In New York City, there are so many different kinds of apartments you can live in (doorman condos, cramped railroads, tiny studios, illegal lofts) and the same can be said about campers. Enter 33-year-old singer-songwriter and student Kate Devin, who, unlike any of our other Urban Campers, lives in a newish RV . . . that she finances!
“I got a pretty nice one,” Devin said about the camper she’s named Raven. “I just happened to be at a point — and it took me a really long time to get to this point in my life — but I had pretty decent credit, so I was able to finance an RV. So I didn’t just drop, like, $2,000 on some piece of shit. I actually bought a pretty modern, nice — it’s a 2003 Chinook Concourse — Class B motor home.”
Devin purchased the RV for $26,500 plus tax at Camping World in Lakewood, NJ. “Each month I make payments to the bank on it, like you would a mortgage, so I consider it my rent,” she said. Her monthly payments come out to just $400. And Devin lives alone, right between the Grand and Montrose L train stops. True, her space isn’t big enough to host more than one or two guests at a time, but she does have all the amenities of a regular apartment: a shower, toilet, stove, kitchen and bathroom sinks, even makeshift closets she fashioned out of towel racks; plus, there’s room enough for a sizable bed and her keyboard. (There’s a refrigerator too, but she can’t use it unless she’s hooked up to a power source at all times — she mostly eats out.)
Devin came to RV living, as many do, because she was tired of paying New York’s exorbitant rent. “I had thought about [getting an RV] for years, mostly because my entire twenties I had been living in New York struggling to pay my bills and being broke like every other New Yorker . . . and I thought, ‘Oh, it’d be really cool if I could just buy an RV and live in that — that would really cut my living expenses to a minimum,’” she said. She reached her limit when a cockroach scuttled across her foot in the middle of the night in an apartment she was living in on Scholes Street. “I was like, ‘I can’t take this anymore,’” she said, almost with exhaustion. “I don’t have any money, I’m paying to live in a shithole, I am going to get an RV finally and do this either now or never. There’s nothing else holding me down!’”
And the timing of this cockroach incident? Of all months, it was December (of 2012). “I’m the kind of person where, when I’m just done with something, I’m done with it. So I gave [my roommate] 30 days notice, and January 1 was when I would have to move out. So, it just happened to fall at like the worst time of the year,” she said, not a trace of regret in her voice. But once wasn’t enough for Devin. After taking a semester off (she’s at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music getting her second undergrad degree) to spend some time in LA, playing shows along the way there and back, she moved back to New York again this January. “I mean, it is rough, definitely, in the cold, living in an RV, but I had to come back now because I didn’t want to take an additional semester off, so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just have to deal with it.’ I’m a pretty laid back person . . . so it’s fine,” she said with a shrug.
For all the things Devin finds irritating about living in an RV (the cramped space, that it’s horrible on gas, the fact that there are no dump stations in NYC) there are even more that she loves. Being able to control where she lives, for instance; getting to be her own landlord; and what’s a portable home for if not driving to the party and then being able to crash in your own bed at the end of the night just a few feet away? “I guess this whole year that I’ve had — being able to travel and tour is kind of the best reason for having it and what I love about it the most,” Devin shared proudly. To read more about Devin’s RV adventures, check out her site: whenyouliveinnycandyourhomeisanrv.com. Yes, really.