Nikki & Ben live in her self-built 2017 Ford Transit that Nikki and her family converted in just 30 days!
This cabin-inspired beauty is absolutely gorgeous — and yes, it does have a toilet (hidden under the bed) and even a full oven. Nikki and Ben are Commercial Photographer/Videographers (@nikkibigger on Instagram) and are able to travel when COVID-19 isn’t keeping them in one place.
If you want the nitty-gritty on how and what she used to build her van, read her post here. But first, you’ll want to scroll through our pictures below and watch Nikki’s video tour of her van. We also got the chance to interview her, so be sure to stick around and read our Q&A with Nikki at the end of the post!
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She Renovated This Van in Just 30 Days!
Nikki says she hopes to go fully off-grid with her van in the future.
Inside you see the coziest van I’ve ever witnessed, with beautiful dark wood ceilings.
That oven is perfect for baking, and how adorable is her spice display?
I think my favorite part about vans is this feature: The view from bed when they open the back doors!
I really love how she closed off the cab entirely, making it a wall rather than a curtain.
And that wood circle art piece — it’s those little details that make a place a home.
What a brilliant feature: A pull-out table/desk (underneath it is the pull-out toilet!).
Take a look at the rough-edge bedframe. Also the leather pulls on all the cabinets.
Here’s another look at her fully-functional kitchen. Don’t forget to take her video tour and then read our Q&A below!
VIDEO: 30-Day Van Conversion Tour
VIDEO: My REAL monthly VANLIFE expenses: USA Roadtrip
How many people (and animals) are living in your van? Two adults, one puppy coming soon
Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny? We live anywhere, but we are currently in Vancouver Island. I have lived tiny in a van in New Zealand for 2 years before this and have lived in this van for 10 months. Ben lived in his van for 3 months before we met and then he moved into mine.
What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time? We are both Commercial Photographer/Videographers. We work and travel full-time and absolutely love this lifestyle.
Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny? I decided to go tiny because I’ve never been a fan of the system, and want to be completely off-grid eventually. Vanlife is an amazing way to live and shows you what really matters in life – which is connection, love and nature. I’m hoping to be debt-free and off-grid one day soon!
How did you first learn about vanlife? I saw someone living in a van in Jasper Alberta when I lived there and it blew my mind! I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So I moved to New Zealand and decided I wanted to live in a van and I did just that. I made a video here.
How long did it take to finish your van?
I built my van with my family in Ontario and it took us 30 days exactly to build my van. I was under a bit of a time crunch so we worked very hard to get it done. I definitely wish we took longer because although it looks beautiful, the mechanics of it weren’t tested enough and I’ve had to fix quite a few things on the road. I made a video here
and a blog post here
Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilites like compared to before?
My van cost $34K CAD and the build cost around $16K CAD but I have had to make changes along the way and it has cost more. My bills used to be around $1000 rent and $60 internet, but both of those have disappeared and I pay a significant amount less. I made a YouTube video on exactly how much I spend per month here.
How did you find a place to park and live in your van? Until now, we have been constantly moving and roadtripping through Canada and USA. We mostly stay on BLM land and rec sites or National Forests. Since Covid, we wanted to find a safe place (that wasn’t closed down) that we could relax and we pay minimal rent to live somewhere on Vancouver Island on some beautiful land!
Before going tiny, what was life like? Before tiny, which was 2014, life was fun because I was living in tourists towns working in restaurants, making loads of friends and hiking. But before I figured out I could leave my home town, life was depressing and mundane. I was never inspired by my surroundings and never met anyone who was interested in living the same lifestyle as me. It was only once I started traveling that I finally felt truly me and found people like me. Living 9-5 has always made me down and I could never do it again!
Is there anything from your old life that you miss? 10000% No, I don’t miss a single thing about my old life. I could life in a van/cabin forever and be so happy 🙂 This lifestyle is perfectly for me.
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny? The benefits I would be experiencing would be saving money; being uninfluenced by the urge to buy because I simply cannot consume; and finding what truly makes me happy which are not physical possessions, but connections, love, learning and experiencing.
What about some challenges? Challenges would be the difficulty finding a place to park sometimes, especially in Canada. Always being on the hunt for water or an Anytime Fitness to shower and when things in the van break. If we are stationary and know where we can shower, get water and park for the night then most of our challenges are gone.
What makes your van special? My van is special because I made it with my family. I always get asked if I would sell it for $100K, and I definitely could not. It’s so special and I’d love to keep it forever. When it breaks down, I’d love to turn it into a stationary cabin on my land.
What’s your favorite part of your van? It’s so hard to choose a favorite part, but I love the counter top that took me days to work on as well as the mirror – but the jars are so cute too! I’m in love with my van 🙂
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny? My advice would be, take time on your build, research lots and do it right the first time. Also, don’t buy cheap because it’ll break and you’ll have to buy expensive so it lasts anyways.
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Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk
and the Tiny House Newsletter
. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.