Richie and His Van

If you have an obsession then maybe you can relate. You read as much as you can about it, stare at pictures on the internet, get excited when you learn something new…etc. And occasionally you find the object of your obsession out in the real world. For us, it’s old vans.

Florida Van Life 2

We met Richie and his van this morning in Key West! We spotted him earlier on the run and then again near Smathers Beach. Couldn’t help but stop and chat. Turns out he made the top himself out of foam and has been living in a van for FORTY FIVE YEARS. Talk about inspiration!

He said one day he went out for coffee and veered hard left and bought a van and has been in it ever since. The inside of his rig was sooooo cool. He let us poke our heads in there and we even got a glimpse of his YETI Tundra 35 Cooler (one of the items on our list of Essential Van Life Items.)

Florida Van Life 1

He says he gets about 4 or 5 people a day that want to stop and talk about his rig. What do you think about it? Could you see yourself living in a van for 45 years?! Please leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you!


Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

12 thoughts on “Richie and His Van

  1. People would be surprised just how many life long nomads there are out here. Very few have computers, internet, or even cell phones, but the numbers are likely in the thousands, maybe even the tens or hundreds of thousands. We are the invisible, and the uncounted. I am one of the few who has kept up with technology, but for many, a CB radio is about as advanced as it gets.

    Many people are interested in our vans and our adventures. By not trying to hide, and not acting like criminals, we meet the most marvelous people, and many offer us places to park and much more. I’ve done good deeds for some of my neighbors, and I’m welcome to stay as long as I like. I’m sure some people think I’m homeless, but I work every day, and I’m neat, clean, and honest. They accept me as a good neighbor, because I act like a good neighbor, and this happens in towns all over the country.

    We don’t have to be outcasts, or hide, or be sneaky, we just need to be good people and good neighbors. Fully self contained rigs that don’t look like creeper vans, also help a lot. In my experience, most people don’t object to campers unless you give them a reason to.

    1. Thank you so much for writing in and sharing your experience. I love that you don’t try to hide – hope we get to meet up on the road someday. Couldn’t agree more with what you’re saying about acting like a good neighbor and meeting awesome people. Thanks again!

  2. Yes, I am a van lifer as well. My entire working career has been in a job that involves traveling the country, so living on wheels allows me to take my home with me, which is so much better than motels. I am now nearing retirement age, although I’m not sure I’ll ever retire, because I love what I’m doing.

    It’s hard to beat getting paid to travel, and having plenty of time to explore at the same time. The pay’s good, the benefit’s are good, and my expense account alone pays for more than just my day to day living, because I get paid for motels, meals, gas, mileage, and maintenance.

    Since my van is fully self contained, I can park on city streets for free, and all that expense money goes straight to me. Between towns, I can camp wherever I choose. My schedule is basically my own, so it just doesn’t get much better. Somebody once said “If you work a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”, and I _LOVE_ my job!

  3. People like Richie, yourselves & your readers who comment inspire us.

    We are headed towards full time van living, but we also agreed that if the day came that we decided we didn’t want to “live” in a van that it would still be awesome for weekend trips and any out of town concert we wish to go to. We spent 3 days going to 3 concerts in 2 cities last summer, and having a free place to sleep made it incredibly affordable. We figure we saved $225 – $375.

    1. Thanks for reaching out! Richie inspires us as well. He was an incredible guy and his rig was just amazing. Though we love what we’re in we really lust after vintage VW’s. Definitely agree with you about weekend trips – heck any time spent adventuring is time well spent. Sounds like last summer and hitting up a bunch of concerts was perfect. Any plans for winter travel?

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