About Kimberly Smith
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There are many places in Canada and the U.S. where the winter brings on very cold temperatures and storms. If we live in traditional housing we usually have a heatng system that keeps us warm and cozy. However if your housing is not traditional, such as living in a van, the winter can also bring on harsh circumstances. There will be questions that require anwering, such as, how are we going to stay warm inside the van, what are our options? The freedom of van dwelling does come with many perks, but it also comes with challenges, and the winter cold is one of the major challenges.
So how do you prepare for winter and keep warm in your home, if your home is a van. Van dwellers have become creative and have come up with many ways to solve this uncomfortable issue. Here are just a few ways you can stay warm in winters like Toronto, Canada and the far northeast and northwest of the U.S.
Insulation is the key
Insulating the van’s walls and floors is most important when it comes to preparing for winter and there are a few ways to get this done. Van dwellers in Toronto, Canada have chosen materials such as hay and straw to cover the outside of the van and this has worked to keep the natural heat inside the van during cold icy winters. There are also foil pans that adhere to the vans windows that block out much of the cold weather by sticking to the windows and windshields with plastic sucker devices, very simple to install. Bubble wrap also works well cut into the size and shape of the van’s windows. These options also provide some more privacy, which is simply a plus for the van dwellers during the winter months.
Another concern for van dwellers trying to get through the winter months is maintenance that keeps your van rolling. Before winter gets into full swing, you should get a tune up and make sure you’re not going to have any problems if you decide to travel. The van should have snow tires, and oftentimes, chains on the tires to get through really rough storms. Also you should have the right amount of anti-freeze mixed in with your water to make sure that the water in the engine area does not freeze up on you. Your oil should also be winter grade and any decent mechanic can help you winterize your engine and other parts underneath your hood that keeps you on the road.
Keep yourself warm by preparing to have the right kind of winter clothing. Heavy jackets and coats are needed, but also items like thermal underwear and warm boots and shoes that keep the cold and water away from your feet. Warm nighttime clothing is a must, such as warm footies, slippers, and socks. This is where thermal underwear will also come in handy, during those frigid nights. Some van dwellers invest in sleeping bags and other sleeping items used for camping outdoors. Hot water bottles which tend to stay warm for up 8 hours are great for warming your bedding before you settle down for the night along with wool blankets for extra covering.
Some Toronto area van dwellers have used these ideas and stayed comfortable in temperatures of -8 celcius, once it gets colder than that, van dwellers may have to spend a night or two at a hostel or hotel if it can be afforded. At these temperatures if your van does not have its own heating system and some do, it is safest to stay snuggled up until the temperatures mellow out. Also, even vans that came with a heating system must be running all night for the heat to stay on. If you do have a van that came with heating, the best thing to do is to run the van until bedtime, a couple hours beforehand to warm the area. Of course this also burns gas. So make sure, anyway, that your van stays filled with gas and isn’t on empty.
Preparation is also key. At the end of the summer season begin preparing for the cold of winter, because Autumn can also be very cold in some areas of Canada and the U.S. So don’t wait until winter arrives to run around and prepare, do this beforehand and this way if the temperatures suddenly drop, you have a plan to keep you and your van as warm as possible.
Source: Living in a Van in Winter
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He has now entered Costa Rice with his DIY converted home-on-wheels he bought used of eBay.
We have heard of many vehicles being turned into homes these last couple of years, from vans to SUV’s to campers. But it is extremely creative to see an ambulance as your next home. Ambulances are often filled with so much equipment to care for the people who need medical help that it is hard to create a vision for yourself inside one of these very common vehicles.
It may be difficult to see an ambulance as a home but this gentleman certainly proved that it is not impossible. On the exterior it still looks like an ambulance, however, the space to hold his motor cycle on the back gives away the secret. This is no ordinary ambulance. Whenever you convert any vehicle into a dwelling space you must have an eye that sees things and space in a different way.
The interior looks very comfortable and the space is utilized well. There is even room enough for a pet dog to lie comfortably as he or she would in an apartment or house. The walls are used for a lot of storage. Items that would normally sit on the floor, hang on the walls instead, like his guitar. This method is used for many tiny house dwellers as well. The walls become a hanging storage area.
