Small houses and extended travel

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

Since my previous post about wanting to be more physically present as a parent, I’ve mentioned to my husband plenty of ideas that have excited me. I believe that these ideas would mean more quality time with my child and husband. I just went crazy for 3 days imagining and setting goals!

1. Live in a Tumbleweed house.

He showed these tiny houses to me a few years ago, but at the time my interest was elsewhere. As I’ve solidified my minimalist principles over the years, the idea of living in a small space has attracted me. Imagine not needing a vacuum cleaner! I like sweeping anyway. Imagine life of simplicity! So delicious to think about.

I found Land Watch when we were stumped about where to park our tiny house. This set up feels so viable and attractive to us, particularly the aspect of renting it because we want to…

2. Go on extended travel.

While living as a transient during the transition from NZ to USA, I stayed in a furnished studio with only the basics and I was content. I knew that I could do that for the long haul and not crave for extravagance or affluence. I didn’t have cable, but I enjoyed renting videos for $1 each. I walked a lot, used public transport, and realized that I like living in the city than in the suburbs.

Anyway, I checked the internet for families who have done this sort of thing and I was inspired. Oh, much needed inspiration! So I talked to my husband about this idea and the outstanding concern is his career. His career path tends to be location-dependent as it requires people interaction. I work in IT and can work anywhere. I’m willing to do entry-level jobs in IT if we travel extensively. Jon mentioned that he could teach English as an option, which is not bad at all. The idea that only one of us works at any given time is ideal. We can spend more time with our kid!

I’ve found awesome blogs: Soultravelers3, Delicious Baby, and My Family Travels to name a few. All I can really do for now, other than live as a minimalist and a frugalist, is to drool.

3. Take the kid to the Galápagos Island.

Image from

We almost decided to do this for January 2012, but the goal to replenish our emergency fund won over. Our target EF of $15k is projected for November and I can’t wait! If we really want to travel for at least a year, we need to be wise with our finances now. What this brought upon was more resolved to…

4. Pay off the friggin’ student loan.

And all of its $35k glory. After we reach our target EF, we plan to double our student loan payments to $1k. Aack! I’m still nervous about putting in such a big amount to the student loan but this is the only debt that has chained him. But, it’s time to get rid of it. If there’s one thing I learned from choosing to be with someone with student loans is that I don’t want my child to have to go through the same fate at all!!!

Out of excitement, we created 2 savings accounts – one for our travel plans and another for our cave (dwelling/house/home/abode) that we are not sure what will be yet. We’re quite happily renting a friend’s house and, to be honest, I’m not interested in being a home owner again. After having lived with such flexibility, I just don’t know if I will ever want to have a mortgage again ever.

We’ve pretty much decided to wait until our kid is 5 or older to do extended travel. We want him to remember some of it and still give him the opportunity to see the world through a child’s eyes. My husband and I hardly talk about taking him to Disneyland, but we will; it’s just not a priority.


You can’t have too many lamps.

That’s what I was told when I complained about having 4 lamps in the house, with the last one being given by a friend recently.


When I noticed the clamp-style lamp on my child’s white/chalk board, I wondered if my husband had gotten it off Freecycycle. It looked newish from afar. I still haven’t examined it after seeing it 4 days ago. It was given to serve as a spotlight for our kid’s puppet theater, which was also given.

I know I should be grateful that we have these really cool and nice friends that give us things, but the slow accumulation of stuff is starting to give me anxiety. We’re running out of empty corners in our 2k-sqft rental.

The person who told me I could not have too many lamps has 5 lamps in her bedroom. Isn’t that crazy? Well, she has stuff that are mostly trinkets to me. I’m not a trinket person.

My response was: I don’t like many things of the same purpose. I like multi-purpose things.

It may not be the best response but I had to take into consideration the tone and intent in her voice when she said what she said. Why can’t people just be simple about their stuff?

A Volumptuous Furniture

One of the many, many great things about the internet is giving humanity access to things that were otherwise out of reach decades ago. It would take plenty of know-how, money for traveling, or simply finding someone who knows where to get things exactly to your taste.

With the internet, sometimes you don’t even have to look. You can stumble upon it one day, even when you’re not looking.

Living as minimalists, we practice quality over quantity. Even if it means buying things on the expensive spectrum. That’s one of the joys of practicing minimalism – you can afford to splurge on the very few things you decide to buy.

