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Prison Break: Part 1 The Prison Described

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A house is a trap. As soon as you take it the jaws clamp down hard on your hand and won't let go.

A house is a trap. As soon as you take it the jaws clamp down hard on your hand and won’t let go.

(This is the first of two posts on making a prison break. This one is an explanation of WHY we should do it. In the next post I will look in detail at HOW to do it.)
I get lots and lots of letters from people asking for my help and advice. A very common situation is that they are renting an apartment or are in low-income housing and have a car or small SUV—but they are just barely surviving and want more out of life. often they are living on a very limited budget because they are:

  • On a small fixed income like Social Security, Disability or a pension,
  • Living on their savings
  • Working at a minimum wage job and barely surviving
  • Unemployed and unable to find any work

Prison=piggy-intrap-001They all tell me they are trapped because they have so little income that they are living paycheck-to-paycheck; every penny they get goes to just barely surviving. They’ve read about vandwelling and want to do it but all they have is a small car or SUV and they aren’t sure they can live in that small a space. They feel trapped because they can’t live in their little car but they can’t afford even a cheap van. Unfortunately, this is a story that is occurring in ever greater numbers in every part of the country. The foundation of the American Dream is crumbling everywhere around us and people’s lives are being devastated.
As more and more of us consider vandwelling as an alternative lifestyle we make a terrifying discovery: civilization is a prison and we are enslaved in it. For those of us in the Middle Class it is a very enticing and pleasant prison full of wonderful things. In fact it is such a nice prison we can completely delude ourselves into forgetting it is a prison and actually believe we are free. But it is a prison nonetheless.
The four main chains that bind us are:

  1. Specialization: Most of us are lacking in the most basic skills needed to provide for ourselves. We can’t grow or kill food; we can’t make our own clothes or shelter; we can’t make our own energy; we can’t take care of our health needs; we can’t fix our cars. We are like helpless babies needing civilization to provide all those things for us. But civilization will not give us any of those things for free. Only good little drones and cogs in the machine get the bounty civilization has to offer. If we go to work, pay for a house and buy lots of crap, then and only then will civilization take care of its dependent little children.
  2. prison-Uncle_Sam_GreedConsumerism: From the cradle to the grave we are constantly bombarded by society’s messages urging and even demanding that we keep buying more stuff. That requires two things, a job to pay for it and home to store it in. So we gladly buy and accumulate walls of stuff to hide behind without even realizing those walls become our prison cell.
  3. Debt: Society trains us from birth that debt is good and the more the better. So most of us jump in with both feet and accumulate lots of debt and only when it is too late do we realize it is slavery and locks us into living exactly the life society demands we live.
  4. Homes: The cost of a home is so high it locks us into society’s death-grip. It takes such a large proportion of our income that the majority of us can’t ever seem quite able to save enough money to break out of its tyranny.

In this very bad economy there are lots of people like those that are writing to me that desperately need a way out of their horrible economic predicament. Many others have decided they don’t want to work at a job they hate and go into debt to buy more crap they don’t really want and pay for a home they can’t afford. We want to be able to either quit our jobs or at least work less so we can actually enjoy our lives. When they start to look for a way out they find the system is designed to force them back into it.
Prison-house-chainsIf you look for ways to move out of your apartment and live in a way society doesn’t approve of, the figurative steel doors begin to slam shut. You quickly discover that the game is rigged so that you can literally only live this one way: you have to go to work at a job to get the money to pay for a home so you can have a place to rest so you can go to work to get the money to pay for a home so you can rest so you can go to work…and so on until you are old and worn out.
What’s required is a prison break but very few of us are willing to take the risk. And it does appear to be risky. Nothing you have done before can really prepare you for it. Your income will probably drop drastically and you won’t have the comfort and security of your home and maybe not even your family and friends. Vandwelling is simply not as comfortable as living in a house and sometimes it is downright unpleasant (too hot, too cold, too lonely, too scary…). If you are already in economic distress and don’t have the money or time to get a good van and prepare it, vandwelling can be even harder and more unpleasant.
prison-earth-ball-chainBreaking out of prison is not for the faint of heart and only those people who have truly opened their eyes and see their old lives for what they are will to be able to pull it off. But if you are determined to live the free and good life you can do it and in my next post I am going to tell you in detail exactly what to do to make your own prison break.


  1. Steve

    After 22 months of reading Glenn’s story on Yahoo Business page one day at work, after 22 months of research, test driving and looking at everything from vans to Class A’…I am finally within months of changing my lifestyle and hitting the road full time. I will be selling a small house that is paid for, have downsized possessions and have an old Chevy 2500 truck for sale and my 2nd car a Mini Cooper for sale…that will leave me with my tow vehicle and the AR-ONE 17RD trailer I will pick up in a couple of weeks after their prepping and some mods. Your information is great stuff for anyone thinking of “escaping prison.”

    • Bob

      Good for you Steve! Turning your dreams into actions is a sure way to a rich and full life! That trailer looks really good! I think small travel Trailers are an outstanding choice. A great compromise of all the various factors that affect the mobile life.
      Being a devoted dog owner (wrong word but can’t think of a better one) I understand the desire to arrange your life around them. I seriously considered a motorcycle with a trailer as a choice, but I couldn’t have a my dog. No dog, no Bob!! The two go together.
      I wish you the best and be sure to stop by when you head out West.

        • Bob

          It is EXACTLY like that Rob. I’ve always said Homer was the brains of the outfit! he also got all the good looks too–DRAT!
          All I got was these opposable thumbs so he keeps me around to open the cans of dog food!

