NOW AND THEN SOMEONE WILL ASK if they can live in something smaller than a minivan. My usual reply is that it depends on their state of mind and their resourcefulness. Cindy, a retired rural mail carrier, is a prime example of making the car she already had work for her.
“I started watching Bob’s videos and I was like, ‘Oh, that looks fabulous!’ I used
to backpack, so I have camping experience. At the time I had my Fiat and there was no hope of getting another vehicle, and I was like, well, I’m gonna build this out. Sure enough I did! It’s really great. It’s bigger than a tent yet it’s so much better than living out of a backpack.”
One thing that made Cindy’s set up easy and effective was her love of Legos. She had official Lego-shaped storage boxes. There are versions with drawers and with slide-off tops. And they snap together just like regular Legos.
“I’m sorry to say they’re not the cheapest option, but I love the color, and I love the way it all perfectly fit in there for me. It’s playful it makes me happy.”
Cindy has it set up so that there’s space for water bottles at the very back. And the lower temperature of the water acts somewhat like a cooler where she can keep things like creamer and string cheese.
There’s also room for her butane stove, her collapsable wash tub, and another type of Lego container that holds her dishes.
When you look in the front of the Fiat you can see what makes living in a tiny car possible. Cindy made a choice some aspiring nomads are hesitant to commit to: She removed the passenger and rear seats. This opened up space for a bed and more storage.
“My friend Brian helped me to get the seats out. He undid them and then I made a cardboard cutout for him to cut the wood. I had to make notches for the seat belts and the console and the shape of the foot area.”
The bed is only 20 inches wide but six feet long. And the mattress is layers of padding and pillows stitched together. There’s floorspace next to the bed, so Cindy can prop a large pillow against the window to rest against, and turn sideways, using the bed like a chair. If weather keeps her inside, she can sit there and use her 12 volt oven and kettle powered by her Bluetti EB70.
Another piece of plywood covers the space where the rear seat bottom was, providing a level base for more Lego drawers.
Since we’re also happier in a small space when things are clean, Cindy has this tip: “I also keep a big baggie in this door pocket for my yucky shoes. I will sit down here (on the bed) and the first thing that comes off is the shoes, because they’re always dirty and dusty from the desert.”
As cool as the Lego containers are, the real tricks to living in such a small space are paring things down to the necessities, having things organized — a place for everything and everything in its place, as they say — and having an easy-to-execute way of shifting things around. For example, Cindy has four soft bags that go in back when driving then fit on the dashboard when camped. Each contains just one type of item: clothes, bathing supplies, etc. Her chair and table go in the back when they’re not set up outside. Her power supply rests on the driver seat when camped and the solar panels slide in behind the Lego containers when traveling.
Organizational discipline is important in larger rigs too. I don’t always practice what I preach, however. I am regularly amazed — and shamed — when I can’t find an item I know is somewhere in the 340± cubic feet of my van. I don’t know how you folks in large RVs do it.
It took Cindy a little time to figure out the best setup for her car. “This is my sixth trip out that’s over a month long… This is my final version. Everything in here is perfect to me. I don’t think I’ll be changing anything… Life is great and fun and why would I want a bigger vehicle?”
In my 2 years full time in a van I met several people who lived comfortably in their cars. This is one of the most clever setups! Over time, most of us find we need so much less than originally thought.
W O W, how amazing to fit that much in such @ small space; sometimes I look at my minivan & think ‘ I could live in it in an emergency situation ‘, soon I believe would be an impossible to perform such an endeavor. After seen the arrangements in the tiny Fiat my van looks like a motorhome ! 🤪😂😂
I love the stackability of those drawers where you don’t have to worry about them shifting and you can offset them to fit under a curved roof. Great hack! I wonder where she got them?
From the Lego online store.
Forgot to say that the tiny home on wheels is adorable & looks like a fairy-tail story/ pictures. Love it ! 🌿🌺🍀🌼
I love this. Thank you.