Firstly, to explain why this blog has moved.
I am a musician. I lead what could be called an alternative lifestyle.
I used to have a separate lifestyle blog ( fulltimefixie.wordpress.com ), but now I realise that my lifestyle and the music I make are inextricably linked. Therefore, I’m starting to write here about everything from the music, to the process of making it, to the lifestyle that draws me towards. I’m grateful to those who have contributed to the blog-onisphere with their alternative lifestyle stories, because reading about their experiences constantly helps me to carve out my own. In response, this blog is my contribution to that pool.
In the UK and most of the west, the convention is to live in a house. This means mortgage or rent, which spells out get-a-full-time-job-and-stay-put. This doesn’t work for everyone and in the current economical climate, many people who are working full time are struggling to make ends meet, especially if they have a family to support.
So what’s the alternative? For the single, couple (but maybe not so much for families) there are advantages are there to living in a tent, squat, caravan, boat, van, yurt, shed, community or even sleeping rough. They can range from having a rent free lifestyle, to travelling freely, to spending more time outdoors.
So here’s the puzzle for many artists (read artist, musician, craftsperson, performer, general creative) who have not yet reached Lady Gaga’s level of riches:
I want to make my art either full time or for at least half the week. But working part time or being an artist full time, doesn’t create enough income for me.
What can I do?
- Option 1 – Increase earnings somehow (How?! That was the problem in the first place remember?!)
- Option 2 – Cut living costs somehow without having to eat only catfood.
For many artists going rent-free is the obvious answer to the puzzle. Rent is apparently rising much faster than people’s salaries and the average tenant spends 43% of their income on rent, although the figures seem to vary depending on where you look. Growing all your own food might be another way of slashing living costs, but as tricky as becoming houseless is, I think it’s an easier option than self sufficiency.
Here are some places I’ve lived:
- In a Vauxhall Corsa – part time for a year and a half
- In a Vansion (my joke name for a Merc Sprinter) – part to full time for 1 year.
- In a Yurt pitched in a garden – Full time for 6 months, part time for 1 year.
It might sound a bit rough to some of you, but living somewhere other than a house isn’t necessarily a downgrade. It depends on how you think about it.
When involved in Occupy Exeter, I met quite a few homeless and several houseless people. The distinction between homeless and houseless lies within the individual’s opinion of their situation. Big Issue guy Graham Walker mentions this idea in his writing, saying that anyone can feel homeless regardless of where they live – it’s about not feeling at home. Houseless was a term I came up with for those who have chosen not to live in a house, but who do not feel homeless. Houseless people are not those who have tried to live a conventional indoor life and failed, they have simply decided to do something different.
More coming soon, but in the meantime, check out these guys:
My Houseless Heros:
- Chris McCandles – the man who “Into The Wild” was based on
- The Moneyless Man – http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/
- Richard The Piano Tuner – who lives as a permanent cycle tourer http://www.piano-tuning.co.uk/blog/
- The Original Ditch Monkey – who lived in the woods for a year to raise money for The Woodland Trust and then in the snow: http://ditchmonkey.blogspot.co.uk/
- One amazing woman in Devon (anon) who found a secret location to build a wooden dwelling for herself out of scrap wood, with no vehicle and no budget.
- Jake and Jane my folk-bandmates. Jake spent 3 months building a scrapwood shed in the woods and lived there with his partner for a further year and a half, whilst earning all his money from busking. Jane lives out of a backpack, only travels by hitchhiking. She travels around teaching bushcraft and busking and sleeps rough a lot of the time. Sometimes we find it hard to get a rehearsal organised – no-one ever has phone reception.