Working for Change, Why Change

So this is exactly it, we all know that changes are everywhere, literally all around us, however many of us wonder why change? I’m personally wondering this with the bus project that is coming up in my life. I see the benefits and all the fun things that could happen but at the same time I already live a really cozy lifestyle. I have a big downtown apartment, an easy job, a fancy wardrobe and expensive tastes. I am always out, I’m always busy and yet I want to give it all up to live in a bus. If I waited till later this would sound like a mid life crisis, except I’m 18 so it’s not that big of a deal. However why would I go through all of this, why would I change so much in my life and for what? Let’s try and work this through.

 

This whole situation might make sense if I was soon to be homeless, struggling or without options. But I’m not, I’m simply 18 and doing all of those things for myself, I support myself and I enjoy the lifestyle I live. It is simple but it works, it has its perks and it has it’s pleasures. If you have read the previous articles, I am going to then give all of this up for little to no luxury, working bare bones and living in a form of primitive style for a bit. The question still stands, so why am I giving up all these great things?

 

The truth is that sure this is nice, but it isn’t sustainable. I’m not necessarily talking about the kind of sustainable that is eco conscious, but financially, space and for my own health. There are many ecological reasons to this as well but those are their own subject entirely. These are the main reasons I see change as a good thing and this is where my reasoning for change comes from. We all realise the changes around us and we sometimes have a hard time figuring out what change we need in our own life and why we may need it. I’m fully aware of this change and here let me explain a bit of why these things could use the change.

 

First I mentioned finances, there is a financial reason for a lot of people to do a lot of things. Most of us want to spend less, some of us want to spend more, it all really depends on your habits and your goals. For myself, I can tell you I really do enjoy spending the way I do, as I please and when I want, no limits and no criticism. I like my irresponsible spending and I enjoy how I live, that isn’t something I want to change, so where can I cut some major expenses? The biggest expenses in anyone’s life is vehicles and homes. These two things cost us the majority of our income, well to begin I don’t own a vehicle so I looked at my housing to cut the costs. Rent is really expensive and I understand its competitive and you are paying for location, so what if I didn’t have to pay rent? Well beautiful but owning is even more expensive, so I have to look somewhere in between. Well if I can build or create something to live in without the need to buy land well I would be cutting all the main stuff, no rent, no land costs and no utilities. Then I can live in something I own, and cut a lot of the main costs in my life.

 

Next I mentioned space, well going with statistics and going with tradition there is no reason we need 1000 plus square feet, even my 800 square foot apartment seems like too much. So part of this change is bringing my space down to what I need and nothing more or less, finding the perfect amount of space that will allow me to function properly and also allow me to live with just what I need. I don’t need the excess, well at least not in space, it is just wasteful. I’ve come to figure something around 200 square feet is perfect, compact, multi functional and organised. With less space, you find there is less room for junk, with less junk we find ourselves being more organised and productive and clean. These are all things I think necessary in such an environment and in my own life.

 

Finally I mentioned health, we all see the benefit of an active lifestyle but I also believe in peace of mind and a simple style. All of my ideas are small, making room and reason to be out and about during the day, whether it is working, or writing or enjoying the outdoors. The less space we have and things to keep us at home the more we may end up going out and exploring. So this will lead to a healthier on the go lifestyle, it will give me a reason to be out and moving as much as possible and it will lead to new discoveries all around. Next I’m very concerned with the peace of mind that there is with a small space. There is little cleaning, little work, everything is organised and you know that you are in a financially winning spot. All of these things lead to a relaxing life at home and the home becomes a place I can go home to and relax.

 

All of these factors are contributing to my desire to change and see this change through, it is a massive step to be taking and it is a big project to take at such a young age. However, to clarify I am not giving up on life, I’m not changing to be cheap or to change things too drastically. I am changing because I like my current lifestyle and the home I live in doesn’t really define my outwards view. Most people you meet in your day to day would never know where you live and this is okay, not that I am ashamed but because it is new.

 

Keep coming and checking back to read more about this journey as it unfolds. Over the next couple weeks I will be making the actual purchase of the school bus and this will put me into the position to start realising my goals. So we will start seeing more posts about the actual progress and expect photos and updates!


