the-books cash coming in.
I think if I was the overnight parker, I might establish more than one spot, and rotate between them... keeping the lines of communication open to maximize the sense of community.
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I think I might seek an elderly shut-in, and present my presence as a helpful security measure.
Communication and community.
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I (myself personally) think I might avoid renting a spot in a car lot or a warehouse area.
I notice my patience with nincompoops has increasingly-diminishing limits...
 
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