To Save On Rent, Couple In China Spent S$32K To Buy & Convert Van Into Tiny Home — And They Did It Mostly On Their Own - 8 Days Skip to main content

To Save On Rent, Couple In China Spent S$32K To Buy & Convert Van Into Tiny Home — And They Did It Mostly On Their Own

Yes, it has a bathroom, kitchen and even space to work. 

A couple in Shenzhen are now living the nomad life in a camper van that they bought and converted into a full-fledged tiny home for a total cost of 160,000 yuan (S$32,300).

Yes, the van comes with the full works — a bed, bathroom, TV, air-conditioning and more — most of which they built and installed themselves to save money.

Before the reno

Zhang Xi and his girlfriend Hu Anyuan, who moved from Wuhan to Shenzhen for work last July, cited high rents in the southern China city as their main reason for doing so.

Prior to this, they’d been renting a 107 sqft apartment. However, it was far from Zhang Xi’s workplace and he’d spend close to two hours taking three trains to go to work every day. He spent about 800 yuan (S$161) on transport alone, nearly a third of his 2,500 yuan (S$504) monthly salary.

And so they decided to buy a van and refurbish it into a camper van that they could live in. They reasoned that this is a viable option since rent in Shenzhen is too high and they cannot afford to buy a home there. Plus, they may return to their hometown to buy a house in a few years. According to the couple, they can save up to 50,000 yuan (S$10,100) by living in a van.

They secondhand van cost them 130,000 yuan (S$26,232), and they spent a total of 30,000 yuan (S$6,053) converting the van into a tiny home. Except for carpentry and electrical work, the couple built and installed everything else themselves.

On the left, storage cabinets. On the right, a kitchen countertop that doubles up as a breakfast bar and working space.

The van spans 86 sq ft. Of that, about 43 sq ft is usable living space.

The final result is a tiny home on wheels that has a bed, bathroom, TV, airconditioning, kitchen cabinets, wardrobe, and even a washing machine.

There’s also larger space for a dining area…
…which converts into a bed.
A compact stove and a kitchen sink that also doubles up as a bathroom sink

They’ve been living in their mobile home for over three months, and Zhang Xi says the best part is saving time on commuting to work daily, and having the freedom to drive to different parts of Shenzhen to sightsee on their days off.

Al fresco dining
The outside space is also good for workouts

However, there are some drawbacks to their unconventional home, such as having to keep track of power and water supply, and looking for a safe place to park. On some of the hottest days of summer, the couple has checked in to a hotel for three days due to the temperature inside the van rising up to 46.6 degrees Celsius. Anyuan also admits that, while they are able to cook meals in the van, she only does so on weekends as it’s more convenient to eat in the office on weekdays.

Zhang Xi and Anyuan have since gone viral for their unique tiny home, though some netizens have taken to nicknaming them “carpark beggars”, while others question if it’s safe.

However, the couple maintains that they are living the lifestyle they want and have even started vlogging about their daily life.

They plan to get hitched within five years and continue living in the van after that, and will only move into an apartment or house once they have kids.

Photos: Video screenshots

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