In early Spring of 2015 I was a self employed real estate photographer, a part time bouncer and my 'real' job was one I had just taken as a service manager at a commercial vehicle repair shop. I was up to my eyeballs in debt and I was making good money to cover that debt. The new service manager job wasn't going too well but I had to tough it out. I had to make rent and my truck payment and all the rest of the bills.
I felt like I was just existing, trapped in that terrible circle I'd always heard about but never thought I'd find myself inside of. Saving money was impossible. Any extra money I had went to booze and retail therapy that would give me a temporary escape from reality. I knew something had to give soon. I could feel it growing inside of me like a tumor. Then I did it. I quit my new job, picked up extra hours at the bar and started focusing on photography. I knew everything would somehow be okay. It was the first in a series of leaps-of-faith that would start governing my life for the foreseeable future.
Bills had to be cut - and fast. But how? I'd already ditched cable and my huge cell phone plan. But I needed big changes, not small ones. I thought about selling my truck or getting a smaller apartment. Seemed like those things could be enough to make a difference. Then I ran across a video of Travis Burke, an adventure photographer that lived and worked out of his van. Now we're talking! The thought of ditching rent AND my truck payment was crazy - but what if? I started researching and found an entire world of people that live in vans, school buses, converted trucks, you name it. Turns out, it was not only possible but it seemed like something I could pull off. A van would be small enough for a daily driver, so I could sell my truck, but still big enough to live in . So I set out van shopping.
I was looking for a cargo van. They're everywhere, pretty inconspicuous and are usually dirt cheap. I wasn't having much luck. Every one I looked at was beat up or had bad mechanical problems. My budget of $2500 probably didn't help either. I went to a house out in You-got-a-pretty-mouth, Tennessee to look at a "reliable and trustworthy conversion van." I looked it over, test drove it and questioned the seller like there was no tomorrow. This may end up being the most important purchase of my adult life, so I was putting my automotive knowledge to work. It checked out. It ran great. Despite a conversion van being at the bottom of my list, I took another leap of faith and bought it for a whopping $1500.
I spent the next several months building the inside of the van to suit my needs. During that time, I sold my truck, gave away or stored all of my possessions and on January 31st 2016, I turned my keys into my landlord and instantly became a full time vanlifer. I haven't looked back since.