Instead of letting a messy break-up break her down, or living in her rarely-used apartment, Chrissie chose to go tiny!
She started off as a van-lifer, but the vehicle wasn’t mechanically sound, so she later opted for an awesome box truck that she has been turning into “home” for the past 3 years. It’s allowing her to save up for a family home sometime down the road.
While the pandemic has put her and her boyfriend’s Great Australian Road Trip on hold, the couple dream of spending some time away from their Brisbane day jobs soon enough and quenching their wanderlust in Chrissie’s DIY Tuck Home. We got the awesome chance to interview Chrissie (@brisbanegirlinavan on Instagram) about her truck life, so be sure to check out our Q&A with her at the end of the post!
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From Van-Life to Box-Truck-Living in Brisbane, Australia
Here’s Chrissie with her amazing truck.
This is what she started out with (and this is after she added windows!).
Chrissie says she has coffee on her rooftop in the mornings!
Pockets are the way to go — vertical storage.
She’s created an awesome indoor-outdoor drying rack on her door.
She can both open the back and sides of her box truck, letting in tons of natural light.
Her wardrobe, wonderfully minimalistic!
The side-view of her truck.
She uses the little stool to climb up into the truck and then into bed.
Here it is by her storage bed.
She finds a new place in Brisbane to park every night.
She included plenty of storage throughout…
Avocado toast and tea, yummy!
A closer look at her bedroom with lighting.
It’s nice to be able to open the box truck tiny home to the outdoors with the roll-up door.
Q&A With Chrissie: Truck Life Australia
How many people (and animals) are living in your truck?
Just me. I’ve thoroughly considered a pet, but I have (so far) got by on the love of other’s pets – I do a lot of house sitting and have fur and feather friends all around.
Where do you live?
I stay in a different place every night, but I stay within Brisbane as my work and my boyfriend are here.
How long have you lived tiny?
Just over 4 years. I lived for a year in a mechanical headache of a van, living in it’s dead carcass on acreage and taking a bus to work for the last couple months of it, then I bought my truck. I have since been living in it while building it from a bare metal box into a comfortable home.
What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?
I am employed privately working for one person full time as a support worker. Also, I earn money with my house sitting, and I’m working very hard on finishing up a children’s book that I’ve written and illustrated. The goal for me is to one day live off my writing.
Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
Honestly, I think the decision was birthed following a messy breakup. I found myself tugging up my roots one by one for months without really having a plan or knowing why. No more internet plan, no more heavy furniture… I became obsessed with not being locked into a location. The apartment I was renting began to feel like a trap. It was the next natural step for me.
Why did you choose a truck rather than other tiny house options like a bus?
I chose a truck because I had hopes of meeting the man of my dreams, and traveling all over Australia with him in my tiny home. While still small, a truck has more space and headroom to make this a realistic goal. I’ve met that man now, and despite postponing our Australia wide trip due to the world pandemic, we have many plans in my truck. He loves it as much as I do and is very proud of me for the work I’ve done on it.
How did you first learn about tiny living?
I was pretty ignorant, to be honest. I knew backpackers traveled in vans, but that was it. Three months into my own journey, I was pet sitting some exotic parrots with a friend of mine who mentioned the Vanlife hashtag on Instagram. I didn’t have Instagram at the time and, after hearing her explanation, I later made an account and followed the hashtag. I realized there was a worldwide community of people just like me who wanted to live in a tiny space, yet have creature comforts like cushions, plants, and books.
How long did it take to finish your renovations?
Three years and counting! I very rarely work on my truck these days. I am the kind of person who leaps from motivation to motivation. My current motivation is my writing and illustrations, so the truck gets put on the back burner. Having said that, whenever I take a day to work hard on the truck, I go to bed looking at my accomplishment and thinking ‘my life is so much more comfortable now’.
Did you have any help? Did you do it yourself?
Most of the work I did myself. I taught myself to use an angle grinder on YouTube and cut my window holes in the walls. I worked out 12-volt wiring and installed my lights, USB sockets, and fans. The walls, floor, and roof really taught me how to use a drill. I had friends help me with building my bed frame, installing my solar panel, and I recently employed a company to install my glass panel and vent over my bed. I wasn’t about to cut holes in the roof over my bed because all of my windows have leaked once or twice in their time!
Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilities like compared to before?
My truck cost me $13000. I had to fly halfway around the country to get it (and then learn to drive it to get home!) but it was the best one out there. I’ve probably spent $10000 on the work inside it. Really that’s a huge guess – I used to keep receipts but threw them out when they filled two glove boxes. Still, I have a few more grand to spend, easily.
Registration is $1300 a year, insurance is $600. Diesel is about $150-$200 per week and I have a $15 per week gym membership for showers. I do have a shower in the truck, but the stall is not finished. When I’m not working on the truck, life is very inexpensive. I’m saving for a house to start a family in.
What do you pay to park?
I don’t often pay to park unless I’m taking a weekend away somewhere. My truck very deliberately looks like a plain, regular delivery truck on the outside so I get away with staying at boat ramps, forests, and lakes. I don’t stay more than a night at a time and I don’t make a mess. A lot of councilmen and rangers have come to recognize me and have not had an issue with where I stay.
How did you find a place to park and live in your truck?
Google Maps is great for this. I just zoom into any green or blue areas and check them out. In the last year or two, a lot of locals have been sending me Instagram messages with lovely places they’ve seen they think I might like to check out. So nice!
Before going tiny, what was life like?
My life looked like me, living in a sunny apartment. I’d moved out of my then-boyfriend’s house which we had shared with 4 other men, none of which had ever picked up a cleaning cloth in their life.
My apartment was nice. It was open, bright, full of house plants. But I was rarely home. I had a lot of friends and I did a lot of camping, drinking at bars, dinners out. At the time I was working managing a pet store, and did long hours there too.
I loved my apartment, but it began to feel like a chore. I’d go home just to water my dying plants and blow the dust off.
Is there anything from your old life that you miss?
I miss having a full kitchen and a big fridge. Also, the ability to invite friends over and have a proper gathering. When I buy a house, I’ll be doing a lot of experimental cooking.
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
I appreciate nature more. I meet a lot of people. It’s harder to spend money on useless stuff – I realized which possessions matter and which collect dust. I used to be materialistic, now I’m more minimalistic.
What makes your truck special?
It’s special to me because it’s an extension of me. It is like my giant, mechanical pet and it’s a huge part of who I am. I love my truck.
Is there anything you’d change about your home now that you’ve been living in it?
I would have bought my fridge new, rather than secondhand. Hello frosted up the freezer! I will probably live to regret having put one solar panel up rather than two. They’re big house panels, and I bought two, but I bought the wrong solar controller and it was only powerful enough to comfortably work with one. But, the extra space on my roof is where I sit for my morning coffees, so there’s that 🙂
What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
Buy something you can stand up in, something mechanically sound, don’t be afraid to get rid of everything you have, and lock your doors at night! Also – curtains with pockets. That is all.
Follow Chrissie on Instagram!
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