The reactions we’ve gotten since we sold our house to move into the Turtle have been mixed. Split down the middle between those who think we are crazy or broke, and those who would love to do the same thing.
We’ve made other choices along the way that people apparently think indicate our current lack of sanity as well, like selling my paid for car.
No matter how they feel about it though there are certain things it seems everyone is curious about, because we get asked the same things regularly. Things like…
Don’t You Miss Your House?
The short answer is a simple no.
The longer answer is, yes we loved our house. We built it ourselves, it was a beautiful wood sided house on a lovely tree covered hillside. We had 5 acres of shaded land and a gravel circle driveway, a nice shop and a building for the band to practice music in. A screen porch with a hot tub and outdoor TV was the last addition we made a few years ago. Who wouldn’t have loved that?
But with a house comes a multitude of responsibilities and chores. Cleaning and resealing siding, weeding and replanting beds, new gravel for the driveway, decluttering the shop and yard, cleaning the gutters, mowing the yard, mopping the floors, keeping rooms decluttered and clean even when you aren’t using them, treating the water in the hot tub, paying for 3 satellite boxes that you don’t use all the time, planting and harvesting the garden, dusting and cleaning the things you’ve bought to fill the rooms you aren’t using… I could go on and on.
The result of all that is very little relaxation. You try to sit on your front porch and enjoy the afternoon, but instead you end up thinking of all the things that need to be done. You decide to hang around the house on a lazy Sunday to do a few things and before you realize it the entire day has been given to cleaning and taking care of things, and you haven’t even had the chance to enjoy them.
There were many days that I would have big plans for enjoying the day, but first ‘I’ll just clean the kitchen real quick’. That leads to mopping the floors because they really need it, and now Marty is mowing the yard so I should go clean out the beds so they look nice, and the next thing you know it’s 5pm and I’m tired.
It’s just a fact that with more stuff comes more responsibility. Our days are our own now. We still have to work of course, but the other stuff, the maintenance and cleaning, doesn’t take up the rest of our time anymore. We bought a small boat, and if we want to go to the lake for the morning we will. We’re planning short camping trips without thinking that we really should be doing something else. We can sit outside and relax without those nagging little voices.
So back to the simple answer. I loved our house, but not nearly as much as I love my peace of mind, my relaxed evenings, my possibilities for the future. And on top of that, I love my new house. It’s cozy and comfortable, with everything I need in it. I don’t regret the trade a little bit.
Isn’t It Hard Living In Such A Small Space Together?
This one probably varies from person to person. But for us it’s not much different than how we lived in the house.
We used around a quarter of our 1500 square feet before: the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and den. The other areas were used occasionally at best. We’ve had to change things up a bit, like coming up with new morning and night routines because we went from two sinks in the bathroom down to one, and learning how to cook in a smaller area. But after two and a half months things are flowing along pretty smoothly now.
You obviously have to both be on board with the move, but having a narrow doorway or smaller closet shouldn’t be grounds for not being able to live with someone, in my opinion anyway.
I have been surprised though how many people have the initial reaction of “Oh there’s no way we could live in that together, we’d kill each other!”. I’m seriously starting to wonder how many couples actually like each other.
Luckily we do like each other, because I wouldn’t advise living in 350 square feet with someone you don’t like. In fact I wouldn’t advise living anywhere with someone you don’t like, but that’s not a topic for this post.
What Do You Do If It Storms?
Obviously in light of Monday’s flooding the answer to this has changed a little. Before Monday my biggest worry was high wind or tornadoes, which aren’t that uncommon in Tennessee. Depending on where we’re parked though flooding is something that may come up from time to time. Most campgrounds are pretty flat, and a lot of them do have some kind of water near the sites.
What we do if it floods is the same as someone living in a stick house, we leave. The advantage we have in that situation is we can then move our house to higher ground so the same situation doesn’t happen again. In fact Saturday we’re moving, again, to the next row over (so we can face away from the evening sun), and that site has even less risk of flooding than the one we’re in right now. Had we had more notice we could have even moved before the flood ever happened, but what happened Monday was a flash flood. It came up too fast for us to do anything. If we had been parked beside a river that started to rise more slowly though we would have been able to get out of harms way.
