I’ve always had the profound feeling that we are all capable of absolutely anything that we set our minds to. Nothing is out of reach, you just have to find an alternative way of getting there. We viewed living in a caravan as a necessary way of getting where we wanted. Let me explain why we came to that conclusion, and how we achieved our goals.
We were committed to saving a large amount of money in order to fulfil our dream of being mortgage free and living in Crete. We were so committed in fact, that we moved into a caravan without water or electricity for a year in order to save the maximum amount of money every month…that’s the kind of people we are! Our friends and family thought that we were crazy (which we took as a compliment) but in order to succeed we had to find a way of sidestepping normal. Take at look at our top 10 saving tips here.
Alternatives to renting…
Rented accommodation in the South East of England is extortionate. It’s completely out of proportion to the earnings of the average person.
We didn’t want to start chucking our money away on rent, so we scoured the internet for ideas, and thought long and hard. We considered a tiny house (we are huge fans of the tiny house movement) and we looked into full time housesitting.
In the end we knew of a friend with some land and an empty caravan. We approached her and asked if there was a possibility of renting it from her.
It’s instances like this, where you secure your destiny by searching for the answer. Not by accepting that there isn’t a solution.
Living in a caravan…
We don’t do things by halves, so we ended up renting both of her caravans. One had a bed but no toilet, and the other had a toilet and no bed. It didn’t take us long to agree we ideally needed both – even we have our limitations!
Due to the fact that the caravans weren’t connected to water or electricity, and the heating didn’t work, we payed a very minimal amount to stay there each month.
We moved in to them in July, and set about organising our new way of living. Everyday we filled up fresh water from Mr Sidestepping-Normal’s grandparents, and rationed it. We knew the amount we could shower with, and the exact amount of water to boil a cup of tea (we are English after all.) It didn’t take long before we became experts at showering using a jug, and we cooked up phenomenal feasts on the two little gas rings.
Long summer days were spent sitting outside our caravans in camping chairs. The two dogs were chained to the front wheel of the caravan, and our hand washed laundry was strung up on washing lines. We really settled into caravan living well, our friends joked that we were playing the part very authentically. We were only missing a horse tethered up to really complete the look!
The challenges of winter…
The summer really was a pleasure, but soon the days began to shorten and autumn turned to winter. That’s when things started to become more difficult. Showering with a jug had completely lost it’s charm. Everyday before work, I would dash out into the cold, turn on the ignition in the van and dry my hair under the air blowers.
In the summer, it all seemed part of the adventure to have the toilet in a different caravan to the sleeping quarters. There was a certain ‘romance’ to tiptoeing out of bed under a full moon to the other caravan when nature called. I can assure you that wasn’t the case in the dead of winter when it was tipping it down with rain.
Every morning when the alarm sounded, we would reluctantly tear ourselves out of bed into minus temperatures to boil our porridge, and sip our tea. The dogs wore wooly jumpers to keep warm and looked at us disapprovingly.
We are very proud to say that we battled on and slept in the freezing conditions of winter. We have fond memories of waking up to a layer of ice on the top of the duvet (-8c inside on a few occasions.) It’s funny how we look back nostalgically now!
learn all about Dora-dog’s new life in Greece here.
As things got tougher, we took friends and family up on the offers of hot showers and washing machines. A year later, after a cataclysmic event involving the toilet overflowing, we called it a day. We moved back into the tiny loft room at my parents house.
What we learnt…
That year of living in a small space, with very few belongings and limited luxuries taught us a huge amount. We didn’t need possessions to make us feel happy, in actual fact, we felt more free. We also valued the most simple things, such as water and warmth, with newfound appreciation. People would moan about feeling chilly in their centrally heated homes, or the boiler breaking down for a couple of days. We would just chuckle from our new vantage point.
You would assume that because our standard of living went down, we felt less happy. In fact, we learnt how little we need to feel truly happy. We felt so grateful for everything we had, and it reinforced our ideas on the link between possessions and wellbeing. As long as we have our health, each other, family, friends, animals and nature, then nothing else matters. The best things in life are free.
By living this way for a year, we saved a massive amount of money. It was admittedly pretty tough at times, but we got through it, and now we laugh.
We apply a lot of these lessons to our new life in Greece. I don’t think we would have been prepared for the challenges here, without the journey beforehand.
I wouldn’t want to live permanently as we did through that year, but those lessons have stayed with us. Not much phases us anymore. Through pushing ourselves out of the confines of security, we found strength that we didn’t know we had. Perhaps that is what we are really searching for. The moments when we feel the power and strength that we all have within us.
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