Van Life: My 80-Square-Foot Solution To The Bay Area Housing Crisis

By Tracey Kaplan
The Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Tracey Kaplan shares her infectious enthusiam for her new SUPER van which she eventually plans to live in full-time. There’s a tiny bedroom, indoor shower, outdoor shower and a bathroom.

SAN JOSE, Calif.

It’s here! The big white van I spent my life savings to convert into a comfy studio apartment on wheels, with not just one but two showers, has finally arrived.

I absolutely love it, even more than I thought I would when I conceived the project as my personal 80-square-foot solution to the Bay Area’s affordable housing crisis.

When van converters Kyle and Josh Volkman gave me the grand tour, I surprised myself by bursting into tears, of profound joy.

Women of my generation, I’m 61, were supposed to grow up to be wives, mothers, nurses, teachers or stewardesses, not brave independent, adventurous women with a van that gives them the freedom to live anywhere they want.

In the northern New Jersey town where I grew up, girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school until I was 12.

Not even culottes. Barred from shop class by the ex-Marine who ran it, we were forced to make aprons and practice doing laundry in home economics.

A friend and I tried clogging up the washing machine in protest, but it didn’t do any good. I’m proud to say that while I’ve always loved to cook and putter around the house, I got a D in that class.

Yet in a peek at a whole different world, that was also the era of all those hippies living mostly on the West Coast in VW vans or converted school buses like Ken Kesey’s.

The notion must have taken hold because I didn’t hesitate once I discovered the van life movement as I hunted for a way to stay in the Bay Area after I retire.

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