Kibbo is rethinking #VanLife to create a community of digital nomads paying up to $3,650 a month to roam at will

bchang@businessinsider.com (Brittany Chang)
·6 min read
Kibbo Clubhouse Community
A Kibbo van.

Kibbo

  • Kibbo is creating a business out of fusing the #VanLife community with a membership model to create an on-the-road collective of digital nomads on the west coast.

  • Kibbo members can access "Clubhouses" — with a kitchen, laundry, common spaces, gear, and food — in different locations around California, Utah, and Nevada.

  • For those who don't have a tiny home on wheels but still want to partake, Kibbo rents newly converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter camper vans for a monthly fee.

  • Monthly membership payments can go up to $3,645, not including the sign up fee.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Kibbo is fusing the #VanLife community with a membership model to create an on-the-road collective of digital nomads across the country. 

Camper van and RV sales  have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic as more companies started announcing long-term work from home plans. Now, Kibbo is hoping to jump on the trend of "working from anywhere" by creating a fleet of camper vans and "clubhouses" around the western half of the country to create a community around digital nomad-ship.

The idea for the company came from its founder Colin O'Donnell, who decided to combine the "freedom of van life" with the community feeling he experienced at a co-living space in San Francisco, according to O'Donnell's Medium post. This, along with Kibbo's membership model, creates what the company says will be a co-living alternative to an otherwise isolated life on the road, all with the added benefit of being an affordable and flexible housing solution.

Kibbo will begin building out its collection of clubhouses in the fall, starting with Big Sur, California, Black Rock Desert, Nevada, Zion, Utah, and Ojai, California.

More clubhouses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley will be constructed next year, and the company plans to expand to cities like San Diego, Seattle, and New York in the future, according to O'Donnell's Medium post

Kibbo's idea of a community and co-living space around van life didn't stem from just the onset of the pandemic and, subsequently, the increase in remote workers.

Kibbo in the Sierras 1
A Kibbo van in the Sierras.

Kibbo

"Unlike top-down, traditionally designed and built real estate developments, Kibbo is setting out to build the first of the next generation of cities: flexible, reconfigurable, designed and defined by the people that live in it, off the grid and sustainable," O'Donnell said.

kibbo van interior design
A rendering of the interior of a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

In 2017, 47.7% of home renters spent at least 30% of their income on housing, and in 2018, 25% of renters spent half of their income on the same, according to a study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Kibbo Van California Coast
A Kibbo van in California.

Kibbo

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Meanwhile, the younger population has become increasingly transient with their housing: 45.4% of millennials in 2017 reported that they had lived in their current space for under two years, a rise from 33.8% in 1960, according to a study from Zillow.

Kibbo Van California Coast 2
A Kibbo van in California.

Kibbo

Source: Zillow

According to Kibbo, the increase in expensive housing, constant moving, the "loneliness epidemic," and rise in remote work amid the pandemic creates a segment for the business.

Kibbo VanLife
A person inside of a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

Source: Cigna

Kibbo uses a membership model to create and supply a community for van lifers on the road.

Kibbo Van Dive
A Kibbo van.

Kibbo

Its members can also opt — albeit at a higher cost — to rent a new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter camper van that includes a bedroom, kitchenette, and storage.

Kibbo interior rendering
A rendering of the interior of a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

The kitchen unit, which is located by the front of the van's living space, has storage, a fridge, a sink, and a cooktop.

Kibbo Van Kitchen
The kitchen of a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

The back of the van has a full size bed with under-bed storage that also holds extra bench seats.

kibbo van interior design
A rendering of the interior of a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

However, Kibbo members don't need to rent the company's in-house vans.

Kibbo Van Redwoods
A Kibbo van in the Redwoods.

Kibbo

Instead, members can use their own tiny home on wheels, "provided it meets Kibbo's high standards and is in good condition" and less than 25 feet long, according to the company's frequently asked questions page.

Kibbo Kitchen 1
The kitchen in a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

Source: Kibbo

Kibbo's clubhouses then provide the typical co-living space essentials, such as laundry, common rooms, Wi-Fi, and a full and stocked kitchen.

Kibbo Kitchen — cred Jason Broscoe
The kitchen in a Kibbo Clubhouse.

Jason Broscoe

It also has outdoor gear — such as paddle boats and bicycles — that its members can use.

Kibbo Kitchen 2
The kitchen in a Kibbo Clubhouse.

Kibbo

The company has already opened its waitlist for its first 100 members.

Kibbo in the Sierras 3
A Kibbo van in the Sierras.

Kibbo

As of now, membership is only open to those who want to be full-time van lifers.

Kibbo Coastal Road 2
A Kibbo van on the road.

Kibbo

To accommodate its "cheaper than a studio apartment" price model, Kibbo has different pricing tiers.

Kibbo Clubhouse Community
A Kibbo van.

Kibbo

Source: Kibbo

However, a combination of these prices can lead to a living situation that may be more expensive than a typical studio apartment: monthly membership payments can go up to $3,645, not including the sign-up fee.

Kibbo Clubhouse Dinner
A dinner at the Kibbo Clubhouse.

Kibbo

The sign-up fee is $485, although it's waived until the end of 2020. Members then have to pay $150 per one person a month, or $195 for two people.

Kibbo in the Sierras 2
A Kibbo van in the Sierras.

Kibbo

However, this membership price doesn't include the converted Sprinters, which then costs an additional $1,500 to $2,500 per month, depending on the "options and term," according to Kibbo.

kibbo van interior design
A rendering of the interior of a Kibbo van.

Kibbo

Source: Kibbo

This membership fee also doesn't include visits to its locations and use of amenities, which then costs an additional monthly $995 for unlimited access.

Kibbo Clubhouse Zion
The Kibbo Clubhouse in Zion.

Kibbo

But if this access price is too steep, members can purchase a $950 pack of 10 overnight, 24-hour stays at its clubhouses.

Kibbo Clubhouse Kitchen Zion
The Kibbo Clubhouse's kitchen in Zion.

Kibbo

People with additional #VanLifer friends can also pay $50 for a day pass at the Clubhouse, or $485 for an unlimited month's use.

Kibbo Coastal Road 1
A Kibbo van on the road.

Kibbo

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