So we have started getting something of a "top forty questions" list since we started this process. For those further along on the journey, this probably sounds familiar, and for those who are just considering this for themselves, you will start getting the same questions and would be wise to write up your own set of "canned answers" to save yourself some time typing out the same response time and time again.
When is this happening?
Ideally, we will make the move to the bus in summer of 2016. That gives us 2 full years to convert the the bus as well as do some cosmetic repairs on the house before we list it, hopefully without incurring a bunch of new debt.
What will the boys do?
They are not babies anymore. They are young men. We've taught them to cook and clean and they understand that bills get paid before fun. They are absolutely welcome to come and live on the bus or on the land or make alternate living arrangements. We have family and friends to help them out, and once we are no longer "house poor" we will have more of our income available to provide financial support when they need it.
What will you do with your house?
The house will be sold. The proceeds from the sale of our house will be used to pay off our debt and purchase a small piece of land within reasonable driving distance from the City of Edmonton. We will invest in a second vehicle as well, likely a truck as we will need one for hauling firewood and such. While the plans are definitely to spend some time on the road touring anyplace we can reach by land, the bus will eventually be parked at the land more or less permanently and, not unlike people who have a cabin or lake house, we will simply be commuting to and from our RV.
How will you live in your bus year round?
Well, pioneers did it in canvas tents with just a woodstove and a wagon, but we will have a much easier time. In addition to our woodstove (heck yeah we are installing a woodstove!) we have the option of installing modern conveniences like underfloor heating, heat-taped and insulated water pipes, and tankless, on-demand hot water. Using a combination of solar panels, propane tanks, batteries, and firewood, we will be cozy and warm through winter. If folks can do it in Alaska, I am pretty sure we can do it in Alberta. Honestly, I am more worried about keeping cool in summer than warm in winter...
Where will you park your bus?
Wherever the heck we want, of course, though if we want free internet I imagine we'll develop a preference for parking spaces near Starbucks. As mentioned previously, we will eventually own a piece of land but until we find one, many of our family and friends have generously offered us "squatting" privileges in their backyards, on their acreages, at their lake properties, on their parking pads and on their front streets.
What about work and school?
Well, just like everyone else, we will get up in the morning, dress, eat breakfast, then drive to work in our vehicles. (We are selling our house, not our cars, remember?) We will be using a family member's house as our permanent address so that we can continue living "off the grid" and still have access to the schools and extra-curricular activities we've become accustomed to.
How long are you doing this for?
A lifestyle change should not, in practice, only happen for a set period of time. Like a diet only keeps you skinny for as long as you stay on it, the only way living a pared-back lifestyle will work is if we make a permanent, long-term commitment to having less and living more simply. Living in a bus or tiny house or apartment will not only help restrict any pack-ratting tendency we might wish to develop, but will leave a smaller footprint on the environment and assist us with setting more refined boundaries.
Will you bring the dogs?
Yes. But until we have someplace appropriate for them to stay during the day so if anyone's looking to make some money on the side babysitting my dogs during work hours, call me...
Isn't it going to be cramped?
The thing about houses is this. You sleep in your bed, you sit on a chair to work at your computer or watch TV, you cook in your kitchen and eat at your table, you poop and shower in a bathroom. Our bus will have all of those places, they will just be closer together. I happen to enjoy my family, so I'm not terribly concerned about having to be in close quarters with them.
How will you pass the time?
When you own a house, your time at home is often spent maintaining your house. The bigger the house, the more time and money you have to spend maintaining it (and working to maintain it). Ergo, as the bus will be uber-cheap on utilities and take minutes instead of hours to clean, we will be going for walks, riding bikes, visiting family and friends, cross country skiing, building a cob house... And because our living expenses will be cut in 1/3rd, there will be more funds to do things like take nice vacations, eat in fancy schmancy restaurants, and get commuter motorbikes... Think about it ;)
Will there be an official drink for the bus? (submitted by TW)
Why of course there will be! Every monumental event should be christened with its own cocktail that celebrates the spirit of the moment. The official prison drink is called "Pruno" and there are a few (poetic even) recipes here, but since I like to think of myself as a bit classier than sifting out the dinner rolls used for their yeast content during garbage bag fermentation, I am looking for someone to distill me some "Raisin Jack" which is a sweet wine also be referred to as a kind "jail house hooch." Here is the recipe. If you fancy yourself wine distilling afficionado, please feel free to send me a few bottles!
Where will you pee?