2015 – a year of new beginnings and adventurous (smaller) living

Since Cam and I returned from Canada at the end of 2013, we have lived in 3 different houses – our wonderful in-laws’ spare room, a friend’s little cottage, and most recently, an ex-WWII army bunker in the mountain side which Cam worked wonders on to make liveable. This old assortment of houses have all had one thing in common – we have been living rent free and loving it! As 2015 rolls on up and we have to find somewhere to live, we are really digging our heels in about paying someone our hard earned moola for rent every month and we definitely can’t afford a bond on a house. So we figured there had to be another option.

The forest on the left is where our bunker is, and the cottage on the right is where we lived from February to September.

The bare patch on the forest on the left is where our bunker is, and the cottage on the right is where we lived from February to September.

We started investigating alternative living and reading up about the tiny home movement that started after the recession in the States. Cameron discovered the concept of building homes out of shipping containers and has been fascinated by the idea ever since.

Check out the link below for more shipping container home inspiration from Buzzfeed.

Check out the link below for more shipping container home inspiration from Buzzfeed.

If you want to see some amazing houses that people have built from containers (and they are not all tiny homes), check out this article.

So we decided to do the maths (or math for our Canadian friends). Rent for a one bedroom flat with a garden for Mika (our very energetic GSP puppy) isn’t cheap in Cape Town. After months of searching we realised that we weren’t going to find anything in the area we needed to live in for cheaper than R7000 a month. Over 18 months that would mean we were putting about R126 000 into someone else’s pocket with nothing to show for it. After drawing up a careful costing plan, Cameron reckoned that we could build a one bedroom cottage for R130 000. That way, we spend the same money but at the end of the day it’s ours, and as an added bonus – it’s mobile and we can move it anywhere we want. Cam went as far as to say that even if we threw it away at the end of 18 months we would still be in the same place financially as if we were paying someone rent!

As we head into a new year, I am taking the leap and taking my photography full time, working two days a week in my office job and using the rest of the time to try and start a photography business (check out my new website here). Cameron is also following his dream and what he loves and taking his freelance rock climbing guiding full time. We feel a little crazy but the reason we left our amazing community and life in the Canadian Rockies was to invest here in South Africa where we believe we are meant to be and so we really believe that this is the time in our lives to do this – as crazy as it seems. Although we will attempt to pay off our building cost in monthly instalments in leu of rent , it certainly is a relief to know that we will own our little cottage and so if we can’t quite make the rent one month, it’s not the end of the world.

Although our home won’t be big, living in a small space makes you really use space wisely, stop hoarding, and stop buying more stuff that you don’t really need. Think about it – if you have less space, you will have less stuff! Before we went to Canada, we gave away and sold a lot of our stuff, but we still managed to drag a lot of it to Cape Town to cram into our parents’ shed. Since we have been back, we haven’t touched most of the boxes, in fact, we have actually even packed up some of the things we initially unpacked because we just weren’t using them. We have realised how little we really need to be happy. As long as there is lots of shelving for my explosive clothing and plenty of hidden storage for our climbing and camping gear, we get by on the basics.

This is just the foreword to the exciting story that is about to unfold, and I can’t wait to share it with you as we go. Feel free to subscribe to this blog to keep up to date with our adventures. Coming soon are our house plans, a picture of the spot where the house will go, and a trip to the shipping yard to choose our containers.

For more inspiration about this kind of lifestyle, check out this great article: Sell Your Crap, Pay Off Your Debt, And Do What You Love! This Makes It All Possible!

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9 thoughts on “2015 – a year of new beginnings and adventurous (smaller) living

  1. Fabulous! #Fullofadmiration
    I sort of feel we’re subscribing to the small living movement ourselves, with such a major downsize/move.
    You’re in for an amazing adventure andyouareamazing.
    love your mother
    ps. can Dad go on yr mailing list pls

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  2. You don’t know me – I am friends with Kathy Wandrum and will be hanging of every word of your blog. I want to do the exact same thing. I already have a folder on my computer with all the images of container houses that are amazing. This is very new in South Africa but not so new with the rest of the world. Good luck and I look forward to your updates!

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    • Great to hear from you Jenny! We have also noticed that although it’s catching on worldwide, South Africa hasn’t really got on board yet. Hopefully we can help change that. I’ll be putting up lots of exciting updates soon so I hope you enjoy and get inspired, please stay in touch 🙂

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  3. Just in-case for future aspirations, take a look at George Clarke’s amazing spaces – Season 1 Episode 2, the guy stacks his containers and really blends it into the UK country side. In-fact, if you get a chance to watch some of the other episodes then do, some of the designs ideas for the smaller spaces is really amazing. I will be following your progress, and hope to one day get out to SA to visit all.

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  4. What you’re doing is awesome, brave and inspiring! There is a shipping container/tiny home in our future so I’m looking forward to following your blog and adventures. Happy New Year and best of luck with your new home and lifestyle!

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    • Thank you so much for the encouragement! And I totally believe that what you are doing is also incredibly brave and inspiring! I hope we can inspire one another as the year goes on 🙂

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  5. I have also been watching George Clarke’s program and some of it is plain weird, but some spaces are really attractive and livable, not just “good for a container”, but good space in it’s own right.
    I will be watching your progress with interest and all the time hoping you make a success of it.
    I believe the three main issues will be the local authorities, the neighbours and security.

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