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Moving into a little camper so we can live a little bigger

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Live small to live large.

“What if we just got a camper and lived in it for a while so we could save up some money?”

What started as an off the cuff remark during a late night “wild idea” session a few weeks back has grown into a little seedling of a dream…

As Ryan and I prepare to head back to Australia soon, we are—of course—thinking through where we will live. (Remember how we’re storing all of our stuff in a shipping container on our friend’s uncle’s farm? Uh-huh.) Eventually, we want to live and work in inner Sydney (you can read about our vision for urban missions work on our family blog if you’d like), but first we plan on staying about an hour south of Sydney to be near the YWAM Wollongong community for a period of time.

Tell me this, friends: Who wants to unpack an entire house only to pack up it all up and move again in a few months? Who wants to slap down a huge deposit on a rental house or apartment only to do the same thing a few months or a year later? Um yeah, we don’t either.

And so this idea for caravan living has started to take root.

Reevaluating family priorities

You’ve all heard the antidote, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” right? Experiencing our second miscarriage last month was like a huge basket of unwanted sour lemons dumped on our doorstep. Thank you, no thank you. But you know what? If I was due to deliver a baby in January in the height of Australian summer, there’s no way we’d be considering this dream of caravan living. And yet now. . . this little dream doesn’t sound quite as absurd.

I’m a firm believer that although we often can’t control what happens to us or around us, we have our hands firmly planted on the reigns of how we will steer ourselves through hardship once it comes. (Bo and Michaela are some of my heroes in this department.) This season after our most recent loss is no exception for our family and so we’re doing the hard work of evaluating our priorities, quieting our noisy heads, and leaning in to listen to what God is saying while we steer ourselves out of here.

Could a period of time in a “van” be exactly our best adventure and the best way to practice the art of selah for this time?

Yes, we’ve been thinking through the implications and how caravan living would affect our lifestyle: the inconveniences of laundry for a family with young, dirt-clad little boys, the challenges of a kitchen with limited pantry space and a teeny-tiny fridge, how to create a home environment in such a way that we can still offer a place of hospitality to friends and guests, or navigating—ahem—how to be intimate with your spouse in such close quarters.

But we’ve also been thinking about some of the benefits. Imagine: less electronics, more scrabble, less waste, more sleep, less spending, more intentionality, less distractions, more communication. (Less cleaning – does that count? Heh.)

There’s also other tangible, practical benefits like the ability to better save money for our eventual relocation into the world’s fourth most expensive city (oh Sydney, you’re kinda ridiculous), and the small fact that we could come out the other side with a little caravan – perfect for weekend getaways and family holidays. (We already love to camp – this would make it a no-brainer to pick up and go, hallelujah.)

Living with intention

But here’s the real thing: we’re exploring what it means to live more intentionally.

Doesn’t a simpler, more intentional life appeal to you, too?

How often do we get swept up in stuff and busy and distraction? It would be naive to think that living in a camper for a while would do away with those issues in our lives. But I think it’s fair to say that making a lifestyle choice like this would force us to evaluate our priorities, to choose what’s really important, and to be compelled to build our lives with more intentionality.

And what better time to do it than when we’re already in the middle of a huge life transition?

When I was in Tuscany with my writer friends earlier this summer, we talked so much about Sabbath, rest, margin, slow living, and real food grown from the soil and prepared with our own hands. We spent long hours discussing what it means to live well, to steward the earth, to care for creation, and to care for our souls as we care for one another.

Perhaps a stint in a tiny space would be an incredible teacher for Ryan and I.

(And the kids would love it – that part’s a given. Can you imagine living with the BEACH as your backyard for a while? Yeah, that. Ryan and I think it would be pretty cool, too.)

Up in the air

At the moment we’re still dreaming, researching, budgeting, planning. The caravan living idea may or may not come to pass. It’s all up in the air and we’re okay with that. More than anything what all of this dreaming is exposing is our desire to live with more intention. And surely conversations like this are important for any family to be having, even if you’re not in the middle of a huge move and life transition like us. We just happen to have the “luxury” of being homeless with our things already packed up into storage, no debt holding us back, and kids that are little enough and flexible enough to be up for whatever we deem is the next Big Adventure for our family.

Because life shouldn’t be boring, right? And it never is my friends, it never is.

Friends, have you ever considered a lifestyle change like this? Do you think our idea is crazy? Or a little bit brilliant? What would make you take the plunge or hold you back from doing something like this for six months or a year?

