Today I have something very special for you. Lena who blogs at The Snazzy Turtle was gracious enough to write a guest post for us. Lena lives in a lovely RV, and has a few thoughts on what makes a home a home. I know you will enjoy it.
We get a lot of different reactions and questions when people find out we sold our house to live in a camper. I covered several of them back in this post, but there’s one slightly less common one that always confuses me a little.
People tend to think that living in a camper is transitory. That it’s not really a ‘home’, and living in one is a temporary solution while finding another place to settle down. I blame it on ignorance and HGTV. Although I do agree that for some people that’s definitely the case. And I won’t argue that we aren’t going to build another house at some point in time… because I don’t know what will happen down the road.
But make no mistake, this is my home. As would be anything that my husband and I lived in. It’s comfortable, it’s cozy, and it has everything I need in it. In the most basic Thoreau sense of the word it provides me shelter against the elements. In fact, if Thoreau was here I imagine he would lump us in with the masses of consumers that he diatribes against. We do have a big screen TV after all.
It hasn’t surprised me how easy it’s been to adjust to living like this. In reality I don’t feel like there’s been an adjustment, just a natural state of being. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but then I wonder why not? Just exactly what about living in a tiny house on wheels turns people off so much?
We have the same amenities as any traditional house.
- A spacious living room with comfortable seating for several people.
- A functional kitchen with the means to cook anything I might dream up to eat.
- A dining room with space for four or more to sit and eat.
- I have more storage than I need, partly due to the fact that we sold our excess before starting and now pay more careful attention to what comes and goes.
- My bedroom is quiet and cool with room to sleep and keep all our clothes hidden away.
- I have a corner office that houses everything I need to work. It isn’t big, so there’s not much to clean and I take care not to let the desktop get cluttered.
- It comes as a bit of a surprise to some people that we even have running water in this tin box… a nice corner shower and all the other handy bathroom necessities.
- I even have a garden. It sits outside on a picnic table in the summer and makes for a homey green corner under our awning, and in the winter it comes in and cleans the air. If I so chose I could have more, I could plant tomatoes and peppers in pots outside, but for now I don’t want the upkeep that comes with more.
And all of this is housed in 350 square feet. A space no bigger than most garages.
At any given time you can come in my house (yes, it’s a house) and find a candle burning on the stove, the blinds open to let in light from outside, and blankets draped on the chairs for when I get cold watching TV. I can turn on the radio and have music playing in every room and outside at once.
To me this makes it feel like home. Just as it would if I were in a studio apartment, a cabin in the woods, or a shack somewhere in the foothills.
And as a bonus I have the freedom to pack up everything I own in the matter of less than a half hour and move it elsewhere. We’re not tied to one spot or one situation, we’re light and mobile. And the smaller space makes it easy to keep things neat and tidy and identify things that aren’t being used so they can then be taken away.
What I don’t have doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t have pictures hanging on the walls or knick knacks sitting on shelves to be glanced at occasionally and dusted even less. I don’t have tiny calendars and business cards stuck to my refrigerator. I don’t have rooms to clean that I barely set foot in or ‘dust holes’ holding things I can’t let go of.
Granted, some of that is probably due to my apparent leanings toward minimalism. I’ve certainly seen lots of people pass through here in campers packed to the vents with things they couldn’t let go of, and I’m constantly surprised at how much some are willing to work around just for the sake of having their possessions within reach at all times. So maybe we should consider camper living and minimalism two different things… although they feel like they go hand in hand to me.
I might be partial, but I think both ways of life would be a viable alternative for so many more people than realize. They fit a million different situations… someone fresh out of school not ready to settle down but needing a space of their own. Someone who’s ready to work but can’t find a job in their hometown. A young couple not sure where they want to land. It’s a less expensive way of life, it allows you to move for work with no hassle at all if need be, and there’s a camper style for everybody. Have kids (or 50 pairs of shoes?), get a bunk house. Have even less than I do? Go retro with an Airstream. Want to haul around your toys? Um, Toyhauler.
The full time camper lifestyle is growing behind the scenes of the mainstream American dream. Gone are the McMansions status symbols of 2008 as we go back to our early roots with lighter, more mobile lives. I’m in the position to see it first hand every day. And I think it’s a wonderful thing, with the possibility of solving more woes than just the restless need to explore.
Lena is a a full time RVer, graphic designer, lover of cheesy 80s rap and SyFy movies, and self proclaimed minimalist. In early 2013 she and her husband Marty decided to sell everything they own including the house and simplify their lives. You can follow along at http://www.blog.snazzyturtle.com.