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Going Small to Live Big; The Incredible Way People are Living Their Dreams

Ever started packing for a move and thought “When did I accumulate this much junk?”  or try cleaning out your garage only to now have the basement filled with more stuff? Consumerism is part of the American culture. Since the 80s we have been buying bigger cars, bigger houses, and more products. QVC was the original Ebay, then Amazon took over, making it even simpler to buy. “As Seen on TV” products crowd our kitchens, next to the juicer we only use twice a year. But all that is beginning to change. Over the last decade, there has been an incredible resurgence of what some would call the “dirty hippie life” and what others call “Van Life” and 2020 has accelerated this process. I myself have begun the process of transforming a vehicle used for travel into a home, wanting to have more access to this beautiful country while trying to live within my means. For me, it all started with a trip to Colorado. While standing in the Garden of the Gods, I looked around and said out loud “That’s it. I’m selling all my things and moving out here.” My friend looked at me and asked about my life back home. But we only have one life to live so we better make it count! 

Garden of the Gods, CO. PC: Dominique Carbaugh

Check out these amazing travelers who gave away all their things in order to live the life they dreamed of:

Let’s start with the most infamous, and most loved couple of Van Life, Court and Nate. As former valets, Court and Nate were not wealthy, tech start-up trust fund kids. They were just two people working together who eventually fell in love. They saved up all their money from valeting, bought a van, and immediately moved out of their apartment. They hadn’t even converted the van yet.  They lived without any creature comforts until they converted the van into a living space. They now convert vans for other people for a living and recently got engaged. Congrats Court and Nate!

For some, van life doesn’t actually come in the form of a van. Some people live the tiny life in a Skoolie, meaning an old school bus converted into a home. These are the largest of the tiny home life, with some people living in and driving full-size school busses. With a relatively young Instagram account, the Hamiltons have been able to create quite a loyal following with their bus Perd. Named after the news anchor from Parks and Rec, Perd has some fun design elements like it’s burnt orange exterior paint color. The account features the Hamilton’s build process, updates, and Parks and Rec humor. 

There’s also The Skoolie, which has possibly the coolest name and is one of the original Skoolie converters. The Skoolie’s owner, Dean, is pictured in the upper right here hanging out with another fantastic resource for those looking to build their own Skoolie, Michael with Navigation Nowhere. 

Lastly, there’s Chatfield Court. Look at this picture and take a guess what kind of structure Kristi and Roger live in?

Surprise! It’s a cargo trailer. Yes, the thing lawn mowers are stored in! Kristi and Roger took their sweet time converting this cargo trailer into a tiny home and they travel across the states with it. Personally, this one is my favorite. Aside from the window, you can’t tell this isn’t a normal house. They did a beautiful job and I would highly encourage anyone interested in Tiny Home living to check out their YouTube. 

As the old Janis Joplin song goes, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose” so if you wanna be free, be free! 


Dominique loves taking in the world around her and writing her thoughts on it. Avid library and coffee shop goer, she finds herself wandering city streets up and down the East Coast frequently. When she’s not photographing architecture, she’s probably eating or hiking with her dog, Russell.

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