Converting a Van from Wal-Mart & Thrift Stores with Plastic Totes, Drawers & Build-it-yourself Furniture

by | Oct 4, 2014 | 35 comments

Converting a Van from Wal-Mart & Thrift Stores with Plastic Totes, Drawers & Build-it-yourself Furniture

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This is a friends van converted for very little money. She bought a van with a bed along the back side so she used Rubbermaid Totes, plastic drawers, a hanging canvas organizer and duffle bags to provide the needed storage and organization.  It was cheap, easy and works well!

This is a friends van converted for very little money. She bought a van with a bed along the back side so she used Rubbermaid Totes, plastic drawers, a hanging canvas organizer and duffle bags to provide the needed storage and organization. It was cheap, easy and works well!

In my last post we talked about one of the very easiest and best ways to convert a van: using used furniture. Today I want to take that idea to an extreme and do it even cheaper and easier. I get many emails from people who are being forced into living in their cars or vans by the circumstances in their life and they tell me they have no money, no handy-man skills and they are desperate! My answer is always that you can make yourself surprisingly comfortable and organized in a car of van with nothing more than plastic drawers, totes or assemble-it-yourself furniture.  And if you can’t afford that, you can always go one step further and use nothing but cardboard boxes you get at the grocery store for free!

This is a friends van. He had the skill to do a very nice job of the conversion, but notice that in both overhead cabinets he uses cardboard boxes for storage. They are also under the bed and almost everywhere in the van. Why use cardboard boxes? Because they’re free, light and easy to find in all kinds of sizes. Best of all, being square, they don’t waste any space!

I think all too often we have the idea that to be comfortable in a van we have to spend a lot of money and build an elaborate conversion. And if you have the time, money and skill, you probably can be more comfortable that way. But make no mistake, I guarantee you can create a wonderful home without it!
here is an ultra simple conversion. A friend already had a great old pickup with a shell, so he just added rubbermaid Plastic Totes to organize and protect his stuff. He lines the bed of the pickup with them and then either sleeps on top or stacks them to the side when in town, or when he is boondocking he sets half of them outside.  Cheap, simple, easy!

Here is an ultra simple conversion. A friend already had a great old pickup with a shell, so he just added Rubbermaid Plastic Totes to organize and protect his stuff. He lines the bed of the pickup with them and then either sleeps on top or stacks them to the side when in town, or when he is boondocking he sets half of them outside. Cheap, simple, easy!

On the other hand, you don’t want to go the other way and do nothing to your car or van. I’ve seen people who just throw everything they are taking with them into a big pile in back and then move into their van. Those people are rarely happy and usually don’t last very long. Why?
This is Judy's van before we remodeled it to go to Alaska. She had a bed across the back and everything else was either plastic drawers or plastic totes. She lived in it for several years and it worked well, but I think she greatly prefers how we changed it!

This is Judy’s van before we remodeled it to go to Alaska. She had a bed across the back and everything else was in either cardboard boxes, plastic drawers or plastic totes. She lived in it for several years and it worked well, but I think she greatly prefers how we changed it!

This is what I consider to the the single BEST option for a conversion of anything I've ever seen. Judy replaced all those plastic totes in the above picture with just one of these.  She liked it so much she added another and she was in heaven!  The key thing is, they use the entire space of the wall right to the ceiling!!. Plus, they make everything instantly available.

This is what I consider to the the single BEST option for a conversion of anything I’ve ever seen. Judy replaced all those plastic totes in the above picture with just one of these. She liked it so much she added another and she was in heaven! The key thing is, they use the entire space of the wall right to the ceiling!! Plus, they make everything instantly available. No more digging through a tote to find that one thing.

The one thing that will make you more miserable than anything else living in the tiny space of a car or van is to not be able to find the things you need. Constantly having to dig through a big pile of stuff is pure misery! The second most unpleasant thing is having to constantly move everything back and forth multiple times a day to move around. The best solution to those problems is to minimize the number of things in the van; but we all have a limit to how much we can get rid of. We simply need a certain amount of stuff to live. So the next step after getting rid of  everything we can is to have a place for everything and a way to organize it so you can find it and it can be moved easily if it needs to be moved.
The Sterilite 4 drawer units Judy and I love so much are $60 at Wal-Mart (shown in this picture) or Home Depot. Buy two of these, throw it in your van, and your conversion is done!  They are a little hard to find in Awl-Mart because they are not with the housewares, because they are heavy duty and intended for use in a garage they are back in the hardware area usually fairly close to the paint department in the shelving area.