Still considering. . . but dreaming, dreaming, dreaming,
Adriel x

 

p.s. Side note: I’ve been so confused as I search for used campers online in Australia, only to find them consistently called “vans.” It only just occurred to me yesterday that “van” is short for caravan. Of course it is. Shortened words for everything – one of the most endearing traits of our friends Down Under. (Fourteen years in and I’m STILL learning new Australian slang.) So… we are now looking for a family van. Or caravan. Or camper. I don’t know – my English is so messed up and inconsistent sometimes. #crossculturallivingproblems

20 Comments

  • Reply Rachel 10 August 2014 at 8:32 pm

    If you live in a caravan by the beach, I would be SO JEALOUS. Not gonna lie. I often dream about packing up my family and moving into a caravan so we can journey our way around Australia for a period. I really, really want Jason to get his web business going stronger so that we could do this for a year. It’s such a beautiful country we live in. I really haven’t seen that much of it yet because I’ve always been “anywhere else” but here. I mean, literally, the world is your backyard! I say go for it! The kids will have so many awesome memories!

    • Reply Adriel Booker 25 February 2015 at 7:41 pm

      Now that we’ve been doing it for a little while I can see how it would be totally doable if Jason’s business were up a running a little more. BUT, the bummer thing is that Australia is not very well-developed in it’s internet access, compared to the States at least. I think it would be easier for a location-independent family with an internet-based income to operate out of the States than here. Although that could all be different five years from now of course! But for now, I’m finding that to be one of our single biggest issues. (And you can only camp out and work in libraries for so long…)

      But yes! I hope you get a chance to follow your dream someday! We’d love to someday do this around all of Australia, but for now a small dose will do. We’re very grateful!
      Adriel Booker recently posted..Context is EverythingMy Profile

  • Reply Rachel 11 August 2014 at 1:55 am

    Do they call them fifth wheels here ? We are an hour from Wollongong so you can come do your laundry and swim here 🙂 My sis in law is moving into a camper with her husband and 1 year old too for the same reasons! Small world in God’s world.
    Rachel recently posted..How to get your kids to mind without lecturingMy Profile

  • Reply Lindsey 11 August 2014 at 4:33 am

    Bold dreaming! I can’t wait to hear more.
    Lindsey recently posted..Teaching the Catechism to Kids (Lesson Round-Up)My Profile

  • Reply Lisa @bitesforbabies 11 August 2014 at 7:25 am

    Wow, kudos to you!!! While I completely agree with your motives in theory and would love to be able to do this myself, I don’t think I ever could! I’m embarrassed by the fact that I couldn’t because at the same time I believe so strongly in your motives!

  • Reply Rebecca 11 August 2014 at 9:36 am

    Our family is almost in the same spot as you, but we are in the mountains in Idaho. Job change, renting out our current home, thought we had another home lined up and finding out it isn’t going to work. Husband selling his business and starting a new job while going to school….. all is lined up but a house to live in. We have been trying to figure out what would be best and camper living has been thrown in the mix for sure. I am for it, husband thinks it’s a bad idea with a bigish family of 6. I hope you do it! Sounds like a big adventure mixed with life long learning and experiences to me!

  • Reply Hannah 12 August 2014 at 8:11 am

    What a lovely collection of memories your children would have! My husband and I don’t have children yet, and I daydream of this at times.
    The last thing this life on earth is meant to be is boring.
    Hannah recently posted..Your Ice is Not Better Than Mine (or: “Comparison is the Thief of All Joy”My Profile

  • Reply Carmell 14 August 2014 at 10:35 pm

    You may be interested in checking out wildflowersphotos.com/blog. Family of 6 who sold their house & lived in a trailer traveling around the US until they found a new place to settle. They have settled now, but in the archives of her blog she talks about the highs & lows of their experiences in the trailer. I loved following her & dreaming of having the guts to do the same!

  • Reply Lisa 4 February 2015 at 12:26 pm

    “More than anything what all of this dreaming is exposing is our desire to live with more intention.”

    Your words here perfectly sum up my and my husband’s reasons to make this exact step in our life and move into a camper. Congratulations on your new home! I’m looking forward to following your journey! 🙂
    Lisa recently posted..Kansas Flint Hills | Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife AreaMy Profile

    • Reply Adriel Booker 25 February 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Fantastic Lisa. There certainly is a lot to love and learn through tiny house living. We’re a few months in now and loving it. 🙂

  • Reply Amanda 18 April 2015 at 4:43 am

    Hi there. I stumbled upon this by accident as I have a dear friend who is about to embark on a similar adventure. She has 2 boys–2.5 yrs and 8 months and her husband. I’d like to get her a “housewarming” gift but I’m having difficulty thinking of the right thing. I don’t want to get any extra “stuff” as I know every bit of space is important. Do you have any suggestions of something that would be appreciated?

  • Reply Dorothy K. 16 September 2015 at 12:00 am

    Oh, how I admire your courage! I’ve always dreamed of spending few years in different places, living in a camper and changing locations when new opportunity comes, but never dared to do it. Now as I have two children and I’m planning our move to another state, because of my husband’s new job, I’m terrified. I know it’s not such a big deal, as long as the children are already 7 and 9 years and are the best son and daughter I could wish for, but for me it is a big deal. I’m just not sure if I can handle all the mess and if I can organize the whole moving process. As I read your article and others too, I see people make a way more brave steps in their lives, and my move to another state state is practically nothing. Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s very helpful!

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