A Nissan Xterra parked on the side of a dirt road as the sun rises over foggy mountains.

This Guy Lives in An SUV. Could You?

Living tiny has become trendy over the past decade. Many Americans consider housing options more diminutive than the average 2,386 square foot new construction homes.

Ryan Peterson is one of those individuals pushing the limits by living in his SUV. Could you imagine dwelling in a place this tiny? How does he do it? Let’s find out!

Legalities vary by location when living in an SUV or other vehicle. There are often restrictions for parking overnight or how long you can stay.

Even if you park on your land, some city codes require dwellings to meet specific requirements for plumbing and electricity. Make sure you know the rules and regulations particular to the area.

If you’re planning to travel full-time, it is often easier to live in an SUV. Not staying put in the same area for too long can help you fly under the radar of local authorities or code enforcement. 

Which SUV Is Best for Living In?

Living in an SUV isn’t simple, but some SUVs make it easier than others. The Honda Element was in production from 2003 to 2011 and is famous for those converting an SUV for a full-time living. Element Van Life and Phil Chan have extensively documented their adventures in their Honda Elements.

Two sleeping bags in the back of an SUV with photography and camping supplies.

These are excellent vehicles for living because the interior is easy to keep clean, and they have a rather boxy shape. The shape provides space for customizing and modifying the interior. Some of these conversions have cabinets for storage, small kitchens, and beds comfortable enough for two.

Is Living in an SUV Safe?

Living in an SUV can be safe, depending on where and how you park it. You can maximize your safety by parking in secure areas. Well-lit areas help reduce the chances of seedy behavior around your SUV.

In addition to choosing your spots wisely, you want to be mindful of how you park your SUV. You want to see outside your vehicle, especially at night or in remote areas. Having your windows tinted can make it easy to see but prevents anyone outside your vehicle from looking inside your SUV.

One of the benefits of living in an SUV is that it is mobile. If an area seems unsafe, you can leave. Public lands often provide privacy for those using them for camping. However, not everyone uses the increased privacy for safe or legal purposes.

Are there unsafe boondocking spots you should avoid camping at?

Who Is Ryan Peterson?

Ryan Peterson is a full-time traveler who lives in his SUV. He lives in Meridian, Idaho, a suburb west of Boise. He converted his SUV into a home on wheels that allows him to take it on epic adventures.

The tattoo on his forearm reads, “Adventure is out there.” This is the mantra he follows for his adventures.

What Kind of SUV Does Ryan Live In?

Ryan lives in a 2010 Nissan Xterra. He purchased his Xterra from his mom with 92,000 miles in May 2020. He modified his SUV for summer adventures in June 2020. By August 2020, it was ready for its first off-road adventure.

A Nissan Xterra parked on the side of a dirt road as the sun rises over foggy mountains.

Which Modifications Has He Made for Living in His SUV?

Modifications are essential to living in an SUV. One of the first modifications Ryan made was installing a platform for his bed. This provides a flat and comfortable place to sleep.

Ryan created the platform to double as a storage spot for his pull-out table. The pull-out table is a beneficial spot for eating meals, working, or storage as he moves about a campsite.

Ryan installed a closet rod to maximize the space inside his SUV. The ceiling-mounted handles hold the rod, and he can use it for storing clothes, lights, and fans.

To maximize storage space, Ryan installed a roof-mounted rack. This allows him to carry larger gear without worrying about getting his SUV’s interior dirty.

How Does He Get Power?

Power is essential to living in any home, RV, or SUV. Ryan uses the Jackery Explorer 300 to charge his electronics and the 110-volt adapters. He can recharge the unit at work or via a portable 100-watt solar panel. The Jackery Explorer 300 provides enough power for what Ryan requires while traveling.

Where Has Ryan Taken His SUV?

Ryan’s adventures started in Idaho, but they didn’t stay there. He’s also taken his Xterra to Colorado and Utah.

He’s visited five of the 63 national parks, including Capitol Reef, Arches, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It will be exciting to see where Ryan and his Xterra adventure and how many national parks he can visit in the future.

Where Can You Follow Ryan and His Adventures?

Ryan does an excellent job documenting and sharing his adventures on his Instagram page. He provides links to his Facebook and YouTube but appears to put more effort into Instagram.

He also gives an in-depth look at his story and why he moved into his SUV. It’s worth following his social media to keep up with his adventures.

Is Living in an SUV Worth it?

Living in an SUV can be an exciting way of life, especially if you enjoy adventures. SUVs are capable vehicles that can take you places you would never imagine. It can be an adjustment to downsize your living space, but the freedom it provides is worth it.

It might be best to try shorter trips in your SUV before hitting the road full-time. Try an overnight or weekend trip first, and slowly work your way up to longer and more extensive travels. You never know where your SUV will take you!

Where will you travel in your SUV?

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