It was the most money I've ever held in my hand. You're like, I've never had a check that big, like ever everybody Tristan Emond here, mindful living Realty in rapid city, South Dakota. I got a chance to sell a home for a client early this year. Not for the normal reasons, but because they were going to sell everything out and move into a van.
And I got a chance to talk with Vinny and Elise. In their van, check it out. Let's start with the story of how you got into van life. So I remember Vinny back in like 2015. I believe your job was going pretty good. You were always out vacationing and, uh, it seemed like you were like, okay, I need to grow up now and get myself a house.
And I think he knew, at least at that time kind of go with me from your thought forms at that point. So I was traveling, uh, took a couple cruises to the Caribbean. Um, really liked traveling a lot, decided I should get a nice house. I was dating Elise at the time. So I've looked for a bigger house. I went for a three bedroom, two bath, think this was going to be our house.
This was going to be the one we were going to build a family. And, you know, I have people over entertain, stuff like that. And then, uh, we went to Hawaii. Couple of years ago and we're like, man, we would really like to have a life full of vacation, a life that we don't need a vacation from. And, uh, so we got to brainstorming.
And Elise kind of found this thing. A van life went on YouTube. So I followed a few couples that were doing the van life already. And one of them was really big and, they had like millions of followers and they were down in South America and I'd been following them for a while and saw how they were like living in the sedan.
And I kind of showed Vinny and been like, I don't know how they're affording to do this. And so we just kind of looked into it a little bit more and more found more people that were doing it and how they budgeted everything. And then kind of decided that we could probably do that. Yeah. So, uh, we got to talking and we got engaged and then it was like, do we do this van?
Do we not? And then, uh, there was one night we had a conversation on how bad do you want to do this? And so. She took a sticky note. I took a sticky note on, it was like from scale of one to 10. How bad do you want to van life 10 being like, let's do it right now. One being like, not at all. And I think I had a, an eight and you had a seven.
Yeah. And so then we started the process of buying the van. Um, And then working on it. Uh, we got married in the process, so it took us a while, but then we decided we're just going to sell everything, save up as much money as we can, and then take off at the end of, uh, 2020. Well, that's really cool. I remember you coming to my office, you know, like, Hey, I want to, I want to talk to you.
So you, we got to my office, we sat on the couch and he said, you know what? We're going to sell everything and live in avan. And I want. Well, I've seen people do that, but what and you were just like, yep, we've got ourselves a van we're going to retrofit it. And then next thing you know, we're putting home on the market, go through about how that would be.
Were you guys through the process of the house when we contacted Trisan and I told him, Hey, well, let's get this thing going. We wanted to move really fast. But the housing market at the time was really hot. So we knew once it got on the market would probably sell quick. So I contacted Tristan and. We got to talking and he's like, all right, let's make it happen.
And then he came over to the house, he took a look and he's like, how soon do you want this on the market? I was like tomorrow. So we just want to make things happen. So went through the process. Um, we got it sold. We went with an aggressive price and we got, we wanted, which was really awesome. Um, then after they went under contract, it was like, it kind of got real, like, okay, we're about to get rid of this house.
So then we kept trying to downsize. We kept. Getting rid of stuff, selling things, they had some stipulations they wanted in the contract and we got all those taken care of. Um, and then cleaning up the house. It was slowly getting more and more real that, you know, we're about to live in a van and it's like, okay, Then we moved everything out.
It turns out we had way more stuff than we thought. We ended up filling her parents and basement full of stuff. And we're still going through it to this day, but we're slowly getting rid of stuff, but now it's like, okay, so let's, we're going to live in a van. It's pretty cool. You know, we've been in a van for a little over two weeks now and uh, so, so far it's been going great, but it's.
Very less stressful. I don't want to worry about mowing the grass or fixing stuff around the house. You know, it takes like five minutes to clean this whole van. So yeah, doing the dishes takes like 10 minutes and it's super simple. So it's just a simpler way of life. Closing the house. Papers are signed.
You go to the title company, you pick up the check last check for the place that you were in forever or the past few years, the place that you got married in. And at that moment, what did you, what did you think, what did you feel? Did you have a huge celebration? Was like, Holy crap. What, what was your emotion at the time when you, when you grab that check?
When actually when we went to pick up the check, we walked in the check, wasn't even ready. The lady was walking down the aisle or the hallway and she's like, you're Vince Herman. I was like, yes, sir. Or yes ma'am. And she's like, here's your check? I was like, yes, I got it. And I looked. It was the most money I've ever held in my hand.
Like, I've never had a check that vague, like ever. So I looked at it showed Elise and she's like, I was like, we're going to the bank right now taking it to the bank. So we hopped in the truck, drove to the bank, cash, the check. And then, uh, we looked at it and I was like, instantly, we just paid off the van.
So we have no debt whatsoever. We just paid everything off and then live in these next few months, you know, still working full time. It's just saving up more to travel longer. At least I know that you spent a lot of time with the upgrades, with the fixing, with the, the painting, all these other things.
Tell me more about how you went through that process and what you were doing in the interim, taking it from a, basically a panel van to creating your home. COVID actually sped up that process quite a bit. So I was serving tables prior to COVID and so March kind of hit and we went into kind of a shutdown.
So Vinny was still working full time. So I ended up just taking all of my extra time and throwing it into the van. So we insulated the whole thing. We built everything from the ground up everything's made of like plywood, like half inch Birch plywood. And so we bought none of it. Already manufactured. So it took a lot more time than I think we anticipated.
And we have no carpentry experience whatsoever prior to this or electrical or plumbing or electrical or plumbing. So we just kind of taught ourselves as we went and kind of bought things as the money became available. And so. Um, we spent so much time, just even like trying to figure out where we were going to put stuff much less building it, getting the electrical figured out, teaching ourselves how to do all of that.
So it was challenging, but it was fun. Everything's done and get things paid off. Where's your first trip plan? So our first stop is actually a Bismark North Dakota watch out. Um, the reason we had to go to Bismark is most of my family lives up there. And before we take off on this long journey, we want to say goodbye to all of our family and tell him we won't be around for a while, but after that we're going to head West.
Right. And then we're gonna head over into, uh, our goal is to do every. National park and every state. So I'm about through Montana and over into Oregon, California and down. And then, and if we get lost in like a ski resort, so yeah. Well, guys, that sounds incredible. So I, I wanted to follow you if I wanted to check up on your adventures, are you planning on documenting that?
Like a lot of other people are, so if you want her to find us, we're going to be documenting our trip. Uh, our Instagram is freedomoffthegrid. All one word, our Facebook is Freedom off the Grid and then our YouTube channel. That's, we're going to start here eventually is also going to be Freedom off the Grid, and we're going to document all of our travels, be blogging.
Um, Elise is going to do some pictures along the way. And, uh, so if you guys want to follow us, then we'd more than appreciate that. Yes, there we have it everybody Vinny and Elise going from three bedroom, two bath to van life, going to check out all the national parks in the nation. As long as I got a fun to me, I'm not sure I could do it though.
Thanks for watching. Have a great day. and remember love where you live.