A few years ago, Chrome Valdez was struggling with challenges many Canadians face on a daily basis.
“It was at the point where it was like teetering, am I going to be able to afford to pay rent or not,” the British Columbian said during his visit to Nova Scotia.
Valdez eventually became fed up with living paycheque to paycheque and decided to overhaul his lifestyle in an unconventional way.
“I just needed a change in my life. I was sick of the nine-to-five grind. So, I slowed down on the nine-to-five, quit the day job, moved into my van, started a YouTube channel,” he said.
He launched himself into a world of creative production, documenting his experiences online.
His YouTube channel now has more than 200,000 subscribers and he lives off of the revenue it generates.
“It fluctuates. Sometimes we have good months, sometimes we have bad months but it’s kept me full, kept the dog full, and kept us travelling,” he said.
The van lifestyle has taken him across the country on adventures where he’s met countless other people who also live in vehicles converted into homes.
“We’ve also got the people on the other end that just can’t afford the high cost of living nowadays, or the lack of affordable apartments. So, the channel has a broad message,” he said.
During his travels he connected with another van YouTuber, Emilie Guerin, a Quebec-born woman who was also struggling to afford basic necessities, working as a janitor and making minimum wage.
“I slept in my car for a full year, believe it or not, and during that time I was saving money, obviously, on the rent. And, I purchased this van after a year of living in that car,” she said.
Valdez and Guerin sparked a relationship. The two of them are embracing the nomad lifestyle, despite any stigma they may face.
“It’s a lot for the people that don’t understand it. They see us as being homeless, but this is 100 per cent my home,” Valdez said.