The bed and sofa are combined into a sectional that can offer another sleeping space at night or plenty of space for company during the day or an evening get together. The rear living space is separated by a curtain from the front driving area. So it feels like two spaces in one. The eating area has a beautiful wood table that curves to take up less space and it sits right in front of one end of the sofa/bed/sectional area where it is used for dining.
It takes a lot of imagination to complete a transformation like this one. As we stated, ambulances remind us of just about everything but a home and this one definitely fits the bill as one of the best and most creative transformations of a vehicle into a home, that many of us have seen.
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For some van dwellers, it’s been a lifelong dream to feel this free. You can live rent-free and travel if you wish. It has turned out to be a dream come true but there are things one must consider before taking on a life of van dwelling, and one very important thing is how to winterize your van, so you can stay warm during the Fall and Winter seasons.
There are quite a few options for keeping your van in good repair and warm for the upcoming season, some a bit more costly and others go towards the frugal way. However, keeping warm is not a joke and you do want your methods and all your hard work and money to be sufficient.
First things first: Insulation
Most vans that are purchased as dwelling spaces already have some kind of insulation, check it out and make sure because you may fall into a case where you need to insulate more or replace torn out insulation. On Instructables.com there is a comprehensive instruction article on how to properly insulate your van for the Winter.
Make sure your van is in good working condition
Now is the time to check out all the mechanical stuff. Make sure that you have recently had a tune-up and an oil change before hitting the road in the Winter. Make certain that if your van has its own heat, have the heating system checked out so you know you’ll be warm while driving. Check your anti-freeze levels and your battery so you don’t get stuck on some cold highway waiting for help. And get winter tires just in case you run into snow storms and blizzards.
Keeping warm at night
It is one thing to have a good working heating system while driving, but how do you keep warm at night or when you park for a day or two? You can use some warm night clothing, socks, slippers, pajamas, and good winter blankets. Getting a couple of sleeping bags is another great idea. They keep you warm inside and outside. A good hot water bottle works well to preheat the bed and/or the sleeping bag.
There are compact gas heaters that many people love to use on cold winter nights. One great thing about them is that they don’t require electricity. These heaters function very well so do your research to see which ones are in your budget and what size heater you will need to heat your specific van space.
Source: Living in a Van in Winter
By Kimberly Smith
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Van dwelling is getting more popular these days. It saves you from paying rent and mortgage and many other monthly bills that everyone is used to paying. It is also a way to freedom, freedom to move and go whenever you feel the notion. Van dwelling comes with a lot of perks but you must remember, that your new home is a vehicle and vehicle’s have issues from time to time. This is especially true because most van dwellers buy used vans that at some point will need mechanical attention.
Are you up for doing a little DIY repairs on your home? Well, it will be a whole lot cheaper if you could do some of the things that your van will require to keep it and you, on the road. Here are some repairs that are simple enough that even a novice can learn.
Checking your oil
Oil keeps any vehicle going strong. You cannot continually drive a vehicle without making sure that it has enough oil or that the oil is clean. Doing an oil check by simply lifting the hood, looking for the plastic stick that has an oil can on it and removing that stick to see how much oil is actually there, is one of the simplest but most important things you can do for your vehicle. If you look at the markings on the stick you can see at what level the oil is, and fill or add oil if needed.
If you are constantly on the road, particularly during the cold weather, anti-freeze is a fluid that needs checking. If you remember how to check the oil, you will see a cap that either says anti-freeze or look for the sketching of a picture of anti-freeze fluid. Remove and read the instructions on your particular brand of anti-freeze. Look in your manual, if it is still available because some anti-freeze needs to be mixed with water and some bottles come that way. Pour the anti-freeze in the correct section of the car and mark in a book when you refilled it so you will know when to check it again.
Always check your tires for low pressure and often the vehicle will tell you when there is low pressure, but if the vehicle is too old for that type of messages, check your tires when you check your oil. If one seems low, immediately go to a gas station with an air pump or a tire place where they can check all of your four tires and see if there is the right amount of air in all four. Make sure you know how to change a tire on your own as well. This will make things a whole lot easier; and get Triple AAA, for any road service needs in case it is nighttime or bad weather is occuring, and you simply need some roadside assistance.
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If Sears brought these back (for under $30k), would you consider buying one? Sears sold somewhere between 70,000 and 75,000 inexpensive homes through the mail-order Modern Homes program. 447 styles to chose from!
