Is it possible to convert a cargo trailer into a tiny home? On today’s show, I take with Nicoll Davis, who currently lives and travels full time in a 112 square foot converted cargo trailer with her husband Jake and their dogs. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the photos and total cost of the conversion. Oh, and a few days after scheduling my interview with Nicoll, I saw her featured prominently in a New York Times article about tiny home living during the pandemic. She wasn’t happy with how she was portrayed, so we start there. Stay tuned!
In This Episode:
- Why a cargo trailer and what did the conversion take?
- What happens when your campground closes suddenly?
- The cost of the build and where everything is stored
- How to travel full-time with 3 dogs – and the essential piece of equipment
- Tips on cargo trailer conversions
- About the misrepresentation in the NYT article
Links and Resources:
Nicoll Davis is the owner and author of Living Tiny With A Wolf- a travel blog. Nicoll currently lives and travels full time in a 112 sq ft Converted Cargo Trailer with her husband Jake and their Wolfdog. But that’s not all, they also have a Siberian Husky and a Lab/Pointer mix.
Cargo trailers make stealth camping a breeze
The awning helps keep some of the sun off
Outside is the perfect living room for the whole family
Cruze the wolfdog
Happy Bella, the Husky
Raising the bed made space for a kennel
The Coleman Camp Oven folds down for storage…
…and makes perfect banana bread
Nicoll purchased used cupboards and painted them
A Campchef Everest 2 burner propane stove means Nicoll can cook and have tea
Ethan Waldman 0:00
The prevalence of like the converted sprinter vans. Whenever I see like a white work truck van that has maybe like a vent fan on the top and like a bike rack on the back like I know, I know that somebody is stealth camping in the van. Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 156 with Nicoll Davis. Is it possible to convert a cargo trailer into a tiny home? On today's show, I talk with Nicoll Davis, who currently lives and travels full time in a 112 square foot converted cargo trailer with her husband Jake and their dogs. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the photos and the total cost of the conversion. Oh, and a few days after scheduling my interview with Nicoll, I saw her featured prominently in a New York Times article about tiny home living during the pandemic. She wasn't happy about how she was portrayed, so we start there. I hope you stay tuned. Something really big is coming on Monday and I'm really excited for you to find out about it. I can't tell you too many details, but if you've been following me, since last year, you might remember something happening around the beginning of April. To learn more, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/bundle. That might be a little hint for you. But it's launching on Monday and it's only going to go for five days. And if you are in the market for tiny house plans, tiny house courses, resources, ebooks, anything like that, you're definitely not going to want to miss this. So again, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/bundle where you can get a little sneak peek and also sign up to be notified when it goes live on Monday, April 5. So again, that's thetinyhouse.net/bundle. Sorry to be cryptic, but that's all I can say for now.
All right, I am here with Nicoll Davis. Nicoll is owner and author of Living Tiny with a Wolf travel blog. Nicoll currently lives and travels full time in a 112 square foot converted cargo trailer with her husband Jake and their wolf dog. But that's not all. They also have a Siberian Husky and a lab pointer mix. Nicoll Davis, welcome to the show.
Nicoll Davis 2:47
Thanks for having me.
Ethan Waldman 2:48
You're very welcome. And we were just chatting. Before before we started recording. You know, I saw I think I saw you featured on Tiny House Talk, which is a great blog that, you know, features new tiny homes. And you know, I was like perfect. I've been wanting to talk with someone about you know, converting a cargo trailer. And then I think the very next day, I saw the same picture of you and your husband in front of your cargo cargo trailer in the New York Times. So what I was like, I just booked her on the podcast. So instead of starting with the cargo trailer, what was I mean? Has there been a lot of response that you've gotten to your to your article in The New York Times? Or I mean, I know you didn't write the article, but you were featured in an article.
Nicoll Davis 3:44
Yeah, so gosh, that article I have some feelings towards, you know. I feel like that article did not do it justice for us tiny home dwellers.
Ethan Waldman 4:04
Yeah, just to set it up for listeners, it's the article is titled the drawbacks of living in a tiny home during a pandemic. And, and I totally agree that it like, it kind of focuses on what the downsides of tiny house living are in a pandemic, and it doesn't really go into any of the benefits.
