Lauren had been dreaming of #vanlife for awhile, but thought it would never happen. But when lockdown hit, she got her chance. She managed to convince her dad to help her build out the interior of her Ford Transit while she was living at home.
They did an absolutely amazing job! The inside is a lovely blend of turquoise blue & white finishes, and the tin roof is such a nice touch. Just wait until you see the outdoor table they made, though. Lauren got in touch and did a great Q&A with us, so be sure to check that out after the video tour. She now travels with her boyfriend around the East Coast.
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Stella The Van: Couple’s East Coast Travels
The tin-style ceiling looks stunning.
And those turquoise tiles. Lovely.
She has a super organized garage space.
Check out the faux marble countertops, microwave and mini-fridge
There’s even a little oven! And awesome produce bag.
And wow! This table is so gorgeous.
She has a great solar setup!
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What are your name(s)?
Lauren & Jon
Where are you from?
How did you first become seriously interested in tiny homes?
I (Lauren) have been interested in vanlife for years! For a long time, I believed that it was never going to happen. I had no building experience to build it myself, and had no idea where to start or how to afford it. So I started saving in the hopes that one day I’d been able to buy one.
Then the COVID pandemic hit in early 2020, and I was at home. My dad was also working from home full-time, and after begging for a few months, he was convinced to help me build it. So, I got a loan, bought the van, and started building it out in my parent’s driveway starting in September 2020! We officially moved into the van on May 3rd, 2021 and have been loving it ever since!
What type of tiny house do you have or are you working on?
We have a Ford Transit 3500 high roof extended length, which is about 22ft long. It is about 80 sq.ft. inside which sounds super tiny but its plenty of space for us!
Why did you go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of it for yourself?
For us, doing vanlife was a way to live our lives to the fullest before settling down. We both finished college and had the perfect opportunity to travel in the van, save money, and experience so much while we are still healthy and able to.
How long did it take you to finish your tiny house?
It took 8 months in total, starting from September 2020 to May 202. Most of that time was only during the weekends though, since I (Lauren) was still working full-time.
Did you do it yourself? Who helped? How much did it end up costing you to build it? (optional)
I (Lauren) built and designed our entire van! I had tons of help from my dad, who really helped with a lot of the wood cutting and major heavy lifting. Including all costs (such as cost of wood, tools, all components, materials, etc.), our van cost about $60-65,000 including the cost of the van itself, which was $36,000.
How did you figure out where to put it? Do you keep it in one place or do you move around?
Our van is moving around constantly! Thankfully I was able to build it out in my parents driveway, so during the build it stayed there all the time. But now that we live it in full-time, we are constantly moving around from one place to the next.
What’s been the most challenging part about your tiny house so far?
For us, finding where to fill up our fresh water tank is one of the more difficult and annoying parts about living in the van, especially since you can’t really do anything or go anywhere if you don’t have water! We mainly travel on the east coast, and finding water fill-ups is even harder here versus out west.
What benefits are you experiencing from it so far?
One major benefit is that we save tons of money by not paying rent or utility bills. We also love that because we can move around so easily, we’ve been able to visit so many friends and family around the country that we haven’t seen in years! We’ve also made a lot of new friends within the vanlife community that are amazing people!
What helpful piece of advice would you give to others who are interested in going tiny? What mistakes could you help them avoid?
Do your research! Spend hours watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, or listening to others who have done if before and decide if it will really work for you and your lifestyle. So many people have a romanticized version of living in tiny homes that they see online, but it’s not always accurate. Also, if you plan to build your own tiny home/bus/van, spend a ton of time deciding what is important and what’s not important to you. Don’t plan to build things in your tiny home that you don’t already use living in a normal house, and vice versa: don’t leave things out that you do use because you think you can go without them. This is what makes living in a tiny house/van a lot harder!
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Our big thanks to Stella for sharing!
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