vintage camper

Which is Better For You: Tiny House or Camper? 5 Questions to Help you Decide

Which is Better For You: Tiny House or Camper? 5 Questions to Help you Decide

The other day I got an email from a curious reader of this blog. Karen wanted to know:

"I was wondering your opinion on is a tiny house better or a camper? I could buy a camper now, but if I want to build a tiny house I will need to save up for a few years since I want to build it debt free. Thank you for your blog and support I always enjoy seeing something from you in my email."

Oooh, I thought, I get this question a lot. Both from clients, people I work with, and readers. So I’m addressing it head-on today. 

To start, I don’t necessarily think a tiny house or a little camper is “better” than the other - but they’re definitely different and are suited to different people with different needs and lifestyles. Today I'll give you a framework for thinking about this question yourself.

Obviously I went with a camper over a tiny house on wheels.

I chose this option for a few reasons...

Meet the Beemer (My 1957 Canned Ham)

Meet the Beemer (My 1957 Canned Ham)

You guys, I’ve been keeping a secret from you. 

I try not to talk about it, because it’s a bit embarrassing. I mean, I’m supposed to be “simple” living.

Let’s just get it out in the open:

I have another vintage trailer (a second one). Don’t tell the COMET, she might be mad I never really tied up loose ends with my first vintage love. 

It’s a 1957 Beemer, and it’s a lot like the shameful uncle no one likes to talk about. You know it’s there, but you don’t want to acknowledge it or think about it too much. 

Matt and I got the Beemer just a few months after we started casually dating. It happened in a whirlwind, it was my first “big” purchase as a real human, and I kinda didn’t tell my parents about it until I pulled into their driveway with it. 

This Couple is Living in a Vintage Trailer While They Build a Tiny House

This Couple is Living in a Vintage Trailer While They Build a Tiny House

Kathleen and Greg are a young couple living in a 1969 vintage trailer (same year as the COMET!) while they build themselves a tiny house on wheels. Kathleen and I connected a few weeks ago, and I was so excited to meet another couple who lives like Matt and I do! I asked if I could share their ongoing story here, and so here's what Kathleen has to say about their life in their trailer so far. You can read more about Kathleen and Greg and their tiny living adventure on their blog, "Tiny House, Tiny Footprint."

 

Tiny Changes

Since living in a 140-square-foot camper trailer, I have received a variety of questions. I thought it would be best to answer them here and help alleviate concerns for those who are considering tiny living. If you're nervous about embarking on a new adventure like this, I think it's important to remember that you can test it out and if it doesn't work out, you can go back to living how you were previously.

Trailer Babes: Interview with Sarah Mueller of TowLola

I found Sarah’s blog TowLola recently and knew that I wanted to share a fellow female trailer babes’ story with you. I emailed Sarah about being camper pals and to tell her how rad she is, and we got to talking about rallies, vintage trailer life, the hassles of towing, trying to become writers, and what it’s like to be a woman nomad in America. She said she was inspired by my COMET to look for a vintage trailer as her adventure-mobile, and I was so flattered! I asked Sarah a few questions about her decision to travel in a vintage trailer and her life with Lola, her 1960’s Fan camper. You can read the interview below. I hope this badass, amazing lady inspires you to get out there and do something awesome, even if that means just saying”Fuck it!” and taking the leap!

 

ME: What inspired you to buy a camper and hit the road?

SARAH:    I'd been living in a 3-bedroom house for about 4 years, working full-time in a day job I hated while I struggled to write and make art in my spare time. I'd always had this fantasy of just being able to "pick up and go."  I saved money for a long time, thinking I'd need it, but having no real plans. When my long-time boyfriend and I decided it was time to sell the house, I sat down in front of him at a pub and blurted "I'm going to buy a BUS." He and I are both explorers by nature, so he just nodded and smiled and asked how he could help. The bus idea went through several iterations (bus, van, housetruck, camper) and I shopped around for a rig for about 4 months. I spent nearly all of my free time on Craigslist. Finally, after moving in with my parents and being generally miserable and thinking it would never happen, I stumbled upon Lola. She was cheap and ready to hit the road, and resided in Elkhart, IN. The idea of towing anything terrified me, but by this point I was so desperate that I drove up and bought her before anybody else could. It took another three months to gather supplies, outfit the Jeep, and sell all my belongings. It wasn't any one thing that led me to my adventure, I guess. Simply the realities of my life combined with a desire to "get out there."

A New School and A Road Trip

Hello lovelies, Sorry I've been away from the blog for a few days - I have been very busy prepping for Tiny House Road Trip Spring 2013. What is this Tiny House Road trip? In my neverending quest for the essence of the tiny house movement, I have planned a tour of the eastern and southern US, during which I will interview, film, and photograph tiny house people and their homes. I leave in less than 2 weeks! The road trip is about one month total. I'm interviewing tiny house builders, designers, and dwellers, documenting everything with cameras, audio recorders, and the pen. I'm very excited to finally meet some of the tiny house bloggers and internet acquaintances that I have been following via the internet for a long time. I'll return with lots of footage and insights to share with you all. So for the last week, Matt (cameraman, audio tech, and tiny house partner in crime) and I have been modding out my Honda Element with a platform bed with storage underneath, insulated window covers, black-out curtains, and custom vents for the windows. We're just car camping the whole trip (not towing the COMET, alas) to save money. If you have a tiny house project or business or thing you think we should see, let us know in the comments! This is the first of multiple tiny house road trips I have planned. I hope it goes smoothly - we've been planning everything out to the last detail but you never know!