Nicoll Davis 4:24
Right, I was kind of I had the premise that it was going to be all encompassing, you know, the good and the bad. But when the article came out, and I read through it, I was thoroughly disappointed. It was a lot of my my responses were taken out of context, and it made tiny house living sound like a very negative experience. Yeah. And that was simply not true.
Ethan Waldman 4:54
Yeah. Well, yeah, that is a bummer. So I guess you know, this this interview is kind of a chance to tell the full story and you know your tiny home is is just 112 square feet which is now pretty small in the tiny house world can you talk about like the process that you went through you know why you wanted to go tiny in the first place and let's start there what what made you want to go tiny in the first place?
Unknown Speaker 5:28
Sure so actually the cargo trailer idea was my idea and he originally purchased the cargo trailer back in 2018 when there wasn't a lot of knowledge on converting cargo trailers in general and he basically just didn't want to have to contribute to paying rent and he basically just wanted a home that was his no matter what no one could take it away from him and it was it was always going to be his. So when we met in 2018 I was I was impressed i thought that was such a great idea to convert a cargo trailer into a tiny home essentially it's home but on wheels but it's different than an rv you know it's more custom. But it still has all the features of an RV: you can leave it behind if you want to set up camp somewhere. So Jake bought the cargo trailer back in 2017 mostly because he was sick of paying rent and he wanted to have a tiny home that could go anywhere so when he got the cargo trailer he basically just threw a mattress on the floor of the cargo trailer and called it good until he could save up and continue building it and what's great about the cargo trailer is it's basically like an RV, you know you can convert it like you would a bus or a van and make it custom to your needs so that was something that was really appealing about the cargo trailer and when we met in 2018 he had a bed and a shower and like a small kitchen area but it wasn't very built out further than that like there wasn't any running water for the kitchen and it wouldn't accommodat the two of us and three dogs. So that's when we kind of were started to brainstorm once once we got serious and we're like okay we're getting married and we want to continue living in the cargo trailer we're like okay we need to renovate this thing and that's kind of when the cargo trailer became what it is now is after i sat down and figured out what it is that we needed to live in function in the cargo trailer with all of us.
Ethan Waldman 7:51
Got it. So yeah what what was the process like converting the cargo trailer into a tiny home? I'm assuming - did it come insulated or did you have to like start with bare metal walls and insulate it?
Unknown Speaker 8:08
So yeah so when you buy a cargo trailer it basically just has plywood on the walls because they're meant for carrying utility like work trucks tools, atvs, things like that. So they're not insulated when you get them. This cargo trailer was custom ordered. Jake had custom ordered to be seven feet tall 16 feet long and seven feet wide so that way you could actually walk around it and so he did the whole gutting process he got it it insulated it put up walls, max air fans, windows - you name it - everything before. And so then when we met that was already finished but we ended up getting almost everything out of it besides the walls and insulation and the floors to kind of redesign everything and we ended up raising the bed three feet so we could have a dog kennel underneath. And then we bought used cabinets from Habitat for Humanity and just refinished them because we were doing this on a budget you know so we had to figure out ways to cut costs and ended up working out really well. Because we sanded them all down painted them and we're able to have something we really loved that was custom. And we fixed up the shower so we have a instant hot water heater okay for water pumps we're able to route that to go underneath the shower over to the sink so we can have running water and hot water for the sink and also water for the shower and then we also install propane heater and made a little murphy desk for us though we could do work and eat things like that so it really is a tiny home that we can live in and work and enjoy.
Ethan Waldman 10:15
Nice. Do you have any any water storage onboard like are there tanks at all?
Nicoll Davis 10:21
We do not have water storage tanks. We currently use six gallon water jugs, those blue ones that you get from Walmart. So we do fill them up. We flipped the axles on the trailer so we had more ground clearance because that's probably one of the drawbacks of cargo trailer is they don't come with very much ground clearance - so if you want to add lift to them so you can take them offigrid and not scrape, you have to do some customizations to it. But even with flipping the axles we still don't have very much room underneath and we don't want to puncture a water tank if we were to put one underneath so yeah right now we just use those six gallon jugs and then you know they still have a little porta potty toilet in our shower as well so we just we just dump that whenever it gets full.
