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Stealth camping in the city


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Trying to decide what can work for me.  I work full time and don't like campgrounds for a number of reasons  - don't fit my lifestyle, too far, too expensive. I need to be close to work and there are none here. I am an IT contractor and potentially move every  6+ months. 

My 2 requirements are something that has a truck front like F350/F450, not an E-series van-based vehicle.

My second requirement is headroom, ideally 7'.

Many  ambulances  / emergency response vehicles would be a great start for a conversion. It's not exactly what I want but this video inspired me.  I want something a bit larger, maybe 22-25' and being 6'3", the 72" overhead doesn't work for me either. But this is the spirit of what I am looking for. Although the owner modded it beyond any stealth mode.

A 16-20 person shuttle bus is probably a better starting point given it has more overhead room., about 7'. A sprinter van with a high-top is not as viable, while it  can accommodate 6'3" (barely) but it only comes with the van front I don't want. A truck front is always easier to repair than a van IME.

 

The whole idea is to park it at work or some business park parking lot without attracting too much attention with a vehicle that screams "Someone lives here". Anything that looks like some kind of service vehicle, delivery vehicle or such.  I would be gone from it during  business hours and don't want a break-in. Full-timers, myself included, keep expensive things in their units and a unit that looks like a full time vehicle is a target. 

 

 

This looks very appealing, I wonder if it can be made inconspicuous. Maybe repaint it in a non-RV color, with some business names on it? Probably not.  

 

http://www.trucktrend.com/features/1702-2004-ford-f-450-xplorer-xcursion-is-a-cummins-powered-room-with-view

 

 

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41 minutes ago, etcetera said:

I work full time and don't like campgrounds for a number of reasons  - don't fit my lifestyle, too far, too expensive. I need to be close to work and there are none here. I am an IT contractor and potentially move every  6+ months. 

Living on the streets and parking lots doesn't seem like a very appealing lifestyle to me. I suppose you could save some money as long as you aren't caught in some sort of violation, but for 6 month stays you will surely have to move around a lot. To me there is far more to life than the accruing of money. With all 3 of my sons in various aspects of software development, it seems to me that money should not be a major problem for one in IT work? 

Do you plan to always work where the weather is warm, but not hot so that you won't need a lot of heat or air conditioning? Do you plan to work remotely, or move every few months to go to the jobsite? The question is more than just if you can do it, but can you do this comfortably and enjoy the lifestyle? If it were me living on the streets the answer would be no. 

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Posted (edited)

I would not be living on the streets all day, since I am tied up in the office until 6PM, have various activities like the gym, etc. until probably 8PM and would only use the camper to sleep in, essentially. Walmart parking lots are depressing, I try to avoid them, but then even then there are many other choices.

Campgrounds are a complete nightmare, IME, not much better than a parking lot.  Maybe worse. Too far, too expensive, too much riff-raff, etc. I didn't enjoy them. I would stay at a  business park  5 days a week and on the weekends I visit a relative where I can recharge.  

The ideal spot for your RV is your own land. I might just do that some day.

Plus now in IT there is a lot of remote opportunities which means the location becomes a moot point, I could go somewhere in the mountains for example, as long as I had decent download speed. then I could work remotely.

The possibilities are boundless. That's the whole point.

 

Need to wait until my credit is decent enough so I can secure  a loan, right now it's at 700.. sigh. Not sure if good enough or what. How much I can get will drive the choice of what I can buy. 40K will be nice and I think allow me to do what I want to do. But if only 10K, I will have to delay the purchase and save up the coin.

 

Edited by etcetera
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28 minutes ago, agesilaus said:

The stress level would be too high for me. We prefer boondocking intermixed with socializing in campgrounds. And we avoid cities as much as possible.

I have no choice in the matter, as my choice of living is driven by my employment.  I do not get really to pick where I live.

All IT work is in large metro areas. DC, Chicago, Denver, and the west coast. Nothing in podunk wasteland in New Mexico. Where camp sites are a dime a dozen.

