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Couple Survives Two Winters Living in a Small Van


Derrick & Paula moved into a Dodge Pleasure Way camper van just 2 weeks before their wedding, and then road tripped across Canada in their van for 2 months.

What started off as a honeymoon slowly turned into a semi-permanent living situation for the couple when they continued living in their van, even after they both went back to work full-time.

To-date, they’ve lived in the van for 19 months – including 2 Winters – which is impressive when you consider that they live in Ontario, Canada, where temperatures fall well below freezing for months at a time.

Please enjoy, learn more, and re-share below. Thank you!

Couple Survives Two Winters Living in a Small Van

Winter Van Life - Derrick and Paula - Exploring Alternatives

Images © Exploring Alternatives

The van interior is tiny, but it has everything they need: a comfy bed, a toilet & sink, a propane fridge and stove, as well as a propane furnace to keep them warm in winter.  The captains chairs in the front of the van rotate to create a cozy sitting area, and their DIY curtains are made using blackout material for extra privacy.

Van Interior 2 - Derrick and Paula - Exploring Alternatives

The couple has a membership at a nationwide gym which is where they shower, and they park in Walmart parking lots, which is one of the only urban areas where van dwellers can legally sleep in their vans for free.

Van Interior - Derrick and Paula - Exploring Alternatives

By living in a van, the couple was able to reduce their living expenses, especially by eliminating the cost of rent.  This allowed them to aggressively pay down their debt and get themselves into a financial situation that is allowing them to consider purchasing a home in the near future.

Van Interior 3 - Derrick and Paula - Exploring Alternatives

Images © Exploring Alternatives

They vlogged about their van life experiences on YouTube at: A Guy. A Girl. And a Campervan.

Video: Van Life – Couple Survives 2 Winters Living in a Van!

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Marcy

    I have a 1973 Chevy camping van that I often joke I can never part with ’cause I might need to live in it one day. I don’t know how I’d feel about 19 months, but I can certainly see myself doing the same to allow me privacy and the ability to save money for my next phase.

    Awesome job, guys.

  • Avatar Sondra

    Wow what a brilliant set up, almost everything you would need, kudos to you two for doing this and looking like you’re having a good time doing it !

  • Avatar Gabrielle Charest

    More power to you guys! I admire your innovative spirit.

  • Avatar jake

    What a wonderful experiment in joy. After all, tiny isn’t really about smaller, cuter, or more in less. It seems to be, among other things, about joy. Things that don’t spark joy tend to obscure, dilute, detract from things that do. This story brings me joy.

    Oh, and Danielle, I have to say, major kudos on the concept behind the name “exploring alternatives”. Priceless.

  • Derrick & Paula, Hats off to you! I give you a lot of credit to be able to live in your van. What great way to be able to save for future plans without having the overhead expenseives of paying for rent, electricity, etc. Your home is very cozy, and you have great ideas! Best of Luck in the future! Carol???

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie

      It’s so amazing 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

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