I had the best of intentions in posting about our “new” house a month ago, but…intentions are not the same as sitting down and DOING it.
We bought a house. At just under 1200 square feet, it’s not exactly “SMALL” after living in a travel trailer. In fact, I almost feel like I need to pack a lunch to go from one end to the other. Compared to a McMansion, it’s still small. It’s also larger than anything I’ve lived in for over a decade.
It just doesn’t qualify as “downsizing” in my eyes.
So…that means something else is happening. This blog has sort of reached it’s end, in a sense. We did our experiment, and it indicated that 240 square feet of badly designed space was not enough space for us to live comfortably. Permanent residence in a travel trailer is probably fine for the OCD or if you have private outdoor space and storage, but for people like us…it was too small.
Why do I say it was too small?
I cook. That kitchen was impossible. Undersized, under powered, and without storage space, I became the queen of the one dish meal and my rice pot. We ate crappy food and gained weight doing it. We also ate out a lot more than usual.
I sew. Forget sewing in a travel trailer. Forget arts & crafts too. Forget everything but escaping from the four walls that too often begin pressing in.
We both read. Travel trailers are hopeless for storing often read books, reference materials, and anything else. Lighting is very poor inside too, with the inadequate 12 volt system not being LED. It was like living by candlelight in a cave. The lights had to be turned on during the day because of the few windows too.
No workspace for computers either, especially for two people that really use them daily. We aren’t just doing blog posts and playing games on Facebook. Even with laptops to use, they require space, and two wouldn’t fit on that dreadful dining booth table. GM’s big feet didn’t even fit between table leg and bench.
For us, it was an opportunity to learn about each other in tight quarters. We even officially got married while living in the travel trailer (we were in our second year at that point.) Tight quarters will tell you a lot about your relationship, but over the long term, the stresses began taking their toll on us too. The lack of space was inhibiting our creativity, restricting our activities, and complicated by frequent bouts of insomnia from one or the other of us, we were also becoming often very sleep deprived.
Our travel trailer technically would have slept eight people. I can tell you now, with eight people in that thing, homicide would have occurred after the first week. It would have been utterly impossible for more than a weekend, and that’s a weekend where everyone spent 99% of their time outdoors.
So what are my long term plans about downsizing?
We’re not sure. We know that 240 badly designed square feet wasn’t enough, not for people who do more than eat and sleep at home. We opted to buy a smallish “normal” house to renovate, largely because the travel trailer experiment had to end or one of us was going to go insane, taking the other one with us! We do intend to do some work on the trailer, changing some things that were impossible to change while we were living in it, as well as repair the ravages of two years of full time living in it. We have a tentative buyer too, if we opt to sell it. We may opt to use it as our studio too. We haven’t made up our minds. (It would make a great studio with some relative minor adjustments, btw!) Maybe we will opt to keep it and use it as it was originally intended–a portable temporary house.
We won’t use it for camping, however. It’s just not practical for us, and we didn’t like it that much either. For one thing, it weighs too much to be economically towed. For another, it’s just too big for two people to justify. We’d also need a different vehicle to use to tow it, one that sucked down gasoline at a horrifying rate. When we say “temporary” house, we’re thinking weekend place somewhere, and moving it with a rented truck rather than buying something to move it with.
For us, a truly portable “house” may stay a tent, and then again…we may decide that it’s time to go with something a bit more formidable to the elements and wildlife. I’ve long entertained a fascination with tear drop campers, and it’s something that I’d really like to explore further, with GM’s help. I love the idea of dry, warm/cool, and bear resistant, as well as the quick set up of using something like a tear drop camper. On average, we spend about two hours total between unloading and setting up when we arrive to a campsite. When we tear down one, it’s about the same in reverse. That’s not using an inflatable bed, either–we sleep on a simple pallet of a pair of thermal pads, a sleeping bag, and a wool blanket most of the year, with another sleeping bag and a blanket on top of us. We don’t zip the sleeping bags together, and the extra blanket is mostly for me to steal during the night–I prefer to sleep cooler than GM does! (We do more winter camping in the South than we do any summer camping–I don’t do well in the heat.)
