“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,
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