NOMADLAND – Since the start of the health crisis, more than 400,000 Americans have offered themselves megacaravans, in which they crisscross the country year-round, all moorings released. The program “7 à 8” followed several, from the middle classes or wealthy retirees.
“Hit the road, Jack”. This song from Ray Charles’ repertoire comes up repeatedly in this report by 7 to 8, viewable at the top of this article. And for good reason: those who “take the road” would be more and more numerous in the United States since the Covid crisis. A well-organized escape, in a motorhome and often with the family. A change of life: we sell our house, we organize our subsistence, and we “hit the road”.
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Lauren and Aaron, approached by our team, took the plunge three years ago, and have no regrets. “Our decor changes all the time”, enthuses the 30-something. “Our environment is never the same, it’s just great, I love change.” The couple sold their house and bought a used motorhome for $ 25,000, to leave their Atlanta routine for good. With their two young children, they change places every 10 days on average.
The original idea was “a one-year station wagon to travel across the United States and see as much as possible”, says Lauren, but the couple got so fond of traveling that they “decided to make it [leur] new way of life “. They finance themselves thanks to the online company that Aaron manages to manage remotely, and Lauren feeds their Instagram account with photos of their adventure.
An economical range above are Kim and Jay, who find a way to live six months a year away from the rigors of Michigan. Jay still works several hours each day with his twelve employees at a consulting firm, all of whom work from home, while Kim devotes two hours a day to the company’s accounts. The couple, less adventurous, but more fortunate, park their € 250,000 vehicle at a specialized and handpicked campsite on the Alabama coast. The campsite manager, also questioned in the subject, struggles to hide her satisfaction: “We don’t like to say that the Covid is a blessing for business”, she explains, “but I think indeed that it boosted the number of visitors”.
Sedentary luxury motorhomes
On the same luxury campsite are Gary and Trish, two wealthy retirees from Texas. After selling their house and plumbing business, they bought a luxury motorhome for € 450,000. Fully equipped high-end kitchen, master bedroom, large bathroom, and even a fireplace. Nothing is lacking in their rolling house… which also rolls less and less. Gary and Trish have indeed bought their place at the campsite, for 100,000 €, and built a small outbuilding on site to receive their friends. Because it is a real community that has been formed, after meeting from campsite to campsite.
In Oregon, a luxury motorhome builder is rubbing his hands. These large, comfortable furnished buses are initially intended for touring artists, such as Justin Bieber, one of his clients. Here “camper vans” can cost up to 2.5 million euros. But demand has exploded with the pandemic, and the travel vehicle industry is one of the few to have benefited from the effects of the crisis.
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In the Sierra Nevada, at the foot of the grandiose cliff “El Capitan”, our little traveling family found friends, met during confinement, while their vehicle had been parked with dozens of others in Florida. These middle-class suburban escapees are nowhere near returning home, as Lauren acknowledges: “Going back to a sedentary life would be really very difficult”.
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