When we originally came up with the idea to live minimally, we loved the idea of building our own tiny house. It is definitely an up and coming idea, and people will choose to live tiny for so many reasons; environmental, downsize their debt, live with less “crap”, and many others. Everyone has his or her reasons, but ultimately it encompasses that overall freedom every human being on the planet yearns for. The freedom we long for is to be debt free. We are not like some people who have thousands of dollars in credit card debt, or filed bankruptcy, or live beyond our means in a “normal” American society. We have always lived within our means, and kept our credit score in excellent condition. We never made decisions that would effect our family negatively, and thought we were doing the right thing. We paid off our vehicles, made every note on the homes we had purchased since we were 21 years old, paid every bill, and this year we are 30 years old. “Living the American Dream” with our mortgage and never ending cycle of interest rates. When we started talking about how much money we would save every month by getting rid of our mortgages, it boggled my mind. But where do you live if you want to raise a family and save money? What about, if you want to travel around the US? What if you don’t really know where you want to “put your roots” like your mom and dad or grandma and grandpa always talked about?
Crab and I have been married since we were 18 years old in 2003, and had gotten used to the Army life of moving every 3 years or so, and always knew we did not want to go back to our hometown. How do you make the decision to just settle down somewhere if you haven’t seen all the possibilities? We each have lived in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, and Texas. We have traveled to many other places, but would we want to MOVE there? We felt there were so many options now compared to when our parents were our age. The world is so accessible and it is only getting more so as time passes. Ultimately our question was, How do we make sure we are happy with where we decide to put roots?
A tiny home seemed completely logical for us…and totally exciting. However, it was going to cost us between $30-$40,000 after doing some research and we don’t have that stashed away anywhere. Also, since we wanted our tiny home on wheels, the codes for traveling with a tiny house and heights and all kind of scared me. Many people have done it, check out “Tiny: The Story of Living Small” on Netflix, because it is totally awesome and is what inspired us to start living small. Buying an RV just wasn’t going to happen either because we heard of how expensive they are, how crappy the insulation is, if something breaks a dealer has to fix it (and we are total DIYers!), and that they do break eventually. So, we came up with some options and tabled the discussion for later until we got rid of more crap we were selling. We knew we couldn’t really do anything until our home sold, as then we would have the money to do something with. The plan was to move to my parent’s lakehouse temporarily, maybe even “Squat” at friends houses while visiting different areas, and go from there.
Then, something amazing happened. Ok, it wasn’t really amazing. It was a simple late night conversation we had about how to travel around the US with our dog and kids, and everyone comfortable, but also be a project we can DIY and it be affordable. The solution was so simple, but unbelievable. I thought, how weird is this? What will people say? Then I thought, Wait a second. I really don’t give a ****. HA! Not caring what others think has to be one of the greatest mental freedoms I have ever felt. We have always been “weird” and rubbed against society norms. We played the “Keep Up With the Jones’” game and it is exhausting and financially straining. Who really needs all those clothes, shoes, toys, and other crap we buy to entertain us. Why can’t LIFE be entertaining enough? Why can’t Time with your family be entertaining enough? When did buying crap and getting into debt become fun? Hence, our homestead was born. Self reliant living. Our newest idea was definitely the next non-normal thing, and the most realistic one for us. It was our next step to the freedom we have been talking about for a couple of years, and to get us to a place where we can finally build up a bigger and better homestead much sooner than we thought was ever possible!!!
A SKOOLIE. AKA CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG
That is right. A school bus converted into an RV. What??!!! Yes this is totally real and yes, they are totally cool. Some people are completely not into it. They say, “How can you be with your family that long in that small of a space?” “What about your space?” “How will you guys build that? It sounds hard.” Then the other negative nancy’s we told, and well, we don’t talk to people like that anymore. And anyway, The answer to those questions really lie in each person. If you asked me those questions 3 years ago, I would have told you that I could not imagine us all cramped up in a small space together because we had not tried it. After I lost my job, the four of us were together all the time. Saving money, stay-cations, lots and lots of family time. Whether we wanted it or not, lol. Now, we love being around each other. We started homeschool October 2014, so we are used to our kids being home. They help out tremendously with house work, are respectful, do what they are told, they do not wait for us to entertain them because they know they will have to clean something if the words “I’m bored” exits their mouth, and we have all learned to respect each other’s privacy/private times, which is a must in a tiny house/skoolie. Also, after all of the failed attempts and successful ones of building Aquaponics systems, grow beds, chicken coops, poultry tractors, dog houses, repairing lawn mowers, and a plethora of other things, we have the confidence to jump in and just do it. YouTube is amazing, because you can find how to do anything on there as well as the internet itself. I really don’t know why there are so many schools anymore. You can literally learn anything you want to on the internet. And did I mention the cost to do one is literally half of what it would cost us to do a Tiny House? I believe the major factor in the cost is that the “frame” is already there, and it is steel! Did I also mention that we could live in it while driving? And it is big enough for all of us and our 130lb English Mastiff? 🙂 And please remember folks, we do not want to just sit around in our awesome skoolie all day. This tiny house is meant to take us all over the United States! National Parks and Monuments are begging to be seen, life learning will be happening, and adventures are within our grasp! We plan on using our tiny home as a way to make the world our front porch (gosh I love that old country song!) Momma is happy 🙂
So a dream was born. Buy a school bus (lots of research on types and engines and lengths), renovate it to an RV, sell our home in the process, travel, maybe even learn to sail, figure out where we want to set roots, and live in the bus until we finish building our new home/homestead. We have sold off everything we needed to, and will sell the rest of the furniture when the house sells….but if I can’t get the price I want, into storage it will go with the rest of our crap. Hey, I can’t get rid of everything. We need all of our equipment and stuff for the new homestead, and a place to store out of season clothes and such. But it is definitely not a house payment. 🙂
Now, Let the dream of Operation Chitty Chitty Bang Bang commence…….