Tag Archives: Tiny Houses

Don’t You Miss Your House?

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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?

Not yet.

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…

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Our First Week At The Campground

Wide Open Spaces

I’ve been busy this week, working on building up a few streams of income that will hopefully help nudge Phase 2 of this journey along a bit. For those just tuning in, Phase 2 involves me being able to bring in a decent income while working from home again doing what I love (graphic design). I’m looking at a few other streams too, buying vintage items at yard sales/estate sales and reselling them, possibly selling some handmade items online, and hopefully in the future turning blogging and article writing into a side income. Speaking of which, my new Etsy shop ‘Snazzy Turtle Designs’ is now open if you want to check it out! There isn’t much there yet, but I’ve made it my goal to list at least a couple of items every week. Future stuff will definitely include some printable invitation kits and less geeky greeting cards… if you have any ideas or any custom graphics please drop me a line!

But I digress… the point is I’ve been busy this week!

We seem to all be acclimating quite nicely to life at the campground though, even the cat. He’s escaped twice, only to realize he was too scared to go anywhere. He has quit screaming for the most part, unless I leave the room at night. Or he sees birds out the window. He’s much quieter still, and we all appreciate it.

The dogs absolutely love the field behind our Turtle, Maggie is the type of dog that listens well, so she can be let off her leash to run over there, which is like being back at the house for her. Giblet is a stubborn old man who won’t give you the time of day if he chooses to leave, so he has to stay on the leash, which is fine with him. He just loves that there are so many people to randomly stop by and rub his head.

Warm Dogs

This is how we stay warm

Marty and I have decided that we definitely made the right decision (Thank God!) and we love it. I honestly feel like our lives are better already… just because of the little things. For example, we go out every morning and walk the dogs while we drink a second half cup of coffee. Our other full timing neighbors usually walk their dogs around the same time, so there’s a little community chatting and butt sniffing before everybody goes their separate ways. I won’t say who does which. Then every evening when I come in from work, as long as Marty doesn’t have to be at ball practice with Boy #2, we take them back out for a walk around the whole campground. This is something we never did or would have done at the house, it’s just… different here. It’s a little slower, it seems like we have a little more time to relax.

Yesterday Marty was at ball practice, and the dogs had already been out half the day in our neighbor Don’s fenced in front yard playing with other neighbor dogs (I know right?). So I took the opportunity to come straight in, change into some workout clothes, and go for a walk.

Texas T Cabins

Cabins at Texas T

I didn’t even take my phone… just myself and a bottle of water. It’s been so long since I’ve done that, or even had a nice flat place to go walk. I plan on doing it a whole lot more now. I walked to the other side of the campground and out onto the road through a hole in the grown up fence, where I walked and ran what felt like a mile before I turned around. That road is a back road, flat and empty, mostly surrounded by fields and trees. There are 4 or 5 houses along the way, but I didn’t see any cars. Only one person, two horses, two turkeys, a furry thing in the ditch, and one dog that I think might have bitten me had it been able to get out of it’s yard.

It was quiet and peaceful, flat and open and I didn’t care how long I walked. I knew I had work to do but I knew it was more important to walk at that moment. So I did, and I kept going until I got to the big hill, and then even a little further. When I finally turned around to come back it felt so good just to run for a bit, so I did. I spent the time thinking about income streams and websites and coming up with ideas I wouldn’t have had if my brain had been full of other noises. I could feel my whole body relax the farther I went. It was wonderful.

To continue the wonderful I came home and changed into a pair of shorts because my walk and the weather had made it a bit hot in the Turtle. I opened the door and the window over my desk, put Bob Seger on the overhead speakers, and worked on some designs for my Etsy shop with a cool breeze blowing across my desk. It was so nice that it made my internal urgency to build up my business even stronger. I could get so much done if I could do that more often.

ray

Surprise visit from SD and the baby, she’s waiting on Poppa to get home

The rest of the evening was spent grilling burgers and hanging out with SD and the baby who surprised us with a visit. All in all a pretty great night, and I can’t wait to see what this weekend holds. We’ve had a lot of firsts this week too… first time cooking on the stove and in the oven, first showers in the new shower – which is awesome by the way, first windstorm – not so awesome. None of those were eventful, except perhaps learning that if you want to boil a big pot of water you have to put it on the front burner that says ‘High Output’, otherwise you’re just going to be staring at a big pot of water forever… and ya know that’s not gonna boil.

In other news, I have my Project 333 list almost finalized! I’m going to pull out all my clothes tomorrow and take some pictures before making my final decisions, then I’ll post here early next week. I did take a rough count and it looks like I have just over 100 items of clothing right now, which I don’t think is terrible. I thought it would be tough getting down to 33, but after making my list I’m not sure anymore.

How was your week? Is anybody joining me in Project 333? Any firsts this week?