Eileah has given up on expensive property rent and has moved on to live in a van.
A 31-year-old woman has turned her back on expensive property rent by living full time in a van. With an interior measuring just 13ft 2in long, 5ft 8in wide and 6ft 2in high, Eileah’s home is her Freight-liner Sprinter High Top van.
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She has lived in her compact four-wheel home since May 2017. Complete with a memory foam mattress, storage compartments, a desk and a camping stove. She plans to add in a shower, toilet and fridge in the future.
Eileah said: “I don’t need a house. I don’t need something that big, I don’t need something that eats up most of my monthly income. I’m not saying that living in a house is bad. A family of six needs more than a van but that’s the motivation for me.”
While most people living in vans are always so enthusiastic about moving from place to place, Eileah prefers to park her van close enough to her workplace. She never needs to worry about the morning commute and showers at her local gym.
Talking about her daily routine, she said: “When I wake up, I freshen up a little bit, make a little coffee and I usually do cereal for breakfast, just because it’s easy and it doesn’t require cooking. And then I get dressed and grab my laptop, bag and my purse and go to work, which is 20 feet way from me.”
Unsurprisingly, Eileah has received mixed reactions about her living arrangement.
She said: “Some people think it is really cool. But there have been some people who just don’t get it and they think it’s really weird and strange. They just think I’m an odd-ball.”
According to Eliah, having a home on wheels is easier because it can be moved if you don’t feel safe. She only parks in neighborhoods she is comfortable with.
“I don’t hang my laundry outside of the van or make a big scene so for most people it’s just a van parked on the street.”
The van contains a custom-fit bed with a memory foam mattress; LED lighting with dimmer switch to make it more “homey”. It also has a storage area under the bed which is nicknamed ‘the garage’. It’s where she keeps her tools and will eventually store her fold-up kayaks and paddle boards.
Eileah said: “I sleep great, I love it when it rains because the tin, the walls, the roof; it kind of echoes and reverberates in it.”
But the van isn’t the smallest space Eileah has called ‘home’. From August 2015 to July 2016 she lived in her 2004 Acura TSX car.
Eileah said: “It was really simple. I mean everywhere I went I had everything that I needed.
“When you are cleaning such a tiny space it takes minutes to clean it – that gave me more time to spend how I wanted to.”
In an effort for a simple life, Eileah took the challenge of living in the sedan style car for a whole year. With her belongings in the storage, she loved her new lifestyle. But admitted that sleeping in the backseat was rough.
She said: “I missed the ability to stand up in my home. If I was really tired and exhausted, I had to crawl over the seats and put them down and make the bed. I couldn’t just come home and relax.”
After a year of sleeping on the back seat, Eileah was excited to move into a regular apartment. But after a short while of living in a building, she began to miss her simple life in a vehicle.
So, in December 2016 she traded in her car for a $10,000 van, called Marta, and has been in the process of converting it into a living space ever since.
Eileah said: “So far I’ve spent about $7,000 on the build out. There have been a couple of repairs that were probably about $2,000. To finish the build out, I am going to have to spare maybe another $3-4,000.”
“It’s still a fraction of the cost of buying a home.”
Eileah held a yard sale to get rid of all possessions she couldn’t store in the van. She spends most weekends refurbishing the van with her boyfriend of one year, Brian Laston.
While talking about opening up to Brian, she said: “We had really just met, we hadn’t been dating for long, so it took me maybe two or three weeks to tell him that I had lived in my car.
“It took me probably another month to tell him that I wanted to live in a van and I didn’t like the idea of living in a traditional house, which I’m sure would probably be difficult for him considering he owned a home.”
Brian said: “I knew it was something she was always interested in.”
“I was hoping, I think at that point, it was just a dream that she is just gonna talk about or just skip over.“
After Eileah sent Brian a text saying she was on her way to Florida to pick up a van; he knew it was neither a joke nor a dream.
He added: “Once she got it back and slowly started including me in the build, I took a bigger interest in it.”
So far Brian has only stayed in the van a few times when the couple have gone away for the weekend. But he has slowly accepted the concept of van-living.
He said: “It’s now more or less gone from her dream to become our dream.”
Once the van is complete, Brian, his cat (Kernel) and Eliah’s dog (Aza) will also move in full-time. It will certainly be cosy.
Eileah doesn’t see herself living in a big house any time soon.