What does it mean to “go away for a week” when you’re homeless anyway? I say “homeless”, but I prefer “houseless” or “nomadic”. For the past month I’ve been based in and around Exeter, and now I take my first trip “away on business” to Birmingham and London. Will it be any different I wonder?
Post trip I’ll let you know, but for now, here’s a rundown of how it works “at home” in Exeter:
When I returned last month, after an extended trip in France, I was adamant that I wouldn’t rent. I have a van (big enough sleep in but not that suitable for full time living), a job as an online teacher, and I wanted to use that combination to move around organically on a whim, whilst mostly being based in Exeter. Renting would tie me down and make that financially impossible.
This way of life is almost possible purely living in my van, but it wouldn’t be very much fun. I’d work in cafes with wifi, or at the Exeter office provided by my workplace. My van doesn’t have a complete kitchen, so I’d eat out a lot, and of course the van provides a bed. Laundromats would be a weekly pilgrimage, and showers… improvised (gym? pool?). It’s feasible. I could be self contained. Instead, I’ve spent the past month either “docking” or house-sitting, which is much more fun.
“Docking” is my word for being a temporary house-mate. Rather than having guest or visitor relationship, where the host is expected to entertain, my hosts and I co-exist. I might do the washing up, make tea/dinner, bring groceries. We’d spend time together and also do our own thing half the time. I really appreciate my friends having me dock with them and try and make sure I contribute in a balanced way.
Not only does docking feel like a lovely way to give and receive with people I care about, it also allows me to see more of them; most people are so busy these days it’s hard to find a window to meet up for a coffee. I might be sleeping in the house, or in the van (but using the house in the daytime when my host is at work), but still have the chance to come in and chat over breakfast. I’ve got to know people in new ways as a result.
House-sitting is wonderful too. It can give me the opportunity to maybe get some recording done and have a little time alone.
This way of living means my surroundings are always changing, and I very rarely have plans for where I’ll be from one day to the next. The key to living this way is extreme flexibility, both in attitude and logistically. I love moving through people’s lives in this way, crossing paths and making connections with unexpected people. After all, who needs to be self-contained?!
Also check out the Symphony For Happines Vlog
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