    • Susan

      Read your comment and thought: Why not rent your house out to someone since it is already paid for? That way you will always have some income coming in while living in your van. Think about it. =)

    • Curtis Miller

      Grats to you Steve! Glad to hear you are following your dreams.
      You are in a very small group of people that go from dreaming to doing.:)

  2. Marshall

    Fantastic post Bob.
    There are two great teachers is life, pleasure and pain. I have found in my life and travels these two concepts are really all that exist.
    However, many times there is an in between and that is fear.
    So people get caught up. Instead of taking action and moving forward they stay caught in fear, not even realizing they live in hell (pain).
    One must take action when pain shows up to get rid of him. But, one must also take action when pleasure arrives to keep him there.
    The basic answer is to keep moving. You cannot accept and stay static. Disaster will result.
    With all the ways to make a few bucks these days, such as utilizing Craigslist for gigs, ext. it is so easy to make the break and find pleasure.
    But one must MOVE.
    I get tired of hearing all the reasons why people can’t live the simple life.
    Just MOVE!

    • Diane

      love your comment Marshall, I couldn’t agree more

    • Bob

      Marshall, that is very, very good advice! I needed to hear it a well!

  3. Rob

    I always enjoy your writings but this Sunday’s, especially with the illustrations, is just so much fun to watch.
    ‘Fun’ is an odd term to describe a blog but there is it…

    • Bob

      Thank you so much Rob! Fun is an odd word but I’ll gladly accept it!

  4. Martin Hamilton

    Hell yes!! Now that’s the whole damn truth!! I can’t wait till the next post. FREEDOM baby! At last i’m free!! Thank yee Lawd!

    • Bob

      Amen, brother, Preach it!!Testify!!!!

  5. Diane

    LOVE this post Bob, I agree 100%

    • Bob

      Thanks Diane!

  6. Cyrus

    Thank you Bob for giving me the road map i needed to make my own prison break! I’m just glad I broke out while still in minimum security prison. I didn’t wait until a house and marriage, aka maximum security prison!

    • Bob

      Right Cyrus! A house really is the Big House to me! You are totally right and that is a perfect analogy!

  7. Elizabeth

    Another wonderful “sermon”, Bob. Interestingly I was reading another blog yesterday with folks of a similar ilk who are who are a part of the”Rewilding” world. You and your readers might enjoy the slant of these young whipper snappers. Elizabeth

    • Bob

      Elizabeth, thanks for that link, I subscribed to their blog. I am interested in the rewilding movement and think it is something I am trying to accomplish myself.

      • Exist Anew

        Thank you for sharing, Elizabeth. Also, thank you for following us, Bob. I like this article you wrote a lot. We certainly share similar beliefs. I look forward to reading part two.

        • Bob

          Thanks for your kind words Exist Anew. I like the attitude of your blog and look forward to learning from it!

  8. Kim

    You say it so well. Looking forward to Part 2.

    • Bob

      Thanks Kim!

  9. rastaman

    As usual Bob I enjoy your postings and agree with most of what you have to say and find a vast amount of infinitive info on this blog and your forum which has already helped guide me in ways too numerous to mention.
    However I would like to add a slightly different view to ‘house ownership’. another side of the coin if I may. I will start by repeating the phase… “be in the world, but not of the world”
    My case…I purchased the least expensive house in the area I desired, that I could afford the payments of on a 15 year mortgage. I made improvements as I could afford,I furnished with pre-owned furniture and appliances and lived well ‘below my means’. Made additional payments to the principal as I could. The result is that today I own my home ‘free and clear’, which is now worth 5-6 times what I paid for it.Now at age of 60, the sale of this home in the near future will be my escape hatch.As I have never had the fortune (good or bad)of working for ‘the man’ but have been self employed most of my working life, I have no ‘retirement check’ to look for. For me house ownership wasn’t a trap but a safety net.
    I guess what I am trying to say is that, We have a choice, fall into the ‘trap’ that our society sets for us, or using it to our advantage. It is easy to live a frugal lifestyle, if want to. savings can be had everywhere with everything.We just have to rise above the temptations.
    For me, living your lifestyle( although not full time) will not be a last resort, but rather a reward for my efforts over the years.
    For those already caught in the “trap”…its sad. for those about to step in one, it doesn’t have to be a trap…but could be a means to an end.

    • Mario

      Rastaman, you are correct . I did the same exact thing ( recognizing early on that the direction society had taken was one that would guarantee enslavement for life ) I used the “prison” to my advantage in my future goal to break out. I chose to live a modest life going “ against the grain” avoiding as many of society’s “traps” as possible constantly working towards the “freedom” we all long for and I can proudly say I have succeeded for the most part . It takes a certain way of thinking to achieve this , this thinking has gotten me in trouble at times (with the “civilized world” ) but it helps to stay focused and not give up in this quest for a happier life .
      It may have worked for me and you but we should not forget that people find themselves in somany different circumstances that may prevent them from doing the same .
      I always used to say that as adults in life we are presented with choices … the one you select may affect your life in a big way.
      I’m happy to say that I chose to “feed the good wolf in me” ( Bob knows what that means).
      Bob , brilliantly said , the images you used represent so accurately the hard reality of falling into these “traps” . People like yourself ( and many of your readers ) are the reason I was able to stay focused and keep believing that one day it will be possible to “break the chains” .
      Many thanks for your efforts and the excellent post. ( can’t wait for Part# 2 ) 

      • Bob

        Mario, thanks for your very generous words, I always appreciate the encouragement. The long and hard work you and Rastaman put in to break the chains that held you are a testament to how hard the chains hold us. I admire your tenacity!
        Unfortunately many of us find ourselves in such extreme economic circumstances we have to break the chains RIGHT NOW! The next post will be all about how to move into a car or small SUV with little or no money and then how to live.
        Keep feeding that wolf!