Ethan Waldman 11:21
Okay, so it seems like you can hook it up to like water when you're parked somewhere where you do have that?
Nicoll Davis 11:32
Yes, I know we we could get the fittings to hook up to water. We definitely have the ability to hook up to shore power but our water situation's not quite where we want to be. So we're still a little like we have to carry jugs in even if we're at an RV park we'll just go outside, fill it up and then bring it in.
Ethan Waldman 11:52
Well one thing that I noticed about it is that you know you left the outside very much looking like a cargo trailer including that little kind of sliding window, so it's it's quite stealthy. Was that intentional?
Nicoll Davis 12:08
Yeah it was intentional.Jake you know when he first bought the cargo trailer he was still working. He was working as a window cleaner and carpet cleaner as well and he wanted to be able to camp in the city if he needed to and be able to go to work and still be able to live in his cargo trailer without you know someone knocking on his door saying, "You're not allowed to be here." So if it looked like a utility trailer parked on the side of the street no one really questioned it. So you know we have blackout shades stuff and all that stuff we needed to stuff can't be like a little more stealthy than probably your typical RV.
Ethan Waldman 12:49
Yeah. Have you done a good amount of stealth camping?
Nicoll Davis 12:54
Yeah we have we've parked out a lot of like Walmarts and things like that although that is it's typical for RVers to park at Walmart that is legal but you know neighborhoods things like that where we're supposed to be here no it kind of gives you a little bit of peace of mind to know that no one really knows you're in there.
Ethan Waldman 13:16
Right right. Absolutely yeah no it's it's very stealthy and i think that the the prevalence of like the converted sprinter vans there are so there are so many of them out there now that you know at least to the trained eye, like whenever i see like a white work truck van that has maybe like a vent fan on the top and like a bike rack on the back like i know i know that somebody is stealth camping in the van so i think people are on to that but like your cargo trailer is is still very much more stealth in my opinion.
Nicoll Davis 13:55
yeah i agree
Ethan Waldman 13:58
So, you have been living as well actually i'm gonna phrase this as a question: have you been living in in the trailer all through the pandemic?
Nicoll Davis 14:10
Yeah we have so we were in or we were in New Mexico we were at a campground i remember because we don't often camp grounds but in this particular week or month we were and a ranger came by and he was like, "We're closing on the campground. everybody here has to leave and you everyone needs to be out of here by tonight." or something like i can't quite remember and we're like no everybody everybody's social distance and there wasn't really access too much there there was maybe like five or six of us And it was just it was so confusing, because we're like, what are we doing out here that is more dangerous than being in the city? Right? So that was that was really frustrating. But like, okay, it's fine, you know, we have the capabilities to off grid camp. So it didn't really affect us too much, we just moved our campsite into the national forest where we boondock off grid. And we, we got some hate for it from some of the locals in the area at the time, you know, we'd go, we had been there for, I think, two or three weeks already, and we're like, we'll just hunker down. That way, we're not having to travel anywhere, and risk exposure. And that was when you know, everything first started, and everyone was kind of freaking out about the game being exposed to COVID. Right. So um, we would go to the gas station or go get groceries and people say, a license plate, and they would be like, go back to where you're from. Stop spreading COVID. And it was just, it was so absurd to us. Because we're, we would tell them and be like, we've been here for a month, and they instantly like, Oh, you know, change their demeanor completely. But, right. It's so interesting to kind of have received that reaction from people.
Ethan Waldman 16:29
Right. And not to mention, you've probably also been like living in the woods practically, like not really seeing other people much.
Nicoll Davis 16:37
Right? We're like, you know, this lifestyle, you kind of enjoy going to town sometimes and like making eye contact with people and having conversations when you go to the dog park or go to the go wherever we go. And to have that kind of reaction like oh, yeah, it was just it was bizarre.
Ethan Waldman 17:00
Yeah. What was, you know, I think cargo trailers are maybe overlooked as a potential tiny house. But, you know, you're essentially getting a trailer with a shell, a weather tight shell already built on top of it. I'm curious. How much did the cargo trailer like empty, like, how much did that cost? And then what is your, you know, what was the total cost of your build?
