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Daughter & Dad Duo Create Her Awesome “College Dorm” Van Conversion

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Jocelyn knew the cost of college housing is expensive, and after going down the campervan rabbit hole, she wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Although most parents of 20-year-olds might discourage a nomadic future, her dad supported her endeavor and the two of them converted a commercial van into her home on wheels!

He admitted the build-out would have gone faster (and better) had he just done the work himself (since he works in construction), but Jocelyn wanted to be a part of the entire process, and he agreed to learn to work with her. The end result is a home soaked in Jocelyn’s personality and a father’s love!

Check out the video tour with Allison of Tiny Home Tours below, and follow Jocelyn on Instagram here.

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#VanLife College Dormitory Alternative: DIY Build

A five gallon galvanized tub from Tractor Supply became her sink.

She covered a burlap sack in epoxy to create a custom counter!

The duo used reclaimed pallet wood wherever they could.

Here’s Jocelyn, getting comfortable with power tools!

VIDEO: 20 Year Old Builds Stealth DIY Camper Van


  • Commercial van turned college dorm
  • Jocelyn (age 20) and dad (construction worker) outfitted the van
  • Lots of pallet wood and reclaimed materials in the van
  • Hanging closet space
  • Comfortable bed with garage space underneath
  • Propane stove under cool burlap bag countertop

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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.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • jerry dycus
    September 11, 2020, 9:49 am

    Way to go Allison!! Rent is too dam high and this is a great way to afford college by cutting expenses. And as Colleges have gyms/showers it fits in well. Though I’d have built in a shower, toilet.

  • Jane Ward
    September 11, 2020, 12:08 pm

    Awesome conversion! I have family that are struggling with dorm costs and renting apartments in college towns that jack up the price. This is a fun alternative!
    Besides the sink where do you shower? And do you carry a portapotty when “roughing it” and if so where do you keep it?

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 11, 2020, 12:50 pm

      I was curious about that too, since I imagine she’ll need some kind of shower/toilet set up once college starts.

      • Marsha Cowan
        September 11, 2020, 3:38 pm

        Wow! Really exceptionally great conversion! Pretty, unique, and cleverly done. Love the counter top and the frig roller. You will be very comfortable in this home while going to school.

      • James D.
        September 12, 2020, 3:10 pm

        Colleges usually have shower facilities or nearby gyms that do and always have public restrooms… So depends on her access…

        • Jane Ward
          September 13, 2020, 10:03 am

          I did that for 8 weeks in grad school living in a converted van. It was nice to have the facilities but difficult where I was because it was the 2nd snowiest year On record! I ended up buying a galvanized tub and a solar shower that I filled from my tea kettle and used it in my doorway on my knees then wiped up the mess after! Yes that was more of a pain but I didn’t freeze my hair off after showering in the gym! Lol

        • Natalie C. McKee
          September 14, 2020, 8:02 am

          Wow Jane you were a trooper!!

        • Natalie C. McKee
          September 14, 2020, 8:15 am

          Very good point, James. I was thinking the dorm wouldn’t let her in, but the gym should!

  • Susan Harter
    September 11, 2020, 12:42 pm

    Wow! You and your dad make such a good team! Wish I had had that kind of relationship with my dad. I actually have a tiny house, my tiny Robin’s Nest that was just featured a few days ago on tiny house talk. I also have an RV but have lately been drawn to van builds. I like yours better than any I have seen! I’m a wood, metal, recycle, rustic type person and you did it right! Wish I had taken off on trips instead of college because I got married and never used what I learned. The memories you are making now will last a lifetime! Congratulations and enjoy your van and you life! Great job! Susan Harter

  • Kurt
    September 12, 2020, 6:18 pm

    I love the idea of using eye hooks for hanging jewelry. I bet Jocelyn is the envy of her classmates.

  • Theresa Perdue
    September 13, 2020, 3:11 pm

    I love how cozy her van feels. I too think you should have at least a portapotty (a 5gallon bucket?) for emergencies but maybe she just wasn’t comfortable showing us that. On the whole I am excited for her as she has a bright future with that brain set.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      September 14, 2020, 7:57 am

      Ya my parents have a 5 gallon bucket set up in one of their mini-campers. Not a bad system altogether.

  • J
    August 21, 2021, 4:44 pm

    Long after she finishes school and is on her way in life, she will never forget working with her dad. Really cool 😎

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