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Tattoo Artist’s Van Life Funded by Social Media

Elen was struggling with too much space and a not-so-great landlord in her Glasgow apartment. So when she went on a 2-week European tour in her van and saw how amazing nomadic life could be, she finally took the plunge into full-time van life!

She spent six months making the van livable and might purchase a larger rig next year and start the conversion process again. While on the road she became famous enough on social media to start making money from her content — and she met her partner. In other words, van life has brought her many good things! Enjoy more of her story below.

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Leaving Toxic Rental Situation for Full Time Van Travel

I have always dreamed of living out of a van, but it became a reality in late 2022 when I was living in a flat in Glasgow and the living conditions were getting more and more difficult for me. I already had a van which I bought earlier in the year but hadn’t considered living in it full time until then.

I really struggle with having too much space: staying organised has always been a struggle for me, and I was finding life in the flat very hard to manage along with a landlord who was unwilling to help with any of the issues that we had. This, combined with a trip in the van to Europe in which I lived in it for two weeks really gave me the push I needed to downsize and take control of my living situation.

I bought the van, and then I built everything in it myself. It took me around six months to make the van liveable, and it is still to this day a work in progress. I’m always finding ways to improve it, and will probably buy a slightly larger van next year and build the whole thing again!

Tiny living has given me so much control over my life. Having fewer possessions has been liberating and knowing that I always live exactly where I park the van is very empowering. I live everywhere! I started to document it through my Instagram account and it has now become the way in which I plan to make a living – I gained 80k followers this year and it’s turned my life around.

I never realised people were so interested in my way of life, and it’s been incredibly exciting to share it with the world. I took a big road trip through Spain and Morocco in my van earlier this year and I met my current partner while I was in Barcelona. Now I live with him in Spain! It has changed my life, fundamentally, for the better in so many ways.

I am a tattoo artist and I usually make a bit of money by tattooing people I meet on my way. In the past I’ve stayed around Glasgow, worked for a few months to save and then gone on a big trip. Next I plan to make money through social media by documenting my travels, working with brands and promoting tourism destinations.

Keeping things organised is definitely a hard part of tiny living, as it is very important to stay on top of things all the time! I find this helpful, however, because it forces me to stay organised.

It’s also unpredictable because I never know where I’ll park next. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find a good space for the night – but this is entirely worth it for the benefits.

Knowing I don’t pay rent to a greedy landlord is extremely rewarding, as it the freedom from unpredictable bills. And not having any strings attached to anywhere in particular means I don’t get stressed about too many responsibilities!


  • Elen’s bad rental experience finally pushed her to live in the van she already owned.
  • She never expected her social media following to take off, but it did, and it funds a lot of her regular expenses.
  • As a tattoo artist, she also makes money on the side doing tattoo work.
  • She has plans to upgrade to a larger rig.
  • During her travels, she met her awesome partner, which has truly changed her life for the better.

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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.
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