Thanks for reading, and coming to check back in! I look forward to sharing more on this project, any questions feel free to ask.

Creating Sustainable Mobile Homes

The front of the soon to be bus home, pre editing

So yesterday I posted an article regarding the nature of the bus idea, my bold approach to a self sustainable lifestyle, today I want to discuss how I plan to create this self sustaining machine on the go. So here I want to go through the basic design, the essentials and the necessities and also some of the big roadblocks. Because creating a self sustaining machine is a fairly large task and well since all of it is currently in the theory stage this could not all be 100% spot on.

The bus is somewhere around 30 to 34 feet in the back, which is the living space, the dimensions are roughly 7 feet by 30 feet creating a space that is 210 square feet of home. This of course will be filled with all the things a house needs and will certainly restrict the available floor space. However there is still plenty of useable space, since what is added still is useable. Let’s start right in the back of the bus, we will start with the bathroom and move forward through the kitchen, living room and finally bedroom. Keep in mind this is a bus, everything is designed to keep as much of the windows available for a 360 degree panoramic view of the world, plus all the additional natural light. The centre of the aisle is kept clear of anything to allow one straight line of sight throughout the vehicle, there is little privacy but in the end privacy isn’t really needed.

The washroom consists of two rooms at the back of the bus, I figured it would be best to keep the undesirable near the back and allow for the front portion to be communal and open. I hate the number of places that create a wet bathroom, where everything is in one, the sink and toilet get wet and so on. So I made the decision to split the bathroom and create two rooms in the back. One room is completely designated to the shower, a full room encased in metal to create a waterproof shower stall. On the other side there will be a room with dedicated vanity counter and storage as well as the toilet. I chose to put in a composting toilet out of pure frugality, a composting toilet is the simplest of toilets and costs virtually nothing, browse around and you’ll find an article about them on my blog. So the two rooms allow for two separate bathroom spaces that are private enough and could both be used at the same time if needed. Behind the washrooms there will be two closet spaces on either side, these will store the water needed and also they will store any overflow storage and items that need to be hung up in a closet space. I want to keep a spare tent in here for extra people to camp with us, however to is hard to evaluate what can go in there until it is built.

Next section we have is the kitchen, it breaks the clean line of the bus and I am not sure how bad this will look but it narrows the counters down creating almost an extra foot of aisle space, which in my mind is needed when there are two counter surfaces and potentially multiple people to work with. The main utility will be the sink, most likely powered by a high pressure foot pump. This way the water isn’t wasted because you will pump exactly as you need, there will be a water tank and I would hate to be wasteful. Next up I plan to have two regular power induction burners that can be stowed away as to not waste counter space. These will plug into a regular socket and will run off the solar power, I would recommend these are only used during the day as they would probably drain the batteries really quickly. Other than these two things the kitchen contains no real utilities, nothing is grid tied and there is nothing like that. I am looking at hand powered espresso makers and blenders, we will see how that plays out. Otherwise the kitchen is comprised of plenty of open counter space and a system of drawers that allow for extended counter space, as well as space to store all food and utensils needed.

The most versatile area of the bus will be the seating area, this is a general living room that also becomes the dining room, work space, and a spare bedroom if needed. The idea is to ensure all the furniture serves a double purpose, which is important in any tiny home lifestyle, of course this is suited to my needs. There are two rows of seats, each one with 4 seat sections, these serve as the living room, a communal seating area. One of the sections on both sides will lift to become a table, that each can seat 2 people meaning that this will allow for a dining room area without obstruction. Next there is one seat on either side that is simply dedicated to storage inside of the seat, that idea is still in the works and I am debating maybe adding the potential for an extra bed. Finally the two seats that are covering the wheel well in the bus fold out and join together to form one large queen size bed, measuring 5 feet by 7 feet. The cushions are all made of a high density foam and will be custom made with slip covers to provide a finished look.

