Roll with Jarett in a VW Bus

Surf's up and so is Jarett. His home sits on the Pacific Northwest coast. He grabs his camera and heads for the ocean. After a full day of shooting the swell, Jarett heads back home to edit his photos. A lot of days are like this for Jarett, and it doesn't phase him—for he can park wherever he'd like and always be on time.

Square Feet: 80

Welcome to my studio apartment! She’s got roughly 80 square feet, office quarters, sleeps two, has a bathroom with a 360-degree view and gets 21 mpg.

Make, Model, Year: 1975 Volkswagen Bus

Years Living Mobile: 1

I have been in my bus since January 2015. I wouldn't claim to be 100% full time as I am not on the road full time. I still use my friends' kitchens and bathrooms the majority of the time.

Currently Living: Northern Oregon Coast

What were you doing before you moved into your van?

Before I went mobile, I was living with a roommate in a little house on the beach, working as a freelance photographer.

Why did you make the change?

I made the change so that I could live as minimally as possible in order to focus as heavily as I could on photography while I am young so by the time I'm ready to settle down, I'll have a solid career built.

What was the process like moving into your van?

Moving into the small space was great because it really made me realize the things that I actually have to have and forced me to leave the rest behind. It's been a bit of a transition for sure, but it's really been great.

How do you balance work and living in a small space?

My work as a photographer takes me to many different locations every week. So if I have a shoot that's a bit of a distance away from where I normally stay, I just drive down the night before the shoot and sleep in the bus. It has really improved my punctuality.

How do you get Internet?

As far as my post processing and office side of the job, all of my work can be done wherever I have a Wi-Fi signal. Coffee shops have really turned into a great office space for me.

Where do you receive mail?

I have a PO box set up in town, so I can get my mail there.

Where do you shower?

I'm huge on personal hygiene, so I usually will grab a shower at one of my friends' houses.

What are your hobbies on the road?

My hobbies on the road, believe it or not, really come down to surfing and photography.

When the swell is good and I have some down time, you can find me in the water surfing or photographing surfers or waves. If the swell is not great, I'll be on a trail hiking to find a great view to photograph.

I also enjoy sketching and playing guitar.

What are your top three go-to items in your van?

Bose Bluetooth Speaker: Because what is life without some good tunes?
Coleman Skillet: I use that thing every day to make every meal.
Laptop: I'm always editing images and organizing all my workflow.

What has been the most rewarding thing about living small?

I think the most rewarding thing about living in a small space is that it forces me to get rid of unnecessary items that I really don't need to function, which enables me to realize that life is not made better with "things."

I am totally mobile, and wherever I am, I have what I need to be productive and have a blast.

What is the most challenging thing?

The most challenging thing for me is keeping it clean. I am a huge clean freak and have to be organized, so making sure that the floors are swept and trash is taken care of is always tricky, as it is a never-ending task.

Do you plan to go back to your previous way of living?

Right now, I am in a time in life where I am still building my career and I don't have a crazy amount of responsibilities. As I get to a stage in life where I want to start thinking of more long-term decisions, like a family, I will need to start thinking less about "me" and more about "we" and will need to find a better suited living situation. But I will always love the idea of living as minimally as possible.

What is your advice to future homeowners who want to live small or hit the road?

My advice is really this: just do it.

So many people dream and wonder about one day living on the road and having less things to take care of, but they never act upon it because it seems out of their reach.
All good things in life take hard work and dedication, so find a balance between the two and just go for it.

What's next? Any news you want to share?

Right now, I've just been focusing heavily on big wave surf photography and getting images published. So watch for some heavy waves in the next edition of "Surfer Mag"!

It’s a big world out there. Go explore it!

Follow Jarett and his adventures

Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to
Jarett Juarez Photography.