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How to Live as a Van Dweller in a 1991 Volkswagen Westfalia

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I wanted you to meet someone who decided to turn to become a van dweller in his 1991 Volkswagen Westfalia.

Kidding about the down by the river part but seriously: he decided to move into his van while still working at his job.

His reason behind it is because one of his dreams has been to become a photographer. He didn’t have to do this, as you’ll learn in a moment.

So he got rid of his house payment by living in a van made for traveling. In the video he’ll show and explain everything, including his:

  • $99 foam mattress for sleeping
  • Sleeping bag to stay warm
  • Dresser drawer underneath couch
  • Electronics and accessories
Van Dwelling in a Volkswagen Westfalia

Photo Courtesy of Living the Van Life on YouTube

I encourage you to check out the rest of the details and watch the video tour below:

  • Clock with indoor/outdoor temperature
  • Food and pantry cabinets
  • Power outlets
  • Propane refrigerator
  • 2-burner stove

You’ll also see the van in bed mode and then in couch mode. I was amazed as to how much storage space is squeezed into these vans.

He also goes over how he sets other things up like his shower kit, silverware, and junk drawer. Watch the entire video below:

Be sure and subscribe to his channel on YouTube so you can keep in touch with him.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • January 22, 2012, 10:33 am

    I just found your site. Welcome to the club. I too am doing this. Not in a van however. I started in a teardrop trailer two years ago. That lasted about 9 months I then moved up and found a cool old trailer. You can check out my travels on my site and blog. ramseystravels.com. I love this life style! I have been a photographer/designer for 30 years. So I know where you are coming from. I will be following your adventures. Thanks, Gary

    • January 23, 2012, 9:13 am

      Hey Gary. Honored you ran into us here. Thanks for the comment.. Checking out your site now.

  • Theresa
    January 22, 2012, 9:15 pm

    These videos are helpful. Too true, organization is everything. This is the type of lifestyle that a single person can live. Perhaps, dangerous for people with children. It shouldn’t be. If there were compact apartments/condos for single people, I wonder, how many people would rent them? Is this a viable market to tap into, like the “sleep pods” in Japan?

    I, for one, would not be turned off by the fact that this guy lives in his van. He is hero status to me. Kudos to those who choose the simple life.

    • January 23, 2012, 9:14 am

      Thanks, Theresa. It’s always encouraging for me to see people make sacrifices so that they can get what they really want out of life.

  • sesameB
    January 23, 2012, 3:13 pm

    Nice to see. I use propane in my tiny house, too! I have used my North Face Blue Kazoo 15 Degree Sleeping Bag Blue Ribbon Regular for years here in Arkansas. I love my Mr. Heater® Portable Buddy® Portable Propane Heater, as well!!!
    Barefootin’ in rural south central sunny Arkansas

  • sesameB
    January 23, 2012, 3:35 pm

    Other examples of folks living tiny, not necessary by choice, are the following from my own files, these are life lessons:
    Drayton Curry, 92, Nation’s Oldest Federal Prisoner: Obama AWOL On Clemency Request By Graham Rayman, published: Mon., Sep. 12 2011, Drayton Curry, age 92, the oldest inmate in federal prison, could die there waiting as he has for the past seven months for President Obama to decide on his clemency petition. Mr. Curry has been living small, and it now wheelchair-bound and in poor health. Curry, who was born when Woodrow Wilson was president, is currently in a federal prison in North Carolina having served 20 years for a non-violent drug conviction.

