It feels like it's been a crazy adventure just getting to this point. When we got hitched back in 2007, we were 21 years old and still in college. In between classes, Randy worked as a graphic designer and Erin as a photographer. For five years, we jumped from apartment to apartment in Orange County, California. Eventually, we started our own photography business, said goodbye to our jobs, and then before we knew it... we were parents!
We had the steadily increasing feeling that Orange County was not where we belonged. We were being drawn to a quieter, simpler place. In 2011, we moved to beautiful San Luis Obispo, California. We absolutely LOVE this outdoorsy community and had no desire to leave... except we craved travel and wanted to - but couldn't afford to - own a home of our own. It was in the summer of 2015 that we began asking ourselves, "What's next?" We have three kids, student loans, medical bills.... Do we need to work more to make more money? But what about our already lacking family time?
So we began questioning the grand American Dream and trying to find OUR American Dream (yikes, that was cheesy!) What things did we feel were most important to us versus the things that had BECOME most important to us on a day-to-day basis? We could confidently say that God and our family were most important, but we didn’t feel like we were spending enough time with either. We knew that making lots of money was certainly NOT on our list. Financially, our goal was to make enough money to live modestly and to save for the future (aka our kids and our retirement). We realized we needed to stop chasing more money and simply spend less. So… how could we do that while simultaneously freeing up time for the most important things in our life: God and family?
We had heard of the tiny house movement years ago. We greatly admired it, though we were unsure of how to implement the concept into our lives with our growing family. Eventually we caught wind of the traveling family movement (if we can call it a movement?) And for Erin, at least, the notion immediately clicked. It seemed to tick off all of the boxes we were looking to fill. It fit in perfectly with the lifestyle we envisioned for ourselves: a work-from-home, home-schooling, outdoorsy, adventure seeking family with less overhead cost. Now, in all honesty, it took Randy (the more practical of the duo) a couple of days to wrap his head around the concept, but eventually he came around (yes!) So after much conversation and prayer, on the 4th of July, 2015, we decided to start taking the necessary steps to move out of our 840 square foot home and into 300!
Our new primary goals were to:
- Pare down from two jobs to one (without sacrificing income!)
- Find a fully mobile job (enabling us to travel and have more family time).
- Simplify - or as Erin likes to say, get rid of the “fluff!”
Now, looking back, this whole crazy thing could also have spurred from rounding the corner to our 30th birthdays! We certainly can’t deny the onset of that, “Man, I’m old!” feeling with three young boys keeping us running around in circles everyday. But having children certainly made us take a hard look at the examples we were truly setting for them on a daily basis. We found that what we said versus what we were doing were not in line, as much as we were fighting hard for them to be. Something had to change, so WE did! This is what some of that immediate change looked like:
- Sell nearly everything we owned (all furniture, office items, nearly all kitchen supplies, all garage items, half of our clothes, most of our kid’s toys, etc.)
- Sell both of our current cars and find a used, diesel truck to tow a trailer.
- Sell our 15' Trillium camper shell which we had recently purchased, but we didn’t have the time to finish building out the unfinished interior!
- Find a trailer <— Deciding on what we wanted versus what we should get… that was hard!
- Put in our notice with our landlord (...in a house and town that we loved!)
- Find a fully remote job for Randy!
Truthfully, this process was exhausting. Each task was so daunting... but also completely therapeutic! It was a lot of work, but getting rid of all the stuff you think you need was truly an amazing feeling. We didn’t waste much time because we knew the longer we took, the more money we were wasting on rent and STUFF. So, on September 1st, 2015 (three months after mentally making the decision to live nomadically) we moved into our trailer!
Now, we didn’t hit the road right away. We couldn’t. Randy still had a full-time job based in San Luis Obispo, CA. We took a big leap of faith and moved before we had a job squared away! Fortunately, though, we were able to park (and live out of) our trailer with family nearby. God is good and He provided a job for Randy within eight weeks! With that, we were able to shut down our photography company (which we loved, but was sucking up all of our nights and weekends) and gain the freedom to start traveling and adventuring. And we are loving every minute of it!