Winter in West Maine
Over a year ago, Mike and I moved our RV from Texas to California. It was the start of a grand adventure for us, a dream come true.
You see, over the last 5 years, we have slowly converted to a minimalist lifestyle. We downsized from a large two-bedroom apartment to a small one-bedroom and then we went tiny and moved into an RV.
We did this not only to push our limits and define our priorities, but to reduce our cost of living and save money! For the last year, we have been reaping the benefits.
Let me give you the breakdown:
1. We lived in an RV for a year, worked very hard, watched our spending, and saved some money. Read about our experience in Tales of the Trailerhood.
2. Mike quit his job as an engineer at a generous corporate company. He worked long hours but they challenged him and made him feel valued. A job like that is hard to leave.
3. We moved the RV from Texas (where Mike’s job was) to California (where most of my projects were).
4. I alerted my clients that my pace of output would slow for a couple months and if they needed something done quickly, now was the time.
5. We emptied the RV and had a yard sale. All our worldly belongings now fit in 11 storage containers, an artwork container, and six luggage bags.
6. We moved our six bags to Mike’s parents' house in western Maine, to a place called Sugarloaf!
7. We got married in the most epic celebration the world has ever seen (I’m not biased or anything) and then went to Southeast Asia for our honeymoon.
8. We returned to Maine and worked a winter season at Sugarloaf Ski Resort. A dream fulfilled! Mike was a kids snowboard instructor and I was the cook for the kids ski school while continuing my work with Meldrum Design.
Mission accomplished! This lifestyle we’d been wishing and planning for was actually happening.
Don’t get me wrong; this was all a HUGE leap of faith.
We weren’t doing it with dopey grins and relentless optimism. We were scared. Mike almost didn’t leave his job, it was our stability, our security. And to slow my pursuit of new clients for Meldrum Design, even for a short period of time, it felt like I was losing part of myself. I didn’t know how to slow things down! (Side note: Meldrum Design is back up and running, in full swing. Let me know if you're ready to make your house prettier!)
Actually, we both felt that way. What would life be like when we stopped pushing so hard? Who were we without our tenacious ambition? If Mike was a snowboard instructor, could he still call himself an engineer? That title that he had worked so hard for, a job he was so good at.
If we weren’t earning substantial salaries, would we ever be able to buy a house or payoff my student loans? Were we throwing our lives away? Sounds dramatic but when it’s your livelihood, you can’t help but think of the worst.
But once the process began, we could see it was worth the risk.
When we got to California last summer, Mike’s dream living had begun. He worked part-time for my dad as a land surveyor’s chain man* and spent the rest of his days learning to surf and recuperating from what had been an intense few years of work. I saw his demeanor change and it motivated me to slow down too.
Because we were detached from work by the time we moved to Maine and got married, we REALLY enjoyed the occasion. We had time to focus on wedding celebrations and all our loved ones. And then we went on a six-week honeymoon. Six weeks! Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It was utter bliss, and the perfect amount of time. By the end, we were ready to come home and be productive again.
That’s what’s so wonderful about our life recently, the flexibility of working seasonal jobs. This flexibility has afforded us the opportunity to travel to see friends in faraway places, volunteer for jobs we'd never tried before, and prioritize time and special occasions with family.
For the last year, we’ve been living the dream. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns but the challenges are well worth the reward. I should also mention that it won't be forever. Our goal was two years of exploration.
And what made it all possible is our low cost of living and the savings we had accrued. In fact, that savings has just been our safety net. For the most part, our earnings cover our costs. We may even come out of this life experiment with some money leftover!
So now, our great adventure continues. We worked fun odd jobs for the first part of summer and just recently… we moved to Scotland! Another childhood dream fulfilled. We plan to continue this lifestyle for a few more months and after that, we’re ready to stay in one place for a while. Perhaps even settle in a bit. I’ll let you know how it goes. :)
So I guess what I’m saying is:
What do you want your life to look like?
At the beginning of all this, Mike and I sat down to figure out our goals; what we wanted our life to look like. After that, it was just a matter of time and hard work.
I know we’re young and energetic and so privileged to have our support network, but there is no good excuse not to pursue your own adventure. Whether it’s right at home or far away, what's the harm in a little experimentation?
And if you need any tips about living minimally and working towards your dream, email me. If you can’t tell, I LOVE talking about this stuff.
While we’re on the subject:
THANK YOU to our family and friends who have supported us along the way. They’ve come to know (and love?) our frugality and minimalism and their help and hospitality makes this all possible.
Shout out to Mike’s parents for letting us live with them for 10 months. They were wonderful roommates and we couldn’t have afforded this winter without them. Shout out to my parents for storing all our stuff in a big heap in the garage. And for helping us move into and then out of California. And shout out to our friends and family who helped us execute our kickass, crazy frugal, dance party wedding. More on that later…
*Curious about land surveying? I wrote about that in What's a Land Surveyor. (It's an interview with my Dad!)