Also, I was delighted to be interviewed by Andrew Odom of TinyRevolution for his podcast, RevoConvo. He's a super nice guy, and we share a common sponsor (GreenBuildingSupply.com). We talked about trailers and Worcester and off-grid systems. It was really fun, and you can all give it a listen next Thursday when it comes out! (I'll post the link when it comes out).

Vintage Trailer Restoration: Sheet Metal Patches and Exterior Bodywork

Vintage Trailer Restoration: Sheet Metal Patches and Exterior Bodywork

It's about 10 degrees here in MA today, and while I look back at these pictures from the summer I am wistful to say the least. So here's some pictures of some sheet metal work we did on the trailer to patch some gaping holes and button the skins back up after replacing some of the wood inside the walls. Sometimes, when you replace the old rotten wood under the skins, they don't fit back on just perfectly (they would if I wasn't going to repaint the thing, but I am so I wasn't too vigilant about it this time around). There was a gap on the corners of the trailer where the aluminum met and started to separate from the weight of the rear. These gaps had been there since I got the trailer, so I knew I'd have to patch it anyway. First, we put a strip of sheet metal (aluminum flashing for this application - because it's flexible/malleable) around the corner and underneath the member for extra protection. We just nailed it in to the new wood. This would be the flashing that would keep any water out. When you put the skins back down, caulk around the edges and screw it in with sheet metal screws (the ones with the little rubber gaskets work well for this, but we just caulked each spot where the screw would go before screwing it in).

Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

Before + After: Replacing Rotten Framing in a Vintage Camper

Like I said, lot's of catching up to do! I've got to go back to 5 weeks ago and bring you all up to speed on the progress of the COMET. She was a MESS before we went to Tiny House Summer Camp, but if you saw the article on Deek's website, you saw some pictures of what she looks more like now - less of a mess. Anyway, here's the first installment of catching up the website to where the COMET stands now.

BEFORE:

Some serious demolition. After stepping around the back and almost falling through the trailer floor onto the pavement 3 feet below, we decided to replace EVERYTHING. This demolition was made 10 times easier by the use of the SoniCrafter, using the plunge-cut blade to remove rotten wood to where it was solid again.

Lots of Catching Up to Do!

Hello Readers!!

No, I have not died or given up on the project or the blog, I am just finally, for the first time in weeks and weeks, finding a free moment to do a post. Things have been CRAZY the last few weeks, trying desperately to get the COMET in shape for Tiny House Summer Camp and then the Brattleboro KOA Vintage Trailer Rally. Basically I have not had a moment to myself since I got back from Yestermorrow on June 15th. Every single day (no lie!) for the last 6 weeks has looked a lot like this: wake up at 6 AM, be outside working on the COMET by 6:30 AM, work work work, take a 10 minute lunch break at 1, then back to work until 9 PM or sometimes later if I had to. All just to get the COMET in towable, working order (not pretty) for Tiny House Summer Camp (which was amazing) and the rally a week later. Did I mention the temperature has not gone below 95 that whole time? Needless to say, by 10 pm I was exhausted and I knew I had to put the blog writing on hold if I was going to make it up to Vermont for these two events. I want to THANK YOU for bearing with me the last few weeks as I put the pedal to the metal with the COMET in terms of progress, and was away from the website. It was actually really good to have a deadline and serious motivation for getting certain things done, and pushing myself that hard for the last 6 weeks makes the rest of the project, what still needs to be done, look like a breeze!

Off-The-Grid COMET models

Hello! I've been working up some 3D models (using SketchUp) of the COMET as she may end up, or the "end result" models. These are likely to change as the design process continues and ideas solidify, but here was what I first envisioned The COMET to look like. Perhaps the rainwater harvesting system will change, and the solar modules might be in different places or as a separate array that pops up and can move around in order to collect optimum sun, but here's my totally self-contained version of The COMET of the future.

What do you think? Is there anything else that a comprehensive info sheet about the project should include? I need some feedback!

Exterior Paint Design Concept

Good morning!

I've been working on some paint schemes for the exterior of the COMET. I think that because I'll be towing it around so much in the next few months, going to Tiny House Summer Camp With Derek Diedricksen in July, and the KOA vintage trailer rally and sustainable weekend event in Brattleboro, VT, it's really important I have the outside looking nice and giving people some info about the project.

I love the little stripe details that reference a comet in the seafoam section. I'm also going to put a seafoam colored atomic-looking comet shape behind The COMET text, to tie it all together. I still need to figure out where to put the website and other info.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments!