How much does anybody need? Without Bound: Perspectives on Mobile Living seeks to answer this question through testimonials from people who voluntarily live “off the grid” in any form of vehicle or mobile home. Noting that 47% of the average American’s take home pay is spent on housing, the film focuses on the imbalance of freedom versus comfort in modern society.
From the onset there is a line draw between those who choose mobile living versus those who are stuck in homelessness due to unfortunate circumstances. The film’s subjects are all living in vehicles by choice, and emphasize the societal constructs that stand to be questioned and challenged, namely a consumer mentality that dictates a constant sense of need. By scaling down and moving into a vehicle, be it a van, camper or RV, the subjects argue that mobile life makes up for a reduction in living space by allowing more mental space to re-evaluate one’s actual needs.
Subjects share their various reasons for choosing a life on the road. For one man a costly divorce and rising medical bills led him to consider purchasing a van over renting an apartment; for one woman a devastating fire resulted in simplified living; and for others Henry David Thoreau’s poem Walden served as inspiration to scale down on material needs. One couple who document their lifestyle with a blog note improved dietary habits and reduced consumption as two primary benefits they’ve experienced. Each member of the mobile community interviewed here mentions a greater sense of overall freedom.
While some communities, typically those in small and dying towns across America, embrace the mobile movement and reap the economic benefits of welcoming caravans into their parking lots and campgrounds, there is also a broader societal bias against them. Larger, more prosperous areas often enact “qualify of life laws” that forbid sleeping in public or living in vehicles. These laws exist to protect neighborhoods against potentially dangerous transients, whose criminal backgrounds and mental states are unknown. But one interview subject suggests society’s general direction will lead to a greater number of folks living in vehicles, eventually necessitating a greater acceptance of the lifestyle.
Without Bound: Perspectives on Mobile Living presents touching insight into an alternative lifestyle as well as an optimistic outlook for those who are engaged in it.