    • Bob

      Rastaman, I entirely understand your viewpoint and I am sympathetic toward it. Just like you I obeyed societies rules and did what it told me to do for the first 50 years of my life. I stepped out at 51 and you are stepping out at 60. I’m really glad it is working out so well for you but I have to say that speaking only for myself I deeply regret the way I lived my life
      I can only speak for myself but my life was one of obedience and drudgery. There was no joy in it for me. I endured it because I saw no choice and it’s what everyone does. I got married, went to work, bought a house, had kids, kept going to work at a job I hated and I bought lots of stuff and paid bills. And REPEAT endlessly till I was 51.
      I sacrificed the very best of my life in my youth and middle age so I could finally live my life when I am old and least able to enjoy it. I look back at that and I only have one thing to say: THAT IS INSANITY! 60 years of slavery, obedience and drudgery in the hopes of 10 good years of freedom as I watch my health deteriorate before my eyes.
      My dad did that. he worked at a job he hated till he was 60 and then he retired. He was set financially, he never had to think about money again, he could live it up!! He got cancer and was dead by 62. He was always a good slave-boy and followed all the rules. he worked 60 hours a week and bought all the toys and always had a really nice house. And it was all just one long misery. He had no life! He lived just for his days off and lived for his annual vacation and lived for his retirement. And then he was dead. I’ll say it again: “THAT IS INSANITY!”
      My greatest regret is that I didn’t have the balls to make my Prison Break until I was so old. I hope many young people read these posts and realize that my example is of how NOT to live your life. BREAK THE RULES!! DEMAND TO BE HAPPY AND FREE NOW!! If you are going to have kids figure out a way to raise them as free human beings and not as wage slaves.
      Rastaman, you paid a very high price for your freedom and I wish you a very long and happy life as a free man!!

  10. Lynn

    First off, I have to say that I am Canadian so your experience in the last few years has not been my experience. Our banks are run by a bunch of Scotsmen so we didn’t suffer the economic downturn that you did.
    I don’t think one can be entrapped with a house unless the paying of it and upkeep is more then one can afford. A house can be a great investment and can also
    Be a source of income if needed. There is a new trend for home owners to rent rooms, can make money. Also I am always bombarded with mail from agencies that are looking to place business men in homes during their relocations.
    If you have equity in a home and there is a downturn, who cares – you still have your home to live in. It always amazes me how quick people are to get rid of things when the going gets rough. I guess I have always been a planner and I would much rather be happily ensconced in my home then living in a van, especially as I get older.
    If I want to get away, I get away but I am always happy to return to my garden, animals and comforts but then difference strokes for different folks. My burning question is what are you going to do and where will you live when you are older, if you are in a van now?

    • Frank

      Bob, great post bud, the great escape will only get better in a world of greater inflation that will not become sustainable.
      Lynn my dear take heed, When you are bedridden, you are bedridden, someone will still have to wipe your butt, and I don’t think your children will want to do it. Welcome to the nursing home, for only the rich can pay to have all the many many needed chores done to keep a house going. Remember Bob is talking about average income people and people’s half stolen S.S checks buy Uncle Sam to help pay for the WARS and children born out of wedlock. Remember there are many many children having children and many many people who forget they needed to buy birth control on beer night but didn’t forget the brand of beer they wanted. Uncle Sam for some crazy reason foots the bill for this, homeless junior looks bad.
      SOOooo, the real problem is not rather you live in a van, RV, or upper income house. The real problem is the huge rising cost of HEALTH CARE. Once again only for the rich, and even then, only the UPPER RICH. Then just wait till the baby-boomers come, buy that time the only nurse one will be able to afford will be a long stick that can reach so you can wipe your own butt. But since your bedridden how much will it cost for someone to get you enough sticks and the right size, HUMMmmm, do I hear bankruptcy through Insurance cost?
      If all else fails, one can always drive one’s vehicle off a cliff and if you can’t afford a van, jumping off a TALLLL building is just as fun.
      P.S. Remember if you don’t have Alzheimer’s, extra-super large diapers will hold more, just a tip from
      NURSE DEAD. It’s a rotten system of rip-offs, it’s so sad to have to trust others with one’s
      health and money.

      • Bob

        Wow, you said a lot their Frank. I’m always glad to hear your opinions.

      • Lynn

        My dear Frank, you sure don’t paint a rosy picture. I won’t say I understand your healthcare system at all. I know we have our struggles too in Canada keeping our bottom line with increasing immigration, which we do need the bodies, so no slight intended.
        But someone has to pay the bills and support the system so you don’t lose your healthcare altogether. I guess I have always believed in community, if one is fortunate then there is an obligation to help those that aren’t and I happily contribute and try to do my share.
        By the way, my mother is 89 and still lives in her own home. She pays for her own housekeeper and my brothers do her yardwork. We all chip in to keep an eye on her. We are not the exception, a lot of families do that.
        I think part of the problem is that society is becoming more selfish and more self involved. What’s in it for me!!
        This is not directed to you personally but is a general observation.

