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Nine Months Building their Camper Van

Andrea and Jacob lost their field of work in 2020, and were feeling isolated with all the travel bans. The Swedish couple decided a van would be a great way to save on rent and be able to see more of Europe.

Their original plan was to do a quick budget build, but they ultimately decided to take it slow and do it right the first time, and the results are stunning! They’ve been traveling ever since while Jacob gets a degree and Andrea works a number of side gigs to keep her income streams diverse. We got to interview Andrea below, so be sure to check that out!

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Stunning Van Conversion in Sweden for European Travel

They have a good solar system.

They have a fixed bed in the back of the van.

The tile backsplash is gorgeous!

They have a pull-out pantry that stores a lot.

Every detail in their van is aesthetically pleasing!

The macramé shelf is lovely.

Here’s the office space where Jacob does school.

The have a sleek paint job!

Here’s what the van looked like at the beginning!

Here’s Andrea, making some food.


What got you into tiny living?

I have always loved to travel and explore new places. When Covid hit both my an Jacob’s jobs were some of the first disappearing. That in combination with it being much harder to travel, vanlife was a great way to both save money on rent and see the world. We decided to buy an empty cargo van and build our little dream home och wheels.

Did you build your home or buy it? How long did the process take?

We built it. The original plan was to do a pretty fast budget build since it was our first van and we didn’t know if we’d like it. That didn’t really work out. Those who know me know that I want to do things the right way, and I’m also both practical and picky when it comes to looks. So we ended up doing a high-end build that instead of three months took us about 9 months. We did take a couple of months off in the middle of the build though to make some extra money and wait out the coldest part of the Swedish winter. We’re really happy that we decided to build it ourselves. Not only did we learn a lot of new things that we might never have learned otherwise, but now we also know how to fix most of the stuff that can break in the van ourselves. That gives us a sense of security that we wouldn’t have felt if we bought a finished van.

How do you make money on the road?

Jacob studies from the van, and in Sweden you get money from the government while you study, so that’s great for vanlife. I’m working as a graphic designer and I do most of my work from the computer, I also own a cabin in Sweden that I have on AirBnb for some extra income and a couple of other small side hustles. I prefer not to put all of my eggs in one basket, so I can get by economically even if one of my income streams would disappear.

How has tiny living changed your life (for better or worse)?

It’s made me more aware of what I need to feel good (both physically and mentally). While being away from friends and family has been hard, it has also been a good way of finding my own way. This has helped me understand what I need in my everyday life, and even though some of the things are hard for me to keep up with on the road, I know what I need to do the day I decide to settle down somewhere.

What’s the hardest part of tiny living?

For me, it’s not having my own space to recharge. I’m an introvert and need time and space for myself to recharge my social batteries, and that can be really hard sometimes. Luckily, Jacob spends most of his time in the van in his “office”, and I spend it in the bed. Having a small wall between us helps a lot.

What’s the most rewarding part?

All the new friends we’ve made. The vanlife community is the most friendly and welcoming community I’ve ever been a part of. No matter where you come from and where you meet, people are fantastic. I’m absolutely certain that some of the friends we’ve made on the road over the past two years will be lifelong friends.

Any advice for people looking to go tiny?

Do a lot of research before you start. If you want to start vanlife, a great thing to do is to rent a couple of vans with different layouts to get a better feeling of what you like and what you need in a van to be happy with it. When you’ve decided to go tiny, start to sort your stuff and get rid of as much as possible pretty early. The way I usually do it is to first get rid of everything I haven’t used the last year, then move on to the things I haven’t used during the past 6 months and finally go through everything left after that to figure out what I actually need to bring to my new tiny home.

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Our big thanks to Andrea for sharing!🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    May 30, 2023, 4:00 pm

    This is one of the prettiest vans I’ve seen so far. . .I think it’s my favorite. Looks like a country cottage. Very cozy and inviting. Great job!

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