How my wife and I share a 200 sqft space and avoid killing each other
Before we moved into the Airstream, people would give us almost the exact same unsolicited feedback about those plans: "I'd love to travel like that, but my wife/husband would drive me crazy".
Like clockwork, the primary motivating factor in maintaining way more living space than what an RV provides seems to be the proximity between spouses.
I've always found that reasoning to be interesting.
Two people love each other enough to marry, but at the same time, can't envision a scenario where they'd be able to live in close proximity without killing each other - metaphorically speaking, of course.
But, I get it. After years of living together, your spouse's habits begin to gnaw on the other person. The little stuff they do...the way they eat, the little noises they unconsciously make.
You know what I'm talking about. And, we all do it.
We all have those annoying habits that other people notice. If you live with the same person long enough, that shit shows. Big time.
My wife and I live full-time in a 200 square foot Airstream travel trailer as digital nomads. We love it, but it's also super close quarters!
How do my wife and I live so close together (usually within about 10 to 15 feet at all times) and NOT have the divorce papers ready?
How my wife and I live together in a 200 square foot home and not kill each other
How do we do this? No real secrets, and we're still learning.
1. We are still young
Perhaps the most important element here is that we're still young and those habits haven't had decades of time to manifest themselves, to eat at us and drive us crazy after years of noticing that stuff.
I'm 37 and my wife is 34.
I know there are things that I do that annoy my wife (and, yes, visa versa), but after four years of marriage, I guess we're still in that honeymoon phase or something?
So, might as well do this unique RV living arrangement while we can!
2. We maintain separate spaces (sorta)
Another huge driver in this scenario is separate working spaces. My wife primarily uses the couch with a fold-up table for her desk. The table easily fits her Chromebook, mouse, beverage and a few other things.
She is a couch kind of person.
For me, we converted our dinette/nook area over to a desk. We ripped out the dinette seats and table and installed a solid wood desk that holds all of my stuff, like computers, my external monitor, photo equipment, external mouse and keyboard and several other things.
Here is a photo of the desk that I call home (yup, it's sorta messy).
The couch that my wife works at is behind the camera position.
While we're still working about 10 feet apart, we maintain our own distinct areas. When editing video, I'll have my headphones on. And, Courtney very often watches vlogs on YouTube with headphones as well.
We're doing our own separate things at our own work spaces.
3. We get out of the house every day
Neither my wife or me are couch-potatoes (even though she likes the couch!). We like to get out and about, usually every day.
Getting outside is a very natural part of RV life and it gives us the opportunity to change our surroundings a bit and experience something new or exciting. We focus on external things rather than sitting, cooped up, in our little Airstream.
What do we do when we're out?
- Visit a local brewery
- Go on a hike
- Explore a city by walking around downtown
- A photo expedition
- Happy hour!
Whatever we do, it gives us a chance to spread out a bit outdoors. It helps keep things interesting.
4. We walk (separately)
Sometimes, I'll just go and take a walk.
This isn't necessarily a way to get away from my wife. Instead, it's one way that I clear my head and come up with new ideas of things to try. New projects to pursue. New content to write about.
In fact, I devised my entire second blog project on a solo walk around the fairgrounds in Bishop, California.
That project, by the way, is called Digital Marketing 4 Bloggers. It's my way of teaching everything I know about digital marketing - specifically for bloggers, after about 20 blissful years of building websites.
Anyway, walks absolutely help. They help to clear your mind by letting your body go through a repetitive task (walking) that doesn't take a lot of thought. This lets your brain wander a bit.
In fact, walking meditation is a thing.
"You’re doing more than going for a stroll, because you’re still incorporating the main aspects of meditation. While you walk, clear your head, feel each breath as it goes in and out, and take notice of each step as you walk. As Mathieson suggests, if something in the environment demands your attention, go with it. If you want to make your walking meditation even more peaceful, leave your phone and other gadgets behind."
5. We walk (together)
We also walk together. In fact, we walk together a lot.
Walking together gives both my wife and me an opportunity to discuss shared interests through the mindless repetition of walking. We put together many aspects of our travel planning course while on walks.
While this might seem counter-intuitive, this time together is distinctly different than the time we spend indoors.
How is this time different?
- We're outside (spending time in nature makes a difference!)
- We're talking (about goals, hopes and dreams)
- We're exercising (which improves our physical and mental health)
Before we retired from full-time work, we used to discuss our retirement plans on our evening walks with the dogs. Getting outside removed us from the distractions of home and gave us an opportunity to talk.
6. We both understand what works for us
Though I enjoy traveling full-time, I also enjoy my own space. I don't need a lot of space, but I do need some. In fact, I value a dedicated office space.
Right now, we don't have that. But, we are investigating some options for the future, which might include moving to a larger RV with more room for an office (for me) and a larger kitchen and living area for Courtney.
My wife is less picky when it comes to her office. That's why her flip-up table and a couch works for her. She'd rather have more inside storage (Airstreams are notorious for a lack of internal storage).
We both focus on those things that mean the most to us and, when something doesn't work, we don't keep that bottled up inside. Instead, we talk about it.
Both Courtney and I understand that this lifestyle needs to work for both of us, not just one of us. When we're both happy, that makes all the difference in the world.
7. We know our purpose
There is nothing more dangerous than a bored couple.
My wife and I understand our post-retirement purpose. Without purpose, we are setting ourselves up for a lifetime of aimlessness and boredom. And living just a few steps away from the same person, you're just asking for it.
Though each of us has a purpose, I also believe that most of us don’t have any idea what that purpose is. Or, at least a clear understanding of that purpose. We might have one of those “inklings”. But short of that, the majority of the population doesn't have a clear idea of their purpose.
This isn’t meant to criticize. Instead, I’m encouraging you to reflect. To think about what gives your life meaning and understand your purpose as deeply and clearly as possible. This shouldn’t take any research on your part. This isn’t a science project or book report. This is life. You.
We understand our purpose and devote our days toward supporting our shared and individual goals. It keeps us focused and motivated.
Purpose is your lifeblood. Find it, and you'll never be bored.
Do you live in close proximity to a spouse or partner? If not, could you? Really, could you?