FAMILY Converts VAN into MICRO HOME: Young Couple Experiences the World with their Daughter
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FAMILY Converts VAN into MICRO HOME: Young Couple Experiences the World with their Daughter


Hi I’m Sarah and this is James, Stella,
and our dog Lavender and this is our home Topanga. So about two years ago we built a tiny
house in upstate New York and we were living in it. It was about a hundred
ninety five square feet and we loved living small but we wanted to be able to
travel and the trailer wasn’t gonna be able to make it around the country. We
got our head set on that we wanted to get a van at the end of the year and on
January 1st we were like, “well, maybe in a couple months, we’ll find a van”, right? So
I’m like on Craigslist and we found something and literally in 48 hours we
had the van in our possession. Made the same year that we were both born so kind
of like worked out perfectly. We thought it was fate. Yeah. We’re like,
“it’s an 88, cool”. I was working a job that I had to be at 40 hours a week plus
three hours of commuting both ways and she was working and you know we didn’t see
each other and we realized what’s the point of living if we don’t have that
freedom to do what we want? I walked into my job and put in my notice. Then we
found out Sarah was pregnant. Ironically I got pregnant right after he
quit his job. She’s only known tiny living. I think too when you live in a big house and you have like a lot of really nice things, fancy things, like you
have your children you’re like, “don’t touch that, don’t touch that”, you know? I
want her to be able to explore and touch and feel and learn the world through her
hands and through her mind. So this is Topanga. She is a 1988 Ford Econoline van. She has about 250,000 miles on her. When we first got her she was a carpet cleaning van. She was bright
red so the first thing that we did to her was give her a nice new paint job I
think some of the Dodge vans are painted like this. We kind of modeled that look
off of it even though it’s a Ford whatever. Then off of the back we can
put our stove up here and cook and it’s a big nice cutting board space and
we like it. In the back we have storage too for stove, camping gear, other various
things, spare propane, blankets and stuff. So I was dead set on doing a porthole
window. We just got this one off Amazon and we actually intentionally installed
it backwards so the porthole’s supposed to have the black on the outside and the silver on the inside but we have kind of like a gold thing going on on
the inside so silver it was. We just made sure that it was super duper like
waterproof. We tested it like 18 times to make sure, but we love it. We think it’s a
super fun little thing. This is the cockpit area and you know it’s kind of overlooked usually in a van build but we wanted to do something a little bit
special for it. We actually had built originally like this beautiful cup
holder thing here and Stella as she got a little bit older she just started
kicking the crap out and she totally broke it to pieces so this is the bottom
part of it and we just kind of put this up here now that way we at least have
some steady ground to set some things on to. Stella’s car seat was
probably the trickiest part about literally this whole build. So what we
ended up doing was it’s hard to see but we have a forward Econoline metal seat
essentially that we got off at eBay and it’s literally bolted through the floor
and then secured from underneath. So James laid underneath the van and then bolted it. So one of my favorite parts of the whole van build was working on the doors. I just felt it was really underutilized
space so we made these little pantry boxes and they’re super handy to hold
like all your loose dried food a little coffee storage area and then on this side I really wanted to make sure we have plants in the van. I love plans and
I didn’t want our travels to make my plant infatuation end so do you notice
in the van there’s just so many plants and there were even more but they have
they have passed on. This is our little kitchenette area. We use this for a couple purposes. So this is our like bathroom sink as well as kitchen. We
usually do food prep over here. We store our pots and pans and plates and everything down there and we have a little silverware drawer up this way and we also
hide our camper toilet for emergencies down below. Underneath here we have a
little hidden storage space so we have tools and stuff anything we might need
flashlights everything like that up top and then below we have extra water
storage then we have our little pantry here. We keep food, shoes, and stuff
underneath and spices and everything up there. So then this is what we call our
entertainment area. We have our Cubic Mini wood stove so this thing is great.
It’s dual vented so actually just a little bit of wood that fills there
actually will burn for about 4 to 5 hours straight. It’s vented right
through the roof so we don’t have to worry about that and then our external vents a little bit hidden up there so somebody can’t see. Down here we keep our camera gear, different equipment, and then we have our Goal Zero solar system so it
runs all the way up through behind the wall and then up through the ceiling to our
panel that’s permanently attached but I’d say this is single-handedly one of
the best large investments we made because it keeps us powered anywhere we need it and we’ve never really run out of power just even with one
solar panel. This is our living area slash bed. This is our primary
configuration when it’s in an L-shaped couch and then the bed pulls out and
these back mattresses pull down and actually turn into our bed so we convert
that throughout the day whenever we need it. It’s the perfect width so
Stella can actually take a nap back here and one of us can lay down with her
while the other one still is getting work done. We have three different drawer areas all for our clothes so Stella has one, I have one, and Sarah has one. They’re all the same size and we can fit pretty much everything we own other than a coat or two in here for each of us. So each of us has our own. Stella we have our
little library back over here with books that we pick up. We have a rotating stock
that we sell when we get to towns and pick up new ones then Stella has her
little toy cabinet there and then this is another book holder and then our
basket up here is for our keys and stuff at night so we always have easy access to
grab them. So we also bought this little table that
we set up when we’re either working or eating. Surprisingly it actually fits all
three of us around it and it’s great to hold a laptop when we’re working or one
of us wants to get some you know editing done or anything like that and then it also serves as Stella’s little play area and you know where we
eat most of our meals unless we’re outside at a campground. I think it’s normal to question yourself as a parent. You know especially when you’re
doing something a little bit different. Talking to other people about it lucky
that is very reassuring for us like “this is this is a good move for her.” It’s
amazing to be able to bring her to all the National Parks and let her see the
world as it is before she ever hits the age of three so as she’s developing her view
of the world she’s seeing different people and how they interact with the
world and our natural elements that are here and getting a real appreciation for
what life is really like. You don’t have to end your life just because you have
kids it doesn’t mean like everything changes you have to settle down you have to like fit into this norm you can do weird and funky things and your children
can be better for it.