Nicoll Davis 17:24
Yeah, so I definitely agree that it's overlooked, but it's definitely becoming more popular. So our cargo trailer was $6k, empty shell. Okay. And that was ordering having a custom ordered to be the size and the height. That it is. Yeah. And then I think when we after we calculated how much we spent, you know, because Jake initially renovated it, and then we renovated it again, right? I think we calculated it came up to be around $12k total. So $6k for the cargo trailer and then another six for the renovations, which I mean, I'm sure you could do it a lot cheaper than that. But we want it to be, you know, standard watts of solar. We also have a generator, we have AC unit, a mini split in there. Well, we have a lot of Yeah, so we have a lot of things that would be more on the expensive side, we also have an awning which costs like a grand. Yeah. So the initial build itself could cost a lot less. But when you add in the off grid things, it adds up. I mean, that's
Ethan Waldman 18:43
like another just six grand more for the renovations like $12k all in for a tiny house. That's, you know, totally livable and probably really lightweight too. That's that's a pretty good deal. I didn't even notice that there was a mini split. Where Where did you hide the compressor?
Nicoll Davis 19:04
We have it on the tongue of the trailer.
Ethan Waldman 19:07
Okay. It go here in the photo, the door is open.
Nicoll Davis 19:11
Yeah, the photographer. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing tongue of the trailer, because it's got the AC unit. Yep. And then, you know, we have two propane tanks. So it doesn't look nice, but it works. And yeah. You know, that's what matters.
Ethan Waldman 19:30
Yeah, totally. And it's kind of a necessity. You got to have those things. And they're fairly commonplace to see on a trailer anyway. Are there so like? There's the one little sliding window on on one side, or is there any window on the other long side?
Nicoll Davis 19:52
Yeah, so we have, we actually have two windows on front side that you can see ones in the door. Yep. But at Just as an open, it just has like a built in screen. And then we have to on the other side. So when Jake and I met, he only had the two windows one on each side opposite of each other. And I was like, it's so dark in here, you know, he's like, Yeah, no, we can have more windows us, that'd be great. So we ended up adding one in the door for more light, or a little bathroom shower area up there, and it's really dark. And then one on the opposite side of our bed is got it that opens as well.
Ethan Waldman 20:32
Let a little more light in and then you've got the, the the rear gate that that can open completely and let a whole lot of light in.
Nicoll Davis 20:41
Oh, yeah, that's it. I love when we have that open. So we'll just sometimes if it's nice, and it was nice breeze out, we'll just drop the whole thing and let fresh air in. And it's great. You really feel like you're you're just there. Yeah. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 20:58
So what is Do you know what the whole rig weighs?
Nicoll Davis 21:03
I don't know, we've contemplated figuring out how to get the cargo trailer weighed. But it's hard to say with everything that's in there. You know, we use residential cabinets. And we have a bunch of Jake's tools in there. And you name it like everything we need to live. I honestly have no idea.
Ethan Waldman 21:28
But it goes pretty well?
Nicoll Davis 21:32
It does. We were previously telling it with a 2004 Tundra. And it was definitely pushing it you could tell we had, we were squatting quite a bit. And it struggled going up hills, but it still towed it. So I'm, I can imagine we're definitely more on the heavy side. But then we got a new truck. So that it toes it way better now.
Ethan Waldman 21:58
Nice. So in terms of like your, your lifestyle? Do you now travel full time? Or do you? You know, do you plan to spend the majority of the year like in one place, and then you know, travel part time.
Nicoll Davis 22:20
Um, currently we are traveling full time. So like, for example, last summer, we would kind of decide where we wanted to go. And then stop in between where we wanted to be and then kind of figure out the next place and then stop in between for a couple weeks and keep going. So we kind of did a big loop we went. Let's see. We started in Arizona. It was October. And then once it started getting warmer, we work our way start working our way up. And then we spent our summer in Glacier and then through cascades and Olympic National Park and then the big booth back down through Utah and back to Colorado, because that's where my family's from Colorado. And then Jake's family's from Oklahoma. And then during the holiday season we spend like a month at my parents house and then a month at his parents house. So we can we get to see them throughout the year.
Ethan Waldman 23:18
So I'm curious if you could tell me about about your dogs. And you know, did you did you own them before you moved into the trailer? Or are they like additions to the tiny lifestyle?
