Nick Kokenos and Erica Battle’s first home together is the 2021 Ram ProMaster 3500 pickup truck.
And they wouldn’t get it any other way.
The couple, who until recently lived in Farmington Hills, fitted the van as a mobile home nearly a year ago and plan to travel to the country in it. They originally hoped to kick off Thanksgiving last year, but all good things take time.
“This is our first home together,” Kocnos said. “We didn’t want to cut corners.”
The truck is completely livable. It has a shower, toilet, exhaust fan, running water, counter, sink, storage for food and clothes, a table that can convert into the foundation of a bed, a projector, lighting, indoor heating, space for their dog, a security system and more. Kokenos and Battle built it all themselves, finishing work while living with some friends in West Bloomfield while they finished building.
However, it was not an easy process. They had no experience in construction, plumbing, or electricity before diving into the project. Doing construction in Michigan came with a lot of unique challenges, too. The pair have contacted Hometown Life three times since purchasing the truck in June 2021, and they have described the weather as a challenge each time.
“We’ve been working five, sometimes six days, a week on construction,” Patel said recently. “But, the weather was allowed. So if the weather was bad, we wouldn’t be able to work in the truck.”
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However, Kokenos said there is no problem that has not come with a solution. The two used what they call “YouTube University” to see what other people living the so-called “van life” have done while also focusing on things.
“Everything can be understood,” he said. “There were a lot of things where I was like, ‘We messed up. There is no solution and we are in a mess. “But once you start solving the problem, you will come up with a solution.”
Their first stop will be San Diego, and then they hope to head to Mexico. Kokenos and Battle are both avid travelers who are eager to get around to be a part of their lives once again.
“We’re big travelers,” Kocnos said. “We used to travel all the time and since we started doing that we haven’t really gone anywhere. A week from now our lives will be completely different.”
The truck life might not be for everyone, but Battle and Koknus are confident they will enjoy it. They drove the truck out a few times before completing the conversion and enjoyed it even without all the whistles you have now.
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“It was much needed and so cute,” Battle said of the medium build breaks. “For the former, we didn’t have anything. We had like the floor was insulated but I don’t think the walls were. We had like an air mattress.”
A truck is “more stealthy” than an RV, Kokenos likes to say, so they’ll be able to drive it anywhere and stay under the radar. All of the truck’s amenities can be powered by solar energy or, when needed, using the truck’s battery or gas.
While on the road, the pair plan to be #VanLife influencers, or content creators, to earn some money so they don’t have to go back to a traditional job right away. Their Instagram page, Wanderlusttravelcouple, already has over 21,000 followers.
“We always made the content but never really did much with it,” Patel said. “Once we stopped working and just focused on the design, we were able to get more out of it and it was really cool. Our goal is to focus on that and start building that.”
They’re not sure how long the truck will be their home – Koknus joked in June 2021 that they might live there forever – but they plan to use it in part to find a good place to live for the long haul. Their One Wheel Home is designed to host friends when needed and enjoy their stops in a non-touristy way.
From now on, home is wherever they decide to park their car.