Up-and-coming business Kibbo has an innovative idea for how nomads can live and work full-time in comfort while building a community of like-minded adventurers. But is it a good idea for RVers?
Those of us who travel often in an RV are no strangers to the nomad lifestyle.
Taking amenities like a kitchen and a comfortable place to sleep wherever we go allows us the freedom to live normal, productive lives without being tethered to a house or apartment.
So it should be no surprise that this way of life has become a more attractive mode of living during and after a pandemic. As housing prices have gone up the last couple of years, pricing out a lot of buyers and remote working is now a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future, sales of outfitted vans and RVs have skyrocketed.
But perhaps the one thing hardest to translate to the nomadic lifestyle is community.
The founders of Kibbo are trying to seize on that challenge and are offering a creative alternative to traditional house living – aimed at one very high end – and exclusive – segment of the market.
And there’s apparently a hunger for it. They sold out their presale event by five times their initial goal and claim to have a long list of people waiting to join.
So what is Kibbo doing exactly?
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The most important and distinguishing perk Kibbo provides is a network of “clubhouses” to hang your hat.
To me, their setup sounds like elements of a high-end hostel. mixed with co-living workspaces that resemble communal compounds made up of very affluent mostly young vanlifers.
They’re located in several major cities in the west coast area, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and popular nature destinations like Big Sur and Zion.
These clubhouses function to fill the hole that a house or apartment would, with more amenities like laundry machines, and more space and comfort. Many even stocks healthy food and available gear specific to that region to borrow, all included in your membership.
Life on the road can be pretty isolating, so these clubhouses also serve as a social hub. These places are where you can meet other members partaking in this lifestyle, and eat together and join each other for activities.
They even service professionals by providing fast Wifi and pleasant spaces to work.
Kibbo also provides the service of renting members fully outfitted vans for nomadic living. Basically, Kibbo is trying to be a one-stop-shop for anyone, beginner or otherwise, to experience van life comfortably the way they want to do it.
But how much does all this cost?
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As of this writing, there are three separate charges to keep in mind if you’re thinking of joining Kibbo.
First, there are two kinds of base membership fees.
The cheaper one, at only $100 for a whole year, gives you access to the community formed around Kibbo. You can buy or rent a van, and even rent out your own van if you own one, as well as attend the company’s online events.
The other membership plan costs $150 a month, which comes out to $1,800 a year, allows you exclusive access to the clubhouses and in-person events.
This might sound reasonable but if you would like to stay full-time and permanently at a clubhouse the cost for unlimited stays is $995 a month.
Keep in mind these are the costs per person, but if you are sharing a vehicle you get a 50% discount for each additional member.
If you’re looking to rent a van from Kibbo, this cost starts at $1,500 a month.
Oh yeah, there's an application process and a personal interview you must undergo before they accept you into their Kibbo community.
Kibbo – It's not for most of us
So all in, this lifestyle isn’t all that affordable for many people. According to Kibbo’s own sales pitch, they’re finding that their customer base so far has been individuals who make over $150,000 a year.
Also, a good portion is grad school educated and consider themselves “luxury travelers.”
In their own words: “Kibbo is an inclusive community of adventurers who want to live a life that feels free and connected to the people who inspire us.
Or in less ostentatious language: If you do not inspire them… please move on.
Kibbo is trying to cater specifically to those who can afford a house or condo but are looking for a different way to spend their money on living expenses and hang with their affluent peers instead of the rest of us RV riff-raff.
There is one benefit to Kibbo over renting an apartment or buying a house. There’s no long-term commitment, giving you the flexibility to try out this kind of life for as long as you like, or until you weary of the concept and find some other trendy little thing to chase after.
Essentially, Kibbo is selling “freedom.”
At a very high cost.
Add to that more than a touch of elitism and you can see why their niche seems to us to be pretty small when compared to the entire RV community.
But, speaking of Freedom, if you want to show people what freedom really looks like, order some RV Lifestyle gear today. We have a great selection of t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and more with fun RV slogans and designs.
So as an RV owner, should you buy in to Kibbo?
As of now, Kibbo states that they’re only accepting RVs 25 feet and under.
Also, the RVs would need to meet their “high standards.” Their website doesn’t say upfront what those standards are exactly, but I can take a guess.
The vans they rent are “state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz sprinters,” so I have to suspect that if your RV is a little worse for wear aesthetically, you may be rejected.
If your RV is accepted, then what you’re really paying for is access to their community.
If you like to RV travel exclusively to get away from it all, and experience peace and quiet in nature on your own, then you don’t have much of a reason to spend for Kibbo’s services.
If the community aspect intrigues you, then I think it’s fair to acknowledge that as of now, it’s still unproven marketing. Kibbo is using these unknown other people as a selling point, much like companies like WeWork have done, for better or worse.
Kibbo is clearly still building their paying customer “inclusive” community, and their website includes a laundry list of desired “values.”
Among this list of 21 total are “We are kind,” “We leave things better than they were,” and “We are honest and open and direct.”
It is a little strange that a company selling the concept of “freedom” is apparently concerned with their customers fitting an ultra-specific mold.
I suppose if someone accuses you of being unkind you can always say you were just being honest and open and direct.
It’s worth noting, however, that Kibbo is still in the prototype stage. They say they are planning to learn from this experience and adjust their business before expanding.
But it’s no accident Kibbo is exciting to a lot of people, particularly with the younger generation disillusioned with the housing market.
So if Kibbo sounds interesting to you, but you have an RV bigger than 25 feet or are priced out, check back in later. They might make significant changes and expand in the near future.
Does Kibbo sound like something you would want to join? What do you find most appealing about it? Let us know in the comments!