The Sterilite 4 drawer units Judy and I love so much are $60 each at Wal-Mart (shown in this picture) or Home Depot. Buy two of these, throw it in your van, and your conversion is done! They are a little hard to find in Wal-Mart because they are not with the housewares. Instead (because they are heavy duty and intended for use in a garage) they are back in the hardware area usually fairly close to the paint department in the shelving area.

In this post I want to show you some of  examples of my friends who are living very happily in vans with almost no conversion done to them at all. They found a way to organize themselves by using the things they can get from thrift stores and Wal-Mart (I use Wal-Mart generically, Target generally has a much better selection of plastic totes and assemble-it-yourself furniture. Also, you’ll want to expand your search to garage sales, craigslist and Home Depot/Ace/Lowes. The key is to go into them with an open mind and try to see all their furniture and organizers with a creative eye, constantly asking yourself, “Is there some way I can use this in my van? Do I have a cubbyhole or empty space I can fit that in” 
Here is a friends Astro minivan that she took a cheap microwave oven stand and turned it into her kitchen sink.

Here is a friends Astro minivan that she took a cheap microwave oven stand and turned it into her kitchen sink.

Here is my friends microwave stand showing how she turned it into her sink.

Here is my friends microwave stand showing how she turned it into her sink. A 5 gallon water jug goes in there as a fresh-water tank.

These are the kinds of things you want to be looking for to increase your space efficiency and organization

  • Cardboard Boxes:  They’re cheap (usually free!) square, easily written on and strong–perfect for a vandweller!
  • Duffle Bags: Don’t discount duffle bags! Chances are there are many places in your van where you can use them. One good way is to hang them from the ceiling along the walls to regain wasted space. Or throw them into a unused corner of your bed.
  • Hammocks and Cargo Nets: These can hang down in the corners of your van, or be stretched across the side or back wall below the roof.
  • Plastic Totes and Drawers: I’ve used these in every vehicle I’ve ever lived in and think they are indispensable! They are strong and can be stacked; they are rodent-proof and water-proof and they can be left outside safely. What’s not to love!
  • Hanging Canvas Organizers: These are cheap, light, and easy to install–just find something to hang them from. Because they are canvas, you can cut them to fit the height of the van. The two most common are shoe holders and cubes; both work well in a van!
  • Back of the Door Organizers: Canvas is bet but you might have a place to use a metal one.
  • Assemble-it-Yourself Furniture: The variety of these that can work in a van is endless: microwave stands, cubes, shelves, bunk beds, computer desks, cabinets. Just use your imagination!
  • Used Furniture: We talked about this in the last post but it bears repeating: dressers, drawers , bank beds, futons and desks are just a few of the ones that will work!
  • Peg Board: I love peg board and always have it in my vehicle home! I buy metal shelves designed to hang from pegboard and love them!
I have a friend who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in the military and couldn't live in an apartment. She needed a small space and extreme organization!  Vandwelling saved her! A combination of stacking drawers and an office filing system, gave her a home everything in her life. Notice every bin is labeled to help her keep track of it.

I have a friend who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in the military and couldn’t cope with life in an apartment. She needed a small space and extreme organization! Vandwelling saved her! A combination of stacking drawers and an office filing system, gave her a specific place to put every single thing in her life. Notice every bin is labeled to help her keep track of what’s in it.

Those are some ideas for a super-cheap van conversion, but a picture is worth much more than a thousand words so I hope some of these get your creative juices going and you find some inspiration for your nomadic life!
Another friends conversion. Again, it's all just a combination of assemble-it-yourself furniture, boxes and plastic totes.  She made it sure it was white or painted it white so it looked nicer. A nice touch!

Another friends conversion. Again, it’s all just a combination of assemble-it-yourself furniture, boxes and plastic totes. She made it sure it was white or painted it white so it looked nicer. A nice touch! It was probably all stuff she had on hand and cost her nothing!