Nicoll Davis 23:36
Yeah, the talks are a big hit. And when people are like you have three dogs in there, like Yeah. Wow. Like Well, they have to stay in their kennel most of the time. Yep. So I had Bella the Husky before Jake and I met and Jake had Connor, the live pointer mix and Cruz, our wolfdog. But at the time, Cruz was only about a month old. So he was just a little puppy and he would you know he would run out underneath Bella and get in all kinds of trouble. So that was a huge reason why we renovated two because I was like where are you gonna fit your dog? Like you're gonna have to renovate? Yeah, he's not gonna fit. So it made it work to to lift the bed and have that kennel because we can lock them in and be like, go to bed or stop being a troublemaker. Yeah, but yeah.
Ethan Waldman 24:34
No, it's a clever design, I mean, to raise the bed up and then you've got the dogs storage below.
Nicoll Davis 24:42
Ethan Waldman 24:46
So what are some other you know, systems or things that are unique about, you know, converting your cargo trailer that that our listeners should know about because I do think that there there might be a fair bit of interest in, you know, learning more about what goes into converting a cargo trailer.
Nicoll Davis 25:07
Yeah, and like I mentioned earlier, converting a cargo trailer is becoming way more popular than we ever thought it could be. When Jake first the cargo trailer was very much of a small minority of people doing it, and there wasn't very many resources out there. And, you know, just in this last year, we're part of a cargo trailer conversion group. Okay, so you can get a lot of information there, if you want to get started. That's a good place. I'm seeing a ton of YouTube videos on people who are converting cargo trailers nice, as well. So I mean, there's there's definitely a lot more resources out there than there used to be. But I definitely say if you wanted to get look into converting a cargo trailer, definitely do your research, build by something that has a sturdy frame steel frame. And then figure out what you need in the cargo trailer because I've seen even just where we're camping right now there. There's two other cargo trailers in this little camping area. Yeah, so before even just a year ago, it was a, you know, one every 100 You know, every place we'd go, it was very, very rare to see him and just in the last few months, we're seeing him pop up everywhere. We're like, oh, about that's, that's great courage. And they're, they all range in sizes. Like we've seen them really tiny, where they're, you could probably can stand up inside. Right. So the possibilities are endless. We've also seen some are huge, like maybe 30 feet long, then people are converting.
Ethan Waldman 26:51
Yeah, like a horse trailer.
Nicoll Davis 26:54
Yeah, basically. Yeah. So it's definitely, do you have a lot of options? If you want something smaller? Yeah. A little larger, like ours? You can? There's, there's cargo trailers out there for you.
Ethan Waldman 27:10
Nice. I'm curious. You know, what do you see the benefits of a cargo trailer, like what you've done? versus say, like a van build? Cuz I would, I would imagine that, you know, you're in a 16 foot trailer. And like, you know, a Sprinter van might have, you know, extended wheelbase Sprinter van might also have about 16 feet of, of kind of cargo space. Did you weigh? Did you weigh the pros and cons between a van and a trailer like that?
Nicoll Davis 27:49
We don't know. We never really thought about converting a van or a bus or anything, mostly because we like the idea of being able to pull up to our campsite. unhitch and drive the truck, wherever we want to drive the truck. Yeah, you know, so the next day, we need to go get groceries or do laundry, we don't have to pack up our whole trailer to go do that. Right, you know. So that was what we really liked about about the cargo trailer is you can leave it behind and not have to take it everywhere you go with where a van row is like, oh, man, that must suck, like having to go when you need to go into town to get groceries or do laundry to have to pack everything up every time. You want to go somewhere.
Ethan Waldman 28:36
Nicoll Davis 28:38
So I definitely think that that's something that people want when they get a cargo trailer, or even just a pull behind is they want to be able to leave it on it.
Ethan Waldman 28:50
Yeah, and that's, that's a good point is that you don't always have to bring your house with you, once you kind of get it settled into place. I mean, also not to mention cost, like if you if you bought a $6,000 van, it would probably be like pretty, pretty beat up. Or, you know, be difficult to find,
Nicoll Davis 29:12
right? Yeah. Right? Because sprinter vans, the draw. So the draw of the sprinter vans is also the discreteness and the ability to convert them because they have the height, you can you know, walk inside and it's basically the only van you can buy that you can walk inside. But that is the drawback is you have to take it everywhere with you. And not everyone wants to do that. Right.