    • Bob

      Lynn, of course we are all different and I’m really glad that living in a home is such a wonderful experience for you. And as you pointed out there are lots of good advantages in living in a home. But there are some of us that find houses unbearable and nothing but a source of misery. Neither of us are right and wrong, just different.
      There are also many of us who find ourselves in an economic position where living in a house is a dead-end trap. The house sucks up our every penny leaving us without enough money to live on. That happened to me after a divorce. I literally could not afford to pay for an apartment so I moved into a van. In the van I was able to thrive and save money, I even stopped working 40 hours a week and started only working 32. By living in the van I found more freedom than I had ever had in my life. Had I kept living in a house I would have just barely survived, never saved a penny and would have been forced to INCREASE my hours by getting a second job just to get a house that I hated living in. To me that is slavery pure and simple.
      No, for me a house is prison that forces me to live by societies rules and takes away all my choices. A house is a prison, to get and keep one you have to obey the rules. The difference between us is that you like the rules and want to obey them and you love the prison. I’m very glad you have found a way of life that makes you happy, but the rules and the prison are death to me, so I will not follow them and I will not live in their prison.
      You ask a good question about planning for the end stages of our life. My plans are that I dislike living in a house so intensely that if my health has deteriorated so much that living in one is my only choice, it is time to end my life. Life in a house is not worth living. My in-between plan is to buy a small piece of land and live in it in a van, school bus, or old RV for as long as my health permits and then it will be time for the end.

      • Lynn

        Well Bob, I certainly hope you find that little piece of heaven to call your own. A piece of land would be very nice indeed.
        I look forward to Part II! I like your blog, it always makes me want to say something even if I disagree:)).

        • Bob

          Lynn, I am really glad you are here and you are always welcome to say anything you want!! I may be crazy, but at least I’m entertaining!

    • Bob

      Lynn, I am so glad you are living a happy and fulfilling life, that’s wonderful! It’s also baffling to me because the life you describe is a total misery for me so it is beyond my understanding that it brings you joy. But I’ve known enough people who love their typical Western lives to know it is true, you all really love them. But for those of us who find that life a dark dungeon of despair, we have to break out of it. And we find that when you decide to reject that life, society acts quickly to not allow it. We play a constant game of cat and mouse as they invent new rules to force us back into a house and a job. We find a way around them so they invent new rules.
      The basic rules are that we have to productive members of society and the way they enforce the rule is by forcing us into houses that require us to work. The jobs make us slave labourers and the houses are both the chains and prison cell that bind us to the slave jobs. Society has learned that they the slaves work better if they are well-fed and kept content, so we are given a lot of “freedom” in our slave jobs and prison cells, but they are still prison cells. When you decide you are not going to go to the slave job and live in their cell the truth becomes obvious, you’re trapped, you have no choice.
      I’m really glad that your love your job and home, but I can’t and won’t live that way so I will keep dodging the slave-master to maintain my freedom.
      As to my plans for the future; I’ll live mobile for as long as my health allows it or until they finally throw me in prison as a runaway-slave. As my health goes bad I’ll put the van, trailer or RV onto a piece of land and stay there for as long as I can. When my health finally gets so bad I have no choice but live in a house, I will end my life. I’d rather be dead than live in a house.

  11. Tom

    Great post Bob,,, again. You ate so right. I started selling all kinds of stuff on eBy, getting rid of most all my “stuff” and I’ve never felt more free. You just don’t need all that “stuff.”

    • Bob

      I understand Tom. Somehow the stuff has a strong pull on me and so I turn around and realize I have a way too much stuff. It makes me antsy and uncomfortable. So i come to my senses and start doing the same thing you are–getting rid of stuff! And just like you, I feel so much better!!

  12. randy(livinfree 1964)

    As always, you have “hit the nail on the head” ! I’ve been a devote reader of your works for over a year and a half and have taken the “leap” for about 2 month’s so far and it has been a challenge ! It is not easy re-training our thought process on how we live.I feel more confident about my “change” the longer I go. I honestly don’t believe that I will ever go back to “sticks-n-bricks lifestyle again. It has been very empowering for myself to manage living mobile as it were. There has been all of those things that you mentioned like fear,sadness,loneliness , But…It has been worth it because I am actually seeing the “world “around me a whole different way. IT IS WORTH EVERY BIT OF THE PAIN!! Randy

    • Bob

      Randy, I am really glad to hear that you are finding away through the initial problems and frustrations. I’ve been there and I know it can be difficult. But you sound like me in that as you keep going it gets easier and easier and then one day you realize that you love this new, weird life!
      it sounds like you are in the process of taking off your old pair of glasses and putting on some new ones!

  13. Dazar

    Good post. I know some people think that buying a house is a good investment to do, and i might agree, if you can buy it straight out. Is an investment that takes you 30 years to purchase really that great of a thing?
    I don’t think it is. What are you missing out while you struggle to make that payment? And that is assuming events out of your control do not destroy the investment before it can pay off…look at all the foreclosures and other disasters. I think if you can’t afford to pay for something, you shouldn’t get it.

    • Bob

      Dazar, it is hard to argue with that logic!

    • McBeef

      Awesome post, this is exactly how I feel. I’m going to be vandwelling fairly soon, and will do so until I have the money to buy a home outright. This will take several years, of course, but it’ll be worth it. Who knows, though, if I’m able to upgrade next year from a beater van to something good and reliable, and outfit it with solar and other such amenities, I might just stay a vandweller for life!

