From FBI to Vanlife

Hey! I’m Joey and I used to work for the FBI but now I live in a van. After graduating university with an engineering degree I was fortunate enough to land a tech job working for the FBI at their headquarters in Washington DC, no doubt a dream job for so many people, and at the time I was stoked for this opportunity! I had never lived in DC before and now I was going to be working right on Pennsylvania Avenue a few blocks down from the White House. Pretty soon after starting, I was having meetings at other government agencies, working on bringing modern tech to government agencies, and doing some other cool stuff that I can’t write about here…

But once the initial coolness factor wore off it didn’t take long for me to tire of that lifestyle. Growing up I was the kid with a million interests but could never pick just one to focus on. Whether music, playing hockey, camping, skiing, or building something in my basement, I was always finding a new way to keep myself busy. So when the time came to be a “real adult” and work a job where I was doing virtually the same thing in an office every day I didn’t handle it too well. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the corporate and government office life was not for me and knew I had to get out somehow.

So after a year and a half, I cut ties with the FBI and Washington DC and moved back home to the Boston area to figure out my next move. I got a job as a software engineer for what I thought would be a short time just while I pay off student loans and figure out what I actually want to do.

But then COVID happened.

So while the world shut down and we were all trapped inside, I was lucky enough to still have a job that switched to fully remote work and found myself with some more free time to plan out what I would do next. Not coincidently around this time is when I discovered vanlife and started watching far too many van tour and van build videos on YouTube. It got to the point where I would spend all my free time watching van videos so I eventually said I either need to stop wasting time watching hours and hours of videos, or I need to actually commit and do this thing.

So I bought a van.

After I don’t know how many hours of vanlife videos watched I finally found and bought an empty RAM Promaster 2500 to do my build in. By this point I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted in my build after all the research I had done and had even made a 3D model of my layout, so all that was left to do was buy the materials and get to work!

Lucky for me my dad is an electrician and contractor, so when I went home to do my build he already had all the tools and advice I would need to complete my build! I also worked with him while I was in high school so I had some construction skills myself. For the next 6 months every hour I wasn’t working my “real adult” full time software job I was building out my van, and I loved that process! Definitely stressful at times when things don’t go according to plan or you need to alter your design to actually fit in the van or it’s not going as smoothly as you thought it would, but I’m so happy and proud that I was able to build out my whole van by myself! (with help from dad).

Roughly 6 months after purchasing my empty van, Vangelina Jolie and I were ready to hit the road! And now a year and half and 37 states later I don’t see any sign of stopping soon. The past year and a half has been an incredible adventure that I’m very thankful I get to live. I feel like I get to go back to how I was as a child with a million different interests and vanlife allows me to be able to pursue a bunch of them with the freedom it provides. I still work part time as a software engineer to make money while on the road and always keep my socials updated to inspire people to live their lives the way they want to and not the way they feel they ought to. For much of my college and early professional career I did things not because they were what I wanted to be doing, but because I thought that’s what you had to do to be a “responsible adult”. But I now think differently that you’ll be the best version of yourself if you pursue things that actually interest you and you want to do with full focus and intention, and I’m so thankful that vanlife has shown me that!

If you want to see my full van build and follow along with my journey, you can follow me on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok at @joemofoshoyo.

Keep on wandering and see you on the road!

Aya Mariano

Published in March


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