A search for #VanLife on Instagram yields nearly three million results. Most are high-def photos of vans on open roads or perched atop mountains with waterfalls cascading in the background. Sometimes, there's a backpack-toting person doing tree pose in the foreground. #VanLife is a lifestyle goal best described as a nomadic, free-spirited existence diametrically opposed to the workaholic brunch-centric urban fantasy.
This story, however, is not really about #VanLife the hashtag.
M.* is an engineer making $122,000 per year in the tech industry in Mountain View, CA. Their Money Diary (M. is agender, and uses gender neutral pronouns) was one of our most popular in recent months, providing a unique lens into the Silicon Valley tech lifestyle and tech workers who live in their vans. M. talked about their involvement in the ace community, sponsorship of a hen at an animal sanctuary, daily Duolingo sessions, love of vegan baked goods, and on-campus aerial silks class. But the aspect of their life that garnered the most attention from our readers was, by far, their decision to live out of their car.
Ahead, an interview with M. about the many factors (financial, cultural, and professional) that contributed to this decision, and how it has impacted their life.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the diarist.
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