Finally we reach the bedroom, which is actually the front of the bus, this section opens up to the driver’s cabin and serves as seats when driving so the driver doesn’t feel alone. So this section comprises of two beds, each one is fairly high up because inside the bed is flat storage and underneath there is drawers for additional storage. In total we figure there is enough for two or three wardrobe’s worth of clothing inside the bed. One of the beds slide over to create a queen size bed and at the same time they reveal a second single mattress hidden below, meaning you are never sacrificing a bed space.

The driver’s cabin remains as is there isn’t much too it, I plan to re panel the front to create the same natural wooden look. Just use thin plywood to finish off the cabin and create a nice friendly look the whole way through. This may also help the appearance as you enter the bus as I am keeping the main access to the front, this will allow for more room and a cleaner look all the way through, also I plan to include the driver’s cabin in the bus instead of completely walling it off.

When it comes to some of the huge roadblocks that I will cover in other articles there are things such as the power demand, creating energy, drainage, and keeping enough water on board. The space is fine it is mainly the utilities that worry me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading today’s bit on the bus, if you like this keep checking back I plan to keep a very detailed log of this journey and how it all works out.
Have an amazing day!

Smart Spaces and Mobility – A Quest

I’m young, this is a fact, matter of fact I’m just turning 19 and I have the whole world and a life ahead of me. However I’m frightened and I’m scared, I’m actually terrified of debt. It’s statistic that nowadays most people spend the most of their income on rent, many young people are going into credit card debt that is more than 5000$ of what our parents had, we are spending money at an irresponsible rate and realistically we will never fully pay it back. Add student loans on top of that and it is just impossible to ever make that kind of money back. So yes I am terrified of debt and I have made it part of my priority list to make it through my 20’s without getting into debt. I’m not about to tell you some crazy budgeting plan where I live off of ramen noodles. Matter of fact I don’t plan to actually change my outrageous spending habits. I am just going to cut out the major costs and the things that put most in debt. I plan to remove rental costs, no mortgage cost, minimize credit spending and avoid student loans. Yeah, that’s the plan, not to spend differently just remove the most expensive items.

How exactly do I plan to do this? Well I plan to leave a rental situation, I will get out of the dangerous and expensive trap that is renting. When we really look at it, I for example spend 1125$ a month on rent, this making up 13,500$ in a year. I make just a little more than that at my current point in life, so spending such a huge chunk seems a little irresponsible. So I have made it my main goal to make it through my 20’s without modifying too much of my lifestyle, without sacrificing luxury, without losing education and while still enjoying life. I have gone through a frustrating task of trying to figure out what would be the best way to do this an the best way to live. I finally feel like I can say I found a solution.

I had recently come across an inspiring story titled Hank Bought a Bus, see Hank Butitta is an architecture student and he was tired of making projects that never existed beyond the page. He felt that his creativity wasn’t really going anywhere and he wanted to build something. So for a final project he bought an old school bus, gutted it, removed all the old stuff and completely redesigned it. As an architecture student he wanted to further explore the idea of the mobile living and its many misconceptions, he tried to demonstrate that renovating an old vehicle was possible and actually could work great. His project really did just that and he created a beautiful living space, finished with wood, and it was functional and well designed. His project went from something he wanted to try and it turned into a inspiring project. Multiple websites featured his project and he received attention from all over the world. He inspired me to take this concept and push it further.

So when I took a look at how it would be possible to live rent free and mortgage free for my 20’s I had to explore two different options. Both beyond the practical way of life, but both still luxurious and personal. The first option was a tiny house, a small house that is built on a trailer with the same building principles as a full home. They are roughly 150 square feet, they have everything necessary and can be towed and placed wherever. The second option was Hank’s bus, building my own bus and recreating his idea to make a functional long term living environment.
Both options cost overall less than 15,000$ at a maximum, and this would be a one time expense. The one time cost would allow for a mobile living environment for however long I needed.

One of my main aspects of living rent and mortgage free was that I wanted to start making money. I work, I actually work a lot, sometimes one job, sometimes multiple. But at the end of the day I am still basically living pay cheque to pay cheque. It isn’t bad but it isn’t saving. I wanted to receive a pay cheque and actually make money, instead of having temporary funds that allowed me to pay off rent, bills, and so forth. I wanted to make the money I earn, not spend it all at once, and both of these options allowed for that to happen, a one time cost and then just move on with life.