Ethan Waldman 29:40
And they're also like, you know, I mean, new tech, you know, $30, $40, $50,000 mad expensive.
Nicoll Davis 29:47
Yeah, no, yeah, no, it can be even more expensive than that. Yeah. Oh, man, I can even imagine they're so like, there's a little too.
Ethan Waldman 29:58
Yeah, yeah. So how how wide is the is the cargo trailer like
Nicoll Davis 30:05
seven feet wide okay seven feet yeah but you can get some that are wider they have eight foot as well
Ethan Waldman 30:13
Nicoll Davis 30:13
so where the cargo trailer would go over the wheelbase the wheelbase is like on the outside yep
Ethan Waldman 30:20
Nicoll Davis 30:22
yeah but it was what Jake had and we were gonna go get a new cargo trailer cuz i don't know why would we do that so right
Ethan Waldman 30:33
Nicoll Davis 30:35
and it worked fine so if we want to so when we flipped the bed it was still enough like leg room for us you know Jake's six just about six feet tall so he could still fit when we flipped the bed.
Ethan Waldman 30:48
okay so yeah cuz you sleep kind of horizontally like a cross. And then is there any like kind of place to sit inside the cargo trailer or do you more like set up the living room outdoors?
Nicoll Davis 31:06
Oh man that's probably like our biggest complaint about the cargo trailer is like i just want a place to drink my tea in the morning and then you know we have our murphy table but i mean you have to like pull the chair out and stuff and if you want to sit down like always have stuff on it so does it really work as as a murphy table as well as you'd want it to because it's always up
Ethan Waldman 31:27
Nicoll Davis 31:28
So to sit down look we have that bench but we'd have to pull the bench out and then you know it's just like i feel like we're in the way and there's not a place for your back to go so i end up just like making the bed and sitting on the bed a lot even to do a lot of my my work like if Jake's working at the desk i'll like go sit on the bed and work there so yeah that's definitely drawback and like i wish we would have like just gotten a couch or something like a little couch or done a different type of like bench situation because i just want to have a place to sit right but yeah we ended up we do sit outside a lot we have our lawn chairs and the zero gravity ones which are perfect love those we can sit outside and now we have the awning which helps that helps with the heat keeping the heat off the trailer things we do have a like dark grey trailer gets really hot
Ethan Waldman 32:25
Yeah i would imagine that it does heat up quite a bit.
Nicoll Davis 32:29
So it keeps the heat off with the awning and the other place it almost like doubles or square foot is when it's really sunny you can be outside without cooking the death
Ethan Waldman 32:39
right right i would imagine that also like it's important to do your cooking outside when you can
Nicoll Davis 32:47
yeah i do a lot of cooking and i though it's just i don't know it's just all my stuff's inside all my spices and everything i need to get out of the fridge is inside and i don't know i just ended up cooking inside more often than not yep yep but if we grill grill outside and it's like that if we have a fire sometimes i'll do like hobo dinners get creative
Ethan Waldman 33:13
So you mentioned that there are some cargo van conversion groups are those are those Facebook groups or elsewhere
Nicoll Davis 33:21
yeah those are on Facebook
Ethan Waldman 33:22
yeah those communities can be can definitely be helpful in finding finding information and asking questions
Nicoll Davis 33:35
Ethan Waldman 33:37
What is like what do you do for ventilation in the in the cargo trailer?
Nicoll Davis 33:44
We have two max fans. So we have one that's like kind of over the kitchen bed area and then another that's over our shower.
Ethan Waldman 33:53
Okay and are max fans they're like they're the ones that go in the ceiling is that?
Nicoll Davis 33:58
Yeah they're the roof vents.
Ethan Waldman 34:03
So you just run them you run them as needed?
Nicoll Davis 34:07
Yep yeah well we pretty much always have one on we usually have the one that's over the shower on and then we like to put a fan in front of the window that's by our bed so it kind of creates this like suction of airflow. So that helps a lot.
Ethan Waldman 34:28
Do you have like a goal or like a time period of like we're gonna live tiny for for this long and then do the next thing are you just kind of like we're gonna just stay in it until we decide not to?
