You've successfully subscribed to Geoffrey Huntley
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Geoffrey Huntley
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.
how long

how long

Geoffrey Huntley
Geoffrey Huntley

People routinely ask me how long do you see yourself living in a van for so let's unpack that question shall we? If you have read the my background story of the path that lead to #vanlife then this post will make more sense.

This is Claire, she is 64 years old and lives full-time in her campervan by herself. There are many people like Claire full-time traveling around Australia until they die of old age or the Australian government takes their drivers license due to concerns about driving skills or eye sight. Here in Australia we call them grey nomads.

Claire's vechicle is my northstar and many ideas in the final van kitout will be borrowed from her.
A grey nomad is someone who is 55 or older and is taking a long term camping trip around Australia. Although they may travel in lots of different kinds of rigs such as motor homes, caravans, camper trailers and tents, grey nomads can be characterised by their sense of adventure, humour and their camaraderie. Typically they start travel right after selling off the family home once their children move out.

I don't want to be a full-time grey nomad like Claire or be like the hippies that provided free love when I needed it the most because if something happens to your vehicle then you instantly become homeless. I've been there and am not going back.

Living with a background fear and anxiety is no-way to live, especially as you get older. People in Australia drive like maniacs and are happy to write off their cars on the off-chance their insurance provider will pay them out in full so that they can upgrade to the latest model.

Anyway for the last couple months I've had the priviledge to stay at a bunch of freecamps. Australia is littered with wonderful places like these that cost absolutely nothing to work from and the amount of time you can stay varies from 7 days, 14 days to unlimited duration.

The absolute best place I've stayed at recently by far has been Narrabeen in Sydney, Australia at a van park. For $366 a week (including power and water) this has been my office for the last week.  The old crackshack out near Blacktown that was making me so unhappy costs $84 a week (excluding power and water) more than here.

Every morning this week I've woken up and gone for a 7am paddle, 1pm paddle and 5pm paddle. This is a new routine and I'm in love. Paddling brings places you wouldn't have seen otherwise and in your own quiet way...

For comparisons sake this 1 bedroom, 1 toilet, 1 carspace place just down the road from here is for sale for $690,000 and currently rents at $480/week excluding power and water. That's $120 a week more expensive than the van park and the property isn't on the beach.

$690,000 for that tiny apartment!

Assuming you had a $100,000 house deposit (nice work!) after entering into a 30 year home loan at 2.09% your total repayments would be $912,382. Additionally the New South Wales government will happily send you a bill for $26,385 in stamp duty taxes.

$912,382 is too much capital to be tied up in a single asset class. If the housing market goes south then you are screwed as unlike America you cannot walk away from your mortgage if the investment goes south.

The cost of housing in Sydney, Australia is bonkers and is detached from reality. The question of a housing bubble has been around for the best part of a decade now. Looking at the facts of what is going on in the housing market it is quite clear that we are in bubble territory. As said by former CBA CEO David Murrey, we are in dangerous territory and all the classic signs of a housing bubble are there.

There are so many better (and wiser) options

then buying an overpriced property in Sydney, Australia.

What if you instead took that $100,000 house deposit and purchased a property outright, in cash with a barn on it?

For $98,000 (including council approvals) you can get 1.3 acres of land with a 108sqm ColorBond American barn with no neighbours for miles and hanks to Amazon / Australia Post you can now get the convenience of city life delivered to your doorstep.

If you ever became ill, permanently disabled, unable to work, there's a pandemic or there's an econdomic downturn due to the housing affordability crisis then you are protected. A barn is a fantastic homebase and safety net.

With $812,382 in savings due to not buying a house in Sydney you can easily splurge on some toys such as covering the roof of your barn with oodles of solar panels

or purchase those moving heads you always wanted.

These aren’t too expensive about $400 a piece thus about $20,000 all up for this setup.

or install a wall-of-sound and attempt to summon Owsley Stanley from his grave.

or build the Microsoft CH9 studio at home aka build out the ultimate home office/virtual studio setup

and setup an educational retreat for anyone who wants to get dramatically better at programming. A place where fellow creatives can visit for free and do self-directed or projected based work in the open-source community.

About - Recurse Center
The Recurse Center is a self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for programmers in New York City.

Like the Resurse Center but in Australia, not New York. A place for people of all ages and experience levels. An environment where you can thrive, push yourself, and do great work.

start small and ratchet towards the future instead of putting all your eggs in a single basket

or none options of the above as who knows what the future holds and or what opportunities will present themselves.

smart decisions earlier in life enables access to [potentially] life change opportunities

Accquiring a cheap safety net as-soon-as-possible is high up there on my priorities as it de-risks life and pairs well with the #vanlife lifestyle which enables you the freedom to explore business opportunities (and risks) that most would rule out because they are too busy giving $812,382 to one of the big four banks in Australia whilst praying the goverment doesn't get rid of negative gearing.

Anyway thanks for reading. This post is the second in the series. I'm blogging more and tweeting less so if you want to learn about sweet places to visit in Australia, working remotely from a van or how I get internet whilst camping out in a remote forest, like, subscribe (free) and enter your email address to be notified when future blog posts ship.