Obviously, with my inability to function once I get hot, the idea of air conditioning in our sleeping space is more than a little appealing. It would expand our camping season to year round, and eliminate the worries of what-if-I-overheat for me entirely–even in the daytime, I could retreat indoors and cool off while reading a book or magazine!
It would also allow us to store our gear when we weren’t camping in a secure and dry location, keeping everything together and no more worries about where-is-the-lantern. Packing the kitchen would be easy too, and using it would be even easier. Even if we were camping with a number of other people who were using tents, it would serve well as a cargo area to carry tents, chairs, duffle bags, and other supplies in a closed compartment, freeing up valuable passenger room in vehicles.
Best of all, tear drop trailers make little to no dent in one’s gas mileage, according to reports from other users. They also can be homemade, and while a new, factory produced model might set the owner back a good $10,000…a comparable model can be built by their owner for around $2000-3000, and will also be a show piece of craftsmanship the builder can be proud of, as the traditional tear drops were always owner-built projects that often were far more show pieces than merely utilitarian pods for sleeping in with a kitchen at the rear.
So, with our new project being the house, it’s likely that a new blog will be born. I haven’t decided. We’re in the middle of a nightmarish move that has been under Murphy’s thumb from the outset, and we’re hoping to complete it this week. That doesn’t mean we’ll be properly “moved in” but rather that we’ll have everything here and be trying to find sanity among the chaos and renovations. After a month, we have one room about 3/4 finished–we still need to paint the trim, put furniture together, arrange it, and do the window treatment. We have six more rooms, a carport, two sheds, and a workshop to go. Oh, and a hallway complete with a closet that apparently was never painted since 1948 when the house was built. (Actually, all of the closets appear to have never been painted, one more peculiarity of the house.)
We’ve had the house for a month, and we’ve already had three people say they’ve seen the former occupants who bought the house new and lived in it up until near their deaths. I’ve not seen anything out of the ordinary, nor have I seen our cats or dogs react to anything I don’t see. Is the house haunted? I don’t know, but at least those who claim to have seen Bill & Eunice have indicated that the “ghosts” were friendly and curious. Maybe they’ll haunt us less as we progress with our conversion of the house into our home, right?
In the meantime, we’re still puzzling over the whole downsizing and tiny house concept, even though we are engaged in merely managing renovation of a fairly small house instead. There are some things we really like…and some things that have us scratching our heads and wondering what they were thinking of.
Like the paint colors. We have a pinky-orange sherbert kitchen with natural maple cupboards. The cupboards are fine and in good shape, but that color…nauseates me. The putrid green walls of the living room and dining room, accompanied by stained green carpet in the living room are equally nauseating to GM. The turquoise blue spare bedroom? Dingy, dark, and depressing! The heavy drapes and total darkness of the house is equally depressing to me–I despise dark houses with draped windows that forbid seeing anything outdoors! Yes, privacy is nice…but at the price of self induced seasonal affective disorder? Give me light!
The yard is smaller than we wanted, but it may still be bigger than we can manage. It’s a modest sized yard, but far larger than most urban yards would dream of being. It’s a corner lot, we have two pecan trees, and a couple of large live oaks too. There’s also a number of crepe myrtles that have been viciously pollarded over the years and then ignored for the past few years. The fences have been overgrown with trash tree saplings and vines. We don’t have a fenced yard for the dogs–there are fences on two sides that likely belong to our neighbors. We do have a workshop, even if it’s a chaotic jumble of junk right now, along with a double car port instead of the garage we wanted. It will work for us. We don’t have a patio or outdoor living area…yet. There is no garden, and there are no fruit trees. The landscaping is outdated, overgrown, and neglected.
Yeah, we’ve got a lot of work to do.
Especially since we DON’T have a lot of money to spend!