The Camping Life

Yes, we live in a camper…by choice.

I don’t mean to sound defensive, but after numerous reactions to our new living situation that have bordered on rude (“Oh, really? When do you think you’ll be able to afford an apartment again?”) I wanted to clear up the misconception we can’t afford to do anything else. Granted, I understand our choice is unconventional, and given our monthly bills are cut in half, it’s a normal assumption this was about money. While cost was definitely one of the check marks in the plus column, it wasn’t the deciding factor. This move was more about wanting freedom – financial, physical and spiritual.

To be fair, this lifestyle has many cons as well as pros, just like any situation. For us, the positives outweigh any inconveniences. As I said in my last blog, we felt we were in a rut. Our neighborhood was not at all kid-friendly – here, my kids are outside pretty much all the time, going here, there and everywhere, alone or with friends. We’re comfortable with their meandering since this is essentially a gated community with a ten mph speed limit.

In fact many things move slower here. Since space is limited, there is no reaching in the fridge to quickly grab the eggs – first I have to move the Parmesan cheese, the bag of leftover Jasmine rice and the tomato before pulling out the egg carton. Breakfast becomes a gentle waltz instead of a frenzied rave dance.

We can’t let dirty dishes pile up – there’s simply no place to put them, and we only have a few to begin with. Same with leftovers – our fridge is so small it’s hard for things to get pushed to the back and forgotten. Also, no more stocking up at the grocery store, which means our food is always relatively fresh and there’s much less waste.

Our toilet is the standard camper type, but that means we control how much water we use each time. Pulling both levers opens the trap and rinses stuff down, then pulling the smaller lever fills the tank slightly to prevent any smell from creeping back up (since we drain our black water tank frequently, not usually an issue). And our gray water tank (water from the sinks and shower) is used to clean out the drainage hose after we’ve emptied the black water, so it’s all so very efficient.

The lights all require tiny bulbs, low enough wattage that if we lose power, they will still run off our battery backup. Our fridge automatically switches to propane if the electric goes out, so our food stays cold.

It takes less than five minutes to warm the entire place up, or cool it down with the central air (hey, the ac unit is mounted in the center of the ceiling, so it counts as central air in my book… *grin*).

We only have enough hot water to take between five and ten minute showers – however, it only takes five minutes for the water to reheat, so those of us with longer hair are still able to get all the conditioner out, and we’re all learning to shut the water off while soaping up.

The lack of cable TV hasn’t been as bad as anticipated – hubby & I had date nights at the rec center (with its free WiFi) over the summer to stay current with True Blood, and at our next campground we’ll have access to television again, so we can catch up with our other shows during inclement weather. As it is, we’ve revisited some favorite movies and series whenever the urge to sit and veg arises – my younger two even now laugh when I say, “Tomorrow is a rest day” on Wednesdays (last day of hubby’s work week).

I asked hubby what he considered one pro and one con. He said watching the kids thrive is by far the best thing about this experiment of ours, and the black water tank (a story for another day) is his nemesis. I agree on both counts (although the tracked-in sand tends to be the villain I battle the most).

Now, our daughters and son graciously agreed (okay, so maybe I made it a writing assignment) to contribute the following insights. I’ll leave you with their words and a request – if you’re curious about any aspect of our adventure, please feel free to shout out in the comment section. Given how many questions we pelted our poor friends with, I’d be happy to return the favor.

The Youngest (11 years old) – My favorite thing about living in a camper is my bunk, or “Cubby”, because it’s so big it feels more like a bedroom rather than a bunk. I have a lot of drawings taped up on the walls. I also like the outlets in it. There are only two but it helps a lot.

What I don’t like about living in the camper is the tiny bathroom. There isn’t much space for my bathroom necessities but it’s better than nothing. The shower isn’t very easy to use because you have five minutes of hot water and it’s probably a few feet width and length. That’s why I usually use the bathhouse showers because they are even smaller but it has steaming hot water for about an hour.

The Boy (14 years old) – My favorite thing about living in a camper in a campground is being able to go hang out with friends and being able to do stuff like bike around or go to places like the rec center, arcade, pavilion or playground, and I can’t think of anything else to say so I’m typing this.

The thing I like the least about living in a camper at a campground is the tight living space like how small my bunk is. It’s about half the size of my sisters and has no outlets to plug into and is really annoying to get in and out of.

The Eldest (16 years old) – My favorite thing about living in the camper is be able to leave all day and get a break by just hanging out with my friends all day. There’s so many places I walk to like the playground and the arcade and I’ve meet a lot of new people here.

My least favorite thing about living in the camper is how little space there is. I mean, it’s not that bad, but it’s a huge diff going from living in a 1,000 square foot apartment to living in a 300 square foot camper. It was really a huge change for everyone.

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