I live in an 80-square-foot converted ambulance with my husband. Here's what it's like.

The writer wears a black dress and sits on the hood of the ambulance while her husband, wearing a tie-dye shirt, stands by the driver's side. Palm trees are in the background
My husband and I have learned a lot from living in an ambulance.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley
  • After renting a shoebox apartment in our 20s, my husband and I decided to live in an ambulance.
  • We fell in love with the nomadic lifestyle while exploring the world, so now we drive across the US.
  • We had to learn to live with less and get comfortable with gross smells in our unconventional home.

The first step was selling everything we owned to live an alternative lifestyle.

The writer sits in a chair next to her husband in a desert with a white painted ambulance in background
We've lived in our converted ambulance for over two years.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

My husband, Nick, and I lived in South East Asia and Australia right before buying our decommissioned 2011 Chevrolet ambulance, so we came into this project with nothing more than bags on our backs.

We had already sold the majority of our belongings when we moved overseas, which helped us grow accustomed to the nomadic lifestyle and ultimately consider living in a vehicle.

With limited belongings, we could really make use of the 80-square-foot space that we had to work with in the ambulance.

We made room for a working space, a living area, and a bedroom by ourselves.

Interior of converted ambulance. Dark wood walls and counters with a stovetop with ingredients and a bed in background
Even though it's a small space, we've added some personality to the interior of the ambulance.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

Our ambulance home is equipped with all we need, everything's just a bit smaller.

We stripped all of the paramedic equipment out of the ambulance before converting it, so we started our build with the bare frame to give us the freedom to design however our hearts desired.

Now, our home has all of the features of a regular apartment: a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, and a bedroom.

I work remotely, so we made sure to build a small seat with a countertop workspace and an outlet for my laptop.

Driving an ambulance-turned-tiny home turns a lot of heads.

The writer wears a black dress and sits on the hood of the ambulance while her husband, wearing a tie-dye shirt, stands by the driver's side. Palm trees are in the background
My husband and I have learned a lot from living in an ambulance.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

Living in an ambulance isn't the norm, so we've had a lot of amazing encounters with curious bystanders asking about our vehicle conversion and wanting to see inside.

Meeting new people and having great conversations is a perk of living on the road, but it can also feel exhausting on long days when we just want privacy.

Learning to live in such close quarters was an adjustment.

The writer stands with her husband on a beach with converted ambulance close to shoreline in background
It took a little while for us to get used to living in such a small space with another person.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

Sharing a tiny closet, a chest-style fridge, and a 44-square-foot bathroom took some getting used to. As former backpackers, we were already pros at traveling full-time, but the first six months of tiny living felt claustrophobic even for us.

We had to establish rules and boundaries, such as letting only one person in the kitchen area at a time, and new ways to communicate our needs.

Since neither of us had lived in any kind of RV or motor home before, we had to learn about the ins and outs of boondocking — camping in a vehicle without water, sewage, or electrical connections — and some days it felt impossible to keep calm. It took us about six months to get into the swing of things and establish a routine that worked well for both of us.

And living in an 80-square-foot space together will really put your relationship to the test.

Interior of converted ambulance. Dark wood walls, floor, and ceiling with driver's seat visible in front
Living on the road means trading out the stability and certainty of a "normal" life.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

When your vehicle is your home and vice versa, you are in charge of where you want to go, but only if you can agree on it.

However, Nick and I have strengthened our ability to make decisions together, plan our days, and decide on travel routes. Of course, we also make a conscious effort to have some essential time apart.

We don't necessarily know where we're going to park tomorrow night, but we see every day as a challenge to conquer together.

There's little mystery in our life together, and it's far from glamorous.

Interior of converted ambulance. Dark wood counters, wall, ceiling, and a bed
Our area looks cozy, but ambulance life doesn't always feel luxurious.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

Managing gray and black smelly water, trekking dirt into the van, dealing with bugs, camping out in Walmart parking lots, going through some breakdowns, and other not-so-glamorous hurdles are all part of living on the road.

In our marriage, we're hyper-aware of each other's bathroom and personal-hygiene schedules, and we're no strangers to smells and spills in the ambulance.

But building a tiny home on wheels together brought us closer than ever before.

The writer and her husband sit in driver's seat with car door open
Living in an 80-square-foot home on wheels has strengthened my marriage and broadened my horizons.
Raychel Reimer-Hurley

Every single aspect of tiny living has made us closer.

From building a tiny home with our own hands with no experience to dealing with the social stigmas about van life, this ambulance adventure has made us stronger as a couple.

Since choosing to live nomadically, we have learned to live with less but dream bigger, see more, and be open to more opportunities. And all I have to thank is this decommissioned ambulance.

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