The Boxtruck Boyz

The Boxtruck Boyz

Boxtruck Boyz

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.

bed up

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.

bed down

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.

solar batteries

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.

We are currently looking for funds, and you can get an even further understanding of our journey through our kickstarter page at:

Boxtruck Boyz from Boxtruck Boyz on Vimeo.

Box Life 2 from Boxtruck Boyz on Vimeo.

solar panelsmotorcycle

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jacwueline - June 25, 2015 Reply

GO FOR IT! So encouraging to see such a young one realize freedom and less will give him more.
Pioneers brought whole families in the first RV. The called It a covered wagon. Thanks for the pictures and logic explanations. You will be very famous One day.

Lisa E. - June 25, 2015 Reply

Where did you get your boxtruck and how much did it cost? How much did the renovations cost? You also could put an Incinolet in your boxtruck and run it off of solar or propane; it would just need to be vented out the side through a small porthole.

    Cody Updegrave - June 27, 2015 Reply

    I actually bought the box truck in Florida for $4500. Work on the truck was around $1500 in terms of engine work, and all new tires, 6 total. Then in terms of interior reservation, I spent around $3000 on materials and equipment, such as the solar setup and propane grill/oven! Overall I consider it a $10K project with my work as a cost! I will look into Incinolet. I dont have a fridge at the moment and would sure love one!

    Cody Updegrave - June 27, 2015 Reply

    Hey Lisa. I bought the box truck in Florida and it cost me $4500.00. Work on the truck itself in terms of engine work and 6 new tires was about $2000. Then in terms of renovations materials cost about $1500 and equipment like my propane oven/grill, solar system, portable toilet, etc was around $1500. So overall, I consider a 10K project. It took me about a month to complete. I will definitely check out Incinolet as an upgrade. As of now I have no fridge and just use dry goods and occasionally a cooler. Starting to desire some variety!

Greg Straight Edge - June 25, 2015 Reply

In NYC a box truck would have to have a commercial license which also means it could not park on the street at night. How did you get around this?
I was homeless in Brooklyn for 2 years. I lived in a bus part of the time, but it was constantly vandalized and broken into. I ended up squatting in the same building I worked in and was never caught.
The box truck looks great inside.

David Remus - June 30, 2015 Reply

Here is Tom Chalko’s instructional PDF that explains how to convert a chest freezer, much better insulated than a fridge, into a refrigerator. The claimed result only uses .103 kWh PER DAY. That’s the same as a 100 watt bulb burning for an hour every 24 hours. It’s very efficient.

NIce work, best of luck!


Jenn - July 6, 2015 Reply

Really impressive; kudos to you for keepin’ it simple!

My partner is the builder – he built us an extraordinary “tiny home” on a trailer chassis, although it’s pretty fixed-in-place now, as a writer’s cabin on our forested property, with a wood-stove, porches, etc. He also builds cafe racers, so the one thing I know he’d ask you is – how and where do you work on your bike? Do you have access to a shop? And do you keep some other possessions in off-site storage?

At any rate, it looks like you’re working through whatever challenges pop-up – hats-off to you for having a dream and going for it!

Colin - March 13, 2017 Reply

Love the build! Can you tell me where you got your skylights from? They’re a great addition and really improve the feel of the truck without compromising stealth

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