Here is another friends Class C. He took out the passenger seat and had this assemble-it-yourself  shelf unit that fit perfectly. He bolted it right to the seat base. These plastic drawers fit in perfectly! Add a few bungies and instant organization!

Here is another friends Class C. He took out the passenger seat and had this assemble-it-yourself shelf unit that fit perfectly. He bolted it right to the seat base. These plastic drawers fit in perfectly! Add a few bungies and instant organization in what was wasted space!

i have a friend who used these Sauder assemble-it-yourself cubes to do his entire conversion.  They come in boxes and you make them yourself.

I have a friend who used these Sauder assemble-it-yourself cubes to do his entire conversion. They come in boxes and you make them yourself.

Once you've assembled them you can stack them together in many different ways and shapes. If memory serves he screwed them together so they would fly around.  They would actually make a very good base for a bed!  At the back door have them open outside the van and at the front have them open into the van.  Put your piece of plywood on top and you are done!

Once you’ve assembled them you can stack them together in many different ways and shapes. If memory serves he screwed them together so they wouldn’t fly around. They would actually make a very good base for a bed! At the back door have them open outside the van and at the front have them open into the van. Put your piece of plywood on top and you are done! Instant bed!

Next How to Convert a Van for $60

35 Comments

  1. Omar Storm

    Hi Bob,
    Pictures give the mechanically challenged ideas. Good information, thanks.
    Omar

    • Bob

      You’re welcome Omar!
      Bob

  2. Calvin R

    The one item I never see in thrift stores is those Sterilite 4-drawer (or 3-drawer) units. I have one myself (3-drawer), so I know why. They last pretty much forever, and people don’t let go of them.

    • Bob

      You’re right Calvin, I’ve never seen them either. They are by far the best deal I’ve found for a van. They are a little bit expensive but like you say, they will last forever and over the long run they are cheap.
      Bob

  3. Naomi

    I do love to see pics of vans like these. Thanks!
    Another option for finding free stuff is http://www.freecycle.org
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Very good reminder Naomi, I should have thought of that myself!
      Bob

  4. Naomi

    One more thing: cardboard boxes from a liquor store are great. They are extra sturdy and have divders in them which can facilitate organization. And because they didn’t originally store food, they don’t have any scent that might attract pests.
    I went in to a liquor store recently and asked if I could have a few boxes. The lady was very nice, told me to take what I needed but leave a few for their distributor. It was good to find out that they reuse the boxes.
    I’m done now. 🙂
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Very good idea Naomi! I do like the produce boxes but you’re right, they often have odors in them. The dividers can be a very god thing to!
      Bob

  5. Cae

    Now you’re speaking my language! I find free and really cheap stuff all the time. It’s amazing what our society throws away!!
    Army surplus, swap meets, good will, Salvation Army, garage sales, etc
    I check the dumpsters as well since people will put large objects next to them in the hopes the refuse people will haul it away.

    • Bob

      CAE, those are all good reminders of where to get great stuff either cheap or free!!
      Bob

  6. Al Christensen

    I’d like to reiterate about anchoring furniture. Use big L-brackets, not small ones, and use nuts, bolts and washers through the floor, not just sheet metal screws. Sharp turns, rough roads and sudden stops can have your furniture leaning and sliding, dumping the contents and maybe having stuff hit you. And the more solidly any doors and drawers are secured, the happier you’ll be.

    • Bob

      Great advice Al!
      Bob

  7. margo miller

    i’ve been really lucky! just before going to walmart i stopped at a thrift store and found a large clear 5 drawer unit, it cost 7.00 and then found a snaller one for 3.00 so once in a while it is possible to find a used one. i just got the single unit colman cook top–it’s huge and i love it!! have been having trouble with my internet, so its possible someone has mentioned this before but Bob have you thought of makeing a solid book out of the prepping info? since ive had trouble with the net it occured to me that i would really like to have one. thank you for just being–margo

    • Bob

      You must have good Karma Margo!
      That is a good idea for a Kindle book. If I only had time to put it all together!
      Bob

  8. judy

    I think Bob meant to say that I used the box/tote method for Months, not years, before I changed to the 4 drawer units. I’ve only officially been a van dweller for about 18 months. It has been an incredible adventure!
    Lots of challenges too & sometimes difficult. When things feel overwhelming, I think “ah but I could be in a tiny apt.” and I decide real quick that the van dwelling life has more to offer than apt. living!!