So I made a decision after multiple pros and cons lists, multiple re thinkings and redesigns. I decided to choose a bus, because the framework existed, there was more square footage and I didn’t have to buy a car or truck on top of building a house. It was a large mobile structure which I could take with me and the house would come with, it is the ultimate all in one solution. With little inspiration other than Hank I have to design most of it from imagination and see what I can dream up. See Hank never finished his concept, there are many things it still lacks and it is not a complete living situation. I want mine to run on its own, be completely independent and replace any other living situation I have.

The next step is to create a smart space within a bus that is functional mainly for me, but can support up to 6 more people. The bus needs to have ample storage, and functional space, it must have a full bathroom, kitchen, living room and bedroom. There can be no dividing walls because the space needs to remain open, there needs to be unfiltered natural light and it needs to be functional off and on grid. It shouldn’t matter if I am in the middle of nowhere or the middle of a city, either way I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my living situation or my quality of life. I want a space that is beautiful and brilliantly designed as well as something comfortable and functional. Hank made a great opening statement by creating a beautifully designed, functional space but he didn’t finish all the actual workings. For example his doesn’t have a functioning washroom, but the space exists.

So how does mobility become a potential quest? Well here is my problem, in a 2 year period I have moved 7 or 8 times between houses, apartments and so forth. It isn’t that my living space was bad, but that I got bored of the surroundings. Having mobility and a fresh space is fun for me, sure it is expensive but I just can’t settle. The bus allows me to travel when I wish and where I stay will always be different. There is nothing tying me down to a property or space, I am mobile and can be wherever I please. Hotels would never be a thing, because my home would just come with me. Owning a vehicle and renting are the two highest costs, so by combining them I am simplifying everything and really only paying for the vehicle portion. So my quest is currently to last a minimum of 4 or 5 years in the bus. I want to make it through the university stage of life without living in an apartment or rental space. I also want to travel, this doesn’t mean to other continents since I am still fascinated by what we have here, the idea of a road trip seems like fun and being able to really go anywhere in North America is nice. I can just up and travel anywhere during my free time which is a nice feeling.

In theory a one time cost of under 15,000$ and then afterwards gas and food is the only expenses for my lifestyle. It would allow me to actually make and save money after that one time expense. I wouldn’t sacrifice my lifestyle which seems luxurious but is really just dressed up to look nice. I wouldn’t have to sacrifice much other than an apartment in a convenient location. I would get to design my space and do what I will to make it my own. All of these are appealing to me and provide the kind of financial freedom I am searching for. I plan to continue this discussion and I would love to hear some feedback or advice from others.

As always thank you for reading my random mutterings and articles, I appreciate it so much!
Have an amazing day and stay tuned for more on this topic.

Inconvenience or Simpler?

I really want to cover on the fact that we are living some so called american dream, where instead we are actually living in an american excess. The truth about this society we live in, is that instead of being happy with our very wealthy society and enjoying the fact that we have access to everything. Then the moment we are without something minor like hot water we freak out and feel extremely inconvenienced, that’s what it really is, the feeling of convenience is what our society cherishes so much. Why? It’s simple because everything about our society is convenient, food is close, water is close, roofs are above our head, travel is possible and there are so many other possibilities. The entire American dream was based around the idea of convenience. Food became time consuming to make, so we brought in fast food. Laundry was time consuming, we created washing machines to do it for us and so forth.

So on the whole concept of simplicity and simplifying your life we should talk about the things that are convenient and maybe work on those. Because having a couple inconveniences is not a problem, it builds character. Imagine that you went without a formal laundry machine, that would be tough, that would be inconvenient. So well what would we do instead? Well like the rest of the world you would have to do your laundry by hand, which is possible. Time consuming but possible. Washing the laundry by hand is time consuming, it is also relaxing and a bit of a workout.

