Guest Post by Cody Updegrave
Living in New York City, I was surrounded by the ideals of ownership, power, wealth, and change. You can find anything you want in this world, as long as you can pay the price. The one thing that isn’t in abundance here, yet costs you an arm and a leg is space. I was forced to work in very particular areas, where as an artist certain studios and companies flourished. However, to live in those areas was nearly impossible. I would have to live 45 to an hour away in order to pay an affordable rent. One of the areas I worked in often was an industrial zone called Bushwick/East Williamsburg. Here I saw delivery trucks, big rigs, and commercial vehicles on a regular basis. The idea of building out one of these vehicles began to manifest more each day as I came to realize that some of them never moved, due to a law allowing commercial vehicles to forgo the parking laws. Therefore, I could build a house and leave it right outside my studio or workplace, and never worry about racking up fines. I also could take my home and move to another area at any moment, without breaking an leases or contracts. It was actual freedom, in a city that forces you to live inside a certain system.
Homelessness is also illegal in the city of New York, therefore you don’t run into RV or mobile home dwellers, as you might in Los Angeles. The cost of a slice of land to build a tiny home on, or even a mobile park, is unsustainable and unprofitable. The only way for me to live in a more sustainable, mobile, temporary existence would be to build a tiny home that no one would expect. A box truck with skylights was my solution.
Also, with the tiny home being a box truck with a role gate, I could easily pull out a motorcycle or bicycle from the back with out any strain. At the time of building, I was also working with multiple companies as a handyman and could use my truck/home as a work vehicle for hauling wood, paintings, furniture, etc. In time, my home would be paying for itself and then some.
By the time I built it however, a whole new purpose found its way to the box truck. I could use it to shoot films in the desolate barren locations for days on end that otherwise would be to cumbersome to take on. I could park the truck in Death Valley for two weeks, carry enough food and water to sustain four people, have unlimited electricity with solar panels, have a murphy bed for two as well as two more cots, a motorcycle for scouting locations, a stove and oven for cooking, a cooler for post shoot beers, and whatever else I may want for an adventure/art project.
This truck allows for me to live anywhere and in essence do anything I desire. It may sound cliche, but living in this tiny home allows me to live outside the box. I can work in the big city for a few months, and if I desire leave at any moment for the outdoors, with no hesitation. I never have to worry about leases, land taxes, or mortgages. The road, the woods, the beach, the mountains, the suburbs, the city, the desert, are my home. The world is my home. There are so many wonderful, beautiful lifestyles to live. I want to taste as many of these worlds as I can, before I die. Which could be tomorrow or 50 years from now. If thats the case, I need to be ready to run, to move on, whenever the time comes. It may unconventional, unpredictable, and even uncomfortable at times, but in my experience these attributes can be overcome easily as long as you prepare yourself for them. If you do, they lead to the most unique, romantic, memorable experiences of your life. I am only 24, so I may be very wrong about what experiences are worthwhile, but so far the world is brighter everyday I spend in this free, transient, ever-changing lifestyle and I recommend it to everyone.