I gave this whole “living small” thing a good college try, and boy, am I ever regretting this dreadfully ill-conceived decision! What possessed me to ditch our big ass house for this 200 sqft shack?
The truth is I had everything that I ever could have wanted, and I squandered it.
A couple weeks ago we put our 1600 sqft house on the market and moved into our Airstream. This thing is only 200 sqft, almost like the manufacturer purposely wanted to test the American people’s ability to withstand hardship and torture.
Look at this place, it’s tiny! Sure, the dogs are comfortable here because they like to feel cozy, but I am sure we all know the word “cozy” is a code word for small as hell.
We loved to clean our big ass house!
Living small taught me an important lesson – living small sucks. Like, seriously bites.
I realized over the past couple of weeks that the countless hours my wife and I spent cleaning our previous big ass house was time well spent! It was our “together time”. We got to really know each other amid the piles of dust we removed from our furniture in our unused rooms. We cuddled. This was our time to shine – not just shine the house, but “us”. We shined.
The hour my wife spent dusting and cleaning the bathrooms was absolute gold – not fool’s gold, but true gold. “AU” gold. You should have seen the smiles. Experiences speak louder than things, after all, and cleaning large homes just freaking tops the list. I so miss that.
With each stroke of the mop across the nearly 1600 sqft of floors, I felt a sense of accomplishment. After the first 20 minutes, I’d stand and admire my handy work. All that section of the house is clean. Look at it sparkle! After the next 20 minutes, same deal. And after the last 20? Man, I felt great. This is what home ownership is all about, damn it.
My sense of purpose overflowed. Who wants to spend time outdoors when you have floors to clean and purpose to experience, anyway? You just can’t get this shit living in an RV.
Cleaning the Airstream is a joke.
It takes like 5 whole minutes to clean all the floors in this thing – not just a mild sweep, but a deep scrubbing. I mean, where’s the satisfaction in that? It takes around 15 to 20 minutes before we truly begin feeling a sense of achievement to begin with. Cleaning these floors, we’re never in that “satisfaction sweet spot”, are we? I swear these RVs are talent killers.
But just when I thought my purpose in life couldn’t possibly get any more magical by cleaning our floors, we also had a pool to maintain, and that upped the ante.
Cleaning our backyard pool lifted my purpose up into the fucking stratosphere. I miss the hours I spent dragging a pool vacuum across the surface of the pool…cleaning up those impossibly small devil leaves that always seem to make a b-line straight for the swimming pond, even in a calm breeze.
And the sweet smell of chemicals was unspeakably awesome. I don’t know what to do without buying chlorine and sprinkling it around the pool and meticulously testing the water’s chemical composition (I forget…does muriatic acid raise or lower pH? Ugh!).
And grinding pumice stone around the edges of the pool while dodging beads of sweat dripping from my head in an often-futile effort at chopping away at calcium build-up? Damn, man, this is livin!
I guess I never realized how wonderful this experience was until it was gone. Hey guys, remember the girlfriend that dumped your ass because you never truly appreciated her (you bastard), and the subsequent crying game that evening (that you will never admit to) because you finally realized how much of an asshole you were to her?
Let’s just say tears were shed. I want that responsibility back, darn it.
This RV also destroyed my love of spending money
We bought our Airstream for less than $50k. I mean, WTF? This RV is fully capable of housing a family of four inside its curved walls for decades, but we only had to pay less than $50k? And we get to change our backyard whenever the hell we want?
Where’s the fun in that? I’m so pissed.
And the utilities? What a joke! We’ve been running the air conditioner for weeks as temperatures in Arizona warm into the upper 80s and low 90s, and it only costs us about $1 to $2/day in electricity.
Come on, give me a break. There is something about those $300,000 mortgages that seem so…I don’t know, elegant, you know?
The burden of a mortgage makes me feel like a freaking American. Dropping $150 to $200 a month on electricity for a 1600 sqft house is the cost of doing business as an American. It’s good. Money well spent. Be. An. American!
And what am I now? Am I still an American if I don’t have a mortgage on the place that I’m living in? What if I spend just a few bucks a day to cool the place? I’m scared about what I’ve become!
I feel dirty. I feel like an outcast in a sea of perfectly normal Americans. I want my big mortgage back. I want to once again experience that feeling of ecstasy (I think they call it the “American Dream”) by opening up my latest utility bill and reading triple digit numbers.
It makes me feel complete. Like a real person.
This sucks. I want my love of spending money back, and quickly. I. Need. A. Mortgage.
Who needs “outdoor time” anyway?
They say that we humans need more time outdoors, but I find the outdoors overrated anyway. While it’s true that the RV does make outdoor living much more simple, there’s also not-so-nice stuff outside. Like flies. The sun. Who wants to sit outside underneath the awning of your RV when you could be sprawled out on your couch watching your 65″ flat screen television?
It seems like every morning and every freaking night my wife and I are walking around this campground. The people are insidiously happy, too, which is weird. Virtually all of them wave as you walk by, almost as if they actually want to be here and not overly pre-occupied by their own lives or their cell phones to give a shit about anyone other than themselves.
But not only do these weirdos wave, they also speak to you. Like, “Good evening!”.
What’s going on, and why are all these people actually speaking to me?!? I feel like I’m living back in the 50’s when everybody in your neighborhood knew everybody else and were actively courteous to one another and gave a crap about what’s going on in their neighborhood.
Seriously, who needs this shit?
What happened to the good ol’ days when I only knew my neighbors by the cars they drive and maybe – maybe once in a blue moon, I’d actually wave or say hi? Those days were sweet.
Hell, I lived in a community south of Tucson for 7 years and didn’t so much as know my neighbor’s first name (on either side!). In the campground, we already know several of our neighbors, where they came from and what they do (or did) for a living.
Gawd, I want to return to my sterile existence again by hiding in a big house and defining my success by how much stuff I had, working endlessly at a nameless corporation for a big enough paycheck to maintain my lifestyle. This RV stuff is the pits.
Oh, and one last thing – just kidding! 🙂
And I love you people. Every one of you.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.