    • Bob

      Yes dear, you’re right!!!! 🙂
      Bob

      • jonthebru

        Like!

        • Bob

          Thanks!

  9. Al Christensen

    You mentioned duffle bags. As sort of an afterthought I tossed my backpack in the van before hitting the road. To my surprise, it has become the home for a lot of stuff. So many pockets and compartments to stuff my stuff into — particularly things that don’t get used often.

    • Bob

      Al, I think most people find them handy if they give them a chance.
      Bob

  10. Al Christensen

    Assemble-it-yourself furniture was designed to sit peacefully in buildings, not to be subject to the motions of a vehicle, which can cause the connectors to break free of the particle board. So I think it’s good to add construction adhesive to all the joints when you assemble this type of furniture.

    • Bob

      Al, that’s a good idea and something everyone should probably do. I’ve known enough people who used it without glue to think it will hold up with or without it. But, adding it is cheap and easy and so what everyone should do.
      Bob

  11. Ming

    thanks Bob and all for the tips and ideas. I’m sure I’ll find some of this of use in the future. Hopefully the nearish future.

  12. LaVonne Ellis

    I have two of the smaller, 3-drawer Sterilite drawers and I love them. Checked out the 4-drawer units but wasn’t willing to give up the extra space, which is part of what makes my GMC Safari comfortable. But I do need more storage… and then your suggestion of duffle bags hit me. I keep all my clothes in those drawers, but if I bought a couple of duffle bags and used those instead, they would be easy to organize (winter/summer, etc.) and toss in the driver’s seat or in the back to get them out of the way. Also, they deflate nicely as they are emptied. Like!

  13. Silvianne

    Oh no, quick, I need an intervention! Putting a book together on this topic is beginning to sound good to me :-). I have been in the habit of referring to the Queen Maria Esmarelda (my 1990 Ford E-350 High Top) as an “adaptation” rather than a “conversion” van… besides the bed base, which a carpenter friend built for me for $50 out of scrap lumber, everything else is either from a thrift store, plastic cabinets from Target, old pressboard furniture I already owned, or seats and hand rails (now clothes bars) already there from her previous incarnation as a transport vehicle. I am very happy and comfortable and wouldn’t do anything differently (except I’m thinkin’ maybe I really should have that medium heavy cabinet fastened in by something besides a bungie cord!). What can I say, I’m livin’ dangerously… Thanks for the post, always fun and useful to see others’ solutions!

    • Bob

      Silivianne, you may have not spend much money, but yours is one of the nicest and homiest vans I’ve ever seen!
      Bob

      • Silvianne

        Thanks, Bob! Of course, the fact that she has LOTS of space inside makes it easier… and of course, I am paying for that in gas money. It’s always a trade-off. As you so wisely said, there is no right and wrong, just preferences. And the “I gotta have room” gypsy girl in me is happy to pay to drive around a bunch of space :-).

  14. Tom

    Hi Bob!
    1. I want to move into an inexpensive dwelling something like you describe, but I sense intuitively that I will need more space than a converted van or RV provides, especially for stoarge of everything that I use/own. Did you feel like this when you first moved out of a house? Do perhaps most people feel this way?
    2. For very affordable homes that do not need not to be mobile, or that will be moved very rarely, have you found large vehicles to be practical? (Vans, buses, or box trucks that are out of commission, but completely functional as a home. Perhaps these vehicles could be literally towed to a new location, in case the occupant decides to relocate.)
    Thanks!

