In 2017, for the third year in a row, Texas experienced a growth of over five hundred thousand new residents. My family and I came at the beginning of the boom.
At that time, my husband moved here before the girls and I did. It took him from the beginning of October until the middle of March to find a house. During that time he stayed in hotels.
We eventually did find a house on the outskirts of Dallas and settled in. Last April we found out that our landlord wanted to sell the home we lived in and in June we moved out.
Being a teacher, I had the summer off. My husband and I agreed that the girls and I would stay with family and he would stay at the shop he works at.
Naturally though, I ended up spending most of the summer with him looking for homes. Now it’s the end of November, and the four of us have been living in his shop since school started for me on August 1st.
That means no kitchen and a half bath.
We are not broke. We are not bums. Today we called about a house with land that we would be able to purchase outright; however, this morning we heard it had been sold because someone else got to it before us.
The housing situation means we are still stuck in a garage. It’s not ideal but we make it work.
Maybe you are considering moving into your camper permanently, or you are looking for ways to cut cost in order to buy a home later, no matter your reasoning here’s some advice from a person living, what feels like, out of their car.
Roughing It – How to Cope with Less Ideal Living Conditions
We have the advantage of being able to take showers in the locker room where I work; however, we did not start doing that until the middle of last month (October).
Before that, we rigged up a shower by taking our ladder and propping our water hose on top of it. To give it the real shower head feel, my husband cut holes in a two-liter and taped it to the water hose.
Thankfully we had enough privacy between the garage and the joining business that we hung up a curtain and were able to take showers outside during the summer.
Okay, so you may not have a school locker room available to you, and you don’t have the area like we do either. My suggestion is to get a gym membership.
Many memberships can be as cheap as ten dollars a month. Plus you get the added benefit of having something to do if you don’t have anywhere to go!
If this won’t work, check out truck stops. I know it sounds weird, but at the beginning, this is what I did. The truck stop showers are quite spacious and give you a bathroom along with a shower area. It was clean and, believe me, felt good after a week of not showering.
I won’t lie we do go out to eat a lot more than we used to. We also use a lot more waste than we used to and I hate, hate, hate that. I’m still trying to work on this one.
We did hook our refrigerator up and the microwave as well. On nights when we don’t want to go out, we do have the option to eat a microwavable dinner; though my girls say they never want to eat one again after we get a house!
Again, being a culinary teacher, I have the advantage of being able to cook at school sometimes. The key word here is sometimes. I am trying not to abuse what I have and am incredibly grateful for what I can do.
We also grill a lot more than we used to. We have a small propane grill, and every weekend I use our cast iron flat plate to make bacon, eggs, and pancakes.
Tonight we are making brats on the grill as well.
Also, we have a burner and could use a portable oven if we needed to.
My suggestion for this one is to find a friend who will let you cook for the two of you on the weekends. You can make enough freeze and reheat foods to last you (and them) all week.
I will say though, this part is the hardest, and you have to be diligent to make it work.
Dealing with ‘stuff,’ may be the hardest part and yet it has its advantages.
We live in a shop that my husband also works out of; therefore, we cannot have our entire home full of stuff available to us.
As I mentioned before, we moved out about the same time school got out last year. I still have not found all of my school supplies from one school to the next. I really miss my Sally’s Baking Addiction cookbook!
Likewise, I am sure my girls miss their stuffed animals and toys.
I said there is a good side to this though, and that is when we do, finally, get to see our stuff we are so excited! The things that you have lying around your house that you, without even thinking about it, take for granted, we don’t anymore. Having our “stuff” for a day or two makes us appreciate it even more.
I try to get to the storage unit once a month and pick out some things the girls haven’t seen in a while and give it to them. We keep it in our van so they can play with them on our way to and from the places we go, including house hunting every weekend.
