From Apartment Life to Van Life

“Scary” is how Pheobe Horibe used to describe her first night living out of a van. Sleeping in a Cabela’s parking lot was unfamiliar territory. She didn’t sleep very well that first night. Over the last few months, Pheobe has since become comfortable parking on the street or in parking lots. She prefers to park in cities or “urban camp” over finding spots in nature. “I find a sense of safety in numbers when parking with other RVs in, say, a Walmart parking lot.”

Pheobe Horibe outside her home on wheels in Falls Park, South Dakota (photo_ Pheobe Horibe).

Recently there was a big stigma around living full time in a vehicle. Many associated it with poverty or people too strange to be in normal society. With social media, van life has taken on a new life. People of all ages are converting old cargo vans or buses into tiny homes on wheels. Many people document building their homes through blogs and share their travels once they hit the road. That was how Pheobe first found out about the lifestyle. “I saw it on my Instagram feed one day back in like January of this year. I just thought ‘That. I want do that.’”

After hours of research, she bought a RAM Promaster and set to work. But it wasn’t easy. Without a carpentry or mechanical background, Pheobe had to teach herself how to make her dream a reality. A friend let her park in their driveway and another lent her a saw. The only help with the actual build she had was having a friend hold up the wooden planks that cover her ceiling while she nailed them in. It wasn’t perfect, but it was home. The sense of accomplishment was empowering.