      • Bob

        McBeef, I should warn you right now that this life is addicting! Once in you may be hooked and unable to get out. But instead of being a wage-slave, you will be a slave to the peace, joy and contentment it gives you!

  14. OpenSpaceMan

    As I’m met with misunderstanding and ridicule I’m learning to keep my plans on the downlow. Someone looking to finance a riding mower for 60 months will never understand what some of the readers of Bob’s blog understand. The giant super sophisticated marketing machine that rules most of our lives can only beat us if we let it. Reading the comments is one of the fun parts of Bob’s blog…some validating my path some seeking validation for their path.
    It reminded me of this quote from a famous nonconformist.
    “I had been right I was still right I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well lived it another. I had done this and I hadn’t done that. I hadn’t done this thing and I had done another. And so? ”
    ― Albert Camus, The Stranger
    And so, And so I started reading Bob’s blog and many others, then I bought a used cargo van and fixed it up as a living space, then I gave notice on my apartment, then I took my furniture to a consignment shop, took my books and DVD’s to Halfprice books “a very financially painful experience”.
    I have a job in a city so I’ll be urban camping, I’ve scouted out several parking options, I joined a health club, I simulated on paper a week of living in the van…to help determine the necessary items to bring on board. Then I quietly did it.
    Thanks to the corporate machine, food and water is inexpensive and easy to get.
    One thing I’m lacking in is mechanical skills. In order to lessen the stress and the next step in self-sufficiency I need to learn to take care of the van myself.
    _The Beginning

    • Bob

      OpenSpaceman, it sounds like you are doing everything just right and have an outstanding plan! I’m intrigued by writing out a week in the van, that is an idea I have never even considered! Is there some way you can scan and send that to me? i’d love to see it. I understand if you can’t or would rather not, it is kind of private.
      If there is anything I can do help or you have any questions, feel free to ask, my email is on the right side of the blog.

      • OpenSpaceMan

        Thanks Bob…I’ll try to get it to you tonite. I think it is helpful for someone who has to be a little stealthy in a city to have a good plan for parking, food and showering.

        • Bob

          You’re always welcome OpenSpaceMan.

    • judy

      OpenSpaceMan You will never know HOW MUCH I needed to read the quote by Albert Camus at this exact point in time! Thank You for that!
      I also used lists to organize my plan for van dwelling before I hit the road. Beginning with the basic needs: to eat, eliminate, sleep, stay warm, keep cool, I made a list of what I had to have.
      A choice of mine was to go w/o a fridge or cooler. To see if this would work for me, I listed foods that needed no refrigeration and asked myself if I could deal with that menu.
      I realized that by keeping Ensure and water under my bed, they stay reasonably cool. And there are ways of creating a cool box. Jars of pickles also store well under the bed after being opened Pickles and Nutella are my treats.
      It’s also good to work out in your mind the things you will need often and those you will use less often and let that guide you as to Where you store them in your living space. It makes sense that you want something you use every day in a handy place.
      Happy Travels!

  15. CAE

    I’ve always questioned why it costs money to live somewhere. By who’s right do I owe someone money to occupy space!?? By its very nature, this is a type of servitude. Why do I owe the govt taxes for something that I paid for and may or may not use any govt services?
    Add these things up and you’ll see that there’s a contrived arrangement in our society to keep most people controlled.

    • Bob

      CAE, control really is the ultimate goal of civilization. I don’t believe in conspiracies that there is a small group of men somewhere who pull the strings and control our destiny. to me that is just a silly idea. but 10,000 years ago when our ancestors started the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, the first cities started to develop. And as those cities evolved there had to be control or that many people couldn’t live together in such a small space. So slowly a system of trade, specialization and commerce began to evolve. As it did some people were smarter, braver and more dominate than others. They took charge and slowly shaped things to their own purposes. they developed wealth and with it power. They combined forces and shaped civilization to maintain their wealth and power. Every since then the stronger, braver and more dominate have been doing the exact same thing.
      just like there are natural laws that control the universe, there are man-made rules that control civilization. And all those rules have a specific purpose of keeping wealth and power in the hands of a few.They write the rules and the the rules are all about control!

      • Diane

        I recently read an article about JFK and the federal reserve. Not the kind of stuff they teach in schools. The powers that be, need us to stay in perpetual debt…its how they stay in power. Follow the money and you will find your answers.

        • Bob

          Absolutely right Diane, the heart of Capitalism is the creation of wealth by going into debt. If we stop spending–and borrowing to spend–the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

      • CAE

        In the US, the powerful use lobbiest to influence the laws so that power is maintained and/or increased. This is K Street in Washington DC. Representative govt is a cute idea sold to the public in a PR package. Reality is that money is power and the powerful use it extensively to maintain control of the environment. The rest of us are just along for the ride. Surf the wave as best you can.

      • Anna

        Once again, Bob, we agree 😉 The strong, brave, and powerful will always dominate. The weak are forced out and get what’s left over. Nature at its finest. Humans have tried to usurp nature, and that is where the problems you address come in to play.

        • Bob

          Anna you are making good sense! It’s just basic human nature, a few of us are smarter, bolder and more aggressive and some much less so. Civilization amplifies the differences between people so there are now, always have been, and always will be the “haves” and the “have nots”.

  16. PamP

    A very wise old man once told me “You don’t own a house, the house owns you” So true, so true. I hadn’t seen it that way until then. This could have been the title for this post of yours don’t you think?

