26 Aug August scribblings: Why we sold our house and moved into a tent, plus an epic road trip
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you’re in your 40s and run your own business you shouldn’t be living in a tent. Yet here we are, doing just that.
Most conversations with our clients currently start with ‘how are you, where are you’ as we’ve been entirely truthful about our latest life decision – to sell our house and become digital nomads. At least short term. It’s not one that’s been taken lightly but it’s led to a most amazing couple of months.
If you’ve ever thought about a drastic change in lifestyle or questioned the drudgery of the daily grind then take hope from the fact we’ve taken the leap and we’re still managing to a) exist and b) run our business.
Curious about what led to us selling our house and living in a tent? Read on…
Why we sold our dream Cornish cottage
I’d been working from a home office for eight years and loved it. But when husband Will joined me at Dart PR it became a very different dynamic. Suddenly living in a little cottage in a rural community started to feel claustrophobic with two of us at home all day, every day.
With the sale of our dream Cornish cottage came a sense of exultation and liberation. Instead of feeling in a rut and bound by a seemingly endless list of chores and maintenance, both inside and outdoors, we were entirely free. To live wherever we wanted. To start afresh.
How renting desk space made the whole thing possible
This sense of liberation needed its own parameters however. Partly due to running our own company (partly due to having an old Labrador). One of the first commitments for this new ‘nomadic’ era was signing up to desks in a co-working space. By doing this we knew that wherever we ended up living we could continue to function efficiently at work; there would be access to wifi and somewhere we could sit down to work, without having to worry about forking out for coffee, taking up a café table during the lunch rush or being surrounded by families on their summer holidays.
Somewhere we stumbled upon through social media, the HoHouse in Newquay has been an integral part of the success of our plan. The bright, airy open-plan work hub is home to a host of freelancers, creatives and small business owners. There’s wifi, a kitchen, shower, Pilates studio and hairdresser. Better yet it’s dog-friendly.
We’re not homeless, we’re between homes
The next step was taking a long let on a holiday caravan. Living as we do in Cornwall and wanting to move to the sea we knew that finding a temporary residence in the run up to the school holidays wasn’t going to be easy or cheap.
Luckily one of the first places we approached was amenable and willing to offer a deal on a stay up to the end of July. This was the easiest solution by far and once we’d packed up the bulk of our possessions into storage we managed to condense all we’d need for a summer of homelessness into a Bongo campervan and a Skoda Fabia and thence into a small static caravan.
Another stroke of luck and we landed in Newquay as the heatwave broke. This made living in a caravan incredibly easy, with beach picnics and BBQs a nightly affair.
We knew this phase had a time limit on it; once the school holidays broke in earnest the holiday park would be booked out and the prices rocket. There would ultimately have to be a commitment to a ‘home’, whether that be a rental or getting back on the property ladder.
The epic road trip
The third wave of our inbetweener lifestyle was taking a road trip to visit family and friends, timed to coincide with a family get-together for our nephew’s first birthday. We took the decision to sell the campervan and had to condense all our belongings down further to fit the back seat of the car. Not easy with a Labrador taking up the boot.
This period saw us sleeping in spare rooms gratis, working from kitchen tables (and sometimes bed) and being hosted by a bunch of generous people who couldn’t do enough to give us shelter. We were even offered empty houses by friends heading off on holiday.
We took in Nottinghamshire, Cambridge, north west and south west London, Devon and a night back with friends in our old village in Cornwall. Ultimately the goal was to get back to Newquay and our workspace.
Catching up with friends (and getting an 8 yr old to line up the selfie)
How we ended up in a tent
And so with the holidays in full swing and Cornwall basking in the fall-out from one of the best summers in living memory, the only really viable option was to pitch a tent and set up home under canvas. We re-packed the car, shed a few more possessions with our friend in Okehampton and picked up our camping gear, along with a borrowed tent (ours are in storage).
There’s been a fair bit of rain. And humidity. There’s been a night when the air bed collapsed and the fuse broke on the pump. There have been pot noodle dinners and pub meals. (I should insert a disclaimer here, life in a tent by the sea looks nothing like the header pic above. Picture dozens more tents, caravans, vehicles and people.)
Throughout this there has been the office and I’ll admit to the odd shower and daily breakfast at work.
Enjoying creature comforts at work
It’s been amazing but there are downsides
We had an offer accepted on a flat in Newquay…In theory it should have been a quick sale; it’s empty and we’re homeless. But these things are never that simple.
We don’t yet have a date for exchange or completion. We don’t know when we’ll be moving in.
There are days when you could question our decision to sell our home. Living out of a suitcase is not always easy, especially when most of your warm clothes are in storage and the shoes/ nail scissors/ dog worming tablets – insert applicable required item here – are somewhere in a garage in Devon. But we’re getting by.
I haven’t found the space for simple things like rolling out my yoga mat. I can’t listen to radio in bed (iPlayer’s been invaluable here). I haven’t had a bath for a couple of months now. I can’t just sit down to watch Netflix or a DVD.
It’s nearly impossible to register for anything without a permanent address; whether that’s the vets or a mortgage.
But you know what? When we do move out of our tent into a property with four walls and running water (and gosh, even broadband, why not) we’ll really appreciate what we have.