Most people are aware of the Sears company, selling everything from clothing to high power tools. But only a few may know that between 1908 and 1940 Sears sold mail order homes. It was quite a successful venture, with Sears selling 70,000-75, 000 homes during that time period. Karen DeJeet moved into her home approximately 4 years ago and found out about its unique history. It is still standing beautifully and it is one of the mail order homes from the Sears company. This made DeJeet very curious as to how many other Sears mail order homes were still around. It has become quite the hobby for DeJeet.
Obviously the homes took off, soaring with sales during the early 1900s, but if Sears began to sell these homes again under 30k, would you actually buy one? The reason we mention this number is because it’s the equivalent in modern-day dollars to the prices they sold them at a long time ago (you’re probably familiar with seeing old magazines with prices like $1000 and $1995). Except we averaged it out high, so the updated number would be less than $30k.
With so many people getting into the tiny house movement, dwelling in campers and vans, and making homes from shipping containers, a mail order house is not a far fetched idea. If it can be sold for under 30k, that in itself is a great marketing tool.
In these times, it is not unusual to buy unassembled furniture or many objects and projects that are DIY. DIY is now a hugely popular trend, so one would think that a DIY home would do very well in this housing market.
What was then Sears & Roebuck, designed 447 versions of this house, from your large luxurious family home to what would be called a tiny house today. There would be a design that would fit just about everyone’s taste and the DIY factor is getting less scary as time goes on. Also, if they were being sold for under 30k, it could be easy to pay someone for help, if you are not a DIY person yourself.
Certainly, no one really knows how well a product will sell until it is on the market, however with the way most people are thinking, a DIY mail order home from Sears would do pretty well in this current world economy.
by Kimberly Smith
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A lot of people are going solar-powered these days with their homes and work places. Here we show you how to build your own solar-powered workshop. There are a few good reasons why you would want to build a workshop this way, the most important is that in the long run, it will save you a lot of money. The task may sound daunting but with some good instructions and the right supplies it can be done by just about anyone.
Of course you will need to acquire certain tools to begin with:
A drill and drill bits
and a socket wrench
Plus you will also need a solar pathfinder
The list of materials needed to build a solar workshop is pretty extensive but they all serve a very specific purpose in this type of project.
- premounted charge controller
- 55-watt solar panel
- junction box
- 2″ lag screws
- timer switch
- 100-amp battery
- overhead light fixture
- heavy-duty DC fuse
- heavy-duty welding cable
- mounting hardware kit
- DC inverter
- rubber butyl sealant
- 14-gauge electrical cable
- silicone caulk
Once you gather your tools and supplies you will need to make sure that everything is the correct tool and that all is working properly as it should. The first step is to connect the wiring to the juction box. At the junction box end, there should be a water tight connector. This, of course will protect this area from getting wet. Now you must strip the wires and connect the cable to your junction box. The red wire represents the positive and the black wire represents the negative. Connect wires to their terminal posts and tighten with a screwdriver.
Attach all mounting hardware to the panel. Once that is done, position and install your panel onto the roof of your shop. Route the wire from the solar panel across the roof and place it under the overhang of the roof. To pass the wire into the interior of the building you must drill a hole about 1/2 inch in size and pass the wire through to the interior. Secure the wire with staples and cover the hole with caulking.
Now it’s time to install the electrical panel and attach the panel wiring and connect the battery. Wire the inverter by connecting two heavy duty cables from the utility box to the back of the unit, which should have two receptacle units. Connect the positive and negative wires to their terminals and then turn on the inverter to make sure that electricity is flowing.
Wire the interior by placing the light fixture on the ceiling. For more details and a step by step intstruction chart on how to build your own solar-powered workshop see DIY Solar-Power Work Shed here.
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There are many ways you can live in a tiny house. Many people park their tiny homes in a friend’s backyard or a rented lot for periods at a time. There are also those who own land and choose not to move and just place their tiny home on their own land. But there are also ways to live in a tiny house, trailer, schoolbus, shipping container, or whatever you have transformed into your home. There are tiny home communities where many of your needs are provided for you, such as electric, WiFi, showers, and even meals. Some have what they call, a community kitchen. While other tiny house dwellers have their own kitchens and everything they need within.
If you are thinking about living the tiny house lifestyle, it may be good to know which direction to go in when it comes to finances, especially those monthly and day to day finances. If you are an entrepreneur or work at home for any reason, you may not want someone else in control of your internet service. If you leave the house most days for work and own a smart phone with data, this may not be such an inconvenience.
