You may think I am joking and this may be partially the truth. If you could hear me say the title of this blog out loud you may notice the sarcasm in my voice. “Want to be a minimalist? Try living in a camper for a year!” I would say this and it would be followed by a chuckle and an eye roll. My sarcasm is not because I am making fun of minimalism. My joking attitude is only because I HAVE been living in a camper for a year. In some ways I have inadvertently stumbled into minimalism.
Our decision to live in a camper had nothing to do with minimalism or a desire to give up on societal norms. As I have stated in my previous posts, I have never really owned a ton of stuff. From this perspective, living in a camper was actually not that hard. It was not a decision I made with a smile on my face. I actually really hated the idea of living in a camper because of, well, vanity. I was worried about what people would think of me. I mean, don’t hillbillies and white trash people live in campers because they can’t afford anything else? At this point you are probably thinking to yourself, “that was mean and stereotypical!” I agree, but what if you were in a situation in which the only logical explanation was to live in a camper? Kudos to you if you honestly did not care, even an ounce, about what people thought of you.
I know that living in a camper bothers me because every time I mention it, I make sure to tell people that I am building a house. It sounds something like this, “we are living in a camper right now, but that’s because we are trying to build a house.” I need an excuse. If I was perfectly okay with it I would say, “we are living in a camper right now,” and be perfectly content to leave it at that. I am aware that I am worried about what other people think and this bothers me. So part of my journey has been to let go. I am working on not caring as much about what other people think and instead focusing on doing what is best for myself and my husband. This is why I have decided to share my story. It is a form of therapy to share my story with whomever is out there and feels compelled to read my blog. Now that it is on the internet, there is no more hiding it.
I imagine moving into a camper is not what most people want to do. It was obviously not my first choice. This was, however, the most financially responsible choice. We bought the land and we needed money in order to build on our land. Rather than paying the ridiculous amount of money it would cost to rent an apartment, we decided to live in the camper. The camper cost us $4,000, which we paid in cash. Over the past year we have saved up over $15,000 to put towards our house. I have also continued to pay off my student loans and I am close to having paid $60,000 within 5 years. By the end of May I will only owe $5,000.
For us the camper is a means to an end. It is to sacrifice now so that we can prosper later. After a year in the camper I have noticed I am more at peace with it. I have adjusted to it. In the beginning I thought I would hate everything about it. In the end I have realized that there are only three things that really bug me (besides what other people think) and it is not the lack of closet space or the small living quarters. I love to cook so the kitchen is the biggest problem. I am yearning for the day when I have a full sized fridge, an oven that cooks food evenly, a normal size sink, and a dishwasher. I would also appreciate a washer and dryer. Honestly, driving 30 minutes out of our way to do laundry is getting old. The final thing is the shower (see my previous post about the camper shower). Sometimes it is nice to take a long, hot shower and not be whacking my elbow against the shower wall every time to try to wash my hair. Ouch!
I have heard that it is when we are the most uncomfortable that we grow the most. I agree with this statement. This experience has resulted in a tremendous amount of personal growth. I have learned to appreciative the small things. The things that really matter in life. I have realized that I don’t need a huge house with tons of space that rarely gets used. I have also realized that I would not be happy living in a tiny 350 square foot home forever. I want a space that fits our needs, allows us to focus on what matters to us, and not to give a damn about what other people think.