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Four Years of Van Life in Scandinavia

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Katja & Björn have been traveling Scandinavia in their self-converted van — named Beelzebus — for nearly 4 years now! Most recently they purchased a garage/workshop in Gotland (where they have family) which they’ve been renovating to act as a rental property and a spot they can stay when they come home.

Below they share their van life story, as well as some pictures and a video tour of their progress on the garage overhaul. Enjoy!

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Plus Their Garage-to-Tiny-Home Project

Our tiny house is a Mercedes 508D from 1984 called Beelzebus. At the moment we are based on a Swedish island called Gotland.

We restored the exterior and all the mechanical problems and built the interior ourselves.

When we bought the van we thought it was in a fairly good condition for such an old vehicle, but later on we found out that the van needed a lot of bodywork.

It was very rusty and there were a lot of holes in it. So Björn learned to weld to be able to restore it himself. It took Björn a couple of months just to fix all the rust holes.

While restoring the van, we renovated and sold our house. We decided to moved in into the van to live a simpler and freer life and to be able to travel more because we were tired of in a way limiting “island” life.

We traveled mostly in Scandinavia for a while but had to return to Gotland due to family matters. We’ve lived in the Beelzebus for 3-4 years now.

Sometimes we stay in a little cabin on Gotland, but mostly we prefer to live in the van.

We move around the island from time to time and sometimes take shorter trips to the mainland but we are mostly staying put and working on a couple of new projects at the moment.

We are working on building a 50m2 apartment that we are planning to rent out and a tiny-tiny base for ourselves (18m2 + a loft of ca 9m2) beside our garage in an old workshop (total of 100m2) to be able to have some passive income as well as a base that we can return to or work from when we are visiting Gotland in the future.

We used to rent out the building as an industrial workshop when we were traveling before but after staying on the island for a while, we figured that we could not only increase the value of the building by turning into an apartment, we could also have a tiny place of our own here.

Selling Everything to Live Better in beelzebus 3

Since we will always have to come back Gotland once in a while, because we have family here.

The plan is to move away from Gotland still and travel for a while longer as soon as we are done here.

But we want to have some passive income as well as a base/garage we can work from.

One of the first projects we are planning to do in the garage as soon as the apartments are done is to restore an old military truck Volvo Laplander from 1963 and turn it into an off-road camper for shorter trips.

It’s 4 years later and we are still excited about this way of life but we are also working on creating some stability so we can continue doing what we love.

VIDEO: Beelzebus Mercedes 508D

Here’s the workshop reno in process!

This is the idea for it when it’s complete.

VIDEO: Old Workshop Makeover & Tour

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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.
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • vee
    October 11, 2022, 5:33 pm

    How warm and comfortable — love all the wood and more. Since they’ve been living in the van mostly for a few years — guess they figured out how wonderful it can be. Their pooch is happy too!!!

  • Marsha Cowan
    February 13, 2023, 8:04 pm

    Lovely! Some clever design elements. I love the table placement and the little pull out table on the other side. I also like the shapes on the wooden shelves, and it looked like he was setting up a portable shower near the front. Was I wrong? It’s a great home.

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