Some homes have five bedrooms, a jacuzzi, and walk-in closets. Others have hanging gardens, spiral staircases and kitchens with kilometres of granite counter tops.
And others are smaller.
Much, much smaller.
Bill Smyth and Logan Miller have converted a 1994 Ford E350 ambulance into their new home. After New Years, they plan to drive it to numerous ski hills across B.C. In March, they’ll continue to Mexico and when they drive back to Canada next spring, they aim to visit all the national parks along the way.
“I’ve always known I want to do a long trip, it was just where and how,” says Miller.
“Spending money on hostels, rentals, or whatever else felt like a waste of our income that we worked so hard to get so it made more sense to put that into our own home.”
They say they chose an ambulance because of the cost and potential for personalized space.
The couple bought the ambulance off Kijiji in Cranbrook for just over $6,000. After some research on the vehicle, they discovered it was originally from Beartooth, Montana and before that, New Jersey. It was also in New York during 9/11.
Thus, they’ve called their new home Beartooth.
Turning Beartooth into a home hasn’t been easy. The couple have redone the ceiling with wood, put in laminate floors, wooden countertops, tiles, a wood burning stove, a sink, solar panels, and wallpaper.
Looking at it now, it’s hard to imagine that Beartooth may have once been engulfed by the dust and remains of the World Trade Center 17 years ago.
The ambulance is now bright, cozy, and stylish. There’s even hanging plants.
Miller owns an interior design company in Revelstoke.
“It hasn’t been easy working with a space that’s so small. There are so many things to consider,” says Miller.
“You don’t want tiles too big that break when you go over a bump, you have to use a special grout with the flooring, you can’t use anything that’s too thick because then your head space is wrong.”
They even sliced a hole in the roof for the wood stove and chimney.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” says Smyth with a laugh.
Impressively, the roof has yet to leak.
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This is the current state of our home! It’s kinda scary to think that we officially move in on Friday 😱 Our to do list is mostly finishing details, but we won’t be taking all of our tools on the road with us, so most of it needs to be finished in the next few days. Wish us luck!! 🤞🏻
There are some laws when it comes to buying and using an emergency vehicle. For example, the words “ambulance” cannot be displayed and the driver cannot run the lights or sirens.
“As far as insurance goes, it’s basically insured as a cube van,” says Smyth.
The couple says that people have a multitude of reactions to Beartooth, such as confusion, excitement, and intrigue.
“A lot of people when we’re driving will pull aside and kind of question if we’re an ambulance or not. We get a lot of people noticing from behind that we’re not an official ambulance anymore. Then they try to pass us to see what’s going on and who is driving,” says Smyth with a laugh.
The couple says their upcoming travels will be an opportunity to experience different cultures and appreciate what they’ve left behind.
“We’re going to have to be really conservative with our water usage as we only have jugs,” says Miller.
“A lot of other countries have to do that on a daily basis. We’re so lucky in Canada that you don’t think about it. It will be a good lesson on how to live with less.”
If Beartooth survives this adventure, the couple says they have others planned. Next fall they hope to drive back to Mexico and on to Central America.
“That trip is a lot more open-ended,” says Smyth.
“We don’t have an end date. It all depends on our money and time.”