Wanting to avoid housing-related debt, a man named Jason decided to build himself a studio apartment on wheels.
Jason used to live in a big house with five roommates until he decided to attend grad school for urban planning. He knew this mid-career shift would entail living in big cities with a high cost of living, so he found a way to escape the crazy high rents.
Jason wanted to live in an inconspicuous mobile home he could feel safe in. Luckily, he found a vehicle that fit the bill on Craiglist: an old 2004 Ford E-350 box truck.
The van is 15-foot-long and 8-feet-wide. Even better, it had the pass-through from the cab to the back already installed, giving him a nice loft space.
Jason did most of the build himself and hired a friend to take over the design and some of the intricate parts of the build. Basically, he wanted an apartment on wheels that looked like a work truck on the outside so he could park it anywhere.
Calling it the “Stealth Studio,” Jason moved into the mobile van at the beginning of 2021. So far, he has been enjoying it because it allows him to live the urban lifestyle without paying for sky high rental prices.
Usually, Jason will park for four to seven days at a time and bike around or take public transport in the city. He doesn’t drive the van constantly, so the truck’s slightly low gas mileage isn’t much of a dealbreaker.
Mounted under the rear portion of the truck is a 12-gallon fuel tank which Jason uses for a heater.
The van has 500 watts of solar power and 420 amp hours of lithium batteries.
A window allows him to get some natural light and enjoy the view outside when he’s in the mountains. Since the vehicle is made for stealthy urban living, Jason designed the window to look like a vent.
At the back of the truck is a cargo door made of reused old panels from a roll-up door. With a push of a button, it can be brought down and turned into a patio or a garage, which gives Jason a little extra storage space.
On the truck’s passenger side is a 44-gallon gray water tank with skin and spray foam around it for protection. Inside, Jason has 55 gallons of freshwater which could last around 10 to 14 days.
The 125-square-feet Stealth Studio has a loft area that holds a full-size mattress. There’s also a vent for airflow and built-in storage space to keep his clothes and other things. And instead of using a ladder to get up the loft, he installed a cool rock climb set up.
Above the couch are upper cabinets with an ebony stain, which contrasts really nicely with the white walls.
Under his bed is a pull-out closet with a shoe rack where he keeps his dress shirts, sport coats, and footwear. Jason also tucked away his gadgets, cables, and electronics in another box near the loft area to keep them out of the way.
Jason likes to cook a lot, so he designed his kitchen to have a huge counter space with easy access to his most-used appliances. He also has a small fridge, a microwave, an induction cooktop, and a deep sink.
On the backside of the Stealth Studio is Jason’s workspace. It has a big desk which holds his laptop, keyboard, small fan, and organizer.
Jason has a portable air conditioner that he runs for short stretches if he needs to cool down the space.
The van also has a real shower and a composting toilet.
This apartment on wheels gives Jason a ton of flexibility and keeps his expenses low.
“I learned that you have to figure out what your needs are and stay focused on that and then design your build around that. That’s the advantage of this lifestyle. Think about what are your goals what are you trying to accomplish, where do you want to be, and then build something that works for you,” he said.
Check out Jason’s fabulous Stealth Studio in the video below.
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