    • Bob

      Hi Tom, for a lot of people the simplicity and minimalism of the mobile life is mainly what appeals to them. For others it’s about being free of things so they live light on the earth doing minimum damage and are free to move about. So for them the idea of a huge place to hold more stuff doesn’t really fit in. Making it mobile would seem contradictory.
      On the other hand, your idea about a broke down vehicle for a home is a great one. My plan for when I get too old to live on the road is to buy an old broke down school bus and haul it on to my property in Arizona. I’ll dig out a trench and push the bus into it and bury the back side and top with dirt and it will become my underground home. I want an underground home because they maintain an even temperature year around. That’s important in Arizona! Some people buy used truck trailer containers and use them for homes but the school bus is much tougher and stronger.
      So that is a great idea!
      Bob

      • Tom

        Bob, thanks for the great answers!
        No, LOL, living in a bus (just like in your example at the end!) or some other large vehicle is NOT living in a “huge place to hold more stuff”. Seriously, are you trying to say that NOBODY feels cramped when they live in a camper or an even smaller vehicle/home? That’s just a silly thing for you to write.
        My goal is to live in an VERY AFFORDABLE home that is not uncomfortably small. Ironically, you gave a great, energy-efficient suggestion (bus buried by Earth) right after telling me that I had a pointless question.
        Again, I’m just trying to figure out something cheaper than building a small house, if there is such an option.
        LOL, thanks again!

        • Bob

          Tom, of course no one answer to any question applies to everybody. However, if a person voluntarily decides to live in a van, the great majority of the time they are delighted in it.
          The need for a giant space comes entirely from your training as a “civilized” person and is totally against human nature. Since the first Hominid stood upright, virtually all humans and pre-humans were nomads. We’ve lived in houses for less than 10,000 years as opposed to nomadic for 2 million. Tiny places are the norm for the human animal.
          The problem is we are no longer Human Beings and have become Humans Doing. If you can get rid of all the Doing, then your need for space disappears. But the civilized man can’t stop doing because he would be face-to-face with himself, and that would be unbearable. Why do so many people die soon after retirement? They can’t stand to be alone with themselves without constant activity.
          Bob

  15. Tom

    In addition to large vehicles that are out of commission driving-wise, what about living out of semi-truck trailers. That is, for people like me, who feel that they would like a semi-movable home, but who want enough space to at least feel as comfortable as they would in a small apartment?
    …Can semi trailers be parked in an RV park?
    Thanks Bob!

    • Bob

      Tom, it depends on a lot of variables. Do you mean not just the tractor but getting a the trailer and converting it as well? If so, some RV Parks are very snooty and they would not allow it. If you mean tow a 5th wheel with a tractor then probably you could get into most RV Parks. If you mean just live in the tractor in the sleeper then I think most would still let you in. Most of them will take you if your money is good. But, there are some very upscale Parks where nothing but newer, expensive rigs are welcome. But I can’t afford them any way.
      Bob

  16. Nigel

    I have only lived in a flat once and i felt like i was in a cage, roll on freedom again.
    im recycling old cubbards ect for my van but im going to be making it for space, very few luxires.
    my water heater is the flute from my 3kw wood stove.10 meters of 8mm copper pipe coiled.

    • Bob

      That should give you lots of hot water Nigel!
      Bob

Table of Contents

35 Comments

  1. Omar Storm

    Hi Bob,
    Pictures give the mechanically challenged ideas. Good information, thanks.
    Omar

    • Bob

      You’re welcome Omar!
      Bob

  2. Calvin R

    The one item I never see in thrift stores is those Sterilite 4-drawer (or 3-drawer) units. I have one myself (3-drawer), so I know why. They last pretty much forever, and people don’t let go of them.

    • Bob

      You’re right Calvin, I’ve never seen them either. They are by far the best deal I’ve found for a van. They are a little bit expensive but like you say, they will last forever and over the long run they are cheap.
      Bob

  3. Naomi

    I do love to see pics of vans like these. Thanks!
    Another option for finding free stuff is http://www.freecycle.org
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Very good reminder Naomi, I should have thought of that myself!
      Bob

  4. Naomi

    One more thing: cardboard boxes from a liquor store are great. They are extra sturdy and have divders in them which can facilitate organization. And because they didn’t originally store food, they don’t have any scent that might attract pests.
    I went in to a liquor store recently and asked if I could have a few boxes. The lady was very nice, told me to take what I needed but leave a few for their distributor. It was good to find out that they reuse the boxes.
    I’m done now. 🙂
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Very good idea Naomi! I do like the produce boxes but you’re right, they often have odors in them. The dividers can be a very god thing to!
      Bob

  5. Cae

    Now you’re speaking my language! I find free and really cheap stuff all the time. It’s amazing what our society throws away!!
    Army surplus, swap meets, good will, Salvation Army, garage sales, etc
    I check the dumpsters as well since people will put large objects next to them in the hopes the refuse people will haul it away.

