Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (2024)

In February 2011, Chad DeRosa chose to simplify life and move into his 1991 Volkswagen Westfalia. He couldn’t have known then that millions of folks would eventually follow along with him (virtually) on his adventures.

Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (1)

Raised in Whatcom County, he’d worked in the construction industry for years, but building had taken an economic hit. Knowing it was time for a change, he decided to pursue his passions of photography and videography. DeRosa was uncertain how he’d make money going down this road, but knew that having less overhead would help. “For me,” he says, “it was a matter of being able to chase my dreams of becoming a photographer and filmmaker, and ultimately live a life more fulfilling, doing something you love to do.”

Over the years, DeRosa bounced back and forth between a more traditional home and living in his van—and the more time he spent living on wheels, the more he loved the freedom it gave him. With work taking him around the world, he found satisfaction in not being tied to a foundation.

The flexibility that was a means to pursue his passions eventually became a passion in itself, and DeRosa has now lived in his van full time since 2018.

This lifestyle—and the adventures it takes him on—is also now his profession, thanks to the popularity and success of hisLiving the Van Life YouTube channel. DeRosa’s videos get millions of views. People love to watch where he takes the van—and that he does so across all four seasons.

A stock 1991 Vanagon has its limitations, so upgrades were necessary to make these excursions possible. DeRosa swapped out the original engine for a Subaru’s, creating more power and speed. He’s done almost all the work on the van himself and there have certainly been learning curves along the way; DeRosa is often forced to do repairs on the fly while on a trip. It’s still a 30-year-old van, but these modifications allow him to ride out blizzards and take it to the top of mountains, even reaching a 10,000-foot mountain peak in Idaho.

Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (3)

He and the van have been on many adventures, but DeRosa does have a favorite. “The White Rim Trail in Canyon Lands probably takes the cake as the coolest spot,” he says.

While living the van life has its advantages, it also comes with limitations. DeRosa must carefully edit what he chooses to live with. Most essential item? His camera, because that’s how he makes his living, but he also couldn’t make it without his batteries.

“It’s got to be the battery system that’s installed in the van, because essentially you’re living off grid. Being able to power—essentially, your life—you’ve got to have a good battery system to back it up.” From the road, DeRosa must be able to film and edit his videos, all from the power provided by these batteries, which are charged by a combination of the van’s engine and solar panels.

Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (4)

When DeRosa posted his first video to YouTube, in August of 2011, he chose not to tell anyone. It was outside his comfort zone at the time, but he wanted to share what he had learned in his first six months living in the van as a means to give back to the van community.

His goal now is to show people what’s possible and hopefully encourage them to get out and explore. He knows not everyone is going to move into a van, but if sharing his story encourages someone to try out camping for the first time, or go on a road trip, he considers that a success.

His channel is all about sharing, so DeRosa covers it all, whether that be an awesome spot to stay the night or how to navigate bathroom and hygiene needs.

Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (5)

DeRosa recently revealed that Living The Van Life is entering a new chapter; he’s purchased a 2020 Sprinter Van, in which he will soon live, travel and work. He’s just beginning the build out of the van and will, of course, share videos along the way. DeRosa hopes to have it completed in the next few months.

While his VW is like a member of the family, and he’ll keep it for future adventures, his new vehicle will allow him to grow what he does. “I have plans for taking the channel to a whole new level, having a vehicle that can go out and travel across the country in a matter of a few days without having to worry about it. I want to do more stuff expedition-style,” says DeRosa.

DeRosa chalks up all the opportunities that have come his way to making the choice to live in his van. To share in those experiences, follow DeRosa’s adventures onInstagram @livingthevanlife, on hisLiving the Van Life YouTube Channel, and

  • Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (6)
  • Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (7)
  • Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (8)
  • Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (9)

Chad DeRosa Lives the Van Life To Pursue His Passions - WhatcomTalk (2024)


What is the philosophy of van life? ›

Embracing freedom to live life on the road

If you ask us, our friends or any other person living in a van what it means to live there, you will most likely get the same answer: freedom. The vanlife philosophy is about exploring the world and embracing a nomadic lifestyle.

What happened to the Van Life girl? ›

On September 19, Petito's remains were found in Wyoming's Bridger–Teton National Forest. An autopsy found that she was killed by blunt-force injuries to her head and neck and manual strangulation.

What does it mean to live the van life? ›

Meaning of van life in English

the experience of living, usually permanently, in a motor home or other vehicle that has been provided with somewhere to sleep, cooking equipment, and sometimes a toilet : People who are attracted to simple living often choose van life.

Is van life worth it? ›

One of the best things about living in a van full-time is the lack of rent or mortgage and utilities that must be paid. These costs add up significantly each month. In a van, you do not need to pay a monthly fee for electricity, heat, air conditioning, or trash service.

Why is van life so popular? ›

Van life teaches you how to live with less. On each journey, there's only room for you to bring essential items. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how relieving it feels to live with fewer things. It's a freeing experience and changes the way you view the world.

What is the appeal of van life? ›

One reason for van-life's increasing popularity is the internet, which makes it possible to work, go to school and perform routine tasks from anywhere instead of needing to stay in one place. According to Statista, the number of van-lifers rose from 1.9 million in 2020 to 3.1 million in 2022, an increase of over 63%.

What are people who live in vans called? ›

Van-dwelling or vanlife is an unconventional lifestyle of living in a car, van or other motor vehicle. A person who lives in such a manner, either on a full or part-time basis, is known as a van dweller, car dweller or vehicle dweller.

What is the history of van life? ›

The History of Van Life: From Counterculture to Mainstream

The Beginnings in the 60s and 70s: Van life started in the 1960s and 70s as part of the counterculture movement. It was a form of rebellion against conventional societal norms and a pursuit of freedom.

Is living in a van practical? ›

Even with restrictions within certain cities, van life in California is definitely doable. You'll just have to do a little research to ensure you're abiding by any laws in place.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arielle Torp

Last Updated:

Views: 6332

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arielle Torp

Birthday: 1997-09-20

Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

Phone: +97216742823598

Job: Central Technology Officer

Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.