When Mathew Arthur needed to find a new place to live in Vancouver, he explored all possible options and settled on a small space he could afford to own – a van.
The idea captured his imagination last October and since then Mr. Arthur became consumed with recreating his world to fit into 45 square feet. The 30-year-old graphic designer didn't pursue the project to make a statement about affordability in Vancouver. Instead, it was a design challenge and an opportunity to live with less.
Mr. Arthur moved in on New Year's Day in an alley behind Commercial Drive, settling into a routine of constantly trying to improve his routine.
"The simpler I can make everything, the better."
Most mornings, he has yogurt and a banana for breakfast and prepares easy meals like sandwiches for lunch.
As a freelancer, Mr. Arthur controls where he works, varying from coffee shops, clients' offices or in the van. His new lifestyle allows him to be selective about which projects he takes on, a contrast from his former 80-hour work weeks.
This leaves more time for his personal life – he's a lot closer to his friends.
"If you are coming over to my house, I am probably sitting on my bed and you are probably sitting on my bed with me," he said laughing.
He has friends over a few nights a week, but no matter what day of the week, he must end it by going to yoga classes. He says this ritual gives him "sanity," but also fulfills a much more practical need – the opportunity to shower.
After a month, he couldn't resist taking a "van-cation" for a weekend, to enjoy simple pleasures like cooking in a real kitchen. It was a welcome break but he was happy to return.
"I found myself missing my intimate little home."