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Young vets avoid student debt going vanlife in San Francisco

Paris and Lovell Lee were used to small space living while in the Navy so when they started college in pricey San Francisco (average rent for a studio: $2500/month), they decided to turn their van into their home.

Starting with the Nissan NV 2500 that Lovell had used for his computer repair business, they installed plywood and some modified furniture to create a home that served its purpose, but didn’t provide enough space for Lovell to sit up (he’s 6’3”).

Build two was lacking in enough counter space for the couple to do homework, so with $300, they remodeled and reworked the old materials to create the efficient space they live in now. They don’t have a refrigerator, but they don’t find it a problem since they always have access to supermarkets. They rarely use a cooktop, but admit they do a lot of lunchtime cooking at their “second home”: school.

Paris says she’s fine living in the van for another 9 years, if necessary “to get established in their careers”. She’s in film school (the couple co-direct the youtube channel Novel Kulture) and Lovell is studying marketing.

Lovell just wants to plan ahead. “You know, 78% of Americans who have a job are living paycheck to paycheck and we don’t want to just jump into an apartment without being prepared how you’re supposed to be prepared.”