Living in a Van to Find Home (and Himself)

What does ‘home’ really mean? That’s what Kurt wanted to find out when he took to the open road in a cargo van.

The experience taught him a lot about being intentional and about what he really wants in life. “It makes me so happy to be able to look out my window every morning and see my van there and know that I’m free,” he shares.

Video Transcript

After college, Kurt didn’t know where or what home was, so he took to the open road.

Kurt Zhuang: When I set out on the journey, part of it was to examine myself, and the other part was to find a home and examine what that meant to me.

He sold most of his belongings and lived in a modified cargo van.

Kurt: The nature of a van, itself, is limiting. And that’s sort of where you learn about yourself — it’s because it’s so limiting, you have less space, so you really have to understand what’s necessary, you know? You really have to consider it.

He was able to travel across the country. He was looking for home, and looking for himself.

Kurt: It was really illuminating to go and see a lot of places. I let myself feel at home. I offered more of myself to the people who were there — I was more open. It was really, really, great. It taught me how to just trust the process.

And now I feel really empowered to do whatever I want to. I sort of have found a connection to what I care about.

From his time in his van, Kurt rediscovered his talents as an illustrator, photographer, videographer, musician.

Portland, OR

Kurt ultimately found a more permanent homebase and community, living intentionally in a housing co-op.

Kurt: Overall, I was just so much more present and aware. At the end of the day, I knew that this was such an inspiring way to explore myself, but was not a home in itself. It was just part of building “home” within me. I needed a place that was stable, like a room, because of the things that that offers me.

Now that I’ve considered all these things and have longed for all these things, when I finally have them I’m just so grateful for them. Everything is designed a certain way because I considered it.

So it’s sort of like, now that I’ve moved to Portland and have a room again, I completely see how these two things together are the perfect balance for me.

I just saw it as a place where I could grow. A place that still had space, you know — I could still have my van. Like right now, I have a room and I also have my van parked out front. It makes me so happy to be able to look out my window every morning and see my van there. And just to know that I’m free.

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