Oh, the things you discover after a month of living like minimalists!
In case you’re new here, my husband and I sold most everything we owned in order to move full-time into a 30-foot 5th wheel camper.
People ask, “Are you in financial trouble? Is that why you’re doing this?”
The answer is a resounding NO. We did this very purposefully and thoughtfully in order to live more simply. The idea of living like minimalists has appealed to us for a long time. And our 16-day, 220-mile trip on the Grand Canyon really got us thinking about what we actually NEED in life vs. how much stuff we own.
The adventure of living like a minimalist begins!
We weren’t sure how all this would go, especially since we share our lives with two 80-lbs. Labrador Retrievers and a large yellow cat named Hobbes (yes, after that glorious cartoon Calvin and Hobbes).
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- We haven’t missed ANYTHING we sold. It’s true – we haven’t looked at each other once and said, “Dang, I wish we still had that thing.” The only thing we have missed is the claw-foot tub that was in our the house we were renting. That thing was deep and big and baths were a terrific luxury!
- We sold the right amount; we kept the right amount. There’s ample storage in this RV, and other than the closet, we find we aren’t stuffed to the gills. There’s room for more (though we have no plans to fill those empty spaces).
- Planning for things (like hot water) is key. In order to not gobble up propane, we only turn it on for showers and dishes. It takes roughly a half hour for the tank to heat up, which means there’s no “I’m just gonna jump in the shower real quick before we go.” We have to plan our day (mostly, our mornings) to include time for the water heater to do its job.
- Storage matters. With limited space and this whole camper being less than 300 sq. ft., storage matters. The space underneath our dining benches and bed are important. We’re also going to pull out the guts of our sleeper sofa (which is terrifically uncomfortable) in order to add more storage for bulky things like winter blankets.
- We’ve had to get creative. The best thing Nelson has thought of is putting in a small cat door which lets Hobbes jump down into the basement storage of the RV. His litter box lives down there instead of in our closet now – a very welcome change both for the smell/mess and because we can put a dirty laundry hamper on the floor of the closet instead.
- It doesn’t take much to heat 300 sq. ft. Our former rental house used oil as the heat source. It was smelly – and expensive. We kept the house a toasty 58 degrees in the winter. We supplemented with a portable space heater (one of the safer ones on the market). Now, in the camper when I turn that sucker on, I’m warm in NO time. The propane that heats the camper works really fast, too. Thank goodness for being WARM.
- Outdoor living space makes everything better. One of the first things we did was add a deck out the front door. Part of the urgency was to cut down on the mud the dogs were tracking in and out. The other was just to give us a bit more space to chill out. The other nice thing about the deck is we can take off muddy shoes, remove wet jackets and have somewhere to cook outside of the camper during the hot days of summer. Funny thing is, if we’re outside, the pets are outside. If we’re inside, the pets are inside. We seem to move as a unit.
- Having a bigger shower was non-negotiable. When we were searching for a camper, Nelson kept insisting on making sure we got a bigger shower. Some of the units have bath/shower combos that would barely fit a ten-year-old kid. Ours has a tall ceiling, skylight directly above, and room enough to move without crashing our elbows into the doors. Nelson doesn’t have to skoosh down to fit under the shower head and there’s a bench so I can shave my legs. Go for the bigger shower!!!
- The small fridge isn’t as small as I expected. Truthfully, I thought I’d be at the grocery store every day shopping for food. Turns out,with a little creativity, I can cram a lot of vegetables into our fridge for a week. Score! Plus, we’re getting ready for gardening season and will be able to get fresh fruits and veggies right out of the garden to eat. Double score!
- Life is simple and joyful. We no longer have to worry about paying $1,000 to fill the oil tank. We no longer worry about huge electric bills. Life is simple. We feel very joyful. Even the pets adapted better and faster than we could have imagined.
- Super Bonus – we STILL have more than enough. We truly do. I have more clothes than I “need.” We have more books than we “need.” We’re not living without the necessities. We don’t feel resentful or pinched. Life is grand!
Overall, living in the camper is awesome. We are much closer to nature. We aren’t in a climate-controlled bubble inside a house. If it’s hot, we open windows and turn on fans. If it’s cold, we shut the windows and door and turn on the small electric heater. If it’s REALLY cold, we use the propane heater built into the camper. And when the weather changes (as it does often and quickly where live), it’s easy to fling open the door and roll the windows back open.
Do you have questions for us about how we live like minimalists, how and what we got rid of, or anything else? Ask in the comments below – we’d love to share more!