Downsizing our stuff to upsize our lives

Can we downsize to this 800 square foot cabin?
Settlers Mountain Cabin

(This post was originally written in early September, before we knew for certain we were going to have a blog.)

For a little over a minute, we saw streaks of white light in a ring around the dark circle of the moon. It was amazing, breathtaking, and the purpose of our trip to Bryson City, NC. The trip also had the unexpected side effect of making us question everything about the way we were living.

At this moment, my husband, myself, our two girls (8 and 4 years old), our elderly dog, and a handful of fish live in a 2-story, 4 bedroom 2000 square foot house in Durham, North Carolina. We have a really nice sized backyard, two cars in the driveway, and a sailboat in the garage. One room is an office, we’ve converted the dining room to a playroom, and the girls each have their own bedroom. What’s the point of all this description? Well, when we went to Bryson City, we rented an 800 square foot cabin at Settlers Mountain. And we LOVED it. The girls shared a room with twin beds, we had a tiny bedroom, there was a small living room and kitchen, no dishwasher — but it was perfect.

Settlers Mountain cabin
A perfect 800 square feet

When we’re at home, the house seems constantly overflowing with clutter, no matter how often we tidy up. At this tiny cabin, we hardly had anything to clutter the house with, and it could be picked up in a matter of minutes. At home, we often find the sink overflowing with dishes, spilling out onto our counter space. (And what counter space we have left is cluttered with headphones, mail, and more.)

Sink full of dirty dishes
Yup, pretty much.

At the cabin, we managed to stick to one bowl, one plate, one cup, and one set of utensils apiece, and we washed up right after we finished eating. The cabin didn’t have a lot of space to do stuff, but we didn’t need it – we were out exploring the mountains and doing the variety of things that Bryson City and Nantahala Gorge had to offer. When we got tired, we vegged at the cabin. When we’re home, we often get caught up in the house – cleaning, maintaining the yard (which we both hate doing), nagging the kids to clean up, playing on electronics. Next thing you know, it’s Saturday at 3 pm, and we haven’t showered or left the house all day. Yikes!

On the drive home from our trip, we joked about selling our big house and downsizing to a mountain house and a beach house, and rotating between them. We talked about wanting to travel with the girls more. We joked about just selling everything and buying an RV. The week after our solar eclipse trip, we had dinner with friends, and the husband was just starting to homeschool his two children (who are close in age to ours). My husband’s brain started percolating, and next thing you know, we’re not joking so much anymore. Now we’re seriously researching our possibilities.

Where we’ll go from here, we’re still not certain, but here’s what we’re currently investigating:

  • Homeschooling. Is this a good idea? What are the different types of curriculum? How much time would it take? Would it make our kids more knowledgeable and happier than at public school? (Our current public school is pretty great compared to others, but we still wrestle with homework, teaching styles, etc. Especially with homework!)
  • Remote work. If one of us stays home to homeschool, it’s likely going to be my husband — he has much more patience with the kids. But he’s also the one who makes the most money, so we need to figure out how we’d be able to afford any of the options we’re considering. We might also need to find remote work for me, if we go with an RV option.
  • Downsizing. We thought our current house was perfect when we first moved in. We’ve been considering moving for a long time, and always looked at larger houses. Now it’s started to feel like a suburban trap, and we’d rather look smaller than larger for our next move. Maybe even a townhouse, so we don’t have to maintain a lawn?
  • RVing! We would love to travel all around the US for a year. We’ve looked at our savings, and if we keep saving this year, we could probably afford to travel after this school year ends. Could we really all live in an RV for a year? Would we kill each other? Can we learn how to safely drive an RV, with a towed car behind it? At the moment, RVing is definitely beating out simply downsizing. We are investigating this option the most.

And all of these questions lead to so many more! What do we do at the end of a year of RVing? Settle back in Durham? Move elsewhere? Keep homeschooling, or send the kids to school? What do we do for health insurance? Do we store our furniture or sell it? Do we sell our house to pay for an RV or try to rent it? (We already own one rental home in Texas.)

So we’ve started a Google Drive folder called Something Completely Different. We’re filling it up with all sorts of crazy spreadsheets and documents on remote work opportunities, homeschooling information, and RV route plans and parks. We have a Trello board of things we need to decide, research, and take care of (like forwarding our mail). And we’re starting a blog to collect every step of our decision making and journey, in case someone else would find our process interesting or relatable. We’ll circle back and let you know which online tools we found most helpful for organizing this adventure.

Now I’ve got to hunt down my antacids to quiet the churning in my stomach. Have I mentioned that I’m a low-risk, hates-change kind of gal?