Adam Croft and Nikki Pepperell were struggling to pay the rent. But then they came up with a unique answer to their problems. The couple transformed a van into a home – and the results were astonishing.
Croft, 32, and Pepperell, 35, are from Stroud in Gloucestershire. He was a landscape gardener and the owner of Cotswold Bells tent rental service, while she worked in an office job. But they both realized that they didn’t have any disposable income because of the high costs of their rent and bills.
“We found that we were spending all our money on rent when we were working in the U.K.,” Croft told SWNS. “Pretty much all of our wages were going. At the end of the month, once we had paid for the running of the car and living costs, we wouldn’t really be left with anything.”
The couple were feeling frustrated that they couldn’t afford the rent. But then, after taking a trip to New Zealand in 2014, they went to visit some friends for the week. Their pals were living on a boat in Falmouth, Cornwall.
Croft and Pepperell were jealous of the freedom that their friends had. They wanted to have a similar experience but recognized that a boat wasn’t a viable option for them. So they came up with a very unusual solution.
“We were thinking about how we could live without struggling – it was a joint idea,” Croft recalled to the Daily Mail. “It was one of those things we had been talking about. There were a few points when we thought, ‘Is this a good idea?’”
Croft and Pepperell decided to buy an old van and convert it. They purchased a used white Ford Transit Luton on eBay for $4,600. Then they moved back in with their parents.
For the next year, the couple spent their free time transforming their van into a miniature dream home. They used the money that they had in their bank accounts, as well as what they were saving by living at home. “We both had a tiny bit of savings,” Croft said. “We were working and building it in our spare time.”
The pair watched online video tutorials and taught themselves D.I.Y. “We did it completely ourselves,” Croft explained. “I haven’t done any building work and it was the first time Nikki had picked up a drill.”
And it was no small task. They added insulation and solar power to make the van a fully functioning home. “It was just about getting on with it, watching YouTube videos and learning as we went,” Croft said.
Croft and Pepperell wanted the van to feel like a home. So they went all out with wood flooring, working windows and a fireplace. There’s even a porch and a sink with water – despite the fact the van is not connected to a main water supply.
The duo made the most of the space they had and managed to fit a bunk bed, sofa, shower, toilet and kitchen into the back of the van. But it was a huge amount to do over the space of a year, particularly as the renovation required serious electrical work. And it became especially difficult during the winter months.
“We had a massive struggle because we were doing quite a lot through the winter. We found we had a leak,” Croft recalled to the Daily Mail. “We couldn’t get stuff on the roof to cure the leak because it was always raining. We also didn’t have a garage to store it in.”
In the end, they spent the equivalent of about $8,600 converting the van, bringing the total cost of their new mobile home up to $13,000. And the results are surprisingly stunning. Croft now believes they could have done it for even less money but admitted that it had been “a learning curve” because of their lack of D.I.Y. experience.
The couple are most excited to have a home that can travel around the world with them. “The main idea behind it is that we found it far too expensive to rent here,” Croft told SWNS. “It was also so we could go away in the winter without being tied down.”
Croft and Pepperell completed the ambitious project in June 2015. And they didn’t waste any time when it came to making the most of it. They decided to quit their jobs so that they could explore Europe in the van.
The pair spent a few nights in their new flat on wheels before setting off on their adventure. They used that time to sell all their possessions online. And Croft said that they might never go back to Gloucestershire.
He revealed that their plan was to head to Bordeaux for a vacation with friends. They would then either find work in France or travel down to Portugal. Croft added that they may “look at land” in Portugal and think about settling down there.
While converting the van may have been a big risk, online commenters praised the couple for their innovative thinking. “It’s a shame that the thing people need the most (a roof over your head) is the most expensive thing in life,” Sound Media shared on YouTube. “Not only do they save in rent but also on council tax too! Good luck to them.”
Others called the van “cool” and “a slick idea.” And Croft said it’s turning out to be the perfect way to indulge their love of traveling without spending a fortune. He added, “Initially, it was a fair bit of money to put into the actual building of the van and buying the van, but hopefully we’ll be able to recuperate those costs from living cheaply in it.”