  17. Diane

    I want to take a moment to share about a family member that currently lives in this societal prison of which Bob speaks. She is 44 years old, has been in her job for 8 years and HATES it. She hates this job so much that during her many days, weeks and months off she does nothing but complain “i only have 7 more weeks and then I have to go back…I only have 3 more weeks…” So, of course my remarks have been along the line of – why don’t you create a plan to get out? To find another job, or to downsize so you don’t have to remain a slave to the system. She has become so conditioned that she cannot even fathom that concept. Instead, she accuses me of being insensitive and not capable of understanding. This is tough because half of my family feels like she does and the other half…well, we look for the out. I have never made much money…i have more education than most, but I would qualify for food stamps if i applied. I could look at this as a bad thing or as liberation. I am not a whore to the system. well…maybe I am just a free agent whore to the system lol. Freedom is everything and debt robs you of your liberty. Anyway, I wanted to share a bit. I am grateful for your blog Bob and for the folks who read and respond…knowledge is power and the first steps to freedom. Have a GREAT day 🙂

    • Bob

      Diane, thanks for sharing your experience. Society brainwashes us from the cradle to the grave to believe this is the only way to live and then makes us totally dependent so there really is no other way to live. It takes a prison break to get free!

  18. rastaman

    Bob, actually I dont think of it as a “high price” as you put it. I consider it time well spent. It can be all about ME…sure I would of loved not to of had the responsibilities and commitments I had during those years, however it provided shelter for my family,and income to provide for their needs (just like my parents did) and a sense of stability. Personally I did not have the “knowledge” of ‘living free’. But I was smart enough to not get caught in the debt trap. For me to of taken off “living free” would of been I think very selfish and I dont know how far I would of gotten without some form of income, and without a “profession” and some kind of stability,lucrative employment can be evasive.
    Now at this stage in MY life I feel I have paid my dues, put my time in and I can indulge in a more self centered lifestyle.
    Dont get me wrong I am not arguing with or defending my position…just explaining my thoughts …
    Love you Mon

    • rastaman

      OPPPS! first sentence should of read…
      It CAN’T be all about ME.
      (dont know how to edit a posting)

    • Bob

      I understand exactly what you mean Rastaman, and I totally understand your viewpoint. Nearly all my life I shared it–but not anymore.
      I started to write a long answer and realized it was a great blog post so I going to make this brief, the long answer will be a post soon. The way I see it humans have brain-washing each other to actually believe this stuff for the last 10,000 years. So my parents brainwashed me and I brainwahed my kids and they will brainwash their kids. None of us were wrong, just not able to overcome the brainwashing.
      For some reason at this time in history the brainwashing is wearing off–I honestly don’t know why. But my primary goal in life is spread what I believe is the real truth and reveal what I believe is the big lie.
      As I have come to my senses my greatest regret is that I fully participated in brainwashing my kids. They aren’t able to see life in any other way but as wage-slaves in a pretty prison. If I could make one change, I would go back and tell them the truth:
      * That they could be free and there was another way to live.
      * That the Earth is sacred and harming it is harming yourself.

      But I wouldn’t just tell them the truth, I would live it. I would not be a wage slave and we would NOT live in a house. But now it is too late, today they are so brainwashed all they can do is think I am weird.
      Today I think my greatest act of selfishness and cowardice was to take the easy way as a wage-slave and follow my brainwashing and to actively brainwash them.

      • rastaman

        Don’t beat yourself up too badly Bob,I just don’t see how one could of done things much differently. I am not sure if you are against being a wage slave, (if so, how else would one be able to survive)or against living in sticks and bricks (renting or buying). In my case I was able to purchase a home (after being kicked around by landlords)for basically what rent payments would of been.
        One has to careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Sure the system is stacked against you, however there are ways to fight against it and use it to your advantage. for example if most people were not brainwashed by the adds for a new car (or van)(wink) every couple of years, how would someone like me be able to score deals on a used car. Even if I knew all I know today when I was 18, I would still of had to be a ‘wage slave’ for sometime to afford to live like you do.And where would I be today without the family I would not of created (who have given me great pleasure over the years.)pretty lonely. Living in a house or owning a house is not necessarily evil. We just have to not buy into the trap,,”Bigger is Better,I need MORE”
        Yes there are times when I do feel owned by the “stuff” I own, but I remind myself its a means to an end, although I haven’t reached my total goal, yet.I have enjoyed some good times along the way.. for me… I can avoid the ‘trap’…its the crowd in the cities and the city life I want to escape from…not my stick and bricks, as I feel I will always have a humble abode….somewhere… while I travel.

        • rastaman

          You know the regret I have right now Bob?….Its that I am not out there in the forest, having this discussion face to face with you…maybe sipping a rum and coke…yeh mon!

          • Bob

            Sounds good to me!

        • Bob

          Rastaman you are fortunate to have lived a happy and satisfying life!

          • rastaman

            It really hasn’t been all that. Its just that if 33 years ago If you had asked where in my life I would wish to be, I couldn’t of dreamed to be where I am now…so I am thankful, and try to stay focused on the positive,remembering where I came from.

          • Bob

            Rastaman, you have a great attitude and that always leads to a good life!

