In the guide they cover the benefits and challenges of living in a van full time, building out a van for living, where to park, bathrooms, showers, laundry, cost, earning money, getting mail, insurance, and they share helpful resources for living on the road. If that sounds like a good read, go see the VanLife How To Guide now.
They bought their van in August 2016 and converted it into an off-grid mobile dwelling. They’ve been on the road since April 2017 and in that time they’ve learned a lot about building vans and living in them – which they share in great detail on their website, Gnomad Home and in their new VanLife How To Guide.
The following is a guest post by Jayme & John from Gnomad Home.
Hey there, we’re Jayme and John from Gnomad Home! We’ve been living and traveling in our 1996 Chevy Express high top conversion van since April of 2017. Joining us in our adventures are Nymeria (3) and Delilah (7), our four-legged companions. We joke that our dogs are the reason we built the van in the first place – we wanted to give them more than a backyard to run around in and dog walks on more than just pavement.
Before we moved into our van we were living the typical 9-5 lifestyle with a two-story house in the suburbs, struggling financially and squeezing in travel whenever allotted vacation time would allow. We talked about doing “one last hurrah” before we had kids, and then a friend introduced us to ‘#vanlife’ (we didn’t even use Instagram at the time). We immediately knew this was the path for us.
We quickly began transitioning our lives. We found our van in middle-of-nowhere Illinois and bought it for $1,500 cash, brought it home, gutted it, and began building. At the same time, we sold all of our belongings, built our online businesses, and rented out our house. We made about $10,000 from selling everything, which helped us in the first few months of our adventures. This past September was the first month our income from our online business surpassed our expenses. Now, it’s our main source of income and it continues to grow. Since then we’ve also sold our house, so we are officially committed to this lifestyle!
Below is an interior shot of the gutted van.
Below is an interior shot of what it looks like now.
Our van has three solar panels mounted on the roof, and a portable one we can plug in and prop up if we’re parked in the shade, or if we need additional power in overcast weather. We have two deep-cycle AGM batteries under the bed that run our ARB refrigerator, LED lighting that is recessed into the ceiling and hooked up to dimmer switches, multiple USB charging stations throughout the van, a Fan-Tastic Vent fan, and a 1000-watt inverter.
We can carry 20 gallons of water – 14 gallons inside our kitchenette in a stainless steel container. Our water tank is attached to a foot pump, which we cannot recommend enough! It helps control the exact amount of water you need so there’s very little waste, and you have both of your hands free for washing dishes. The water then drains into a PVC contraption we mounted underneath the van that gives us the option to either carry our grey water with us or drain it onto the ground below.
Our stove is a two-burner denatured alcohol stove from Dometic that we absolutely love, and since it is denatured alcohol there is no risk of damaging chemicals leaking, and zero-risk of of explosion.
Our couch pulls out to a queen-sized bed, which is a must for two humans and two dogs. Above the bed is our closet storage, and above the cab is our ‘pantry’ of dry goods. Music is very important to us, so we built our bed high enough to fit multiple instruments underneath. We travel with a guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, cajon (which doubles as a spare seat inside the van), djembe, and fun smaller knick-knacks like shakers and foot tambourines.
We’re glad to have met you all and thanks for checking out our home! If you’re interested in building your own rolling home, be sure to check out our blog gnomadhome.com. It’s JAM-PACKED with FREE information to help guide you through your own tiny home building process. Safe and happy travels to you all!