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9 minutes ago, etcetera said:

Plus now in IT there is a lot of remote opportunities which means the location becomes a moot point, I could go somewhere in the mountains for example, as long as I had decent download speed. then I could work remotely......The possibilities are boundless. That's the whole point.

 

4 minutes ago, etcetera said:

All IT work is in large metro areas. DC, Chicago, Denver, and the west coast. Nothing in podunk wasteland in New Mexico. Where camp sites are a dime a dozen.

Your plans are interesting.  Do keep us posted on your progress. 

 

Edited by Kirk W
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18 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

 

Your plans are interesting.  Do keep us posted on your progress. 

 

 

I have not finalized my decision yet but something along these lines. The convenience of buying a turn-key product (mostly) versus building one myself, cheaper initially but maybe not the best value full time.

 

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Since you primarily want a bedroom You could do one of those no-build minivan conversions and truly be stealthy. The two you linked to both look way too visible for me to consider them for stealth camping. You might want to Google Bob Wells uTube to see some great videos on how to to this cheaply.

Linda

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9 hours ago, etcetera said:

Full-timers, myself included, keep expensive things in their units and a unit that looks like a full time vehicle is a target.

The content of our RV's is probably less expensive than the content of emergency response vehicles.  A new ambulance without contents runs about $120K and up.  Furnishing it is another $180K or more.  Target.

Wayne & Jinx
2017 F-350 diesel, dually
2006 Carriage Carri-Lite 36KSQ

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The complicating factor is the issue of urban outdoorsmen taking up old RVs and living on the streets with them. This has sensitized the urban population and will make flying under the police radar a lot more difficult.

I think just how alert the locals would be depends on location and the density of people doing this. The west coast seems to have the worst problem but they also have lax laws  or at least lax enforcemnt.

As I said stress level would be high. You could not get away with parking in a residential area for days or weeks on end. Maybe in an industrial/commercial area if the vehicle had some sort of logo on it making it appear to be a local business. Some of those magnetic signs maybe. "Carls Computer Service" or some such.

Air conditioning would be a big issue, running one would be a dead give away. Living without one in 90 degree plus city streets in a metal box, would be very difficult. Sanitary issues would also be a problem, you going to live with a Porta-Potty, how would you empty it?

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11 hours ago, etcetera said:

I have no choice in the matter, as my choice of living is driven by my employment.  I do not get really to pick where I live.

All IT work is in large metro areas. DC, Chicago, Denver, and the west coast. Nothing in podunk wasteland in New Mexico. Where camp sites are a dime a dozen.

You say you work in IT, but honestly that is about as vague as a lumberyard worker saying he works in the forestry industry. Painting ones job in such broad strokes doesn't necessarily help us to help you come up with plans or ideas. I promise you that there are plenty of IT jobs in "podunk wastelands" depending on your particular IT skillset. 

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It appears to me you are looking at city RVing with nothing stealth about it. To be stealthy you need to be easily overlooked. That's hard to do in a Class C--especially one painted bright blue.

Linda

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19 hours ago, sandsys said:

Since you primarily want a bedroom You could do one of those no-build minivan conversions and truly be stealthy. The two you linked to both look way too visible for me to consider them for stealth camping. You might want to Google Bob Wells uTube to see some great videos on how to to this cheaply.

Linda

You are right. I am aware of the van conversion idea, the thing that concerns me is the height, I am pretty tall and need at least 6'4" overhead room, and 7' is even better. Most vans are deal breakers for this very reason.

Does a van exist that can accommodate between 6'8" to 7'  height so I don't feel claustrophobic? Even Dodge Sprinter van with the high top is something like 73" IIRC.

Shuttle buses look really neat and appealing. They have about 7' height inside and don't look like a full-timing machine. I think I would prefer a shuttle bus over an emergency vehicle/box truck/van option although these too look pretty discreet.

A B-class, a Sprinter van would also easily blend in, there are lots of these in delivery, used by Amazon among many.

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, agesilaus said:

The complicating factor is the issue of urban outdoorsmen taking up old RVs and living on the streets with them. This has sensitized the urban population and will make flying under the police radar a lot more difficult.