  19. Desert Rat

    I would like to point out that many full-timers talk about getting a small piece of land and living on it, but this is getting harder and harder to do and may someday be impossible.
    For example, I’ve been looking in several very rural counties in Utah and also a couple in my home state of Colorado, and these areas have all made it illegal to live in anything but a permanant dwelling, even if you own the land. This really surprised me in Utah, as these areas are not expensive and aren’t full of NIMBY types (one example is Emery County).
    I think the noose is slowly tightening, and someday it will be very difficult to live in anything but a house. A friend was going to build an ag building and secretly live in it, but if he gets discovered, then what?
    This is coming from the planning and zoing arms of govt. and is just another way to make people comply. I’m not a conspiracy theorist type, but add in the use of drones to scan the countryside for illegal dwellings, and then what? They’re already being used to search for illegal pot growing and such, so why not code enforcement?

    • Frank

      This is my fear also Desert Rat, new laws can always be created for the land area you are in. With no fixed dwelling Mr. Inspector can say that you’ll be o.k. just move your RV to a park please, this area is now for housing only. Then he will smile and thank you while handing you the new code memo and maybe even make you sign it so you can’t say I didn’t get the memo.
      That’s why I will continue to live in my new van I bought, it’s simple and saves me lots of money. I still live in Florida, but I’m very sure that in the next three to four years I will most likely move to the cool ocean cost of California. The heat in Florida is starting to get to me and I feel a change for something new, it’s hard to leave a place I’ve lived most of my life.
      So why buy land.

      • Frank

        P.S. Desert Rat, California’s ocean beach coast is like natural air conditioning at about 72 and cooler at night. The city of Oceanside and Carlsbad as one place looks awesome with beach cliff viewss.

        • Desert Rat

          Frank, Cali is a beautiful state, but too many people and rules for an old Desert Rat like me.

          • Frank

            Just thought I would mention it in case there are others that are trying to escape the heat and are looking for a new location to live with out having to migrate every year with the weather.
            In actuality, with more people blinding in or stealth parking becomes a charm.
            The desert is also a good choice with very nice scenery, the truth is there are many many nice places to visit or live in this country. If I didn’t have to work I would get the hell out of the city and would travel to many National Parks for their majesty is quite Incredible. I’m just not sure I could hack it as a campground host and I don’t like constantly looking for a new job. I’m 49 and still have a long ways before RETIREMENT at 62.
            So that Is why I still need the city. You on the other hand are a very very lucky man to be free among the great majesty of MOTHER NATURE.
            Lets hope it will be there for other future generations.

          • Bob

            Frank, we all have to find our own path, one that works for us. I’m glad you have found yours.

        • Unchained

          Oceanside and Carlsbad would not be my first choices, esp Oceanside. It’s right next to Camp Pendleton, so the police are extra vigilant about things like people sleeping (or other ‘recreational’ activities) in vehicles. It can also get a little ‘lively’ when groups of young Marines decide to paint the town red, white and beer 😉
          Carlsbad might be a possibility, but you would want uber-stealth. It’s pretty upscale near the beach, and some of those folks get snotty. Can’t really blame them when their ‘shack’ on the beach goes for half a mil or so.
          BTW, I currently live 20 Miles or so from Oceanside, so I am not guessing when I say this.

    • Bob

      Desert Rat, you’re right, zoning has become a big problem. I have a friend who bought 20 acres in AZ that is pretty remote and he put his rig right in the middle of it. It has enough trees that he is hidden from prying eyes. Then he built an underground house into the side of a hill so he is hard to see. That is the best way I think. Go remote, get a big property, go underground and stay away from prying eyes.
      I think the risk of predator drones searching every inch of remote scrub land is a extremely low. I’m not going to let it be a factor in any decisions I make. Keep looking, I hope you find something eventually!!

      • Desert Rat

        Bob, they don;t even need drones – all they have to do is study Google Earth maps. Lest you think I’m off-base, I have a friend who works for P&Z in W. Colorado and he tells me they’re checking for illegal dwellings and such using aerial photos.

        • Bob

          That’s a good point Desert rat! Makes an underground house sound all the better!

  20. Tina

    Wow, do I love your posts. I can do this. Yes, right now I’m pathetically broke and never thought at 53 yo I’d be in the position I’m in now. I was downsized in 2002 and web surfed seriously considering rving at that time. I could have afforded then a comfortable situation but I felt it was too complicated and I had 3 cats. I sold my home and bought a business which had me lose everything in my 401k and then some. Now I work for 10.00 an hour in call center sweat shop and hate every day that I wake up.
    I began day dreaming as an escape, thinking if I won the lottery and soon my dreams drifted over into being a full time rv-er because of my love of the outdoors and freedom. I dreamed big and started looking at class c and class b motor homes. My desire grew and at every lunch break I took at nearby park dreamed that my mini van was a camper van and I was on my own.
    Being that I can’t handle dreams for too long, I started looking at what I had and what I could do, even without winning the lottery.
    I have a mini van with 125k miles and I do want to keep it until 200k miles. From researching sites and now winding up on yours, I see how can make a plan and do it.
    I’m sick of my income going lower while inflation continues to rise. I hate working for corporate America as a slave ensure the rich get richer, while I hardly afford food. I’ve gotten increasing physically ill

