Behind the Scenes with Vanlifer Jarrod Tocci
By Julia Speirs
I stumbled upon Jarrod’s Instagram feed (@JarrodTocci) and I was instantly brought back to my childhood dream of living on the California coast in a tiny home, overlooking the crashing ocean waves, with palm trees blowing in the wind, and the warm, salty air rustling my hair. His pictures brought me back to a place of nostalgia and I fell in love with the design and aesthetic appeal of his van. So instead of mindlessly scrolling past, I decided to send him a message and, with fingers crossed, I hoped that he would respond and tell me a little bit more about his dwelling!
A mere few minutes later he responded and we instantly engaged in conversation about his van from the process of building it to his plans for the future. In interacting with Jarrod I quickly realized that he, like all of us at Tiny Life Supply, is passionate about the tiny house movement and was thrilled to discuss all things tiny life with me. Through asking him questions I was able to learn a lot about his project and I was extremely impressed with everything he had to say. So, in hopes of inspiring some of you to start a tiny home project of your own, I decided to share my conversation with Jarrod.
What drove/inspired you to adopt the tiny lifestyle and what is your favorite part of the lifestyle so far now that you are living it?
I'd say "Less is More." Having less in your life and your daily routine makes it easier with less going on and fewer "things." I was also tired of paying rent and not having that money at the end of the year. Looking back if someone pays $1000 in rent then I felt like $12,000 was lost that year. Sure it's a roof over your head but as you can see there are many ways to make a roof over someone's head for a lot less. Oh and I get to design my space any way that I personally want.
What is your favorite feature in the van?
That's been a very hard question for me to answer. I have 3. Having a murphy bed the way that I do makes it easy for me to have different spaces in my van with only 66 square feet. I can have "bedroom mode" or "living mode." Second I'd say is my heated floor system. This is not just any heated floors, but it's radiant so there's liquid in pipes through my floor radiating into the air making the inside of my van whatever temp I'd like, plus my floor stays warm and I can walk around with no socks on. Third, I'd say my lights which I wanted indirect lighting and made them extremely bright so I can do filming inside to make it better for the camera, don't worry they all dim.
How long did your project take you?
Actual working days probably 12 weeks. I had some professional help with electrical and floor heating so I was waiting around for a while before I could get started, then when that was done the construction part I worked with my father for 7 weeks then another 2-3 weeks with friends in Portland. Once I actually picked up the van to when it was done it was about 5 months.
What would you do differently next time around/what is one word of advice you would give to future tiny home builders?
There are always things any builder can pick out and say ‘I wish I did that differently’. But in this layout and design, I wouldn't change a thing. I personally love creating new designs that others haven't thought of yet, and yes I have more in my head and on paper that I'd consider doing but likely not going to happen. With new technology coming out so quickly I'd say in two years I'll say "wow I wish I did that to my van." but for now I'm very happy. For anyone building out a van or their own tiny home I'd say try and take your time. It's not a race with anyone and enjoy the process. Do as much research as you can. Go to as many tiny home festivals and talk with others about their builds. Don't brag and or tell any DIYer they did something wrong, so please keep your opinions to yourself. If you don't want to learn how to do something or something is too complicated then it's ok to hire a professional. The decision to hire someone for my solar was also one of the best things I ever did.
Where are you currently located?
Currently I'm in San Diego. However my work is extremely remote and I work 100% for myself, so I have plans on leaving this area very soon. My 2020 plans are to go to Portland, Denver, Iowa, Idaho, Canada, and maybe Alaska. Some of that is personal fun and some are for some tiny home festivals I'll be speaking at and showing my van to the public.
What is next in store for you? Are you travelling around in the van? Starting a new project?
I'm full time in my van and plan to be for however long I feel it's necessary. I was in entertainment with improv and stand up comedy before I got into van life and took some time off to build two vans and start a YouTube channel. I now earn a living from YouTube as well as other things I do on the side so I plan to get back on stage in stand up comedy for 2020. If/when I start earning enough from comedy I might "settle down" somewhere as a "home base" but I don't see myself getting rid of the van, as I will want to keep it and use it for traveling comedy or if I want to go somewhere for an extended period of time. As for another van build I'd say not going to happen, but I said that about my first build too. If all the above goes according to plan my next project would be designing inside a small condo, or container on land, that I buy and build out. I've always dreamed of having a loft work/live space so I could see working on that and keep building my brand in everything I'm doing.
Thank you Jarrod for the wonderful conversation and the opportunity to learn more about your van! To follow Jarrod's journey in his van, be sure to check him out of Instagram, YouTube and his website.
*Images supplied by Jarrod Tocci*
About the Author: Julia Speirs
Julia has come onboard as the Marketing Coordinator at Tiny Life Supply to gain some valuable, hands-on marketing experience before returning to the University of Victoria to complete her Bachelor of Commerce degree. Growing up, Julia would spend time in the summer at her family’s lake property in Ontario where she got to experience tiny home living for the first time. It was love at first experience and she has been following the tiny house movement ever since. She is most fascinated by the innovation she sees when it comes to people building and outfitting their homes and is always eager to learn more about people’s tiny dwellings.