Couple sell house to live in caravan, transforming it for under £4k

Couple sell house to live in caravan, transforming it for under £4k

10/08/2020

Trent Bergeron, 27, and Keely Bergeron, 26, from Dallas Texas, already had a ‘traditional’ four-walled, 2,000 square foot, stationary home to live in.

But in 2019 they decide to turn their lives upside down, selling their house and committing to ‘tiny living’ in a 200 square foot caravan.

After selling the house they purchased a 2007 Hitchhiker campervan in the spring of 2019 for $20,000 (£15,545) and soon set about transforming it into an incredible home.

The couple renovated the tiny space by themselves, doing everything from gutting it to repainting the walls for six months in between working their full-time jobs and studying.

The renovation cost the pair $5,000 (£3,888) including furniture, and it now looks like a palace on wheels – which they’re going to put to good use travelling around.

Speaking to Jam Press, Keely explained, ‘In Alabama, Trent was still a software salesman who worked from home, and I was a full-time student in the Physical Therapy program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

‘We had bought a house in my first year of PT school since we knew we would be in Birmingham for at least three years and we didn’t want to throw away money on rent.

‘We ended up buying a house that was well under its market value, and over the two years we lived in it, we did several renovations including turning the attic space into a large extra bedroom.’

But after Keely’s last year of PT school, the couple began to explore other places to live, and with Trent being able to work remotely from anywhere in the world, Keely decided to become a travelling PT.

‘Since I wasn’t sure what type of work I wanted to commit to, and Trent could work remotely, we decided that I would become a travel PT so I could get as much experience as I could in a variety of types of settings, areas and patient populations.

‘We wanted to make that experience as fun and as exciting as possible, so we decided that instead of going the traditional route and living in short-term housing during my assignments, we would renovate a camper so that we could live in amazing, remote destinations and not worry about finding a suitable apartment.’

The first part of the renovations required them to complete gut the camper, ripping up carpets and lino and tearing out cabinets.

They then repainted, laid new floors, and replaced the counter-tops before redoing the shower area.

‘Since I was still in school when we did this, we were “weekend warriors’” for about 6 months, we would spend most of our Saturdays and Sundays at the camper, tackling as many projects as we could while we still had sunlight,’ says Keely.

The hardest part of the renovation was fixing the water damage, according to the couple, who said that there were several spots that had been pretty severely damaged in the 12-year-old camper van.

Keely continues: ‘On two of the slide outs, we had to completely replace parts of the walls that had rotted, and on one slide out, we had to build an entirely new floor due to the damage we had found.

‘Since we had never tackled anything like this, it took a lot of research and homework on our part to figure out how to find the source of the leak, correctly take out the damaged pieces of the camper, and then repair it so that it was safe and functional.’

However, Keely says she had lots of fun decorating and picking out furniture for their new home, which is currently parked up just north of Dallas (they pay $650 (£500) a month to park there are use facilities).

The couple admits that a lot of their friends and family initially questioned why they would sell their home and move into a camper van, explaining, ‘Tiny living is a relatively new concept in the States, so when we first told our friends and family about what we were going to do, they just laughed! Most took bets on how long we’d actually last living in the camper.

‘However, now that they see the finished product, they love it. Everyone has been really excited for us and the possibilities this holds for us in the future. We also had some great friends in Birmingham who helped us with the renovations- they’d come out in the dead heat of summer and rip out nails, floors, cabinets, etc., so while they might’ve thought we were crazy, they were definitely supportive.’

While they are currently loving life in their new home on wheels, the pair have not ruled out moving back into a ‘normal’ home in the future, adding, ‘Starting a family isn’t too far in our future, and I would want to have a house when that happens. I know that some people live the nomad/camper lifestyle with kids but I just can’t imagine doing that!

‘We have also considered the idea of buying a small house with some land so that we can have room to begin renovating campers for other people.’

To anyone else who is considering downsizing or moving into a campervan themselves, Trent and Keely advise, ‘Do it! There’s always going to be reasons not to or ways you can talk yourself out of it, but it’s a great experience. You learn to live with so much less, you save money, and you give yourself the freedom to live pretty much anywhere.’

Following their own epic camper van transformation, the couple are now in talks to launch their own business renovating campers, both for people local to the Dallas area and for those further afield.

‘We’ve learned so much from renovating JoJo and we are itching to have another project to showcase what we can do and help someone else realize that tiny living can feel luxurious while being incredibly affordable.’

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