    but now, I can see a plan and a reason to motivate and get healthy and make the break. Where I work encourages overtime, which I do very little of because I hate it so much… but this is an incentive. I love my mini van and I have very little stuff any more and can sell some things, throw out others and give away the rest. I don’t have an attachment to any of it outside of my photos and gifts from my son.
    I’ve done enough tent camping alone so I know how to conquer my fears and also keep a clean camp site.
    I’m going to make a list of what I have and what I can do. Another list of what I need to learn … like installing solar panels and mechanics on my van … and satellite dish. I do need internet access and a cell phone and not much more than that.
    I can make plan to start the break next May when my lease is up and it’s warmer in the north. I can keep the job and have enough friends and family to bunk at if I have to.
    Then next fall, I can make the big break and start heading south and west and just do it.
    I watched a few youtube videos of people who converted their vans into motor homes and hooked up plumbing and electricity. The electric, I will have to learn … but you all ready solved the potty problem with a porta potty.
    I did live out of my car for a month in Arkansas while looking for a place to live. I loved it. I had my little tent and camped out and when there was a hard rain or my back started aching I would go in a lodge at a B&B (then I had money to do that without a worry)
    I loved the freedom! I loved the getting in touch with myself and fears when I found myself all alone is some huge camp ground over night. Arkansas, btw, has a lot of places to camp or stay for nothing or cheap.
    Time to get back to reading.
    Thank you.

    • Diane

      wow Tina, thanks for sharing your story. I could feel passion in your words. You got this girl!!! I am excited for you, sounds like you are on your way to freedom 🙂

    • Bob

      Tina, I am so glad if I have inspired you in some way to get out of a life you hate!! Life is MUCH to short to not enjoy it. Be happy, don’t anything stand between you and your dreams!

  21. Diane

    Damn it Bob!!!!
    I woke up at 4am thinking about this subject lol. So…here is what I came up with on the subject of home ownership as a jail.
    12 years ago I bought an inexpensive house in the city of Hemet Ca. this town was awesome, tucked away from the larger cities at the base of the San Jacinto mountains, close to Palm Springs. The population was mostly retired folks (many snow birds). Well, things started to change…the city sold it’s residents out when the economy changed and made a deal to increase the section 8 population. We had already had more than our share of sex offenders, but now we have what I consider a social cancer…gangs from Los Angeles…all trying to establish their territory (with tagging, beatings, theft, and murder) within this once beautiful community. I work for the local school district and most of the new residents end up coming to me or one of my co-workers. I could venture into a completely new direction, but will restrain and return to my original thought. So, the town has become an unsafe place to live, it is no longer safe to be out after dark and I don’t stop for fuel at night unless I have to. Its rare that I can get into a store at any hour without someone coming up to me and asking me for money or to buy an item that they recently stole.
    So, finally – my point, this home that I have worked so hard for is now located in what once was a prison population. It is almost as if the house is my cell and I am in the prison yard when I unlock my cell door.
    The beauty in this is that I am planning an escape, moving to a new area with the hope that it will not turn into the same thing. But, this time I am going debt free and owning the land and house outright. My new job is working for the park system and will allow lots of time off which i plan to use by dipping my toes in the “full time” traveler world. OK, one more comparison to a house being like a jail…when I came to visit a few of you in AZ. time was an issue, I had my pups with me but had to get back to house because I have a cat who I didn’t want to leave alone too long and…i was nervous about my cell getting broke into once the neighborhood realized I was gone. So, if you are like a turtle and take your home with you…you are never homeless or far from the comforts you travel with.
    For me, I am taking calculated baby steps. I am grateful to have found land and a mobile that is legal and I own outright in a small town that when escrow closed, i had to instal door locks because the previous owner didn’t have a key…in the ten years they owned the place…they had never locked the doors. I still like the idea of having a safe home base that cost little money to maintain. Since I will be working for the park system I plan on spending much of my off time visiting other parks 🙂 OK, it is time for me to put on my super hero costume and solve the social problems of the school district…7 more work days and I am outta here!!!

    • Frank

      Diane, this same thing happen to me in a place called Seminole Estates subdivision located in St. Petersburg, Fl. But I got lucky and sold my house just in time. If I had sold my house now it would have been for much much less. I now feel sorry for the new owner for it is now turning into a ghetto of youth gangs. I took my money and got the hell out, now I’m very very happy with my large bank account with a little gold investment, also my new 6cyln gas saving full-size white stealthy cargo Chevy van has made me very happy with such a simple and carefree lifestyle living in it. I’ve never felt freer.
      I now hate houses in any form, fashion, or design, the costs are too high, the risks are too great, and I don’t like going down with the ship.
      Please take heed with your knew property and never never underestimate your safety. A house in a rural area is a house In Isolation and can make an even better target for CRIME with no witnesses.
      Remember this is the change of the new economic America that has made many people go bad. Also many many natural disasters have left many people displaced and looking for a new place to live and along with that will also follow the riffraff. Example such as hurricane Katrina, they all had to spread out like the locust just like many other disaster areas. This will only get worse with global warming.
      I wish you well with your new place and I hope you didn’t take much of a loss with your old place. I hope you got lucky also.

      • Diane

        Thanks for the feedback Frank 🙂
        I actually also sold at a good time, the housing prices are up here – investors are buying modest sized homes up like they are going out of style and using them as rentals for the growing number of section 8 families. I made a large enough profit to pay for my new place in Texas, pay off my new Nissan high top NV Van and still have a small nest egg in the bank. Thanks for the advice on rural living…I understand. My new position is as a park ranger with the NPS its a seasonal position, so my goal is to work the 6 month season and travel in my van the other 6 months, I will start slow and work my way up and out of the jail cell 🙂

    • Bob

      Diane, I’m so glad you are making changes for the better. Like you said, baby steps!

  22. Mara

    Food for thought: One man’s prison is another man’s sanctuary.

    • Bob

      True enough Mara!

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