Let’s explore the costs of the two ways of living in a tiny house; community, or on your own.
Living on your own or rented land in a tiny house can realistically cost you a few hundred dollars a month depending on the climate and where you’ve decided to park your tiny home. Tiny homes have small refrigerators, so you will probably spend more time and money at the grocery store because it’s harder to make a meal plan when your refrigerator can only hold but so much product.
Heating may be a bit expensive if your tiny home is not well insulated, so electrical heating can cost up to and above $150/per month, especially if your tiny home is mobile. If you build a tiny home to be stationery, you may be able to connect it to the local gas or electric department, which would bring costs down. But with tiny house living being mostly off the grid, sometimes for legal regulations reasons, hooking up to the local utility services may be a problem.
You must also consider the price of gas if you are traveling in your tiny home from park to park or lot to lot. You can end up spending a lot of money on gas, anywhere from $60/week and up just to get from one destination to the next. If you’re stationary this could be a non-issue.
Community living is quite different and can be different from one tiny house community to another. In most communitites, certain amenities are provided to those who live there, for example, there is usually a main house equipped with showers, community purchased grocery, a full kitchen, WiFi, and a community social room. Many communities have their own gardens to save on food for everyone living there. You may still be responsible for your own heat, but things like WiFi are usually a group effort. Grocery is often a group effort as most people who choose to live in a community, tend to build or rent tiny homes without kitchens. So you will save on food, gas because you are stationery, Internet, and often phone service.
Choosing between these two options depends on what kind of dream you have for you and your tiny home. If you are more of a solitary person, you may want to front the costs of living on a lot of land by yourself or with regular neighbors. You may want control over your own Internet and phone service. And many people don’t care for the processs of sharing showers. So think about what makes you happy. Though community living may be cheaper, it may be less convenient when it comes to your lifestyle.
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“My Car-Dwelling Life” is the only name we have for this brave young woman who decided to chronicle her life on YouTube. And why is she chronicling her life, well, she decided that her credit card debt was just too stressful with trying to pay rent and car payments plus insurance. Though she works full-time, she had no joy in her life and all she thought about was her bills and her humoungus amount of debt she gathered while in college. She decided that her overall plan is to buy an old van and convert it into a permanent traveling living space, but while she is paying off all of her debt, she is now living in her car, by choice.
Her journey in life begins with car dwelling, full-time, and she shares the pros and cons of temporarily living in your car:
No rent – She saves approximately a thousand dollars by not having rent and other utility bills that go along with living in an apartment.
No furniture – Like most people, this car dweller, used to spend money on furniture and household knick-knacks that really were’nt needed but that she bought to impress family and friends.
No utility bills – She is free from paying utility bills each month, and in the process, gave up television altogether because she found out through this transition of living in her car, that there was nothing she missed.
She spends less on clothing – Spending less on clothing is another perk. Since there isn’t a lot of room for a full wardobe, she sold and gave away a lot of her clothing and only kept the clothing she really needed or really loved.
There, of course, are also a few cons to calling your car, your home:
Showering/bathroom – Most people car and van dwellers use the gym for showering facilities and that is just what this car-dweller is doing. Paying a small monthly gym fee is nothing like paying rent and you can exercise every day or every couple of days and shower while you’re there.
Bathroom- When nature calls, she has learned of all the places she can go to use a decent bathroom. Even in the middle of the night, which she says doesn’t happen often, she has a map of all the 24 hour superstores where she could go in an emergency. It isn’t the most convenient plan, but it does work out temporarily.
Sleep – Sleep was a bit uncomfortable at first, but after trial and error and a few blankets and pillows, sleeping in the back of her car became quite easy. Curtains were also installed in the car that could be drawn in the evenings and at night for privacy.
Telling friends and family – People may think you are a little crazy for choosing to live in your car, so at first, it’s a little embarrassing to share this info. But it appears that you can get over that and explain to people if you choose, that you are saving to convert a van into a real home. And that living in your car is a temporary and cheap solution.
“Her Car-Dwelling Life” is very happy with her decision and has calculated that what was once three years of debt has dwindled down to just 8 months. After all of her debt is paid off, she intends to look for a van that requires some TLC and convert it into her traveling home. She has also decided that she isn’t looking for any more permanent jobs. She just wants to live on the road, park by the beach when she can and live life on her own terms, while experiencing new adventures.
