So it’s time to talk about the future for our family. Well, really it’s only potentially the future. It hasn’t been a guarded secret. We just weren’t sure we wanted to let people know what we were thinking until we were certain it was going to work. But, I decided that by the time we figured out if it would work, most of the early process would be a distant memory. I’d rather be laughed at for a failed adventure, than lose the opportunity to document and share the journey.
The Tentative Plan
The tentative plan is to figure out how to downsize like crazy and move our family of six into a travel trailer. Yep, that’s right. Because living in 1270 square feet, having four bedrooms, and two bathrooms, leaves a little too much room for us to hide from each other and store crap. So, we’ve decided to reduce to less than 290 square feet. Though we keep thinking 300-310 square feet might be nice, I think it’s just a little too heavy.
The hardest part of writing a post to share this with you is that by doing so I don’t get to see the look on your face. The looks on the faces of the few people we’ve shared this with so far have been priceless. Some folks get it, but for the most part people can’t fathom coming to a place in life where a family of six dumps almost everything, crawls into a vehicle, and drives off into the sunset.
What I can’t believe is how many families are already doing it. It seems more and more people are coming to the same conclusion we have. Happiness does not come by way of stuff. It’s not found in a bigger house, a big yard, fence, or nicer neighborhood.
How Did We Get Here?
It was several months ago… Well, really I think this started like 20 years ago, but perhaps that’s a whole different story. It was maybe 8 months ago that we started looking at camping and it soon came to this.
We’ve been stuck in a spot in life that has been… well hard. Stories that will no doubt fill the pages of this blog over the next few years. But we’ve come to a spot where my wife and I both feel like the dust is actually starting to settle. Like the light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible.
We started playing with the idea of camping. We were interested in grabbing a tent and some other camp gear and taking off a few weekends per year. As we continued to dig we realized what it would cost. Truth be told we were looking at high-end tents that were more like canvas castles than just tents. Nothing but the best for the Queen! Being the numbers guy that I am I started calculating what it would cost us to leave for a few weekends a year. It became obvious that we could stay in a hotel different places, have a vacation, and likely do it for less money over the long term.
But staying in a hotel wasn’t what we were looking for. So we started looking into tent trailers. At least these would come with beds, and most of the equipment that is really expensive. Going with a tent trailer would mean it would be more durable, we could be gone longer periods of time, and it opened up a few more places we’d feel comfortable staying.
One night as we were searching the great Google, sifting through used tent trailers, the Queen chuckled and said something like, “Maybe we should just buy one of these.” On her screen was a travel trailer that had a sticker price of over 30 grand.
“Yeah.” I laughed. “Except the van we want won’t pull it.”
We have an old rusty Town & Country at the moment. I’ve swore my whole life I’d never do two things: work fast food, or drive a mini-van. Not only do I drive a mini-van, I fell in love with it. Up to this point we were looking to buy a newer one. Shall I wait for you to stop laughing before I go on? I suspect at some point in the near future I’ll have a job asking, “Would you like fries with that?”
As we were considering floor plans that evening, she whispered, “We…I think we could live in these things!” We had started with new models, but it didn’t take us long to transition to used equipment, filtering them down into a near-reasonable price range.
And Then It Hit Me…
“I won’t buy one of these and leave it parked in the drive way as some status symbol.” I said. As I ran the numbers, figuring LP, and insurance along with the price of the unit, I figure if a person only camps 4 times a year in this thing, across 7 years it works out to like a 1000 bucks a trip just for the unit. That wouldn’t count gas to get there, food, activities, and nightly fees for camping.
“I won’t do it. If this is what we want, we have to be prepared to live in it.”
I don’t believe my money to be my own. So often the Christian says, “It’s all God’s” While that sounds fantastic, most of us actually live like it’s all ours and we’re doing God some sort of favor by giving Him 2.5% of it. It’s all His, and while I’ve been a horrible steward of His things for most of my life, I’m doing my best to manage them in the most reasonable way I can now.
While I love my kids and would enjoy them having some great experiences, I know there are families in this world that can’t eat every day, or can’t afford a place to live. I would love nothing more than to be able to survive on ten to twenty percent of my income, and give the rest away. I’m fully aware that while my wife and I contemplated what could easily be a $20,000 or $40,000 choice, there is a mother someplace having to tell her child that it’s not his or her day to eat.
Finally we arrived here…
Over the following weeks the conversation was ongoing. Were we serious? How much would it cost? How cheap could we do it? Could we actually lower our cost of living rather than raise it? Are we willing to raise our cost of living? If we were to allow ourselves to raise our cost of living, what is our cut off? What would we need for a tow vehicle? How would it affect the kids? Would it be beneficial for them or bad for them? Would we rather have a Class C, a 5th wheel, or a travel trailer? Do we have to have an address? Is our income portable enough that we can continue to make it while we travel? What else could we do to add to our portable income? How would education work into all of this?
Many of these questions remain unanswered. But the question of “Are we serious?” is clear. God willing, we will find answers to these questions and transition to full-time. Our hope is, in 4 to 5 years we will exchange 1,270 sq. feet for about 300. Hey, it’s officially my first ever five-year plan.
Don’t forget to follow our Facebook and Google+ pages to find the answers we come up with, and the struggles we run into, as we move forward in this journey. If you have suggestions, advice, a list of great resources or just want to tell us we’re crazy, we welcome it.