Embracing Minimalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Car Living with Rosa's Honda Element

Living in a car might sound like an unconventional lifestyle, but for Rosa, it has been a transformative journey over the past six years. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of Rosa’s car living setup, exploring the intricacies of her chosen lifestyle and the valuable insights she shares.

Rosa's Choice of Vehicle: The Honda Element

Rosa’s journey begins with the purchase of a Honda Element in July 2017. With 66,000 miles on the odometer, she acquired this versatile vehicle for a reasonable $11,000. The intriguing part? Her entire living setup cost less than $200, using materials readily available at Home Depot.

A Glimpse into the Living Space

Tailgate Tales

One of the standout features of Rosa’s setup is the utilization of the tailgate as a multifunctional space. It serves as a cooking area, an activity hub, and a relaxation spot. The bed, ingeniously held together by zip ties, easily converts into a couch, showcasing the practicality of her design.

Compact Living, Outdoor Exploration

Rosa’s compact living space encourages outdoor exploration. Unlike larger setups, the limited space serves as a motivator to venture outside, fostering a connection with nature. The smaller living area doesn’t hinder her love for the outdoors; instead, it amplifies the experience.

Strategic Storage Solutions

Pantry and Cooking Corner

The back of Rosa’s car is a well-organized space, housing a pantry with cooking essentials. The Coleman two-burner stove takes center stage for cooking, with pots, pans, and a teapot neatly stored nearby. Despite considering a pantry redesign, the current setup serves her well.

Window Shades and Stealth Camping

Reflective window shades with blackout curtains add an element of stealth to Rosa’s car living. This strategic choice not only provides privacy but also blends seamlessly with the surroundings, making it less obvious that someone is sleeping inside.

Shoes, Soda Stream, and More

Storage solutions extend to Rosa’s shoes, a soda stream (her one luxury), and a simple bag cooler for refrigeration. Shelves accommodate clothing, towels, and miscellaneous items, ensuring that every inch of space is maximized for efficiency.

Water, Hygiene, and Power

Minimalistic Water Solutions

Rosa’s water setup is as minimalistic as her living space. She opts for 1-gallon jugs, easily refillable at convenient locations. This simple approach aligns with her lifestyle, emphasizing practicality over excess.

Powering Up Without Solar

Contrary to popular van life setups, Rosa keeps her power needs minimal. No solar panels or power banks – just a few battery packs charged via the cigarette lighter. Her work, including editing for her YouTube channel, takes place in cafes, libraries, and places with Wi-Fi.

Work, Income, and Adaptability

From Seasonal Jobs to YouTube

Rosa’s journey involves a transition from seasonal jobs in national parks and Subways to gig work during the pandemic. A pivotal shift occurred when she started her YouTube channel over a year ago. Today, she focuses on YouTube as a primary source of income.

Modifications and Words of Wisdom

Modifying the Setup

While keeping her car close to its stock form, Rosa made strategic modifications like a rear hatch release and a catalytic converter shield for safety and convenience.

Advice for Aspiring Car Dwellers

Rosa’s advice is clear – a big van conversion isn’t a prerequisite for car living. Start with what you have, experiment, and discover if the lifestyle suits you before investing in a larger setup.

In Conclusion: Life in My Element

Rosa’s Honda Element isn’t just a vehicle; it’s her home on wheels. Her journey is a testament to the possibilities of minimalistic living and the joys of embracing the unconventional. For those intrigued by tiny car living, Rosa’s YouTube channel, “Life in My Element,” offers an in-depth look into her daily adventures.

Technical Resources

Honda Element Technical Service Bulletins

Over the years Honda has released a number of TSB's to help Honda technicians repair common problems. We got our hands on them and they are all presented here to help you fix some of these common issues at home.


Honda Element Service Manual

The ultimate guide for servicing your Honda Element. This manual will show you everything you need to know about servicing your Honda Element, from oil changes to torque specs. It also provides helpful tips to maintain your Element.


Honda Element Diagnostic Code Meanings

Full list of all of the possible OBD2 code readings that can occur when that pesky check engine light illuminates. These can give you a start to help you diagnose your Element. Code Reader Link also provided if you want to own your own reader.

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