    Another one is Canada’s oldest inmate back before courts at 87 Posted 3 years ago FROM 2012, I learned that Mervyn Breaton spent part of his 87th birthday in a place he knows all too well – the prisoner’s box. The rest of the rail-thin octogenarian’s milestone day was back behind bars, his second home for most of his long life. The Coldstream, Ont., man with a criminal record dating back to 1936 was in front of Ontario Court Justice Ross Webster on Tuesday facing another round of drug charges.H “I feel like I was born at that jail,” Breaton told Webster during his brief court appearance. Webster reminded Breaton they had talked about his criminal past before. In December, five months ago, and in front of Webster, Breaton was given an 18-month conditional sentence after pleading guilty to 12 drug related charges, mostly for selling OxyContin.The first six months were to be spent in house arrest. Until then, Breaton, who has resided in many prisons, including a stint at the infamous Alcatraz prison as prisoner No. 1254 for robbing banks, is back in custody. Over seven decades, he has been convicted of car thefts, weapons and drug charges, vehicular manslaughter and escaping custody. He may be about to break his own record. In 1998 and a youthful 77, he was believed to be the country’s oldest federal inmate when he was imprisoned for gun-running.

    Convicted rapist, amputee, 86, asks for release — As of 4/23/11 — Arkansas has seen its elderly inmate population skyrocket. Last year, the state system held three times as many inmates over the age of 55 as it did a decade earlier.
    Published: 4/23/2011
    PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — After more than four decades in prison, a convicted rapist confined to a wheelchair is no longer considered a threat. But despite one estimate that releasing Phillip Henson Sr. could save the state as much as $160,000 a year, it’s unlikely Arkansas’ oldest inmate will leave the prison system. A judge sentenced Henson to life in prison in 1966. The inmate, now 86, lost his left leg to gangrene years ago; his hands shake as he sorts through paperwork he hopes will someday lead to his release from a prison hospital. In recommending Henson’s release, one parole board member wrote that Henson “can’t hurt anybody else.” Another member, Joe Peacock, said he felt Henson wasn’t dangerous and didn’t need to be kept in prison at such a high cost.Peacock said he was told keeping Henson locked up costs $450 a day — which adds up to more than $160,000 a year. A Department of Correction spokeswoman did not confirm that amount, saying that the department relies on a contractor to cover inmates’ medical costs. Peacock said he considered a number of things before voting in favor of Henson’s release.”His age, his health, and the fact that he was costing the taxpayers money,” Peacock said. “When it goes up to $450 a day, all of those factors go into it.” Nationally, the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that elderly prisoners are the fastest growing segment of the national prison population, largely due to sentencing laws.”Part of it is that sentences have gotten longer,” said state Department of Correction spokeswoman Dina Tyler. “And part of it is the fact that many of these offenders return to their old ways, often times because of substance abuse.” Henson now lives in a prison hospital in Pine Bluff and is learning to use a prosthetic leg. The Department of Correction says he’s received one reprimand during his time in prison. Henson says prison saved his life and forced him to kick addictions to cocaine and heroin. “I was drug-infested at the time,” he said. “I have done a complete inventory of self. I know where I was wrong, when I was wrong, and now, why I was wrong,” he said.
    Last but not least from my files, on 18 June 2011, I read that India’s oldest inmate Brij Bihari Pandey was freed at 108 – It was reported that Brij Bihari Pandey took revenge on a rival who was made chief priest of a temple — A convicted murderer, who was India’s oldest inmate, has been released from prison at the age of 108. Brij Bihari Pandey, a Hindu priest, was serving a life sentence for the murder of four people in 1987, when he was 84. Officials at Gorakhpur jail in Uttar Pradesh state say Mr Bihari, who requires regular hospital visits, was freed on humanitarian grounds.As he is unable to walk, relatives carried him from prison to a waiting car.”It was getting difficult to take care of a 108-year-old prisoner,” said jail Supt SK Sharma. “We moved an application for his release and the court accepted it.”In 1987, Mr Bihari and 15 others – many of them his nephews and family members – killed four people over the appointment of a rival as chief priest of a Hindu temple.After a trial lasting more than two decades he was sentenced in 2009 but had to be frequently rushed to hospital and was mostly bed-ridden. As he was carried from the jail, Mr Bihari hugged fellow inmates, who placed a garland of flowers on him. Prison officials said he received the garland with a broad smile and said: “God is great. Thank you.”

    I am sending my blessings to this van dweller in his 1991 Volkswagen Westfalia at least you are not in prison. Rock on!!!
    Barefootin’ in Arkansas

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