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Van Life: Trending Homelessness

One after the other, there’s a video of somebody buying a car, fixing it up, and turning it into their new home. “Van life” has become a trend and it's been glorified into a lifestyle full of adventures, minimalism, and having a home on the go. This new trend is damaging to the unhoused community and coming from a place of privilege.

With social media platforms full of influencers, the current generation is subject to constantly viewing new videos, including “Van Life” bloggers. These bloggers often document how they create their home in a vehicle and glorify their constant ability to travel. While the lifestyle may be fitting for those who can afford it, “Van Life” bloggers frame living in a vehicle as freeing and luxurious. With social media being at the tips of our fingers and TikTok becoming a major platform to post videos, this lifestyle has become more and more of a trend. In many of these posts, the influencers talk about their decision-making process; how it allowed them to live minimalist, with no rent. What they don’t tend to document is that decisions come with immense privilege, because while they are choosing to live out of a vehicle many members of the homeless community have no other option.  

The “Van Life” bloggers have the means to completely redo their cars in order to make them more habitable, and able to meet the majority of their needs. Many also tend to have remote jobs that give them a source of income, or their parents fund their life. There is no criticism towards following your dreams and doing what makes you happy. However, with the current housing problem, and the increasing numbers of homelessness, living out of a vehicle should not be glorified or a trend. People that don’t have the choice, but are forced to sleep in the cars, likely don’t have cars equipped for basic needs, and this trend is their reality. 

Recently, some “Van Life” vloggers (people who regularly post videos online) began documenting the realities of Van-Life that other creators ignore. For example, the surge in gas prices made “Van Life” a lot more expensive, and there are struggles to find safe places to park.  Vloggers that show their struggles show that the lifestyle isn’t picture perfect.

By definition, living in a vehicle is considered homelessness, and homelessness is not and should never be looked at as a trend. 

Sources:

https://www.insider.com/tiktoker-warns-against-van-life-nomad-after-becoming-homeless-2022-7

https://axleaddict.com/rvs/Homeless-RV-Living

https://invisiblepeople.tv/van-life-is-not-an-adventure-when-youre-homeless/

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