As far as wind and tornadoes, of course it is a valid concern that a high wind or tornado could take us out, and we pay attention to the wind more now than we did in the house. If the weather warrants it we’ll leave and go to the main building, or even a friends house if we have enough time. This is no different than living in a mobile home, which so many people do. We know the limitations of the Turtle, how much wind we can take before needing to leave. We have good radar and weather alerts on our phones, we pay attention, and we take it seriously. That’s really all anyone can do.
Do You Miss Your Stuff?
This one’s a lot like the house question, and the answer is the same. Actually, I miss my stuff even less. I can’t even remember half of what we’ve sold or given away over the last few months. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate when you have the space to do so.
We didn’t go full throttle minimalist either, we kept the things we thought were most important to us. To make the cut they had to either be well used or well loved, and the result is that I now know where every single thing I own is. I appreciate the things I kept more than I ever did, and I don’t feel any nagging guilt from knowing I have so many things that I never even look at, much less use.
It does come with a few complications, like if something breaks we’re less likely to have a suitable replacement stuck in a closet somewhere. On the upside though we can usually buy a little bit better something to replace it with if we need to.
Are You Just Going To Travel Full Time?
Lots of people do start traveling full time when they make the move, and while that sounds awesome the rest of our lifestyle isn’t conducive to that right now. There are kids to be near and yards to cut, so for the moment at least we won’t be leaving for an extended period of time.
This part of the conversation normally includes a confused look, where the person I’m talking to is trying to figure out why I would move into a tiny moveable house without the intention of traveling… why not just stay where I was at? I refer you to question one.
Truth is, we do plan to travel and have more fun, and are already doing so more than we ever did before. In the last 9 years we have been on less than half a dozen real trips, not counting the time we spent working on the road. If we weren’t spending the weekend working on someone else’s house we were working on our own. There just wasn’t time to go.
So far this year we’ve already reserved campsites for two trips this summer and are planning two more. We’re going tent camping over the July 4th weekend and visiting a national park in August to check out a giant yard sale they have in the area. We get to go to the lake with the boat now, or take a day trip around the state to see something new. We plan on taking two or three short trips a month, because with the tent or the camper it costs us virtually nothing to stay several nights in a new place. If we even want to stay a month in a different place we can and will.
Travel doesn’t have to be a full time thing, you don’t have to leave for months at a time and move around the country. You can take lots of shorter trips, go hike or see waterfalls, explore neat little towns and find hole in the wall restaurants, find a festival that’s three hours a way and make a weekend out of it. I’m sure other parts of the country are the same way, but I feel lucky to be in an area with so many state parks, lakes, and things to see. The hardest part is deciding where to go.
We were planning a cross country trip that I had hinted at in some posts, but the circumstances around that didn’t work out. It was a bit of a ‘working’ trip to move someone out there, and now they’re staying here, so we weren’t upset. And now we can take the money we would have put into that and use it for our other adventures… and a boat, which we obviously already bought.
How Do You Get Your Mail?
Ours is quite a bit easier than someone traveling full time. We just pay for a post office box, which is a little over $20 a year. There are services available to people who aren’t in one place for an extended period of time, places that will receive your mail and then forward it to where you are, or scan it in and email it to you. We haven’t had to deal with that yet, so I can’t offer any advice there. If we have bigger packages coming or need a physical address we use the campground address for now.
What About Internet?
Ask me this one later, because this morning my internet situation isn’t the greatest.
Most campgrounds provide some sort of WiFi, but it’s not always very reliable and with multiple people using it at one time the speeds can be slow. Because I work online we use a Verizon Wireless MiFi to have broadband internet, and normally it suits my needs just fine. We do have data limits though, and this month we’ve gone over those once already and may use up the overage allowance as well. This is an abnormality, if it becomes a regular thing I’ll up our plan and avoid the usage fees. Because of the limits and slower speed we can’t stream TV, which is disappointing, but not a deal breaker… we do have satellite after all.
It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the only one I know of that will work where we are. I’ve seen other options similar to Verizon but without data limits, but they don’t offer coverage here. For now this works fine for me most of the time, but if I find a more reliable high speed option I’ll be all over it.
I can already think of several other questions we get on a regular basis, but this post has gotten lengthy already so I’ll save those for a part deux.
If you full time or live ‘differently’ are there questions you get asked a lot? Do you get mixed reactions or are you just known as the guy that lives in a van down by the river? Don’t you miss Chris Farley? I do…