** NOTICE **
At least one aspect of the following post differs from that which we implemented
in the end-design and/or the actual construction of our Tiny House.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information please refer to our eBook.
June brings us our first major crossroad in our journey toward fulfilling our dreams. This month we make some truly difficult yet committed decisions – the type of decisions that change our lives substantially.
For one, we’ve determined Kai’s QUIT DATE.
He’ll finish working part of this month but will be done by the first week of July. We’ve been planning it for awhile, but suddenly, the time is here, and quite frankly, it’s a bit scary! The nervous energy and determination in our home is palpable. Despite the natural fear that comes with such a decision, we’re certain that we are doing the right thing. This will open a door to another kind of life, one we’ve both yearned for over the years.
Some of you may be thinking, “Why is Kai quitting his job 9 months before we leave on our expedition?”.
The main reason is that we have so many things to do before we leave next spring that we need him available full time in order for us to stay on schedule. Here are some of the things we have on our project list to complete before April of next year:
Get rid of all our stuff!
Although we live in a fairly small, 800 square foot, apartment (including an unfinished basement) and we haven’t really bought anything for the house in years, we’re amazed at how much stuff we have accumulated. All of it, except that which will fit on our bikes and into a small storage space, will have to go. This will take some time to sort, sell and/or give away.
Repair and maintenance work on our home.
We own a home that is over 120 years old – it’s a duplex and we live on one side while renting out the other side. Kai & his Papa put hours of work into making the home a livable space and making improvements over the years but there is still a list of things we’d like to take care of before we leave. Kai & I have been improving the energy efficiency of the home over the last few years, as we have time and money, but we still want to finish adding insulation to the attic and a small crawl space. We also need to finish repairing the original stone foundation, replace the fascia and gutters on the house, replace a fence which is falling down around the perimeter of the backyard, and finish some landscaping. In addition, we’d like to replace a furnace, as it is pretty old and we’re fearful it might fail at the worst possible time – like during the coldest winter months of Vermont while we’re in the middle of Mongolia.
Tear down an old shed on our property that has fallen over (and get rid of all the stuff inside it!).
Finish gathering/preparing equipment for our trip, including building my bike.
And, drum roll please……….the unveiling of our most ambitious summer project — Build a wee house!
It will be a combination of something like the Fencl (sold through Tumbleweed Tiny House Company now but originally designed by Jay Shafer, whose designs and new company you can find at Four Lights Tiny House Company) and the Proto Haus. A little background to this project: we had hoped to build a smaller home (~300-400 square feet) well before our plans for a bike trip came about, but we were having trouble finding affordable land with potential for off the grid living and we definitely didn’t like the idea of taking on more debt when we were just beginning to feel the freedom that comes with ridding ourselves of it. We decided to go on our cycling expedition and to shelve our dream of an off grid home until we returned. But, in July 2009, when we reviewed our financial status and our goals, we realized that if we left on our cycling tour only 12 months later and we aimed for an even smaller, mobile house and we were extremely disciplined, we could have both. Thus, the plans for our wee house were born! It’s perfect for us — we’ll build it to work on grid or off, it’s affordable, and it’s mobile, allowing us to move it to wherever we end up when we return from our travels. It also fits in perfectly with our goal of living more sustainably — who needs 300 square feet when you can live in 180?! Besides, we’re thinking that will feel spacious after living out of our panniers and a tent for a few years!
Another question we’re being asked is, “Why would you give up a good paying job in the midst of poor economic times?”.
The first thing we want to note is that we feel truly privilaged to be able to make this decision. We’re healthy, have a home, health insurance coverage, and each other to fall back on if something were to go awry in our plans. Beyond that, having steady jobs for years, excellent credit history and living a generally frugal lifestyle has allowed us to eliminate much of our debt, minimize our expenses and save enough money for us to be able to do all of this. We are extremely aware of and grateful for our privilege and how fate has led us to our current place in life.
That being said, we cannot express how extremely satisfying it is to begin to reap the rewards of diligent planning, sacrifice, and a lot of hard work. We don’t feel like we’re giving up anything. On the contrary, we feel like we’re gaining something valuable and more sustainable. We’ll gain life skills in this process that will benefit us in the future. We want to rid ourselves of a lifestyle that depends on us working unsustainable hours, doing things we don’t necessarily want to do, out of fear, and for money. By creating a lifestyle that requires less money to support, we have the ability to remove ourselves from what we feel is an unhealthy cycle. In this way, we’ll be able to work based on our own terms, in a way that renews our life energy instead of draining it from us. Does Kai quitting his job make us nervous? Yes, but we’re also thrilled to be taking another step toward living a life based on our values and dreams and not our fears.
Some other things we’re doing this month:
I’ve completed my online TESOL certification courses (yay!) so I’ll have more free time to devote to our projects listed above, as well as to start regularly documenting our progress on our blog.
We ordered our trailer for the wee house. We’re also finalizing our blueprints/plans this month so we can start gathering the supplies and appliances we’ll need.
I’ll be visiting the bicycle frame builder we decided to go with to get measured for my bike frame.
Kai will get as many vaccinations as he can under his current health insurance and will be replacing his 9 year old glasses with a more touring appropriate pair.
We’ll have at least one yard sale.
Now, things are getting exciting!
Here are two sites we’ve found helpful & that explore ways to
gain financial freedom through intentional living and spending: