Living in a Class B

March, 2011

When you start thinking about leaving the rat race and living in a vehicle, one of the most important things you can do is honestly consider how much comfort you need. We are all very different, and what makes one person very content, may make another person miserable. You can’t make any kind of judgment about it, it simply is the way it is, neither good or bad, right or wrong. This website is devoted to the idea of finding your highest possible quality of life which is the also the greenest possible. Being miserable is not a high quality of life and you will soon give it up. If after honest self-examination you decide you need more than the minimal comforts, but not as much as a full-size RV, then a Class B may be perfect for you. A Class B starts its life as a regular van from the factory, but it is bought by an RV manufacturer who converts it into a full RV. Currently, the two best known Class Bs are made by Roadtrek and PleasureWay. In this story, we are going to look at a Roadtrek 170 which means it is 17 feet long. There are many options regarding length, layout, and features so don’t think they are all like this one. Class Bs are fairly expensive new, but they hold their resale value very well. This one was bought used, and the couple who live in it looked for a long time before they found this one in a price range they could afford.

  • Pros: very comfortable, high-top so you can stand up, great gas mileage for an RV (12-15 mpg), easy to drive
  • Cons: they are obviously an RV so they have poor stealth, if you don’t want all the comforts they offer you waste a lot of space and weigh, inflexible design

Let’s take a look:

 

In the two pictures above and below we see the view looking in from the side door. Mostly what we see is the kitchen. Notice how high the roof is, all but the tallest people will be able to stand upright. The picture below is a close up of the kitchen. It’s simple but complete. Everything you need to live is there: stove, refrigerator, and running hot and cold water. These companies are really ingenious with their use of space so there is an amazing amount of storage.

 

 

This van left the factory with a microwave installed, but this couple didn’t want it, so they removed it and turned the space into more storage (pictured above ).

 

 

In the above pictures we look from the back door toward the left and right side of the van. The bed is across the back, right in front of the back door. On the right side you see a small bathroom (with the mirror on it) between the bed and the side door. It has a simple toilet, sink and shower. Notice the passenger seat swivels around and gives them a comfortable seat. Right across from it, between the door and the bathroom is a second seat. It gives a couple two nice places to sit and lounge.

 

Here we are sitting in the passenger seat looking back. It is a very comfortable, cozy little home. Notice the powered fan on the roof which keeps it cool. This couple has decorated it with things they like making it even more “homey.”

When you are planning a van conversion, the first decision you have to make is how you will align the bed. The most efficient layout is across the back. The problem with that is, most people can’t stretch all the way out across the bed, meaning they have to curl up a little bit to sleep. If you put it on one side, it can be as long as you need, but it wastes space.

In the picture above, you see they have a small plastic tote and a cushion between their front seats. During the day it serves as a coffee table.

 

At bedtime, they move it down to in front of the bed so it ends up at the same height as the bed and becomes a bed extension. Sleeping across the bed, and putting their feet on the extension, they can stretch out completely. Problem solved! The picture below shows a support bracket he added to help bear the weight of the bed extension for when they crawl in and out of bed.

 

In this picture above we see their outside storage. If everything you own in the world is going to be in your van, you need all the storage you can get. Even if you are going to do your own van conversion, you can learn an important lesson from a Class B: use all your vertical space. Many people just have all their stuff on the floor of the van in plastic totes or some other organization like boxes. For a real minimalist that works well, but if you have more stuff or for a couple you need to use all the available space, including the walls.