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    The Budget of a Millennial Making $130K Freelancing Remotely From Home on a School Bus

    Alice Everdeen, 32, has now spent over a year traveling the country in her school bus. She works remotely, and has doubled her previous office job salary.
    Alice Everdeen

    • Alice Everdeen left her office job to become a digital nomad and has doubled her annual salary. 
    • Everdeen’s primary expenses include transportation, cell service, and food.
    • She and her partner recently refurbished the school bus they call home. 

    Alice Everdeen has traveled the country in a school bus for more than a year.

    The 32-year-old quit her office job at an Austin-based supplement company in 2020, and now makes $130,000 a year working remotely while on the road.

    She said she worked 50- to 60-hour weeks and made less than half of what she makes now in her previous career as a content manager. She wasn’t happy, she told Business Insider, and wanted to travel more.

    Everdeen has since leaned into her previous side hustle doing voiceovers. She also makes user-generated content videos and does virtual facilitating and speaking engagements.

    She loves traveling the country with her partner Jared their dog. The couple has been on the road since September 2022 — and they recently finished refurbishing the school bus they call home.

    Van life and remote lifestyles have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people documenting their experience traveling and budgeting while on the road on social media.

    “We really spent a lot of time making sure that it was ours,” Everdeen said. “Of course we’re sacrificing space, but we didn’t have to sacrifice our sanity or livelihoods in order to live our dream.”

    Everdeen’s remote job allows her to make more and work less

    Everdeen calls herself a digital nomad, a term for people who travel freely while working remotely.

    She finds gigs on websites like Fiverr, and the flexibility not only allows her to road trip with higher pay than her previous office role, but she said she only works two or three hours per day.

    Everdeen’s expenses are also lower than they were in Texas, she said. Her main budget items are limited to cell service, food, and costs associated with parking and gas for the school bus.

    If she and Jared are parking at a campground, they might pay $30 to $60 per night. But, if they stay in a public parking lot, on public land, or with friends and family, it’s free.

    Sometimes, Jared will work at a campground in exchange for space to stay.

    The school bus drives at about seven miles per gallon, Everdeen said, so she might spend $1,000 on gas for a big drive — but she and Jared typically stay in the same place for weeks or months before moving on. She also pays car insurance on the bus and on her 2003 Chevrolet that they pull in a trailer.

    The couple pays $50 a month for two cellphones, and they spend between $300 to $600 a month on food.

    Still, Everdeen advises anyone thinking about life on the road to expect the unexpected.

    “If we have a breakdown, we might spend $5,000 fixing it. And not only that, you’re also out of a place to live for a week and have to pay for a hotel,” she said. “I think embracing anything that comes your way — good and bad — is the best way to live and to get the most out of this adventure.”

    Traveling has given Everdeen a new outlook on life

    Everdeen said she has learned a lot of lessons while on the road, and minimalism has changed her perspective.

    “I think the biggest thing is how little we need in life to be comfortable and to be happy,” she said. “My whole life I was always the person who was shopping at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx and finding the next best thing. I couldn’t do that anymore because I don’t even have any wall space to put things on.”

    Still, parts of traveling have been lonely, Everdeen said. She does not often talk directly to clients for her freelance work, and she doesn’t have coworkers.

    Last summer, she and Jared spent a few months in rural Maine.

    “I remember at one point thinking to myself: Why am I so sad? Why do I feel depressed? And I couldn’t figure it out,” she said. “I had somebody who loved me, I had a dog, I was taking care of myself. And I realized I was missing the connection aspect with people.”

    Everdeen said she now makes an effort to be more social when she travels, beyond just seeing people at grocery stores or while sightseeing.

    Sometimes others have misconceptions about Everdeen, she said, and they wonder why she is living in her school bus by choice. But she stands by her lifestyle.

    “There are a lot of especially older people —especially people over 70 or so — that have really been through life and enjoyed a lot. They’re always the ones to be like, ‘I am so happy that you’re following your dreams and you’re loving life and you’re doing what you want to do.”‘

    By May, when the weather is warm, Everdeen plans to be in Montana. She might want to buy a house and live on a farm eventually, but she doesn’t plan on giving up her life on the road any time soon.

    Are you living on the road? Have you made a major career change to fit your lifestyle? Reach out to this reporter at allisonkelly@businessinsider.com.

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