By doing things the inconvenient way we are opening up the opportunity to grow as a person, learn a new skill and unwind through dedicated tasks. I went a couple weeks of doing my laundry by hand and I found it very relaxing, a little bit of a workout but just some time to sit and do one task can be nice. When it comes down to it our lives aren’t nearly as busy as we make them seem. We add things like scheduled tv shows, and other excessive activities. If we remove the unproductive things we find there is so much more time. I rarely watch any tv, I cut down on internet time, I don’t go party or out drinking, and surprisingly I have plenty of spare time for more relaxing activities. To sit down for an hour or so and wash laundry by hand is not a huge deal. It isn’t that bad at all. To cook a whole meal from scratch is not that big of a deal because you start cooking and cook properly on medium temperatures and while it cooks you have time to multi task. The result becomes healthier food, but also you get work that you are proud of because it is yours and you don’t mind it because you immediately see the product of your work.

Immediate gratification is another problem our society has, which ties in perfectly with convenience. We no longer worry about immediate gratification because we can have anything we want, when we want for a cost. You want a new shirt? You can travel to the store and buy one, the longest wait we have to endure is ordering online, and even that people treat like it is a huge deal to wait so long. We need to shift the immediate gratification and I’d like to say get rid of it altogether but that is something that won’t be happening any time soon. Instead we should focus the efforts of our immediate gratification into our own lives, our own very personal lives. As I mentioned above when cooking your own meal, yeah it can be work, it can be hot but in the end you and whomever you are with gets to enjoy the food. You get to see the work, see the production and then eat the results. That is a healthy sense of gratification. It is work, fulfills a need and allows you to be doing something.

Another thing to realize is that convenience is something that we also take for granted, it is exactly as stated, a convenience. Meaning not everyone has it and not everyone gets to experience it, so by removing a convenience from our life we aren’t actually creating any problems we are simply just doing things differently. So what is convenient for us as North Americans doesn’t exist everywhere in the world. Fast food isn’t everywhere, laundry machines, elevators, escalators, cars, planes and so on don’t exist or are not commonly used everywhere. So what are you losing by removing a couple conveniences from your life? Well to be honest you are not losing anything, you are joining the majority of the population by doing things a more traditional, simpler way.

Something I am trying to implement recently is removing small everyday conveniences. The major one is hot showers, as someone who is environmentally conscious, financially conscious and just generally looking for ways to simplify this step makes perfect sense. The average shower takes upwards of 40 gallons of water, on top of that we heat the water using gas and then pump that, and none of this perfectly potable water is every reused. On top of that we all take long showers and have somehow determined that a shower needs to be upwards of 20 minutes, I understand relaxation but that is excessive. So by cutting out the hot water altogether and just having a cold shower what are we doing? Well we are removing the convenience of hot water, the cold water is better at waking you up as it is more of a shock to your system and you will be using less water since it is cold. It is not a pleasant to take cold showers which is not as convenient, which in theory would mean less time spent in the shower and more water saved. Also this means that when you travel or go anywhere without hot water it really won’t be all that different to you and the convenience factor disappears.

I moved into a house and was without gas for a good period of time in the late winter months. I wasn’t going to travel to a friends house for hot water everyday so I began to use the cold water and get used to that, it wasn’t so bad I mean the result of a shower is to awake, relax and essentially be clean. So that was still being done without much of a difference. It is definitely a shock to the system but it isn’t all that bad.

Point being that small inconveniences can lead to a simpler life and sometimes taking a bit to just focus on one task instead of being on the go is a nice change of pace. Your mind is open to different things and one of the benefits to simpler things like cold showers, home cooked meals, hand washed laundry is overall it is so much cheaper. For the people who are worried about finances simplicity can be beautiful. Just cutting away the convenient things can be good for anyone, it doesn’t matter really if you are rich or poor, it can be done by anyone. You will find an appreciation for your work and you will find that there is a great relaxing feeling of doing these things the simpler way.

As always have a great day, I hope you find some knowledge or inspiration in the things I write. Remember that a complex over the top lifestyle isn’t always the best lifestyle and although it is different from the general of North American society that does not mean it is wrong.
Thanks for reading!