100 Comments

  • Seven petals held by my heart

    such beautiful aesthetics, love the color of the wood and lace, plants they all go tghr really well!! 🙂

  • 7SEVENDAYS

    I love so much all of these different stories… It is sooooo interesting!!!! It is an hard choice to make, but I think it pays you back.
    In my channel laundry makeover

  • Rollingonby Ian Barton

    Wow I love what you’ve done with your van in such a compact space😊Love the rustic log cabin look that it has and your van looks so cool too from the outside 👍Are you guys on instagram as would like to follow you? I’m doing my own van conversation myself too but only for holidays and weekends away.

  • Johannes

    I think it's very irresponsible to live in a van when you have a child to raise.
    I mean she can't go to school or kindergarten, she can't socialize or make friends and what if she gets sick?
    Living in the road is a pretty extreme decision, which is fine when you're aware of the consequences but it's just so bad for the kid.

  • patricesez

    Having been wowed by a couple of super slick builds by retired boatbuilders, I had no clue how blown away I'd be by this amazing van. It is now my all-time-favorite, which, I confess, I'd emulate in a heart beat. James and Sarah's home has captured that down-to-earth country-cozy style that I never before realized I totally love! Well done.

  • Dawn Smith

    As the mom of two young adults, my opinion is that you're doing the best possible thing you could do for your daughter. I wish we had done something like this!! Trust your gut, love your baby, and be safe!! All will be well. The best to you!!!!!

  • Cody

    Love it good luck and enjoy your life it is kinda crazy working yourself to the bone if your not enjoying your life and spending time with people you care about good for you

  • TJ Anderson

    You guys are literally the nicest vanlifers I've ever watched. The whole time I was thinking I would love to be friend with them. Hope one day to cross paths with you when I have my own van one day. I spent six weeks last summer in a similar van and it was no where as grand as yours but I loved it. Can't wait to be back in one again. Thanks.

  • Lucia de Mello

    I LOVED watching you all on the bigger screen! Loved the video and love you guys! Gosh the van is even cuter on video! Big love xx Lu + the fam <3

  • FitForActing Reynaldo Balmes

    I really love this and your story. It’s good to do what your doing because it forces you to become minimalist. No wasting money on a bunch in toys like the average family and your kid will be a survivor and self sufficient

  • Dylan Frederiks

    Awesome video! Can't wait to begin living out of my 1994 Mitsubishi Delica 4wd van which I plan on travelling all around Australia in powered off Used Vegetable Oil. Keep up the videos man, maybe we'll meet someday 🙂

  • Jn336

    Beautiful Van! WTG! And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

    Matthew 8:20 ESV

    https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.8.20.ESV

  • S K

    This is such a beautiful video, had me smiling and gave me hope if I have kids.

    I have friends that make themselves "locked down" once they have a family and that is my number one fear. The balance you have is great and you can tell your lil' girl is genuinely happy, in a place of peace and contentment.

    Your home is also very different from what I have seen in the past. Great job

  • REVEREND DAVID HAMM

    Hi Dylan this was Fantastic I love how you are finding the Real people of This world thank you for doing this I'm a HUGE fan

  • Hodges Family

    This van is so cozy!
    I haven't watched a video yet that shows the owners as anything but happy!
    I wish this couple the best with their beautiful home, adventure and daughter!

  • PogoLothoin

    Couples with children are creating a ripple effect for the whole living free life, children that grow up in this kind of life style will end up being the ones who take this kind of living to the next level and invent things to make it easier, more resourceful or safe. It's going to become even more popular over time and lets all hope governments don't try and take it away from us somehow, because it's basically organic living and free life.

  • Chellee Dee

    Oh my HEAVENS!!!! So SOOOO SWEET and you have chosen just the most PERFECT little luxuries and your decor,—-with the wood mixed with the copper and floral and lace….oh my heart!!! Dreamy! Well done. I could just smell the heavenly aroma of your coffee beams freshly ground and a steaming cups joe from sweet little flower bedecked metal mugs! Lovely!!! Can I come live with you? Hehe! P.S. My beloved son Caleb was born in May of ‘88!!! Best year ever!!! 😍🌸🌺🌸🌺🌸🌺🌸🌺💙🌸🌺💙🌸🌺💙🌸🌺💙🌸🌺💙🌸🌺💙☕️☕️☕️

  • StarksYT

    I have insomnia, and these videos are the only thing that puts me to sleep. Great music, great stories, great people! Thanks for the great videos!

