News Home & Design Woman Leaves Corporate World For Van Life and Rescue Dogs Dyllan Freeburg's story is inspiring but she is also frank about the pros and cons of van life. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published January 31, 2023 08:42AM EST Fact checked by Katherine Martinko Fact checked by Katherine Martinko Twitter University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Tiny Home Tours News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive For many people, the conventional 9-to-5 job is something to be endured so that they can pay off bills, mortgages, and debt from things like credit cards or student loans. But thanks to inflation, the rising costs of housing and basic necessities like food and fuel have meant that people are having to work longer hours—or even at another job—just to keep a roof over their heads or food on their plates. Those hard realities might be why alternative lifestyles like tiny houses, or living the bus life or van life, appeal to so many people. By not having a mortgage, one gains a certain measure of financial freedom, and many use it to travel or to do work that feels more rewarding. That was the case with newly minted "van dweller" Dyllan Freeburg, who currently works with Moab, Utah-based nonprofit Underdog Rescue. Dyllan leads their animal care team in rescuing abandoned dogs, helps at the organization's clinic, and also does outreach to local communities. Dyllan's work and minimalist lifestyle are enabled by her deliberate choice to live in a van conversion, which she renovated herself, with a bit of help from family. Tiny Home Tours gives us an insightful peek at her lovely tiny home on wheels: You might have heard this story before, but Dyllan explains some of the reasons why she chose to live in her converted RAM ProMaster camper van: "My job before this was in corporate America, with a Fortune 500 company. I'm a bit of a clichéd van life story in that way. I was making very good money, and performing really well at my job, and also entirely unfulfilled, and knew that I wanted to make a change. I had the luxury and the privilege of staying at that job long enough to reduce the majority of my student debt, so that I could leave that job, take some time off to travel, and then enter the nonprofit sector." The van is nicknamed Sunflower, or Sunny for short, and is also home to Dyllan's dog Juniper. Dyllan has configured the van's layout to fit her needs and for completing work-related tasks like hauling loads of dog food. The light-colored palette and the minimalist decor of the van help make it feel larger and airier. Tiny Home Tours The entrance reveals a number of personal, sentimental touches that make it feel like home, like the blanket-covered stool that Dyllan inherited from her father, which is used for seating or for stepping up into the van. There are also small pieces of art collected from her travels prior to joining Underdog Rescue and a small plant from her mother. Tiny Home Tours The kitchen area is located on one side of the van and features a basic set-up with a large sink, a counter made with reclaimed plywood, and a set of cabinets that Dyllan purchased at a hardware store and then modified herself. The kitchen is glammed up a bit with the addition of a golden pull-down faucet and a lightweight peel-and-stick tiled backsplash. There is also a Berkey water filter here, which Dyllan uses daily. Tiny Home Tours Overhead, there are cabinets for storing various items. Dyllan chose to use industrial-strength velcro strips as a way to ensure that the doors stay put when the cabinet doors are either in the shut or open positions. As Dyllan explains, she didn't need or want an indoor shower and toilet, as the desert ecosystems around Moab are fragile, so she does her business using toilets that are available at work or other public places, in addition to the simple solution of using a plastic jar. Tiny Home Tours The roof also has three points of ventilation, which Dyllan cut and added herself. There is one opening for the two Maxxair fans and another in the middle for a skylight. Tiny Home Tours The middle part of the van includes a bench, which hides extra storage, and the van's Webasto heater. The bench is used along with a tabletop mounted on an adjustable Lagun arm. Tiny Home Tours There is also the dual-compartment Dometic refrigerator and freezer here, which Dyllan has left freestanding so that she can move it around to accommodate her dog or the occasional guest or big load of cargo. Tiny Home Tours The bed is elevated up on a platform and is a full-sized foam mattress. Tiny Home Tours Dyllan has added other personal touches, like this bedside shelf for holding her phone and morning coffee. Tiny Home Tours Back outside, we see how much space there is under the bed in the van's "garage" space. Here Dyllan can store her larger belongings or empty them out to haul dog food or drive rescued dogs back to the clinic. Tiny Home Tours Combining a full-time job with van life isn't unique, and while Dyllan's story is inspiring, she is also frank about the pros and cons of van life, saying: "I love not having a big house to maintain and having a bunch of financial risk. I mostly utilize public land around the Moab area. But it's pretty far from town, and gas is expensive, so that's tough. But then I also get to sleep out in nature, almost every night, and that is incredible—it really feeds my soul, and it really feeds Juniper's soul—so that's absolutely worth it." To follow Dyllan, check out her Instagram.