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The Carrot Blog

Carrot Creative is filled with colorful characters. Cultured Carrots is a series that shares the outside passions that inspire the very best work for our clients. This week, Data Scientest Amanda Yang talks about her new adventure in Van Living.

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Carrot: So...Van life. When did you decide to explore this kind of living? How did you explain this to your friends and family?

Amanda: I've been wanting to live in a van since 2012. Living in a van has always been a dream of mine, because it is an easy way to be free and increases your ability to have adventures every single day.

C: What's your setup? How did you pick out your van?

A: It was a spring Saturday morning, and I woke up and said, "I need to buy a van today". So, I naturally went to Craigslist and searched for cargo vans under 5k. The vision was something that is very incognito and looks like a regular working van but is actually a home. The ideal van ended up being in Bayonne, New Jersey, where a guy owned four identical vans. This van was too good to be true, so we made a deal and got away with a van that is not only beautiful but also powerful and strong. The van is still a work in progress but has the basics (bed, chair, cabinets).

C: How did you prepare for this?

A: Staying in an old RV behind a gas station for a bit of time to see if living without electricity, plumbing and internet was ok. It was very idyllic and forced me to stop using my phone so much and start reading more. From there, understanding exactly what needed to be built to make it a livable habitat. That was a lofted bed which folds up into a futon/couch. The final step was to sublet my apartment to some very nice ladies.

C: So far, what's the best and worst thing about van living?

A: The worst thing about living in a van is most definitely the heat and the mosquitos. I own two battery powered fans, which circulate air, but that is meaningless when it's super humid and disgusting out, as it was in August when I first started living in the van. Now that it's cooled down to a normal temperature, I am loving waking up wherever I feel like waking up. The second worst thing about living in a van is mosquitos. Mosquitos are everywhere, so I learned quickly that you cannot leave your windows open or else you will end up with a ton of bites all over your body.

The best thing about living in the van is having the city as your front lawn. Since moving into the van I've lived in so many neighborhoods. If you stay in one neighborhood, it is easy to get into the routine of going to the same restaurants and stores. Living in the van has been a great way to get to know NYC in a different way.

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C: Are there notable people that you admire who have been doing what you're doing for a while? Why?

A: Slowly but surely many of my friends are moving towards a more simple lifestyle. Many people have converted vehicles or purchased spaces that are small, sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint to overall make your life less complex.

C: What's your long term goal for this alternate style of living?

A: This is the first installation in a series of vans I plan to call home. When a van dies, I will take it to a piece of land, which I plan to buy with the money I am saving living in the van. Eventually, I will convert the vans into a van mansion, where I can retire and relish in the years and memories each van has brought.

C: Have you met anyone new or interesting because of your new mobile home?

A: Van Dwelling is a do not ask do not tell society in NYC. Outside of the city or on the west coast van dwellers are more accepted and more approachable. Out West, I have asked to peep in people's vans to get inspiration and chat about the vision they had for their vans, but I'd never do that in NYC.

C: Winter is coming...how are you getting ready?

A: I am taking this month to think about it what is actually necessary to make this winterproof. The van definitely needs insulation, floors and maybe some solar panels for a space heater. I've talked with a lot of hardcore van people, and they seem to think it's reasonable to live in NYC throughout the winter, since there's not too much snow. If winter becomes unbearable and not fun, I will abandon the van for a few months and get an apartment somewhere.