by

posted on November 28th, 2016

If you tell people that you sleep in a van, it might not call forth the most professional impression, but Turo member Ryan C. is here to change that. If anyone can be convincing about the unexpected, it’s this guy, whose cool demeanor and matter-of-fact tone don’t immediately betray his penchant for creative problem-solving.

About six months ago, Ryan moved back to southern California from Indonesia, and was looking for a place to live. At the time he was doing research for a furniture factory in Compton and was driving a cargo van for work. He was also coding his face off in the evening with his friends on start-up projects they were developing — a subscription sock box and customizable privacy policy generator, to name a couple. Without a place to call home and a series of jobs that kept him very busy, Ryan decided to camp out in the cargo van. It was cost-effective and eliminated his commute; he was always close to where he needed to be. “I did eventually get an apartment in Hawthorne, but I would still spend the night in the van thing during the week,” Ryan says. He could park the van where he was coding and immediately hit the hay or park by the furniture factory so he was ready to start work first thing in the morning.

eonj-ee0rtqxglfhpwjkbq-2

After a while, Ryan decided to put his cargo van on Airbnb to see what kind of interest it garnered. It turned out that there were lots of fine, upstanding citizens who were psyched about sleeping in a van. “Which was cool, but they couldn’t drive it,” Ryan explains. Since his Airbnb guests weren’t covered by auto insurance, he didn’t feel comfortable letting them drive the van. But who wants to sleep in a van they can’t drive?

It was around this time that Ryan found Turo and decided to buy a few minivans to rent (a 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan and a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country). The insurance coverage through Turo allowed his renters to both drive and sleep in his vehicles. For reasons unknown to Ryan, his vans tended to be especially popular with French tourists. “I also had a German renter who rented a van for 45 days and went all over the place: LA to San Fran, out to Vegas.”

The other perk of using Turo was that his dream car would pay for itself on Turo. “I thought, ‘I can rent out a Tesla, those things have no maintenance.’ So I managed to get a loan at the bank and went to Santa Monica to get a Tesla Model S.”

Fun facts about Ryan include that he was in the military and speaks fluent Mandarin. Recently, he started teaching at the Air Force Academy and through this work, has a gotten a few repeat Chinese customers, who appreciate that he switches the language in his Tesla to Mandarin before he rents to them.

Because the Tesla pays for itself, he’s less inclined to feel protective of it. “I let my friends drive it around town or if someone comes to visit I’ll loan it out,” Ryan says. “If I had dumped a bunch of cash into this car not as a business, then I’d look at it differently. I wouldn’t buy it only for fun, and that makes me the odd one out at the supercharger station,” he adds. “You see some balling looking people there. Mine’s a base model, but the people rolling around with P90D are a different class of society.”

High society Teslas or more down-to-earth camper vans, Ryan’s got them both. He’s spiffed his up so that it has hardwood floors, a queen-size mattress, and LED lights for tons of ambiance. If you’re sick of your LA commute, you could also rent a van and just opt not to do it.

Kamala Puligandla is a writer and an editorial assistant at Turo. She is always on the hunt for a strange story, a great snack, and the perfect outdoor spot to consume them.