Here’s one that would be lovely to get, but I’m not going to because I don’t know if I need to. My point is: I found a furniture designer that is to my liking. 🙂

How to NOT spring clean

One of the joys of being a minimalist is not having to worry about de-cluttering or spring cleaning, or any sort of purging really.

I don’t like the idea of purging something that I barely used because I made a bad decision to buy it in the first place. You could say that I use a lot of forethought in buying things. Not all the time, though.

Of course there’s purging of items that were put to good use and have sat somewhere unused. The idea of owning something that has sat unused in my house, collecting dust and cobweb makes me cringe though.

First off, though, why spring of all seasons? Is it because we hibernate in the winter and get lazy to do anything–including cleaning up the mess we create from summer to fall?

I can’t imagine living in a furniture-packed house. For one, there are only 2 adults and 1 child in our family. The kid’s toys are enough to call for the space because he has a plasma car, a scooter and a push bike that he tends to use indoor. He runs around a lot at his age and likes to make use of boxes (from the big items we’ve purchased in furnishing our house) as forts or houses when he plays.

Here’s what we do to make sure we don’t stock away things for long periods of time.

  1. Plan for a use-by date. This is something that, as parents, we talk about when we buy something for our child. We hardly use this technique for other things because we don’t have a lot of stuff to begin with. When we bought his bike and scooter, we knew they would be put to good use until he’s 5 (he’s now 3 1/2), or until he’s just big for them. For the other items he had outgrown, I immediately put them in plastic bags or boxes, while I look for someone I know to donate them to. I give myself a maximum of 2 months to look for a recipient. I set a date in my calendar for deadline. When the time’s up and I didn’t find a recipient, I post it on Freecycle or Craigslist. If the item still has value, I put it on sale straightaway. I do this despite feeling withdrawal. Yes, I have those moments even though they are mostly toys.
  2. Allot a space. Most people put items in their garages. While we didn’t have a garage in our NZ house, we had an extra room. While we have a garage in the place we rent now, there’s nothing there that we own except for our bikes, which we use as you know. Make sure this space has traffic, especially from you. Attics and basements are not in my list of things to look for in a house, mainly for this reason. Also make sure they are in areas where you visually pass them. Doing so would enforce a reminder to you. Don’t hide them somewhere. That’s the mistake a lot of people make. Remember, out of sight out of mind.
  3. Don’t just buy for the sake of filling space. First of all, space is not scary. Secondly, not every space needs to be filled with stuff. It’s okay to have a sparse house. What I learned over the years is that the first 2 up there can require a lot of mental space and foresight, which I’m not always capable of doing. Life takes over too, you know. Essentially, this is my way of nipping it in the bud. I realized my foot traffic in any house I live in over time. I spend most of my time in the living room, in the kitchen, dining room, our bedroom, the kid’s bedroom, and the bathrooms. So why bother putting furniture in a spare bedroom or in what could be a kitchenette?
  4. Do not attempt to create a need. Do I covet a Kitchen Aid mixer? Yes, of course! But do I bake? No. I have a reached a point in my life where I’m comfortable about what I can’t do, about what I’m not willing to do, and about what I may be willing to do but I don’t have the time now to learn the skill. That includes baking. So I’m not going to buy a coveted mixer in hopes to kick-start the learning process because I know I can’t and I won’t. This is really about being true to myself.

I practice these at work too. I don’t have a need for cabinets or drawers. I don’t need to file anything. These days it’s all about storing things online. What this translates to is the fluidity to move around the workplace. I don’t complain when our department has to move floors or buildings. I don’t have to pack boxes of things. Why would I bother with papers unless required? It’s just a waste of trees. If it’s that important, like a contract, another department is responsible for that. I have co-workers who have stuff in their cubicles and I could even see some of them turning brown or yellow. I can’t imagine how long those things have sat there untouched.

When you take these 4 ideas in mind, you will enjoy Spring just as how you should be.

Our house is stark

We’ve had a few guests to our rented house since we moved in January. Since we moved in, we’ve only bought:

  • Sectional couch big enough to take 80% of the lounge space
  • Dining table and benches in the dining room
  • Beds in each room, with pillows, blankets and sheets of course
  • Little things here and there in the kitchen and the bathrooms
  • Toys, brought in from NZ and bought recently since moving to Portland
  • Iron and ironing board
  • 2 laundry hampers on each floor

And that’s about it.

So, most comments we’ve received is either we’re minimalists or that the house is sparse.

But you know what? It’s great. And I say that with a heave of relief and a smile. 🙂