Nicoll Davis 34:46
Yeah we talked about that a lot. We love it right now we love living tiny and traveling but i think the traveling will probably end at some point I don't know if we want to continue to live tiny either. I don't know, like, we we have plans to get a bigger RV at some point. Because we've been working hard to save up. And there are a few things that we would like to continue to do. We want to get bikes and have kayaks and just be able to adventure a little bit more instead of just hiking and stuff. So having storage for toys is what our our goal is. Yeah. But we're, we're super picky with quality. So the RV that we are looking at getting is probably one of the higher end RVs that you could get. They're built for off grid boondocking high clearance type of type of rig. So, okay. Yeah, that's, I think that's our next plan is to kind of upgrade our living situation, because we do love the cargo trailer a lot. But, you know, it's, it was our starting point. You know, that's where we, we were starting, and we wanted want to continue to grow and progress. And if we, you know, end up adding kids to the mix, and we'll have room for that.
Ethan Waldman 36:21
Awesome. Well, one thing that the New York Times article seemed a little bit like, obsessed with is like, where do you store your? How do you possibly store enough toilet paper? So I'm just curious. Alternative into a real question, which is, you know, you do have three dogs. So there's, there's three dogs to feed. And then, you know, you want to store some amount of food for yourself. So you can be, you know, off grid for a period of time. What storage solutions have you kind of worked out inside?
Nicoll Davis 36:57
Yeah, so we have storage, probably not the most, everything seems so cramped in there. But we have some storage in the vino of the trailer kind of built this custom area, we can kind of put things like toilet paper, okay, we have storage for that. Not as much as probably a house but we have storage. And then we have, you know, like a little pantry area over the sink, and then another one on the opposite opposite wall. Okay. And then below the sink, there's some storage. And then we have a fridge. And then on the other side of that we have like the drawers so we can put our pots and pans and silverware and things like that. So, I mean, I haven't tested it, but we could probably go for maybe a month with what we have. Nice. I mean, that would just be the dry storage. We've run out of things in the fridge after probably four or five days. But yeah, we could definitely make it work.
Ethan Waldman 38:01
Do you run? Like you have a generator? Do you have to run the generator to run certain things? Or is that just backup when you when you like haven't gotten enough solar?
Nicoll Davis 38:13
Yeah, so basically the generator, we we use it when we don't get enough solar, definitely which, you know, a couple, couple rainy days will do that to you. And then when we want to run our AC unit, we have to turn the generator on Otherwise, it'll it'll basically drain our batteries, right. And then I don't know, it's this, we need to get a new inverter. But we've been having this, we had had to get a new air purifier. And there's this thing with new appliances where they only work with like super efficient power. And it's really annoying because our air purifier won't work with the inverter system that we have right now. So it just won't be Yeah, it won't turn on. So I think once we upgrade our inverter what we won't have that problem anymore, but it is kind of frustrating because we're like, why is that happening? It worked with our old air purifier.
Ethan Waldman 39:09
Is that the like pure sine wave versus not pure sine wave or something?
Nicoll Davis 39:17
Yeah, I believe so. Okay, Jake's more into the technical side of things. He would Oh, nice. Well, but yeah, if you have three dogs, I highly recommend having an air purifier.
Ethan Waldman 39:30
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So that just pulls dust and other smells and things out of the air and like runs them through like a carbon filter or something.
Nicoll Davis 39:41
Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, it makes a huge difference because the dogs are dusty. And then they have hair and yeah, it just gets all everywhere in the air. And it's nice to feel like it's getting out in the air not breathing it in all the time.
Ethan Waldman 39:57
Yeah, yeah, I'm sure I'm sure but seems like you're kind of chasing decent enough weather that you can leave your windows you know you can get fresh air to the windows
Nicoll Davis 40:09
Oh absolutely yeah we kind of are we seek the good weather we don't like to be too hot yeah but we also don't like to be cold we've we've tried to do winter camping and with the setup that we have right now it's just not really practical i mean a lot of people do it but for us it just it would i think it would we would feel a little bit more cramped the whole point of this lifestyle is getting out and enjoying the outdoors and spending a lot of your time outdoors and when we're in the winter we have to be buckled up or you know we can't or don't always want to be outside when it's 20 degrees and snowing
Ethan Waldman 40:48
Right right well one thing that I like to ask my guests is you know what are two or three resources you know things that you recommend to to others who are looking to you know maybe convert a cargo trailer into a tiny house?