  • Jo Fuji

    Brilliant! Especially love the fact that your little girl is spending time in nature. Grab this time with her with both hands, because life really is fleeting xxx

  • Jean Gilchrest

    This is, hands down, my favorite van build. So homey Love, love, love the stove! Can't say enough good things about this whole video. ❤

  • Halli Adams

    Great family! Great story! Great life! Stella is one fortunate kid to have such cool, loving, adventurous parents.💜

  • Lance

    love this so much. i have a 4 year old we fulltime in a big 5th wheel want to get smaller. this is hella inspiring thanks

  • PJ T

    Thank you for sharing. You are such cool parents. I wish that I would have taken my son on the road at that age. Your creating wonderful memories everyday. Safe travels.

  • Franaflyby

    They say a house isnt a home unless it's full of LOVE.. I must say your house is a warm home full of love peace and joy.
    Happy trails.
    Your daughter is an 😇.

  • Paris Golec

    LOVE IT !! and lucky Stella to have parents who think out of the box and are giving her the world ! Nice job on the van build also its very cute. I love the style its sort of a rustic meets shabby chic. Happy safe travels ! We have lived in a motorhome for almost 4 years with our 2 daughters and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

  • Jenny dahlkar

    Wow! What an amazing conversion! Love the rustic, country home feel to it. Sooooo beautiful! Well done. And your Daughter Have the most fantastic start in her life as she Can ride along with her parents who are there 24/7. Love all of this! ❤️

  • R P

    This is my goal. I'm a coparenting mum, stuck in the rat race. Dreaming of a beautiful and free life with my child. Some have tried to convince me that this lifestyle would be unstable. I feel the opposite way, babies need to roam. They need happy parents. Thank you for rekindling some hope in this mama's heart, and inspiring me further.

  • The Way of Yeshua

    You have a beautiful family and life I am glad you guys are raising Stella to interact with family and the earth instead of the tv – the world might think you are crazy but of us that sane we say "Good Job!" 🙂

  • Rosan ande

    𝖦𝗎𝗒s 𝖨 𝖿𝗈𝗎𝗇𝖽 𝖺 𝗏𝖾𝗋𝗒 𝗀𝗈𝗈𝖽 𝗐𝖾𝖻𝗌𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝖺𝖻𝗈𝗎𝗍 𝗐𝗈𝗈𝖽𝗐𝗈𝗋𝗄𝗂𝗇gg 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝗂𝗌 >> https://t.co/YSI7q2P4iX?geret54aa 𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗌 𝗐𝖾𝖻𝗌𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝖼𝗈𝗇𝗍𝖺𝗂𝗇ss 𝗆𝗈𝗋𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗇 𝟣𝟤𝟢𝟢𝟢 𝗐𝗈𝗈𝖽𝗐𝗈𝗋𝗄𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗌𝗁𝖾𝖽 𝗉𝗅𝖺𝗇𝗌. 𝖱𝖾𝖼𝗈𝗆𝗆𝖾𝗇𝖽𝖾𝖽dd. 3227

  • LordKira

    "I was working 40 hours a week"

    Uh…I'm sorry but who doesn't work that much? As a graduate student I get paid as a part time but work and study AT LEAST 10 hours per day…everyday. I come to the office on Saturday and Sundays usually from 5am to 5pm to do experiments. Let's not kid ourselves. There are people that work far more than that. Why? Because I need to fucking survive.

  • tatapepCH

    The van is so nice to look at from the outside — well done with the paint job… very retro. The interior is aesthetically pleasing with the soft hues of the wood with a homey, chic style. The wood choice is beautiful. It really set the mood. The little knick knacks look so shabby-chic and I love what they did to the door storages. Not everyone will find the van functional but it looks like it works well for them.. they look so jolly. Kudos. Thanks for another fun video, Dylan!

  • Shavauna Ronan

    What a cool set up, it is very cozy and functional. I'm sure you will really be adding to your ives as a family to experience an alternate lifestyle. All the best to you all, happy travels!

  • Lilac Milkshake

    Lovely! Probably the most minimal-living in a van I've seen, and there's 3 of them! Was eagerly waiting for the roof deck to be explained and to know how they use it, but oh well. Enjoyed this so much! Sweet design style.

  • Gloria Sheppard

    Looks like a cabin inside.Sweet family.Looks lk you're making wonderful memories.Sweet little girl….will have tales to tell.💓

  • Tranquility Travels

    You’ve a lovely family & home! I’ve an 89 Econoline but it has swivel seats…really opens up the space. Look for vintage van that was a wheelchair transport and the seats swivel. All the American van manufacturers have the same hole patten for the seat base prior to ‘92, so Dodge & Ford are
    interchangeable. Bon Voyage!

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