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Living On The Go Or Off The Grid

By Wendy Helfenbaum Rise Writer
Jul 27, 2021

The recent film Nomadland – which chronicled one woman's journey across the US while living in a van – highlighted the current trend of people leaving a fixed address and most of their possessions behind. People do this for various reasons, including skyrocketing house prices, job loss, or the desire to work while traveling and pursue a simpler, more sustainable life with more family time. 

The options for nomadic living are endless: Some people want to live off the grid in a tiny home. Others insist on having a portable structure, like a skoolie, that will allow them to pack up and head elsewhere at any time.

Sharee Collier Live Camp Work
Sharee Collier and Her Children. Photo Credit: Live Camp Work

One Family's RV Adventure Continues Eight Years Later

When Sharee Collier and her family decided to try RVing in 2013, they weren't sure how long they would say on the road. But, they wanted to explore the USA together and decided to work seasonal jobs along the way to help fund their travels. Today, Collier heads up a community called LiveCampWork, which advises people looking for the perfect balance between short-term, long-term, and full-time RV living.

"The advantages of nomad living include the freedom to travel at will: You're not tied to one specific location unless you want to be," says Collier. 

"This is usually the main attraction for many RVers and nomads because you're able to explore new places and things to do as often as you like. You can also follow the best weather; many RVers travel to northern locations during the summer and then head south during the winter."

Lack of space can be a challenging transition for people leaving a traditional house behind, she adds. 

"RVers know you have to use the outdoor space as well; I like to say that our home shrunk, but our backyard grew tremendously! One lesson we've learned from this whole adventure is that home is where you park it. So take a chance on a new adventure and see what happens."

Harvest Hosts Coverage Map
Harvest Hosts Coverage Map. Image Credit: Harvest Hosts

RV'ing At Unique Locations Across North America

Designed for nomads looking for memorable experiences, Harvest Hosts offers its member RVers a choice of more than 2,400 wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and attractions that welcome campers. Harvest Hosts, run by Joel and Mary Ashley Holland, is based in Vail, Colorado. The program is designed for people who want to hit the open road and enjoy spending the night at interesting sites, including everything from distilleries to golf courses to alpaca farms. 

Photo Credit: Kibbo

Another co-living community, Kibbo, supplies its members with a Sprinter Van, a West Coast network of home base clubhouses at beaches, deserts, and forests, plus Wi-Fi and groceries. Founder Colin O'Donnell recently described the concept as ideal for today's digital nomads eager to travel, work and live in gorgeous natural locations.

Pearl Van Boho
Pearl Van. Photo Credit: Boho

Some companies offer a taste of nomadic living: In Phoenix, Arizona, Boho has a fleet of campervans available to rent from coast to coast.

Saffiyah Quirky Campers
Saffiyah Van. Photo Credit: Quirky Campers

And UK-based Quirky Campers rents exactly that – unusual, stylish homes on wheels like this one

Life Aboard MLaiken
Life Aboard in the Bahamas. Photo Credit: M Laiken

Water Lovers Can Enjoy the Liveaboard Lifestyle

Think about the tiny house trend and add in the joy of floating in the water. The liveaboard movement is gaining steam across North America and around the world, as thousands of adventurers choose to make a sailboat, yacht, or converted cargo ship their home. Whether you decide to purchase a new vessel or rehab an old one, there are plenty of online communities and resources available. Both LiveaboardHQ and Sailing Totem offer advice and encouragement for water-based nomadic living.

The Looper
Photo Credit: The Looper

Nomadic Architecture Focuses On Community

Tapping into the nomad and tiny house trends, architects and designers have come up with innovative living spaces worldwide. Here are some unconventional or movable designs and opportunities for living on the go.

Some design companies have come up with pre-fabricated or custom-built projects ideal for nomadic living. For example, Nomadic Resorts' The Looper is a pod constructed from lightweight fabric over a curved, modular steel frame. It's insulated with recycled plastic water bottles and features sustainable bamboo flooring and tons of natural light. These eco-suites can be installed anywhere you choose to live – the woods, the beach, or the jungle.

Nomad Microhomes Cube

The compact NOMAD Cube features a 3D-printed lightweight steel frame with living space that includes a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom. It's perfect for off-the-grid living because you can set it up anywhere. And measuring just 10-x-10 feet, the NOMAD Micro has no foundation, so it can sit on concrete blocks wherever you decide to place it. 

Resourceful DIYers have converted all sorts of things into homes-on-the-go, including a horse trailer that became a wagon-style tiny house, a cargo trailer that was transformed into a portable house on wheels, and an old train caboose that was retrofitted into cozy living quarters.

The Willow House Airbnb
The Willow House. Photo Credit: Airbnb

Try Before You Buy: Rent A Nomad Living Experience

If you're not sure you want to commit to nomadic life, there are lots of interesting rental properties that could give you an idea of what it would be like to downsize and spend time in a unique or portable home. 

Designed by Antony Gibbon and built by William Johnson, The Willow House is a cozy treehouse on a wooded property in New York State that overlooks a small swimming pond. There's a sleeping loft and a Swedish hot tub that's heated with firewood.

Off Grid Yurt Airbnb
Off Grid Yurt. Photo Credit: Airbnb

You can try glamping in an upscale off-the-grid yurt in Humpy Cove, Alaska. It features a waterfront location and gorgeous views of the mountains, plus the chance to see marine wildlife in the area. The yurts have propane wood stoves and private bathrooms.

Are you looking to experience a short-term liveaboard experience before buying your own boat? Many companies, including Houseboating.org and BookAHouseboat.com, rent houseboats, sailboats, and other types of vessels across North America. In Arizona, you can stay on a luxurious houseboat yacht, plus it sleeps eight. And in Sanford, Florida, you can rent Why Knot, a two-bedroom, 60-foot-long floating condo.

Van Life

No matter how you envision a nomadic lifestyle, there's a home for everyone up for the adventure of a lifetime. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-27T16:49:11+0000
Wendy Helfenbaum

Article by:

Wendy Helfenbaum

Wendy Helfenbaum is a Montreal-based journalist and TV producer whose work has appeared in many outlets including Apartment Therapy, Metropolis, Architectural Digest’s AD Pro, AARP, Costco Connection, Country Gardens, Realtor.com, Style at Home, Canadian Living and many more. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum