HARTSEL (Colorado) — After their landlord informed Dave and Angel Caudle in Littleton that their rent was increasing, they decided to leave and join the “van life.”
Angel Caudle stated, “We had watched YouTube videos and decided that we liked one another enough to live in a van together.”
According to the Caudles, hourly workers are finding it difficult to live in Denver Metro Area. They felt priced out.
“I have always been a server and a bartender. Angel Caudle stated that her husband worked in irrigation companies and sprinklers.
Dave Caudle stated that as Colorado rents rose, it became clear that our ability to save money for down payments and whatever it would take to get a mortgage was decreasing.
The number of Van Lifers has been increasing across the country. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 140,000 homes are listed as boats, recreational vehicles, or vans in 2019. The same number was 101,000 in 2016. According to social media, even more people started living in vans during the pandemic.
“Pay your rent. Get to work. Rinse and Repeat. Dave Caudle stated that many of his family members do the same thing back East. “We came to Colorado to be pioneers and to do something new.”
Three years were spent by the Caudles living in various vans and trailers. The Caudles set up a bed and a stove on the portable stove. All their personal belongings were carried. The key to looking like a van is to avoid the neighborhood. Dave Caudle stated that they spent most of the day at work and would go to parks with bathrooms.
Dave Caudle stated, “You just need to find somewhere to stay overnight. That’s the easy part.”
Angel Caudle stated that security is always a factor.
She said, “We were afraid a lot of times, but when we feel unsafe, we go.”
They were there for security reasons. They were there for weather reasons.
Dave Caudle stated, “The winters in Denver are frightening to try to live inside a van.” “Traumatizing. It’s best to travel to Phoenix in the winter if you have wheels.
David and Lexi Guajardo have been living in a van that they built. Guajardo stated that the van has a California-king-size bed, a small kitchen, storage, and an outdoor shower.
Guajardo stated, “We don’t have to rent, which was really nice.” It saves you a lot of money. It’s a way to earn money and be able to spend it on what you want, rather than on housing.
Melanie Oesch shares an SUV with her boyfriend. Oesch and Guajardo are friends from Ohio. They live the van life apart, but they have met up in Colorado.
It’s not difficult to find places. Oesch stated that there are many places to be found for free, such as campsites or (Bureau of Land Management), land. It’s easy to find somewhere if you live away from cities.
Sometimes, however, trouble can find you.
Oesch stated, “Yeah. A deer just kinda came out of nowhere and smacked against the car.” “We were very lucky because nobody was hurt.”
The van life has risen in popularity so much that the movie Nomadland depicts it. It won the Oscar Award earlier this year for Best Picture.
“We went to college together. Guajardo stated that we all graduated college within the past couple of years. “I didn’t want the pressure of going straight into work and working 9-to-5 for my entire life.
Nomadland shares the story of people who are just trying to survive and find work.
Dave Caudel stated, “It takes away a lot of stigmas and I really appreciate them being able to do so because I tell anyone who is curious about my wife and me how we have been living the past few years, that they can watch that movie.” We’ve been to many of the places in that movie. We have done sugar beets. It was hard work, but we drove to Montana and the Dakotas to work the sugarbeet harvest.
The Caudles, however, are creating their own ending in the mountains close to Hartsel.
Dave Caudle stated, “This is the first year that I feel like we aren’t homeless.” “Van life is very similar to homelessness, and it’s a slippery slope so many people end up homeless before they own a property or build a home.
They were able to save $2,000 every month over three years thanks to van life, which allowed them to buy land in an area where it was affordable and their neighbors were few and far between.
Angel Caudle stated that they gave up their dream of purchasing a home down the hill. It seemed too big and crowded. We feel at peace up here and can build this. We will accomplish everything.”
They are visiting their friends and family as they build a permanent home on the land. According to the Caudles, free-range horses that live on the land visit their property daily. They never imagined this possibility after years of living in a van.
Angel Caudle stated, “This is the best therapy ever.” It can’t get any better than this.