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I spend £8,500 a year to live on a train

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‘I have a lot of freedom and can decide every day where I want to go’ (Picture: Getty Images / Facebook)

Uch. TRAINS. They’re a necessary evil in many of our lives. Horrible big tin cans full of smelly people that never turn up on time and make you late for everything. The less time spent on them the better. At least for most of us in the UK, anyway.

Not so for digital nomad Lasse Stolley. This German teenager can’t get enough of them. He’s not a trainspotter, though. He’s more of a trainsquatter.

Okay, ‘squatter’ isn’t really accurate. While the 17-year-old does indeed live on trains, he does so entirely legally. And with a surprising amount of comfort.

Lasse travels 600 miles a day throughout Germany aboard Deutsche Bahn trains. He travels first class, sleeps on night trains, has breakfast in DB lounges and takes showers in public swimming pools and leisure centres, all using his unlimited annual railcard.

The self-employed coder technically has no fixed abode and appears to really enjoy his unusual way of life, something which he chronicles regularly on his blog, Life on the Train.

Lasse travels a whopping 600 miles each and every day (Picture: Getty Images)

Embarking on an unusual journey

‘I’ve been living on the train as a digital nomad for a year and a half now,’ Lasse told Business Insider recently. ‘At night I sleep on the moving Intercity Express (ICE) train and during the day I sit in a seat, at a table and work as a programmer, surrounded by many other commuters and passengers. I travel from one end of the country to the other. I’m exploring the whole of Germany.’

‘I decided to live on a train when I was 16 years old. My school days were behind me and the whole world was open to me. So in the summer of 2022, I decided to give in to my wanderlust, leave my parents’ house in Schleswig-Holstein behind and embark on a huge adventure.’

‘If I feel like travelling to the sea, I take the train north in the morning. If I long for the hustle and bustle of the big city, then I look for a connection to Berlin or Munich. Or I take the express train to the Alps for a hiking trip.’

‘I use the app to organise the next connection in the evening and sleep while I race along the tracks towards my destination. I don’t have a place to retreat to. My home is the train.’

‘The early months were tough and I had to learn a lot about how it all worked. Everything was different than how I’d imagined.’

The 17 year-old calls himself a ‘digital nomad’ and really takes it quite literally (Picture: Facebook)

Costs, overnights and The Parent Question

Lasse says that, all things considered, it costs him around €10,000 (£8,500) a year to live the way he does.

‘I have a lot of freedom and can decide every day where I want to go, whether it’s to the Alps, to a big city or to the sea. I’m completely flexible.’

He’s forced to keep on the ball, though. You know how it is with trains. Even the unsurprisingly much more efficient German rail system. ‘Every night I have to make sure that I catch the night train and sometimes I have to reschedule very quickly because it suddenly doesn’t arrive.’

What do Lasse’s mum and dad think of his decision? ‘I had to do a lot of convincing,’ he says. Once he’d done that convincing, his parents checked out the legal side of it and agreed. They helped him sell off the majority of his possessions and now fully back their son’s decision.

The unlimited pass means that Lasse has now seen every inch of his homeland (Picture: Getty Images)

Keeping luggage to a minimum

Luggage is, obviously, something of an issue. Lasse has to travel light.

‘The most important thing is my laptop and my noise-cancelling headphones, which at least give me a little privacy on the train.’

‘An important aspect of minimalism on the train is the reduction of material possessions,’ Lasse says. ‘Since the available space is very limited, you have to choose carefully what you really need. It means getting rid of unnecessary items and limiting yourself to the bare essentials.’

‘The challenge of not accumulating more and more things is a central component of minimalist living. Especially with a backpack, you quickly reach a space limit.’

Lasse’s parents took some convincing (Picture: Lasse Stolley’s Facebook)

Reflecting on an hectic 18 months

‘This life means a pretty restless existence. To switch off, I just look out the window and watching the scenery. That calms me down a lot. Then I just let my thoughts wander.’

‘My favourite route leads through the Middle Rhine Valley between Mainz and Bonn. Here the trains always travel very slowly along the river. It’s a beautifully picturesque route that stretches at the foot of the vineyards. The view outside is wonderful.’

Last month, Lasse worked out that he’d travelled a total of over 500,000 kilometres (310,000 miles) since he started living on the train – the number will now, of course, be even higher.

‘I don’t know how much longer I want to travel through Germany and wake up somewhere different every day, though,’ he says.

‘My Bahncard 100 is still valid for five months. I haven’t seen enough yet.’


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