Living in a van, down by the river!


See, you people say that, but you’ve never had an extended period living in a 400 sq ft studio. I live in Manhattan and I appreciate my 1BR more than you can possibly imagine. Having a separate bedroom is an incredible luxury that I savor to extreme lengths.


I did a couple of years like that in college in Boston that didn’t ever really bother me.

If Arika finally realized what a hideous dweeb I am tomorrow and walked out, my home life would consist of a continuous circuit between stove, PC, and bed. May as well make the distance as short as possible.


Well sure, I lived in a 250 sq ft room with 2 other farting dudes in college. That was a long time ago, I’m an approximation of an adult now.


You can do a lot with 4-500 feet. The trick for us was to make sure to have some level of privacy somewhere, between 2 discreet-ish livable areas. So, not necessarily a bedroom (although it can be a convertible office/br space). But you need some place to chill and work (or play) while not disturbing others – for marriage preservation if nothing else. It doesn’t have to be much space, but a door or divider is important.


You can’t do that with one room. Chinese walls don’t cut it, you need a real wall. And putting up a temporary wall (they do exist) cuts you already tiny living space down even further.

I live alone and I would weep openly if I had to go back to a tiny studio. I treasure my 1BR apartment. It took me many, many years to get there.


Sure, but you can stretch the definition of room. After learning more about what we needed during the ~2 years of Airstream living (260ish feet), we actually built the place, so it’s not just theory :-)

Our separate space is too small for a bedroom, but it’s a great work area, and it has a large daybed in a window sill knock-out. We’re going to be using a hanging sliding glass door as a separator (it will stay open most of the time, as it is now). This was not a money-saving exercise, though – it’ll eventually be a guest house.


That said, it’s a waterfront lot on an island so you see water from every part of the place, with a wraparound deck and glass walls that slide open onto the deck. So while it’s technically a tiny house, it’s very much an example of what I said before about making the outdoors an extension of your space.


Oh that’s very different than being cooped up in a tiny apartment in a building in the middle of the city with the only view being a 20 foot wide air vent and the apartment across the way where a portly gentleman likes to lounge around eating rolled gold pretzels and guzzling hard cider while wearing nothing but a too-short silk kimono.


Definitely. What you describe is the city version of a typical RV park, where the phrase “get to know your neighbors” has nothing to do with exiting your home.


Well sure that was your neighbor’s view but what was yours like?


I wear tidy whities and nothing else at home, thanks very much!


My grandparents used to take us on a summer trip from Louisiana to California, touring the country between for two weeks every year in an Airstream. And I loved it, but the best part of it was absolutely getting out of the damn thing, jumping in a pool, seeing a state park, running in a field. Living in one full time would feel like jail to me. You guys that dream of such a thing, more power to you. In a way I envy you. But in another much larger way, I don’t envy you in the least.


I have lived like that as a single person before, though not as much stove time as you put in. More like the circuit is fridge and microwave instead of stove. That was when I realized how little space I really need. Obviously, with more people more space is desirable. Sometimes we all want some solo space, etc.


Was it Google where the rents were so high in the area, that the worker lived in vans in the parking lot?


That reminds me of flight attendant stories I’ve heard, where they are just starting so they get paid poorly, and live as cheap as possible, given that they aren’t home.

Living in a van down by the river!
I’m not kidding; this is my serious face. I’ve known pilots that literally live out of their vehicles. One was a flight instructor in Grand Forks; another was a full-time student in LA; the other was a pilot for Ameriflight in Burbank. What all of these guys had in common was owning spacious vans or RVs and having facilities (showers, kitchens, lounges) available to them nearby. I’m not sure how the Grand Forks guy survived the winters…I think he may have actually slept in the flight instructor lounge and just used his VW van as a wardrobe/locker. It’s more extreme than I’d go, but I can’t help but admire the guy.


I would imagine some of the living in a van for airline people is that they are seldom home anyway. Why pay $1000 for an apartment when you are only there 12 days a month? Or something like that. I bet if they had a commute job and returned home every day they wouldn’t be living out of their cars.


I passed along that info to my son. Who knows if he actually listened to it, but I know he heard it. ; )

My main obstacle (well, other than my wife) to smaller living is all of my stuff. While I definitely buy less stuff now I went through a 30+ year consumer spending spree on everything from games to movies to RPG books. Loads and loads of stuff. That and my wife’s extensive Halloween / Christmas decoration collection (that and she loves yard art, got 50+ pieces around our 1ac lot – that I have to pick up before a hurricane comes through lest it become high-priced shrapnel).

My plan now is to continuously sell my crap on eBay with an eye toward at least a sub-2000sqft house (got nearly 4000sqft now) to retire to in the mountains. Single story, no gutters, brick, no yard, just really really easy to maintain in my old age.

Somehow this post spanned this thread, the retirement thread, and the hoarding thread. = /


I assume you’re kidding, but for lifestyles where worshipping the porcelain altar is a regular affair…


After Jon mentioned that, I could have sworn there is actually a home design rule to keep bathrooms intentionally close by to any main traffic rooms. So it shouldn’t matter if it’s a tiny home or a mansion, you shouldn’t be too far from the toilet. Maybe not 20 feet, but certainly not 4 rooms away.


FYI: your post is suspicious for a number of reasons:

  • new member
  • first post bumps a year old thread
  • linking to your own blog a couple of times

I’m not in charge of things here everyone likes to keep Qt3 tidy… and posts like this are often spam trying to pretend to be otherwise. Frequently in a case like this, the post gets flagged and eventually removed.

However… your post is detailed and informative, and your blog is pretty cool… looks like you’ve put a lot of work into both. So I think this is one of those rare cases where you’re a legit poster. So welcome! :D

To try to be on-topic: I’m not one for van living, and my wife definitely is not. So I don’t know I’ll have much input other than to say if that type of life works for you, more power to ya!

As for terrible internet, you don’t have to be in the road to experience the joys of terrible internet - there are plenty of us here who live in rural or slightly rural areas who have poor connections. And your point about the “99% coverage” referring to population versus geography is an interesting one. Infrastructure is hard in a country as big as America.

I love your van conversion guide. If I was doing a conversion, that’s where I’d start!