12 Years Living in Cars and SUVs
Today I want to introduce you to one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve met a lot of remarkable people! Roxie has lived for the last 12 years in various cars and SUVs and is currently living in a 4-Door Mitsubishi Montero Sport. It’s a mid-sized SUV with 4-wheel-drive.
Your first thought is probably, “How can anyone live in that tiny a space?” followed closely by “Why would anyone live in that tiny a space? ” The “why” is much more important than the “how” because humans are very adaptable and if a person has sufficient motivation he or she can do almost anything and enjoy and thrive doing it. Based on our conversations and viewing her websites I think I can safely summarize her motivations as a desire that has become almost a need to 1) spend time in nature, and 2) live a life of freedom. Other than living like a Nomad, there is virtually no other way to give her enough of those to satisfy her
Most of us fill our houses with tons of stuff we like and want, and those things do make our lives easier and better, but just how much easier and how much better and at what cost to us and our souls? Buying, maintaining and having a house to hold all that stuff meant needing more money which means working more to have the money; and working more means having less time and freedom to do what she wants and needs to do, which is to spend more time in nature and traveling. Is that level of ease and pleasure worth the cost? That’s a decision each of us must make for ourselves, but for Roxie the cost was too high and she felt like she got too little in return.
The cost of a “normal life” was much too high for her, she needed to be in nature and have the freedom to travel much more than she needed all that stuff to make her life easier and better!! The solution was extremely simple, 1) get rid of everything that isn’t essential and 2) once you have only the bare necessities, move into a vehicle, preferably a 4-wheel-drive vehicle that will let you get further back into her beloved nature and travel to her hearts content!
How she lives in a SUV is actually very simple, she is a super-minimalist and is super-organized. Roxie has a background as a backpacker and the most important lesson every backpacker learns is that if you are going to carry everything you need to live on your back, there must be a minimum amount of it! Everything must be very essential or serve multiple purposes and it must be very light. If you can live for weeks or months at a time out of a backpack, moving into a SUV feels like a mansion!!
If you can get your possessions down to a low enough amount, and learn to be neat and organized, it’s astonishing just how few things you really need to live and how little space they take up.
As you look at the photos of her SUV home, you’ll probably be struck by how uncluttered and spacious it seems–it doesn’t appear as if she is making any sacrifices at all by living in such a tiny space, and as far as she’s concerned, she isn’t! The sacrifices she has to make to live in it are insignificant compared to the sacrifices she had to make when she used to live in a house. What she’s gained in return is infinitely greater than what she’s given up!
This is one of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’m going to have captions below the pictures as the text describing how she lives in her SUV home:
Nearly everyone who lives in a car or SUV follows some variation of this layout, a bed down one side of the vehicle and storage on the other. Some people use soft-sided items like duffle-bags for storage because they have the advantage of losing space as you empty them, but Roxies SUV has more space than most so she mostly uses hard-sided plastic totes instead. They work a little better for organization because you can see in them and they offer more protection for the items inside them.
She considered taking out the back seat, but because of it’s unique arrangement she would gain little usable room if she did, so she left it in but folded it down. That left her with a high spot in the front of living area so she filed in behind it with these plastic boxes and other items in the gaps. I forgot to ask what the material is she made the board out of, but it looks like styrofoam sandwiched between two outside layers of door-skin/Luan. It weighs very little so it’s easy to lift up but apparently is strong enough.
The drivers side of her “house” is used for storage. In front of the side door is her cooler so that she can get to it from both the inside and outside. She took the hinges off the lid so it just lifts straight up and off. Behind the cooler is a duffle bag of clothes and behind it her camp chair. At the very back of the hatch is a large plastic tote with two smaller ones on top. The large tote is her food and the two above it are 1) assorted cooking utensils and items and 2) health and beauty items. Everything has a home and a place and she strives to always return it there as soon as she has used it!!
Using all the vertical space in the SUV is very important so she used this cargo netting on both sides for more storage. It helps her to stay very organized and yet still lets light come in through the windows. Her most used items are right there within easy reach and they have a permanent home. Various items are tucked in along the side of the bed. The mattress is a self-inflating backpackers sleeping pad that is remarkably comfortable. This isn’t a cheap air mattress from Walmart, it’s a top quality, ultra-durable backpackers pad. It’s insulated so it keeps her warm even in extreme cold. Best of all it is easily adjustable for firmness by adding or reducing the amount of air in it.
If you’re going to be living in a car or SUV, it’s very important that you try to get a 4-door. It gives you easy access to the floorboards gaining extra space. It also makes getting in and out far better than having to crawl in from the front or back doors.
Because she is a photographer, backpacker and climber she has quite a bit of outdoor gear and it wouldn’t fit inside with her so she added this Thule cargo box to the roof. It probably hurts her MPG but she still averages 20 MPG. Having it isn’t optional, she needs to be able to get out into nature much more than she needs the little extra money she could save by getting rid of it. It’s very important that we all be very honest with ourselves and get in touch with what we really need to live a good life. We each have to set our own priorities and be true to them.
I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I was with Roxies set-up and I thought it was the perfect balance for a person who want and needs to be out exploring in the back-country. As you read this list, remember it is aimed at someone who wants to be IN nature, not around it:
- Enough comfort and room to satisfy a minimalist.
- Decent MPG so you can afford to travel to different areas.
- 4-Wheel-Drive to get you far back in safety.
- Adequate room for your outdoor gear.
If that describes you, this is a vehicle home you should seriously consider.
I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:
I made a video of Roxie’s SUV, see it below:
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