If you guessed that we go to the laundromat, you’re right. That doesn’t have to be the case though. I am going to show you some of the things that could work for us if we chose to do it:
It’s fifty-seven dollars, and out of the thousand plus reviews for it on Amazon, it has a four-star rating. I would say that is pretty good! I have watched videos and read articles on this thing for years. If you are looking to use less energy or are interested in a way to wash your laundry without spending a whole lot, this might be for you. You will have to wash a load a day at least though.
Here’s another one that does require you to hook it up to a utility sink or something similar. You have to watch it when adding the water because you control the on and off of the machine.
We have a utility sink, so this is something that I might honestly look into. It’s only a hundred and fifty dollars and light enough that, when empty, it can be carried by itself. This would also be good for someone in an apartment. Tell your friends!
5. Sleeping Arrangements
We don’t have beds. Instead, we roll out padding every night and put it away every morning.
The padding works well, it’s about three inches of foam, and we have a perfect place to hide it. I will say that very rarely can I sleep on the floor without the padding there.
This arrangement works for other places besides a room though. During the time my husband was down here by himself, there were times when he chose to sleep in the car. When he did this, he had foam that contoured to the truck that he slept in and used it on top of the foam for the seating in the truck.
The main thing here is making sure to keep it clean. I like that we’ve gotten in the habit of putting our bedding away because I am hoping the habit sticks when we move and the girls make their beds daily as well.
As far as sleeping arrangements go, we have one daughter in a corner near my husband’s desk, and the other three of us sleep side by side between the workbench and display holder. The girls alternate out which one sleeps in the corner not with mom and dad in order to make it fair.
Also, our kids are not “little” anymore. They are ten and twelve. Naturally, this is not ideal, but we are making it work and praying for a home soon so they can have their own space! The key here is that we make it work. They understand, and we tell them everything that’s going on. As a family unit, that is important to us.
What do we do living in a place with not much room to play? We get creative.
I cannot always be at work, so one night my daughter and I made a cake on the floor in the work area between a custom built motorcycle and a 2001 Suzuki Esteem (a replica of my husband’s first car).
My younger daughter loves to ride her bike, so we let her roam the concrete by the house. My older daughter loves video games so the one item she has in the house is her Wii U and while it’s not hooked up to the television, she can still play the few games that are at the shop (we alternate those out as well).
Since the price is low for the shop, I can arrange some fun days out that I wouldn’t be able to do normally. For example, we stayed in a tiny home a few months back that felt exceptionally spacious compared to the shop. It really has given us an appreciation for space!
Another option is to look around your community. There are always events going on, such as festivals or movies in the park. Going to these events, helps to get away from the house and still be able to connect as a family.
Thankfully, we do have internet at our shop. We went without it for our first year in Texas and I just couldn’t anymore. When we moved, we were a year into our contract, and thankfully it was able to move with us.
I understand though that not having a home means lack of internet access for many people. Your best bet is to find a place with free wifi, such as McDonald’s or the library.
Thankfully, both of these places also have restrooms. If you are not wanting to order something and are afraid of getting in trouble for loitering, you could choose to stay in your car.
Before we moved, I did that once, sitting in the parking lot next to Wendy’s picking up wifi in order to do my school work.
Another thought, if you have a phone with unlimited data, you can connect it to your computer and use it as a hotspot when needed.
8. Understand You Will Get Frustrated
I won’t say it’s been roses and smiley faces around our house, ehhem shop, since this started. We managed to get ants in our microwave, and my husband blew up, so mad that we had to live here and go through this.
I have gotten upset because I feel like we live with all his stuff and the bare minimum of ours and get frustrated when we are asked to clean up.
Yet, we all understand that this is difficult and make the most of it. The window that looks out into the workshop is covered with our television, and I am thankful that we still have a movie night and do things we used to enjoy, taking the punches the best we can.
Likewise, don’t give up. Understand that there are going to be hard days. Planning on it means you will be prepared and will understand that just like this situation, the mood is temporary.