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Camper living is becoming one of the most popular ways to have freedom and save money on rent and mortgages at the same time. It is simple enough, if you have a nice budget to go and buy one already remodeled and decorated for traveling and living, so why are people choosing to buy old campers and redo them on their own? There are quite a few reasons for this choice and we will explore a few. Buying an old camper give you the option of putting in it all the things you desire and though at the end of the remodel, there may be a significant budget spent, the owners will have exactly what they want and need personally for their living and traveling space.
Buying a camper already set-up for living and traveling is definitely the easier way out most of the time but you need money and or loans up front to aquire such a camper. When you choose the DIY method you get the fun of being creative and imaginative about what you want the camper to look like inside and out. Money is spent in smaller amounts at a time, than all at once. DIY methods give you the opportunity to save and make money in between projects. You can rip everything out and begin from scratch, that’s the first step. There are many salvage yards that have the supplies you need for pennies on the dollar and some materials you can actually acquire for free.
You may, of course, find a new camper that is to your liking, but the best way to get the vehicle and home of your dreams is to do the work yourself. Personally you may prefer or even need items in unusual places, whereas, if you purchased a new or used camper, the kitchen will be where it was originally planned to be. No one is going to spend money on a new or used camper that is already complete to rip it apart and redo it all over again. The budget would need to be pretty large and it really doesn’t make any sense. Buying an old camper that needs stripping gives buyers the chance to create something that they have always wanted or needed. Maybe it is more convenient for a particular person, couple, or family to have their kitchen in the rear of the camper. Choosing the DIY option would be the way to go.
Freedom to Travel or Remain Stationary
Many new campers are built for travel only. Families would only use them in good weather during certain seasons of the year. A live-in camper has certain needs that will keep the owner or owners more comfortable in bad weather and during the cold winter season. For example, in a DIY version you may choose to have a different heating system than one that comes from the factory. You can rig up a heating system that can run at night, while the camper engine is off so that you can be warm and cozy on those winter nights or seasons when you are not on the road. Remember, this is not just a travel vehicle, it is also a home. This is one of the main reasons why it is better for many people to purchase an old camper and remodel it themselves, they know what they need to be comfotable on and off the road.
Free of Loans
Unless you choose to get loans to remodel your camper, you can buy an old camper without loans to repay and use the money you have saved. Loans are simply another stressful thing to think about. Also, you require former good credit to take out a loan for any purchase and a lot of Millenials are choosing this way of life. They may already have school loans and may not qualify or want other loans for a vehicle purchase.
All in all, DIY is a way for your creativity to flourish and with it you can have the camper you choose. The one that is flaoting around in your mind, not necessarily one that is sitting on a camper lot already done and decorated. There are other additions you or your family may need like items for the physically disabled. These additions can be very expensive when buying a camper off the lot, when you can learn to create ramps and other needs for the physically disabled on your own for much less money. Creativity is the key for most people who choose the DIY method.
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The log cabin look is getting more popular every season and one of the reasons why is that it is such a warm and inviting way to decorate a home. Home dwellers with many different types of homes have chosen to decorate and design their home like log cabins, a pure and rustic look. The love of this rustic look has moved into the kitchen where kitchen countertops bring in that cabin look that home owners desire.
Countertops can be the centerpiece of your kitchen if you take time to do something new and different like rustic countertops. The great thing about rustic countertops is that they can compliment any kitschen from country style to minimalist. There are many ways to go rustic, wood is just one. Recycled wood is popular for this type of style, many home dwellers and designers even use old wood pallets that are often free or sold for pennies.
You can also pull off the rustic look by using recycled metals, leaving all of the markings and scratches for that rustic look and both these materials are durable. They are often more durable than any materials constructed today. Wood and metal together is another great look for a kitchen counter and you can build that rustic look around it by using hanging pot holders and shelves made from the same materials.
Don’t just ignore your kitchen counter. We know it is easy to do so, but the kitchen counter can be just as beautiful as the rest of your home. Rustic is in this year and according to many home designers, this look is not going anywhere. So be creative, choose your materials, and if you need help ask for it, but put your personality into your kitchen by creating your own DIY countertop from salvaged materials or materials made to look warm and worn at the same time.
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