Nina & Aaron in a VW Bus

Square Feet: 70

Wherever our bus is, is home.

Where are you currently living?

Aaron and I are currently in Missouri visiting with friends and staying on his family's land. They have a nice wooded area on their property that we plan to park the bus on through the summer. When we can’t stand the heat (or the humidity), we will be hanging out inside the bus.

Name the make, model and year of your home.

In March, we bought a 1977 Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter that was originally converted into a Riviera Campmobile named Rosie. We named our bus after the Grateful Dead song, “Rosalee Mcfall.” [The song occurs on recordings as Rosalee McFall, Rosa Lee McFall and Rosalie McFall.] I wanted our home to have a name close to the original one, and Aaron wanted it to have a Dead reference.

We wanted to take a part of Oregon with us to Missouri, because even though Aaron and I met in Missouri, we didn't get together until we moved to Oregon. He started writing me letters as soon as I left Missouri; a year later, we were living together in Portland and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Last summer, we met mural artists Rather Severe who did Portland's 2014 Forest For The Trees Mural Project. After we bought our home, we connected with them on Instagram and asked if they could paint something on our bus that reflected Oregon's scenery; our pug, Ellie; and the two of us.

In mid-April, the artists started and finished the project in just a few days.

We couldn’t wait to take her out on a trip with her new paint job.

What were you doing before you went mobile and why did you make the change?

Before we went mobile, Aaron and I worked at an adult foster care home for clients with traumatic brain injuries in Portland. As live-in caregivers, we spent five days a week sleeping at work and the other two days living in an apartment—that cost us around $1,000/month to rent.

This past spring, we decided we wanted to move back to Missouri to spend time with our families and save money. So we planned a somewhat lengthy road trip to get there, and that is when the search for our bus began.

How long have you been living there and do you live there full time/part time?

We have been living part time in Rosalee Mcfall since mid-March, so about three months.

What was the process like to move into your mobile home?

Moving into our bus was pretty easy. We lived small when we worked at the adult foster care, so during that time, we got rid of most of our unnecessary items.

But we still took a few weeks to sort through our remaining things. We had to determine what was necessary and useful in our home—such as the things we wanted but didn't necessarily need in our bus. Everything else got donated or sold.

We bought Rosalee Mcfall in mid-March and moved in early April.

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

We saved for our trip by living at work and camping when we weren't there. We used our last paychecks to travel to Missouri, and we learned to live off of PB&Js and water to avoid spending unnecessary money.

Right now we are between jobs.

I have an interview set up at a nursing home for a job in social services. I enjoy working with the elderly population and hope to get back into that.

Aaron isn't sure what he wants to do yet but plans to work on his family's farm in the meantime.

What are your hobbies on and off the road?

Our hobbies while on, as well as off, the road include hiking, exploring, photography, writing to our loved ones, listening to music and drinking beer.

I knit and Aaron makes wire-wrapped jewelry. We tried to sell our crafts on the road, but it didn't go as well as we hoped. We weren't in one place for long enough to gain interest, so that was a challenge. Fortunately, we have sold a few items through our Instagram.

What are your top three go-to items in your tiny home?

Cast Iron Skillet: We use it for almost every meal. It's durable and can be used over the campfire, which is nice when the propane runs low.

Memory Foam Mattress Cover: The beds in buses like ours are very firm. We sleep so much better now that we invested in a mattress cover, and getting proper rest makes a difference in our moods while we're on the road.

Cameras: We decorate Rosalee Mcfall with Polaroids of our adventures and also send some of them to friends and family. When we get low on film, we enjoy figuring out how to use our last few photos. With phones and digital cameras, everyone can snap a million photos of the same thing and then choose the best one. It's nice to stop and really think about how to set up a shot before taking it.

What has been the most rewarding thing about living small?

For me, the most rewarding thing is the freedom that living small brings. If we pass through a town that we absolutely love, we know we can stay if we want to.

We have nothing holding us in one place right now and that feels pretty good.

For Aaron, the most rewarding thing has been not wanting more stuff. With a limited amount of space and already owning what we need, we don't have the stress of making enough money to buy that top-of-the-line thingamajig.

What is the most challenging thing?

A few weeks ago, we were in the middle of Utah when we noticed our bus had a bent tie rod. The auto shop we took it to said it would be a week before the part to fix it would arrive. We were planning to leave that day for Colorado, and fortunately we traveled with a car as well (in case of a situation like this), so we were able to head there despite our predicament.

When we got to Colorado, we had issues starting the car. If we didn't have family there, we would have really been in trouble. We ended up getting our car fixed and going back to Utah to reunite with Rosalee Mcfall.

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

Don’t be afraid of the worst thing that could happen. It just might, and you’ll get through it.

Aaron's worst fear was that we would have bus issues, but we set aside some extra money and hoped for the best. When it did actually happen, we figured out a plan B and moved forward.

Things happen in life, and if you avoid doing things for fear they won't work out, you'll surely miss out on a lot of fun.

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

On Friday, we are headed to Chicago for a Grateful Dead show at Soldier Field. Stop by and see us if you're there!

We are always working on plans to enable us to hit the road. We hope to inspire a few folks to live their dreams, whatever they may be.

To keep up with Nina & Aaron and their adventures, follow them on Instagram @rosaleemcfall.

Edited by Kate MacDougall.
All photos credit to
Rosalee Mcfall.