Hashtag Vanlife

Vanlife, Montana, Sprinter Van

Hashtag Vanlife

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Joe King

Redefining “down by the river.” 

If millennials have shown the world anything, it’s that people in their 20s really do have it all figured out.

One example of this unprecedented generational wisdom is the phenomenon of #vanlife.

Eschewing the day-to-day comfort, financial leverage, psychological stability, and social pride of living in a regular old house shows just how woke this generation really is. I mean, it makes WAY more sense to spend the equivalent of a house down-payment on a van, right? Because these are not just vans. They’re symbols, man. Of freedom; of dedication to the outdoors; of being totally unlike your dad. 

Bedecked with sustainably harvested bamboo paneling, hand-painted mosaic tiles, adorable solar string lights, and built-in GoPro mounts with seven interior angles, these mobile homes are not just tiny domiciles—they’re photo props. And props are tax deductible. See how smart that is? Never mind that you don’t have a mattress, closet, bathroom, or refrigerator.

Of course, #vanlife’s not all studio-lit, free-spirited yoga-pant aficionados sipping yerba matte under Pendleton blankets. It’s definitely not all sunset paddleboard sessions around a tailgate bonfire. And it certainly isn’t all about cute young men and women in tank-tops cuddling with their obviously hilarious Australian shepherds. Those are all huge parts of van living, for sure—the majority of #vanlife, probably. But there are also significant challenges to overcome. Like when there isn’t any cell service. Without the constant affirmation of Instagram and YouTube comments, #vanlife can feel like run-of-the-mill homelessness.

But it’s worth it. In #vanlife, even mundane, everyday events become adventures. Have to pee in the middle of the night? You’ll be waking up with a 32-ounce bottle of cold piss on your leg—just like a winter mountaineer. That morning bowel movement? It takes on all the whimsy of a scavenger hunt—an uncomfortable scavenger hunt with a very, very hard deadline. But just think: your desperate, sweaty, 7am search for a toilet is more of an adventure than most people have all day—how boring would it would be to have a master bathroom mere steps from your human-sized bed?

Plus, the #vanlife community is vibrant and growing—as long as you enjoy the company of unemployed white dudes with greasy man-buns and ornate tattoos, and faux-spiritual Athleta catalog models who only own bikini tops and jean shorts. These are truly unique people, who have abandoned the capitalistic norms of society by only living on the earned-interest of their trust funds—they don’t need the scene, man.

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Most interesting is the rate at which retirement-aged people (that’s #vanlife speak for #old) have flocked to life on four wheels. Or at least short staycations. Conversion companies can’t keep absurdly expensive 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter vans in stock—because now it’s all about being a surf, ski, or climbing “bum” after retiring from being a corporate accountant or hedge-fund manager. Yep, they’re just a bunch of regular Joe dirtbags living in vans—like that guy Fred Beckey. Plus, the van looks so core parked in front of their new SoBo ranch—it’s authentic Bozeman.

There’s nothing stopping you from joining the party. This is a great place to live the #vanlife—except for the cold and snow, lack of public amenities, rabid private property rights, wild animals, and deep distrust of Bozeman hipsters throughout the rest of Montana. But those are all just adventures waiting to happen; explorations of inner strength; opportunities to overcome. Or, as the millennials are apt to say: whatever. Oh, and be sure to like, share, and follow—or what’s the point of all this outdoors stuff? #onlyinbozeman

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