Minimalism, vanlife, traveling, solo female traveler, sober travel, traveling in USA, downsizing.
I’m going to talk a little about my thoughts and process/ing — please note that this post is “all over the place”. I’ve tried to make it coherent and reign it in, but it got away from me.
I’ve wanted to minimize my life for years. I started obsessing over minimization books, podcasts and devouring every tiny home everything starting fifteen years ago. When Marie Kondo’s book came out, I threw out and re-organized. When Tiny House Nation was born on HGTV, I was glued. I watched YouTube videos and followed Jenna Spesard in her Tiny House, Giant Journey road trip. I even joined meetup groups and went to monthly meetings for people who wanted to downsize and start a tiny house community. But I never did it. I was too comfortable in my life and too mired in my lifestyle. Another author I know who downsized pointed out the “identity” component to me yesterday. How our “stuff” defines our identity and I wanted to write a blog post on that because in my opinion it’s not just our “stuff”, though I definitely agree with that too.
Back to process. When I found out I was losing my job/career and my apartment, the first thing I did was spend three weeks on the couch (it’s a very comfortable couch), in a deep depression. Maybe it was the five stages of grief. Maybe it was fear. Maybe it was both. But I’m solution oriented. The twelve steps taught me that and after acceptance I went into problem solving mode. This led me to make a list of my options and spend the next few weeks researching every single one of them. I could move into a van or an RV. I could move somewhere else in the country, but I didn’t want to leave my (then) partner. I could buy a manufactured home and even qualified for a loan but if I went that route I wouldn’t be able to save a penny, ever. I could purchase a tiny home (I found a friend of a friend selling one I could afford) and either rent a space to put it, three hours east from here for $700 a month or try to find someone willing to let me live on their land. I spent several days going down this rabbit hole, as well as exploring the option of buying my own land to put it on. In the end I learned that it’s illegal to put a tiny house or RV or 5th wheel on anyone’s land anywhere (that’s not a designated RV park) in California.
I could move several hours east or north from where I live now. I should say here that where I live now is the most expensive place to live in the entire United States, even more expensive than Manhattan. Not only are our rental prices comparable, although we do get more space, our food is three times as much. I can’t eat a breakfast in a restaurant, eggs, bacon and coffee for less than $50 for two people. And that’s breakfast, the cheapest meal you can find here. I can’t shop at our local organic market for less than $200 a week for two small grocery bags.
Yes, I know I could choose not to shop organic but I’m a healthcare professional who has studied nutrition for fifteen years and that’s not a choice I’m willing to make.
When I talked to my (ex) partner about all my options I was clear that my number one priority was to remain close to him. After all, it was the best relationship I’d ever had, and I was in love with him. Last week he broke up with me because he couldn’t handle the instability of my future. I don’t understand his decision and it isn’t one I would make when someone I care about is going through a hardship. But really, do I want to be with someone who isn’t emotionally available? Nope. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t have the capacity to be there for me.
This change opened up my options. I took a long and hard look at my life. My shattered dreams. Everything I’ve ever wanted to do and what I’ve accomplished. When I decided to go back to school in my forties, to change my career and get a master’s degree, I did it. When I decided to write and publish 11 novels in 2 years, I did it. And the list goes on. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge or a dream.
But the two dreams I’ve had for forty years and have never acted on are: to travel the United States for at least a year and to travel Europe for a year+. And so, there’s really no better time than the present, except there was a better time to do this before Covid. And yet Covid was the kick in the ass I needed. Covid took my life (all our lives) and turned it upside down.
After more research and talking to friends who have done something like this, I’ve decided on #vanlife. A converted van is pretty and I need my environment to be clean, organized and pretty. A converted van can be parked anywhere. A converted van gets better gas mileage than an RV. I don’t HAVE to park in an RV park. I don’t have to search for and pay to get my tanks emptied and find electrical hook-ups.
And so the journey before the journey has begun :)
Hi, I'm Kimberly Anne! (aka K.A.)
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