Have you ever pondered size? Many retirees who decide to make a lifestyle change wonder just how big is big enough?
Housing decisions upon retirement for some can become the forefront of discussion. There seem to be two directions that retirees tend to go. One is that they stay in the same place they are living, happy with the size of their living space, location, and neighbors. Then there is the other side of the coin, those who decide to downsize and move to smaller housing or get a travel trailer or RV and travel around the country. Everyone seems to take a different path when they finally break from the working life.
I drove by this trailer a number of times on my way home from work. Such a curious sight. I don’t believe I have ever seen a pull behind like this before. When I stopped to take this picture, a woman who was walking her dog passed by. Engaging her in conversation, she said this little Hobbit trailer was hers. It was the tiniest travel trailer I had ever seen. Can you guess what this type of trailer is called? I nicknamed it the Hobbit trailer, but it is really called something else. If you take a closer look at the picture you will notice there are latches near the roof allowing the top to be removed! Guess what you have then? Like magic, you now have a tiny trailer and a paddle boat, a “paddle boat trailer”. She said that this little guy is over 50 years old, built back in 1962, and, yes, you could sleep inside. I thought, maybe in 1962 when people were a lot shorter someone could sleep in there, but you would never get Magic Johnson inside that thing, unless he was twisted like a pretzel!
As I started pondering my life after retirement and living on a budget, I thought that a teardrop trailer might be fun for a while, traveling around the country. By comparison, it is considerably larger and has lots more amenities than the Hobbit trailer. I could visit friends and family and see the country from a whole different perspective were my thoughts. But then I wondered what I would do on a rainy day? I would be stuck all day in a space that I couldn’t even stand up in, until the rain stopped and I could go back outside. It clearly wouldn’t be good for full-time Northwest living, that’s for sure. Rains here all the time! Then again, it wouldn’t be good for the hot temperatures of the Southwest region either. It certainly had it’s appeal, providing a sense of freedom from being tied to a location and freedom from being tied to a lot of “stuff.” I decided it would be fine for a few months, but it seemed too restrictive in size to be comfortable to live in for the long term. Cross the Teardrop trailer off my list.
Next, I started looking into small RVs. Yup. The next size up. You could stand up in those and move around a bit. As I had never traveled in an RV, my boss who happened to own a 20 foot RV offered to take me out in hers for a day, to experience “RV life”. While we were out and about, she was doing the maintenance on it, getting propane, filling it with water, emptying the holding tank, replacing breaklight bulbs, and I, well maybe you have guessed it by now, I started considering the size. Could I be comfortable living in a 20 foot RV? We headed to a nearby wooded campground, rented space for the day and spent a few hours just enjoying the setting. I love being in the woods, always have. The quiet surrounded me like a blanket. This is so wonderful, I thought, until again, sitting in that RV the thoughts crept into my mind that maybe I would want one just a little longer, maybe just a little more spacious. Amazingly, I had gone from a tiny tear drop trailer to a 30 footer in zero to 60!
That little paddle boat trailer sitting on the side of the street, barely large enough for a Hobbit to sleep in, started me thinking about just how big is big enough? Do I really need a larger space, or have I just become accustomed to it? Do I keep returning to thinking about size because of cultural conditioning? What pulls me back to thinking bigger is better?
I believe that in our culture we have too much “stuff.” Years ago, before I moved to Peru for a couple of years, I emptied the house I lived in, in just one weekend. Sold everything in a garage sale. It was painless for me. It was freeing to release all those things. I felt untangled. I felt untethered and free. So, as I think about size, I know it’s not because I need space for belongings. The belongings can go. I can release those and they can release me. So, what is it about size? I continue to ponder, is size really important?
Do you think size is important? Could you live in a small space? Have you already downsized? What was your experience?
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