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This Couple Is Taking A Year Off To Live The Van Life

Jessica Malone and her fiance are taking their minimalist adventure on the open road.

Life & Travel

How would you like to travel the world rent-free, side by side with your bae, while freely exploring life on your own terms? More than likely, I'm sure you screamed, "Hell yes, pick me!"; but what if that option consisted of living in a van?

Yes sis, a van.

While the #vanlife idea may sound crazy to some, it's a thing. People all over the world are opting into the minimalist, free-living, on the go lifestyle that van lifers have, and have found unique ways to make their van life one of their most memorable experiences ever.

Recently, I caught up with Jessica Malone, a former classmate from my HBCU, and she shared how she and her fiance are getting ready to become members of the #vanlife squad. Jessica and her bae have recently purchased their van and will be getting on the road soon for 12 months to live their best (van) lives.

Here's how Jessica became inspired to become a vanlifer and how she plans on executing it.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Malone

What Sparked Her Desire For Van Life Living:

"For a very long time while working in corporate in sales and now as a corporate trainer, I had dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. However, I hadn't made the leap because I didn't really know what that would look like. During that time, I developed my brand Nacho Average Fro which focuses on helping people live their best life by simplifying their time, money, and also their attention so that they can gain clarity, find their purpose, and then build a life around their purpose and what they love.

"After having my brand for a while and saving up money from living with my dad, I felt more prepared to plan to make the leap into entrepreneurship. I was financially prepared, I had something that I was interested in and was passionate about working on, and I knew what direction I was headed in. However, even though I had saved up a lot of money, the reality was that my new brand wasn't producing enough revenue for me to put food on the table, or to put a roof over my head. That's when I started wondering what would life as an entrepreneur look like. Where would I live, how would I sustain myself?

"Around the same time, my fiance was also thinking about leaving his corporate job and focusing on some of his passions, so we were having conversations together about what that would look like together as a couple. Simultaneously, I started a podcast that I no longer do with someone I met on Instagram and she started doing this van build-out thing, and it was very interesting to me. From there, I started following #VanLife on Instagram and started watching this TV show on Netflix about minimal living. All of that is really what got my mind going, and is what increased my interest in being a van-lifer.

"One day, this past summer, I called my fiance and I said, 'I think we should get an RV.' To my surprise, he was on board, which completely blew me away."

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Malone

How She Found Her Van:

"Now that my fiance was on board, we started looking for RVs, went to different trade shows, and did a ton of research. At a trade show, we ended up finding an RV that we loved, applied for it, but didn't get it. We found out that we didn't get it because we didn't have enough credit history, and we didn't realize that buying something like an RV is just like buying a house. You have to have a credit history.

"That experience and rejection really bummed me out and it had me thinking that maybe this new life idea was terrible. But then, I kept on seeing more van-life posts on social media, and thought to myself that maybe having a van instead of an RV was the way to go. With a van, I knew that we could pay for it with cash, [it] would eliminate having to pay rent, and [we] would avoid getting denied because of not having enough credit history.

"We ended up buying the van just after Thanksgiving from Facebook Marketplace, which was a totally new experience for me. I had no idea that people bought cars on Facebook. I joined this Facebook group and saw this guy from Utah post that he was selling his van for around $13K. He and his girlfriend had actually recently gone through his own van-life journey and decided they didn't enjoy it so they were selling their van. The van had solar panels and a fan in it, they were giving away a heater, the transmission had just been fixed, and it was just outside of the 10-year mark that we had set aside in regards to how old we wanted our van. The van is a 2008 Dodge Sprinter van, and we ended up getting it cheaper for around $11,300 for it since we were able to meet the guy to pick it up.

"For us, this is an opportunity to build our business, focus on our passions, travel, and spend time with each other, our friends, and family."

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Malone

What The Van Looks Like:

"To give you an idea of our van, it's like the Amazon delivery van, so basically it's like a cargo van. It's two seats in the front, and then it's completely empty in the back. I think our van is like 144 inches long so it's definitely a lot smaller than anything that we've ever lived in.

"As far as planning out the design of our van, we decided we wanted to make it kind of like a tiny home. We decided that we'll have a bedroom space, kitchen space with a counter top, and then work our way up from there and add more as we can. I've seen people add an oven in their van, and that's also something I want to eventually have. We will for sure have some kind of stove, whether that's built into the van or portable. Next, we will have a bed that we can bring down at night, and then up when we're not sleeping so we can use that space to put a table out for work.

"We will not have a shower or a toilet, and I know it sounds crazy, but I don't think it'll be an issue. Based on my research, I found that a lot of vanlifers don't have a toilet or shower, and added going to the gym a part of their daily routine so that they can use the shower there. Ultimately, I've told myself that at the end of this journey, no matter what happens, I'm sure I'll be very fit."

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Malone

How They WIll Sustain Themselves:

"Money is a major thing that we've been thinking about, but we have a plan. For me, I'll be focusing on making money from digital products, and my fiance is working on his own things. Ultimately, we decided that our goal is to live on $2,000 a month. Based on what we've seen from other RVers and vanlifers, that seems reasonable."

Jessica and her fiance will start on the interior design of their van in early 2020, and plan on hitting the road soon after. To keep up with Jessica and her #vanlife journey, follow her on IG @NachoAverageFro.

Featured image courtesy of Jessica Malone

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