Nicoll Davis 41:09
Resources, so i guess I already mentioned the Facebook groups and YouTube videos and another thing too that I was thinking of is you can look up tutorials for people who have done bus conversions and van conversions because a lot of those conversions incorporate a lot of what you would need to know for a cargo trailer so as far as like setting up solar, setting up your water system, and everything like that. A lot of the information is still going to be the same, it's just you putting that in a different setting so it's just instead of like a bus or van it would be in the cargo trailer that would be really helpful and something that probably would have helped a lot if we had those resources back when we did the conversion but we were kind of having to go to the hardware store like 6000 times be like why does this this pipe not fit with this other pipe when doing our plumbing is pretty interesting.
Ethan Waldman 42:14
Yeah well you figured it out yourself and now you know kind of exactly how everything works in the house.
Nicoll Davis 42:21
Yeah it does so when something goes wrong we can fix it which makes it really nice because Jake's got all his tools and he's a little handyman he likes to figure it out so he'll status tools and get it done
Ethan Waldman 42:36
Very nice well is there anything that i that i haven't asked you about that you want to share with our listeners?
Nicoll Davis 42:45
Um don't listen to the New York Times? I don't know that's about it i was pretty pretty upset when the article came out but i'm glad that a lot of people I don't know I posted on my my instagram when the article came out like how upset I was yeah that the reporter took so many of my words out of context and misrepresented the community and some people are like just don't listen to them right and so it's nice to feel like people understand that you can't trust the media but I mean in my eyes I was like how can how can they mess this up? was like thIis is this is a pretty straightforward topic.
Ethan Waldman 43:34
Nicoll Davis 43:35
I don't know how you can twist my words in such a way to make tiny house living seem like such an awful thing.
Ethan Waldman 43:42
Nicoll Davis 43:43
Everybody who lives in a tiny house does it for a reason and almost everyone I've ever met that lives either in an RV or bus or van or that lives tiny in a tiny house they love it yeah they think it's the most absolutely liberating thing that's ever happened and it is.
Ethan Waldman 44:01
Yeah and it's I mean it's not like there aren't downsides but it is i agree it's kind of article doesn't really go much beyond like the fact that tiny houses are small and so it's hard to store extra food and supplies and then it can be harder to find places to park you know during the pandemic but i would imagine that that's maybe loosened up a little bit.
Nicoll Davis 44:28
Yeah our biggest concern was definitely like are they going to close national forests yeah and and luckily we didn't run into to me those situations it just got harder in some senses to do certain things like we have to go fill up our fresh drinking water once a week and they shut off all fresh drinking water everywhere like like we still need to drink water you know certain things like didn't make sense so it just made it all A lot more difficult for us to do things. But I had a friend comment on the post saying like, it was comical that someone from the New York Times who's probably living in a tiny jail cell cubicle apartment. They thought it was funny that, you know, we have more freedom than they probably do being locked down in New York.
Ethan Waldman 45:21
Right? Yeah, there. There's a couple of good comments, too. On the article, especially one kind of pointing out that most New York City apartments also don't have the storage space to stock up for the pandemic. Oh, yeah, yeah.
Nicoll Davis 45:36
Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah, they didn't think that one through. That's okay. Yeah. Well,
Ethan Waldman 45:44
Nicoll Davis, I very much appreciate your time. And thank you for kind of sharing your story and also, you know, showing people the way for for converting a cargo trailer.
Nicoll Davis 45:57
Absolutely. I'm glad to be on this podcast with you. And hopefully I can shed a little light on on the topic.
Ethan Waldman 46:08
Thank you so much to Nicoll Davis for being a guest on the show. You can find the show notes from today's episode, including a full transcript, and lots of photos of Nicoll's beautiful cargo trailer conversion at thetinyhouse.net/156. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/156. Also, do not forget to go to thetinyhouse.net/bundle where you can get a sneak peek of what is coming on Monday. Again, I'm being cryptic, but I have to be cryptic, thetinyhouse.net/bundle. Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the TIny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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