Like many couples last year, Ben and Malory Landheer were forced to cancel their planned wedding and opt for a smaller, coronavirus-friendly ceremony instead.
Though the pandemic ruined their plans, it also spurred the Charlotte, North Carolina couple to make some huge life changes, namely leaving their jobs, their apartment and their city to travel across the country in a van.
“We both got COVID, our wedding got cancelled, our jobs intensified and we knew we didn’t want to live in Charlotte forever,” Malory, 25, told SWNS. “It was a lot of things happening all at once, and we wanted to get back to basics.”
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“Last August, we were just kind of playing around with the idea,” Malory added. “Ben had sold his house, so we started off our marriage with a chunk of change. It started as a joke and it ended up being serious.”
The Landheers married in April 2020. At the time, they both worked in ministry and lived in a 1,000-square-foot apartment for $1,500 a month, according to SWNS.
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When they decided they were serious about changing their lifestyle, the couple bought a $25,500 Ford Transit T-350 van and spent five months and $13,000 renovating it, SWNS reported.
The 70-square-foot van now has a queen-size mattress that turns into a futon during the day, as well as running water, a toilet and a stove.
“Space was a big priority so we made a bed that is very adjustable with a trifold mattress,” Ben, 29, told SWNS.
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“We have running gas for a propane stove, fresh running water, a composting toilet in the front of the van and we have two fans on the top,” Ben said. “We have 300 watts of solar panels on the top of the van that charge all the components in the van.”
The one thing the van doesn’t have is a shower — but the couple gets around that problem by showering at the closest Planet Fitness, where Malory has a membership.
“We would rather have more space in our van than a shower,” Ben said.
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The Landheers set out to travel the country in their new home in March 2021, according to SWNS.
So far, the Landheers have traveled to the Florida Keys, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
“This lifestyle has been 10 out of 10 so far. We are living our best lives,” Ben told SWNS. “But it’s definitely not for everyone. Some people need certain comforts in life.”
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But they don’t anticipate being on the road forever.
“We’ll definitely make it a year. We are looking for where we want to settle down next and potentially have kids,” Malory told SWNS. “We figured let’s get this out of our system while we are young and newly married. Later down the road, when we have kids, we’ll upgrade to an RV with bunkbeds.”