    • Bob

      CAE, those are all good reminders of where to get great stuff either cheap or free!!
      Bob

  6. Al Christensen

    I’d like to reiterate about anchoring furniture. Use big L-brackets, not small ones, and use nuts, bolts and washers through the floor, not just sheet metal screws. Sharp turns, rough roads and sudden stops can have your furniture leaning and sliding, dumping the contents and maybe having stuff hit you. And the more solidly any doors and drawers are secured, the happier you’ll be.

    • Bob

      Great advice Al!
      Bob

  7. margo miller

    i’ve been really lucky! just before going to walmart i stopped at a thrift store and found a large clear 5 drawer unit, it cost 7.00 and then found a snaller one for 3.00 so once in a while it is possible to find a used one. i just got the single unit colman cook top–it’s huge and i love it!! have been having trouble with my internet, so its possible someone has mentioned this before but Bob have you thought of makeing a solid book out of the prepping info? since ive had trouble with the net it occured to me that i would really like to have one. thank you for just being–margo

    • Bob

      You must have good Karma Margo!
      That is a good idea for a Kindle book. If I only had time to put it all together!
      Bob

  8. judy

    I think Bob meant to say that I used the box/tote method for Months, not years, before I changed to the 4 drawer units. I’ve only officially been a van dweller for about 18 months. It has been an incredible adventure!
    Lots of challenges too & sometimes difficult. When things feel overwhelming, I think “ah but I could be in a tiny apt.” and I decide real quick that the van dwelling life has more to offer than apt. living!!

    • Bob

      Yes dear, you’re right!!!! 🙂
      Bob

      • jonthebru

        Like!

        • Bob

          Thanks!

  9. Al Christensen

    You mentioned duffle bags. As sort of an afterthought I tossed my backpack in the van before hitting the road. To my surprise, it has become the home for a lot of stuff. So many pockets and compartments to stuff my stuff into — particularly things that don’t get used often.

    • Bob

      Al, I think most people find them handy if they give them a chance.
      Bob

  10. Al Christensen

    Assemble-it-yourself furniture was designed to sit peacefully in buildings, not to be subject to the motions of a vehicle, which can cause the connectors to break free of the particle board. So I think it’s good to add construction adhesive to all the joints when you assemble this type of furniture.

    • Bob

      Al, that’s a good idea and something everyone should probably do. I’ve known enough people who used it without glue to think it will hold up with or without it. But, adding it is cheap and easy and so what everyone should do.
      Bob

  11. Ming

    thanks Bob and all for the tips and ideas. I’m sure I’ll find some of this of use in the future. Hopefully the nearish future.

  12. LaVonne Ellis

    I have two of the smaller, 3-drawer Sterilite drawers and I love them. Checked out the 4-drawer units but wasn’t willing to give up the extra space, which is part of what makes my GMC Safari comfortable. But I do need more storage… and then your suggestion of duffle bags hit me. I keep all my clothes in those drawers, but if I bought a couple of duffle bags and used those instead, they would be easy to organize (winter/summer, etc.) and toss in the driver’s seat or in the back to get them out of the way. Also, they deflate nicely as they are emptied. Like!

  13. Silvianne

    Oh no, quick, I need an intervention! Putting a book together on this topic is beginning to sound good to me :-). I have been in the habit of referring to the Queen Maria Esmarelda (my 1990 Ford E-350 High Top) as an “adaptation” rather than a “conversion” van… besides the bed base, which a carpenter friend built for me for $50 out of scrap lumber, everything else is either from a thrift store, plastic cabinets from Target, old pressboard furniture I already owned, or seats and hand rails (now clothes bars) already there from her previous incarnation as a transport vehicle. I am very happy and comfortable and wouldn’t do anything differently (except I’m thinkin’ maybe I really should have that medium heavy cabinet fastened in by something besides a bungie cord!). What can I say, I’m livin’ dangerously… Thanks for the post, always fun and useful to see others’ solutions!

