This winter-proofed van is now home to two engineers who love the outdoors.
Living in a converted vehicle might seem like a radical step to take, but for some people, it's the means toward more financial freedom, allowing them to do some of the things that mean most: traveling and immersing themselves into their favourite outdoor hobbies.
Such is the case with French-Canadian couple Isabelle and Antoine of FarOutRide, who recently transitioned from a conventional nine-to-five lives as engineers working for a large corporation, and into a more nomadic van-living lifestyle, in order to pursue their cherished pastimes: mountain-biking, snowboarding and finding the best craft beers this continent has to offer. Along the way, they've managed to not only learn new skills to build their own tiny home on wheels, they've managed to reinvent themselves too.
As they recount on their blog, it wasn't as if there was anything wrong with their 'old' life:
We had everything we wanted: well-paid permanent jobs with benefits, a nice house, cars, friends, mountain biking trails, whitewater rivers, craft beer scene, etc. We’re not attracted by luxury (except for mountain bikes!), so we considered ourselves “rich” in a way that we could afford all the fun we wanted. [..] We lived a comfortable life, but when reaching our mid-thirties the years seem to repeat themselves. The idea of repeating the same pattern until our retirement was not really fulfilling… there had to be better.
So their version of 'better' involved drawing up and executing a plan to save money while still working, in order to fund their future adventures, as well as designing and learning how to build out their own winter-proofed van home, while also downsizing and selling their stuff, and then, finally selling their home and moving into their van, built out of a Ford Transit van that has larger tires installed.
In designing their van conversion, the couple was clear that they would need a fully insulated van with a heating system for winter, a solar power system for electricity, a water system that wouldn't freeze in winter, and a full kitchen, composting toilet and plenty of storage -- including storing their mountain bikes inside! You can see how much gear they can fit in with their extremely efficient design for their under-bed storage:
There are many ways to transition toward full-time vanlife as Isabelle and Antoine have done -- they decided to initially sacrifice and cut living expenses in order to save up a chunk of money to finance their travels, while others might try to go the digital nomad route.
In total, they saved a lot of money by doing the conversion themselves, which they estimate cost about USD $18,000. Since setting out in 2017, they are continuing to travel slowly, finding new outdoor destinations to engage in all the outdoor activities they love. We might all be living vicariously through them, but thankfully, they've also meticulously outlined their expenses during the building process here, as well as their monthly expenses here, and even laid out a whole Van Conversion Build Guide as a way of encouraging others that full-time van living is indeed possible for anyone who might be bold enough to take those steps. To find out more, visit FarOutRide, Facebook and Instagram.