I think just how alert the locals would be depends on location and the density of people doing this. The west coast seems to have the worst problem but they also have lax laws  or at least lax enforcemnt.

As I said stress level would be high. You could not get away with parking in a residential area for days or weeks on end. Maybe in an industrial/commercial area if the vehicle had some sort of logo on it making it appear to be a local business. Some of those magnetic signs maybe. "Carls Computer Service" or some such.

Air conditioning would be a big issue, running one would be a dead give away. Living without one in 90 degree plus city streets in a metal box, would be very difficult. Sanitary issues would also be a problem, you going to live with a Porta-Potty, how would you empty it?

 

Why would I park in a residential area?   Where did you get that assumption?

That's the dumbest thing one can do, full-timing.  I am aware of this guy doing on youtube but IMO it is a really dumb idea in light of the fact there are 100 and 1 better options. Residential area is last on my list if absolutely nothing else worked out and I would not depend on it.

With Covid, there are multitudes of empty or semi-empty business parks that seem to have permanently parked B-class, box trucks, delivery, etc. vehicles with nobody giving a damn.   Even when the place has a secure guard. It's a perfect place to blend in.

That's just one option, there are others.  I could even park it at the place I worked at if nothing else materialized.  That's as legitimate as it gets. 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Chalkie said:

You say you work in IT, but honestly that is about as vague as a lumberyard worker saying he works in the forestry industry. Painting ones job in such broad strokes doesn't necessarily help us to help you come up with plans or ideas. I promise you that there are plenty of IT jobs in "podunk wastelands" depending on your particular IT skillset. 

There a lot of jobs in podunk wasteland areas. It's called being remote and it's the thing right now. Historically, IT people wanted you on site even when you *could* do your work 100% remotely. Now it has become the latest-greatest trend.

My concern would be download speeds, throughput. If I can run Microsoft Teams, all these corporate functions like Outlook, etc. It's demanding. If I had a RV I probably would go to some place remote and beautiful and work remotely out of it. Assuming the connection worked, the whole thing hinges on it.

HughesNet is slow and expensive. Various cell-based devices are also pretty problematic, there is no unlimited hotspot, I  have Verizion now and they limit me to 30GB with their Unlimited plan. then throttle to 2G. It's a source of frustration. I think TMobile is better but not by much.

Maybe Starlink will be a game changer. If so, rural Utah, here I come. As there won't be a reason to stay near a major metro area at all.

Otherwise you can still stay in the major metro area but drive out far enough where it's quasy-rural, next to the river or such yet get awesome, viable speeds.

 

 

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Quote

That's the dumbest thing one can do, full-timing.  I am aware of this guy doing on youtube but IMO it is a really dumb idea in light of the fact there are 100 and 1 better options. Residential area is last on my list if absolutely nothing else worked out and I would not depend on it.

LOL I was just speaking generally, I don't know anything about you after all. And didn't the word: Dumb mean speechless or incapable of speaking? And the word: Stupid, which seems to have vanished from the lexicon, mean someone with diminished IQ? Sub 90 range. Or an unwise idea or plan?

As for unlimited hotspots, I've used 67 GB this month on my Visible phone which runs on Verizon. But I doubt it would work for really massive data flow.

As for working remotely, some IT jobs could work that way. Web Designers or maybe coders, but I don't see Network guys swapping out a bad drive remotely. Or running cable.

Edited by agesilaus
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I have an office gig now, hence the need to married to DC metro area.

However I get flooded with remote work. I have worked remotely last year. It had tons of pluses and some cons too. Harder to adjust than in the office. Always get distracted.

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4 hours ago, etcetera said:

Does a van exist that can accommodate between 6'8" to 7'  height so I don't feel claustrophobic? Even Dodge Sprinter van with the high top is something like 73" IIRC.

My Dave is 6' 2.5" tall. In our high top Sprinter van if he walked under the roof A/C his hair moved. I didn't think to look to see what clearance he had in our recent shuttle bus ride.

Linda

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11 hours ago, etcetera said:

There a lot of jobs in podunk wasteland areas. It's called being remote and it's the thing right now. Historically, IT people wanted you on site even when you *could* do your work 100% remotely. Now it has become the latest-greatest trend.

