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:
If it doesn’t display above, click or copy and paste this into your search bar:
W O W W W, remarkable how she has arranged & organized everything !!
Lucy, it really is one of the best organized rigs I’ve ever seen.
Amazing …. I couldn’t do it in that small a space … More power to her ! !
I’m with you Red, but I love to see how some people can make it work so well!
Roxy gives a great example of the advantages of relatively small vehicles and the attitudes that make them comfortable. The ability to reach anything quickly could stand out if one were tired, ill, or merely in a hurry. Her bed is well thought out and seems comfortable at a glance. She doesn’t mention what she does about electricity, but if she travels often and uses little electricity, she might be able to just use the built-in power.
While I tend to hyperbole, this is one time when it wasn’t, she really is remarkable!
Yes, I read her blog before she closed it down and she is “fearless”. I am quite envious of her ability to hike on her own and feel so comfortable. She seems really sweet too!
My new blog is http://NomadforNature.wordpress.com/ some of my old posts are in there, but new ones are on the horizon… and thanks for your kind comment. Savor the Journey, Roxy
Do you know how she manages bathroom needs?
I love the minamalism of an SUV, but I’m an urban dweller and need a bit of space to go #1 or #2! I have a van with room to move around in, but would love to go smaller.
Aaron – In the pictures you can see a little plastic container. That’s my pee container. I use doggie bags for #2…:-) Of course, I go outside. I can use the container, but it’s not easy, so I try to avoid that…
Wow. Very cool. I am inspired
Cae, she is very inspiring!
Loved this video and blog. She is doing what she loves and has proven that we humans really can be happy in very small spaces.
You are so right Greg!
this is Roxi`s blog—–http://www.thegoodluckduck.com/
Mark, that’s a different Roxi.
Here is the link to her blog. https://nomadfornature.wordpress.com/ Just love her setup and way of life, really inspires me 🙂
She didn’t divulge or discuss her bathroom/shower setup, unless I missed it. Probably uses the obvious solutions like sponge baths and public restrooms when available, nature when they are not.
She gives a blog link above, and one of the recent posts talks about part of this.
Dave, I think you are right.
Bob, she does talk about how she goes about #1, #2 + how to do the laundry in a small multipurpose container.
wow, it’s great to see what can be done in an ultra compact setup and to realize that I could do it in what I have too. And not just for short trips. What a very impressive person!
Very true Ming.
I notice she has a decent amount of high end outdoor gear…what does she do for finances. she seems super fun, i also see lots of caribiners so maybe she climbs!
Tony, yes, she is a climber. She works different jobs in the summer for an income.
I keep thinking of ways I can do with less. When I started out I imagined I’d need all sorts of things, if only “just in case.” Over the course of almost three years I’ve learned which things are unnecessary — for me, for the way I’m living the nomadic life. I’m slowly paring things down. Maybe I’ll get to the medium-sized SUV or minivan stage by the time my van wears out. But I REALLY love my thick, plush mattress and my fridge. Maybe I’ll get it down to just those two, a bin of dry goods and a change of clothes. 😉
Bob you did a fantastic job consolidating all the information about this set-up. I don’t know which I enjoyed more, watching the video or reading about it! Question about your Amazon link. It’s embarrassing to tell you how often I am on that site and how much I order but do I have to always go through this website in order for you to get credit or is there a link I can use and maybe put on my desk top? Do you get credit per visit or only if someone purchases? Maybe you can put a link on Youtube under your videos because I am there just as much.
Thanks Moon dancer, it’s easy when you have a great subject like Roxy. I’m afraid you have to go through my site to for me to get credit. When you go in through my site I get credit (for purchases only) for the next 24 hours. After that you have to go in again. I can put a link in the description of my Youtube channel to Amazon and that will work as well, I will get credit on all your purchases for 24 hours.
Thamks for asking, I appreciate it!
Very much appreciate Roxy sharing. Keeping organized makes life so much better as clutter is not good for one’s mental health and once organized gets away from you, it is a long walk back. I’ve signed up with her blog and look forward to following along with her. “Sharing” is priceless.
Thanks Cathy, I think you’ll like her blog! You are so right about keeping organized, it’s critical.
Thanks for the great post! I checked out Roxy’s blog …it’s a good one! I am following!! Glad to connect with another lady gypsy!
Thanks Betty, glad you liked the post, Roxy is a great person!
I am so impressed with Roxy and her vehicle. I’ve watched the video several times, read this page, and read her blog, looking for ideas for ways to organize my minivan. How can I get in touch with Roxy to get some questions answered?
1. Is that a “buff” she wears on her head?
2. What kind of fuel does she use in her camp stove and where does she carry it?
3. Does she carry a fire extinguisher?
4. Does she carry a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector?
Thanks to Roxy, Bob, and Enigmatic Nomadics for sharing all this wonderful information.
Cheryl, I’m sorry but i don’t know the answers to your question but i will forward them on to Roxy with your email address and hopefully she will answer your questions.
I think this is my favorite post/video yet. More on these smaller rigs would be great. Much easier to upsize than downsize.
I agree completely Alan,thanks!
How does one shower living in a van full-tme?
Charles, we revert back to old time methods people have used for thousands of years, wash basin, wash cloths, warming water on a stove. We also use wet-wipes, solar showers, pump-up sprayers hand pumps, battery operated pumps, and on-demand water heaters. It’s all common sense stuff.