It’s been almost a year since this travel trailer was purchased. Somehow, that just does not seem possible. On the other hand, after a year we thought we’d have done a whole lot more than we have. Surprises aren’t necessarily good things, it seems.
Do we like it?
There is not much space to hate, but in general…no, we don’t. The poor design means that we are in a continual fight to put things away, and then to FIND them again. That means everything from shoes to clothes to where-is-the-can-opener-this-time. The storage unit that seemed so nearby last July seems like its in another galaxy now. We hate the expense and inconvenience, but we really need that 10×10 space.
What would we do differently?
A lot of our choices were actually dictated by circumstances. Once the decision was made, there was no delaying getting moved out of the house and into the trailer. The location was chosen because of the circumstances, just as the storage unit was. Accepting that there is sometimes a very large gap between “ideally” and “reality” is part of the whole downsizing process.
Maybe…just maybe…the true lesson in downsizing is for our psyche and ego.
So what about year two?
Well, year one has been a lesson primarily in humility. We are learning that we can make plans, but that they may or may not happen. For any serious changes to occur, we’re going to have to see our personal economy actually improve, and that likely is going to require an upswing in the economy of the Gulf Coast. Consulting with the oracles of economics isn’t exactly particularly accurate. Consulting with psychics about it hasn’t been very accurate either. Both of them have projected far more optimism than was warranted by the current state of affairs.
We’ve learned that humility thing pretty well. We’re generally happy, we have a great relationship. We have our pets, our family, our friends…and no space…but that’s okay. We shall overcome, right? We’re learning to use public space a LOT more!
There are some advantages to having dinner in a cheap buffet too. We can linger for hours, never worry about so-and-so’s insatiable appetite or how so-and-so is a picky eater…and then when its done, we have no dirty dishes, pots, or pans. We are never stuck with vast containers of leftovers when someone has to cancel at the last minute, cutting our guest list by a third…and there are no worries when someone calls and says “I’ll join you” either.
We save money on outdoor furniture too by using public outdoor spaces. With portable camping chairs, we still have some flexibility, and most of our family and friends bring their own. We can fish, visit a splash pad, have a picnic, go to the beach, try bayou fishing, tour a visitor center, or whatever else…all by our choice of public space.
Campgrounds let us to entire weekends, everyone pitching their own tent and managing their own reservation, and making their own beds. We have truly begun to appreciate the public spaces, parks, and campgrounds that are available to us. It has also made us realize that many communities are starved for public space that is user-friendly and multi-purpose. Every town, no matter how small, should have a public park. Every county should have at least one campground and multi-use park too. Playgrounds and splash pads, public pools and water parks, green belts, bike paths…all of these things make a community much more attractive and encourages the citizens to get out and get moving, which we all know will also do a great deal to reduce obesity.
The entire obesity epidemic is related to poverty and financial stress too. Everyone wants to point their fingers at fast food and snack foods, but the reality is that the foods that are the least expensive are also the most likely to contribute to obesity. In addition, when you are financially strapped, gym memberships and exercise equipment are not on your shopping lists. At the end of a long day at a minimum wage or slightly higher wage, the last thing on your mind is going jogging down the sidewalk. It’s enough to get home, eat some of that cheap food, watch some television, and fall asleep so you can do it again tomorrow. Right there is our national inspiration for obesity. Long hours, low wages, little leisure time, and little disposable income are a formula for obesity, both in the parents and their offspring. In addition, most child care centers and at-home daycare providers don’t encourage exercise and activity in young children. Instead, they seek ways to keep them still and quiet, another foundation piece for future obesity.
The cure isn’t easily apparent. Middle class jobs are vanishing by the thousands, and there doesn’t look like there is a great wave of industry starting in America either. Gone are the days when someone could work for a manufacturing company after graduating from high school, make a good wage with benefits, and enjoy things like summer vacations and holidays off as they married and raised their families.
Downsizing, whether its to a small apartment, a travel trailer, or a portion of someone else’s house is not easy. It’s not a choice that some people will make because of a desire to have a smaller life. Downsizing to a smaller home, on the other hand, is one frequently done by choice, once again as a result of life changes, whether its becoming an empty nester, divorces, or lifestyle changes. Each case is very individual, and often dictated by circumstances more than it is by the conscious choices, unless one is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to build their small home. (Oh yeah–that is still on my list of things to do!)
What is good about the smaller home?
The reduction in bills and carbon footprint is great. A well designed space can increase convenience too. In the portable versions, a nomadic life is an option, whether its to move as a snow bird or simply change locations as the whim suits. Even so, the change won’t be easy for most couples.