How To Keep Positive Throughout the Day

Truthfully it is a skill to stay positive, not to say that not everyone has it but that not everyone knows how to utilize it. No one is refused or not given the opportunity either, we are given every opportunity during any given day to remain positive and yet so many people are miserable or unhappy. So one of the biggest questions is what is stopping us from being positive, I mean does anyone want to stay miserable? Do people want to be unhappy? I feel the answer is no, I feel that most people want to be happy and are working in many different ways to try and achieve their happiness. Many times people chase after love, wealth or status to achieve their happiness when instead they are forgetting the key principles of being happy.

These principles are based off of my own personal experience and knowledge, these aren’t researched methods as it is an opinion. However I feel that many people are missing the key concepts to being happy because they are much simpler than being wealthy or in love. Sure these things contribute to a temporary or extended happiness but it isn’t perfect and it doesn’t last forever. So what is it that makes happiness so simple then? Well the biggest component is gratitude and being thankful, oh yes it sounds pretty silly. You mean all that time that my family told me to be thankful and such for the things we had and the things we were given was actually right? Yes, exactly being thankful for the things you are given, earned or received is key to happiness. There are some families in the world that have almost nothing but yet are still proven to be happier than some rich american families. Most of us think, well how can they be happy if they possess so little, well it is simple, they are thankful for the things and people they do have and that can overtake any feeling of greed and want.

Next we take appreciation, in my mind there is a huge difference between gratitude and appreciation. This is because appreciation can be extended over to so many other subject. You can be appreciative of many things that are not material, where I find gratitude and being thankful is more for material possessions and people. Appreciation can be aspects of your life, traits you possess, your job, your lifestyle, your ethics or your ideas. You can appreciate anything and everything in your life and it turns out that combining those two techniques works beautifully to become a bit happier in your life.

If you plan it, stay focused and work on it, whatever it is will happen. My next favourite step is planning, you choose what you want to do, you schedule the things you want and you create the ways you want to spend your time. This gives you a sense of control over your life which everyone is seeking a little more control over their life so it is a perfect tool. Whether it is creating to-do lists or actually scheduling out your day either one means you are controlling the way your life goes today. If things do or don’t happen it is because of you, no one else. It seems really basic however it is true, planning allows for you to control your time. Also as well as being happier seeing that you have things to do and things that you have accomplished is a great feeling. This means that even if it is the small things and just regular tasks by seeing that they have to be done and then after that you have accomplished them. It makes the slow things like laundry, dishes and housework seem like accomplishments and things to be proud of. Even though I am young and I only work part time, I still schedule my life to the hour and I am always doing something or have something to do very soon. There is rarely nothing to do and it means that my life feels busy, productive and it feels like I am constantly producing good work. This is a good feeling and really contributes to my overall happiness.

Finally to return back to the idea of positivity I would like to come back to my favourite subject, which is being open. My key to positivity is that no matter what I am doing I am open to the opportunities that it can present. Whether it is at my work, a new challenge, a new idea, a new person, I would like to remain as open as possible. This way every opportunity provides the chance at a new learning experience, a new gain, a new concept or something new to try out. For example meeting new crowds or individuals is an opportunity to connect with new people and maybe find some like minded people and lasting friends. When I am presented with something new at work, it is a chance to learn a new skill or master something or even develop my knowledge into real world experience. This means that no matter what I am always learning, mastering, developing or meeting and gaining new connections. Keeping an open mind is so essential to being positive just because of how many things it opens up for you.

Every morning I follow a routine which involves your regular steps of getting up but then also what I want to accomplish today, what my hopes are for today and essentially hopes and things I would like to learn. Then at the end of the day I check these things off and I look at them as well as write down what I did learn and what was great about today. These simple daily steps take 5-10 minutes out of your entire day but they make such a drastic difference. I find myself accomplishing more, learning more and at the end being appreciative of what I managed to do today, even if the things are just small. I love this process and find it makes a huge difference, I would recommend that after reading this you take these three ideas into consideration and then you try it out, take 5-10 minutes out of your day to do these things and discover the difference it can make.