How Owning a Small Family House and Traveling Reflects Our Family’s Values
By: Kate Saffle
When we sold our Oklahoma City house last May, we were nearly 100% positive we would be traveling full-time in the next 6 months. We had spent the previous year planning for that new life: researching, shopping for trailers, talking to other full-time traveling families, and massively downsizing our belongings.
Northern Indiana was to be a pitstop, a place to get our plan on the road (literally), to have the support of family, and also to have a place to come back to between travels. We were infatuated with the freedom of no roots and no mortgage and spent last summer exploring the area, practically living at the beach. And so we unexpectedly fell in love with this part of the country that is nestled in the sand dunes of Lake Michigan and not far from Chicago.
So now 10 months later, why didn't we leave? And more importantly how could we possibly make the leap to buying a house again after swearing off of home ownership indefinitely when we sold our last house?
There are several reasons, some of which are personal and some of which I'm happy to share. We had two family members battling cancer, one of which was also about to be a new father. We couldn't find a long-term way to fund travel, and my remote university teaching job simply wouldn't cover our expenses. And despite my continuous attempts to secure a better paying remote job, it wasn't in the cards.
But then we came to the startling realization that we actually love where we live now. We began making friends and forming community. We met other homeschooling families and formed a nature hiking group. We bought a smaller camper, a Casita, to make road travel possible. And then we found our house.
We weren't looking (seriously) and yet, one Friday night I was avoiding grading another round of essays about da Vinci (who becomes boring quite quickly after 80 or so papers on him) and began looking at local real estate instead. We knew we weren't ready or able to travel full-time, rentals in our area are priced through the roof, but we craved our own space again after living with family for nearly a year.
And then I found the house. You surely know the details if you follow me on Instagram. But in a nutshell? Small, borderline tiny 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house walking distance to everything. Adorably cute, ridiculously cheap, and the perfect simple living family home. I laughed when I first saw the listing, but I should have seen the writing on the wall. Our values had changed over the past 10 months from when we started our journey to reflect a desire for travel AND roots, and the perfect house had found us.
"Our values had changed over the past 10 months from when we started our journey to reflect a desire for travel AND roots, and the perfect house had found us."
We close Thursday. This house is part of our adventure, part of our family's story of changing our lives to wholeheartedly reflect our values. We still plan to travel, often as possible, and hope to use this home as an AirBNB rental in the future when we can take longer trips. We are longing for deeper community, for days spent over lingering walks in our neighborhood, chats with local farmers over leafy produce, and spontaneous trips to the ice cream parlor after a hot afternoon playing hard at the playground. While we deeply desire traveling to new places to experience other cultures, we also want to innately know the fabric of our own hood as well.
And you know what? Travel, of any kind, feels more satisfying when you know you have a home to come back to. For the past few years I've convinced myself roots are bad, and that our happiness is explicitly and only tied to experiences over possessions. I still believe that, but I also know that creating a path that honors wanderlust and secure roots is the best way to meet the needs of everyone in my family. And so we're ready to finally be “home” again, 675 square feet and all.