Actually there is a great deal of IT (again depending on skill set) in "podunk wastelands". The use of "podunk wastelands" tells me you have never lived and worked outside a metro area or if you did you must not have liked it much.

My concern would be download speeds, throughput. If I can run Microsoft Teams, all these corporate functions like Outlook, etc. It's demanding. If I had a RV I probably would go to some place remote and beautiful and work remotely out of it. Assuming the connection worked, the whole thing hinges on it.

There are probably far more rural areas that have great bandwidth and screaming speeds than you realize. You just have to do your homework. Look a maps of the internet backbone. A lot of times rural areas traded high speed internet access for the rights to run fiber or cable through them. My sister lives in middle of nowhere Kansas and has internet service that makes me jealous.

HughesNet is slow and expensive. Various cell-based devices are also pretty problematic, there is no unlimited hotspot, I  have Verizion now and they limit me to 30GB with their Unlimited plan. then throttle to 2G. It's a source of frustration. I think TMobile is better but not by much.

Hughes Net has improved its speed considerably over the years but the real issue with it is that if you need a VPN connection the latency is such that if just doesn't work. Cell service is not a solution if you need speed and bandwidth because that all changes depending on which tower you are connected to and how much traffic it is dealing with no matter the number if gigs you are allowed. 

Maybe Starlink will be a game changer. If so, rural Utah, here I come. As there won't be a reason to stay near a major metro area at all.

This might be a game changer. If you look at sites that are reporting Starlink speeds you'll find that they are all over the place even from the same location depending in time of day.

Otherwise you can still stay in the major metro area but drive out far enough where it's quasy-rural, next to the river or such yet get awesome, viable speeds.

Make sure to let us know where you find a place "camp" that meets that description. The places you might boondock will have the issues you already identified and campgrounds in those settings rarely (in my experience) will have the kind of internet access you are looking for. 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I take the gigs that come up, that become available. You don't always get to pick exactly what you want/ where you want it. That's just life.  Take what's available *now* instead of pie in the sky later.

I've had great luck with:

Northern Virginia,  Philly, Chicago, Milwaukee, Denver, Seattle and the Silicon Valley.

I've had no luck with: Richmond VA, Phoenix AZ, Kansas City, Charlotte NC, Boise Idaho. The entire Missouri for example is a dead zone, but I would not mind living there otherwise.

It's not that they have no work but the employers are fewer, competition is more brutal, pay rates are lower, the demands are greater, they are more picky. Like Phoenix that came at the bottom of the pay scale for major metro areas. About half that of DC area. I get that the real estate is drastically lower, but not that much lower. I get the lifestyle thing, but. Boise Idaho is another disaster zone. There is about one major employer, work is hard to get, real estate is relatively nuts compared to income. Montana is the same or worse.

I was surprised however how much work WV had, supposedly a lot of gov stuff has been moved there.  Might be a more sane option. Get a job making 30% less which ends up being a huge raise over DC.

I got stuck in the DC area due to my brutal divorce, couldn't even move out of the county. Now that the war is over, it has drastically increased my choices. Including the RV thing.

 

 

Edited by etcetera
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Posted (edited)

I am trying to decide which way to go, get a 16-passenger shuttle bus and convert it or get a turn-key package via a class C RV, around 25'.

Why shuttle bus? They have most overhead room. About 7' if I understand correctly. I am almost 6'3", most vans even the high top ones are a deal breaker with 73" clearance. 

A box truck is another idea, but the deal breaker here is that the cabin and the rest of it are not linked. Kind of a PITA.

Trying to weight pros/cons. I get that a class C has a neon sign on that that screams "Someone full-times in it", but it surely is convenient to get a plug-and-play device.

OTOH it might be worth it to get a shuttle bus and build it exactly how I want it. I've never done it so it would be a first. Would realistically take me 6 months to do, I think. Unless I hired someone. 

There are tons of shuttle buses here, parked all over and are practically invisible.

As are class B sprinter vans.

 

Edited by etcetera
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