    • Bob

      Silivianne, you may have not spend much money, but yours is one of the nicest and homiest vans I’ve ever seen!
      Bob

      • Silvianne

        Thanks, Bob! Of course, the fact that she has LOTS of space inside makes it easier… and of course, I am paying for that in gas money. It’s always a trade-off. As you so wisely said, there is no right and wrong, just preferences. And the “I gotta have room” gypsy girl in me is happy to pay to drive around a bunch of space :-).

  14. Tom

    Hi Bob!
    1. I want to move into an inexpensive dwelling something like you describe, but I sense intuitively that I will need more space than a converted van or RV provides, especially for stoarge of everything that I use/own. Did you feel like this when you first moved out of a house? Do perhaps most people feel this way?
    2. For very affordable homes that do not need not to be mobile, or that will be moved very rarely, have you found large vehicles to be practical? (Vans, buses, or box trucks that are out of commission, but completely functional as a home. Perhaps these vehicles could be literally towed to a new location, in case the occupant decides to relocate.)
    Thanks!

    • Bob

      Hi Tom, for a lot of people the simplicity and minimalism of the mobile life is mainly what appeals to them. For others it’s about being free of things so they live light on the earth doing minimum damage and are free to move about. So for them the idea of a huge place to hold more stuff doesn’t really fit in. Making it mobile would seem contradictory.
      On the other hand, your idea about a broke down vehicle for a home is a great one. My plan for when I get too old to live on the road is to buy an old broke down school bus and haul it on to my property in Arizona. I’ll dig out a trench and push the bus into it and bury the back side and top with dirt and it will become my underground home. I want an underground home because they maintain an even temperature year around. That’s important in Arizona! Some people buy used truck trailer containers and use them for homes but the school bus is much tougher and stronger.
      So that is a great idea!
      Bob

      • Tom

        Bob, thanks for the great answers!
        No, LOL, living in a bus (just like in your example at the end!) or some other large vehicle is NOT living in a “huge place to hold more stuff”. Seriously, are you trying to say that NOBODY feels cramped when they live in a camper or an even smaller vehicle/home? That’s just a silly thing for you to write.
        My goal is to live in an VERY AFFORDABLE home that is not uncomfortably small. Ironically, you gave a great, energy-efficient suggestion (bus buried by Earth) right after telling me that I had a pointless question.
        Again, I’m just trying to figure out something cheaper than building a small house, if there is such an option.
        LOL, thanks again!

        • Bob

          Tom, of course no one answer to any question applies to everybody. However, if a person voluntarily decides to live in a van, the great majority of the time they are delighted in it.
          The need for a giant space comes entirely from your training as a “civilized” person and is totally against human nature. Since the first Hominid stood upright, virtually all humans and pre-humans were nomads. We’ve lived in houses for less than 10,000 years as opposed to nomadic for 2 million. Tiny places are the norm for the human animal.
          The problem is we are no longer Human Beings and have become Humans Doing. If you can get rid of all the Doing, then your need for space disappears. But the civilized man can’t stop doing because he would be face-to-face with himself, and that would be unbearable. Why do so many people die soon after retirement? They can’t stand to be alone with themselves without constant activity.
          Bob

  15. Tom

    In addition to large vehicles that are out of commission driving-wise, what about living out of semi-truck trailers. That is, for people like me, who feel that they would like a semi-movable home, but who want enough space to at least feel as comfortable as they would in a small apartment?
    …Can semi trailers be parked in an RV park?
    Thanks Bob!

    • Bob

      Tom, it depends on a lot of variables. Do you mean not just the tractor but getting a the trailer and converting it as well? If so, some RV Parks are very snooty and they would not allow it. If you mean tow a 5th wheel with a tractor then probably you could get into most RV Parks. If you mean just live in the tractor in the sleeper then I think most would still let you in. Most of them will take you if your money is good. But, there are some very upscale Parks where nothing but newer, expensive rigs are welcome. But I can’t afford them any way.
      Bob

  16. Nigel

    I have only lived in a flat once and i felt like i was in a cage, roll on freedom again.
    im recycling old cubbards ect for my van but im going to be making it for space, very few luxires.
    my water heater is the flute from my 3kw wood stove.10 meters of 8mm copper pipe coiled.

    • Bob

      That should give you lots of hot water Nigel!
      Bob