All during the time Cameron was working on his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees we rented and lived in a large and nice three bedroom, two bathroom double wide on a ranch about 20 minutes out of town (30 if you drove a Geo Metro like we did and the hills were a bit slow). It was such a blessing of a house and we loved our time there. Once Cameron graduated and accepted his first job, we crunched the numbers to see what our housing budget was and set out to find us somewhere to live completely naïve of what the housing market was like.
It ended up that we finally found us a rental in our new town. We had Cameron, Me, Darrow and a baby on the way and the only place we found in our new “Big Kid with a Real Adult Job” budget was a 650 sq ft rental that consisted of a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
Later we learned that while it had sat empty before being cleaned up it had been inhabited by chickens. Camel thrown grew up through the joints where there floor met the wall. The windows weren’t airtight so rain and dirt blew in constantly. Centipedes were not uncommon house guests. Blech!
You know what though? We don’t look back on the One Bedroom Wonder as a curse or as a bad time, we look back on it as a blessing. It was where we brought our feisty Ione girl home as a baby. It’s where I decided to go whole hog with my photography business. It’s where Cameron and I would spend date nights sitting on the living floor with a root beer float and stacks of school work sorted around the room to grade. It was hard, but we have good memories there as well and learned some lessons that have helped us tremendously!
- Stuff is just stuff.
In our 3 bedroom ranch rental, we had every space stuffed with things. Sure, much of that was thrifted or given to us, but we hung on to everything because we could. And then we had to downsize and we had to realize that keeping all that stuff just weighed us down. It came to own us. There was no point to keeping things around just to have them. We were only able to take with us what we really needed or had huge attachment to. We still try to do an annual declutter, but it’s more to help us not get to a point where we are owned by our stuff again.
- Love grows best in little houses.
It’s not just a cute country song, it’s real. When we got frustrated with each other we couldn’t just avoid each other in the house, retreat to a different space, or even really keep from communicating. We had to learn to communicate better, to forgive faster, and to not be as touchy because there just was not room for hard feelings. Living in little houses means you have to work together, even when you’re upset with each other.
- Don’t wait for your forever home to make it your own; leave a place better than you found it.
This isn’t something I felt like we did well before in our ranch rental or our previous apartments. We decorated inside, but that was it. We didn’t improve the areas, we just maintained and floated. The One Bedroom Wonder is the first place we really worked to make our own instead of waiting for our Someday Forever Home. And it felt good! We dug out the eroded steps in the front yard and lined them with sandstone we found. We canned jams and jellies from fruit given to us. We tried planting a clover lawn (it never grew, but it was good to try and do something). Cameron cleared and leveled parking spaces and found some great petrified wood in the process. Just little things that we could do to improve things and to make it what we would like. And of course the landlord didn’t mind some improvements at all. We’ve tried to carry that mindset with us in the three houses we’ve rented since, and it’s helped us to love where we live more. We don’t know when we’ll be in our forever home, but we can’t just wait until then to truly live the life we want to live!
- Explore where you live.
Now, this was something we already did, but it took on new meaning in the One Bedroom Wonder. As much as we love each other, sometimes we just had to get out of that little house. Family walks around town. Checking out local city and state parks. Using our “America the Beautiful” Pass to the max (paid $80 for it and saved over $350 in entrance fees to National Parks and Forest Service sites). Exploring the country around us. We tell people we lived in Winslow, AZ for a year and many wrinkle their noses, but truth be told, we loved it. The area grew on us fast. The people we got to know changed our lives.
Now, are these profound? Nope. But they’ve had an impact on our life since. Our hard seasons in life don’t have to be bad seasons. In fact they can be full of joy and help prepare us for seasons ahead. We’re grateful for our time in the One Bedroom Wonder and how it’s helped to share our current and future life.
What is something you’ve learned from a past living arrangement?