Living In 218 Sq. Ft. With Three Others
After a year of living in the Toaster, we don't think twice about the fact that we live in an RV full-time. This is simply our life: sharing 218 sq. ft. with two humans and two dogs, day in and day out.
But we are frequently asked how we do it. How do we handle the small space? What is it like living within arms reach of almost everything you own?
Living in a small space
When we first decided to move into an RV, we were a little concerned how small it would feel after living in a 1,200 sq. ft. house. We were surprised that it didn’t feel that bad after our first two weeks in the Toaster. Actually, starting several months ago Jerud and I talk a lot about downsizing into a van.
From the front bedroom wall to the back kitchen wall, the Toaster is 25 ft. long and 8 ft. wide. We have one slide, essentially our living room that expands the main room from 8 ft. to 11 ft. wide when it’s open. The slide itself is 3 ft. deep by 6.5 ft. wide. Having a slide makes a huge difference in space – not only physically but also visually.
We find the Toaster to have more than enough space for the four of us. Tybee can no longer walk really well, so it doesn’t tire her out to walk from one room to another (she used to follow us room to room back in our house). She can lay anywhere and see us wherever we are in the RV. But it’s also not so small that she can’t easily turn around. One thing that would make it easier for Tybee is if there weren’t any stairs leading up to the bedroom. Sadly she’s not steady enough to use the ramp that we built for her during the rebuild.
The space and layout of the Toaster allows us to each have our own area: the couch is where I usually hang out and work, Jerud takes over the dinette, and the dogs sleep in the bedroom. When it’s necessary to get away from one another, the Toaster lets us do so - I typically hang out in the bedroom while Jerud stays at the dinette. On bad days the accordion divider is closed, separating the bedroom from the rest of the Toaster. While we try to work outside as much as possible, using a laptop outdoors has a number of practical drawbacks, like bad screen glare – even with a glare protector on. We also don’t have outdoor furniture to work on.
As I mentioned in this post, even when we were back home, we typically hung out in the same spots around the house. We didn’t use the majority of the space. When friends were over, we congregated either in the kitchen, dining room or outside. With the Toaster, it’s as if we kept only those spots and eliminated everything in between.
Now that we’ve lived in the Toaster for 1 year and 3 months, our outlook is no longer that we don’t have enough space for our belongings, but that we have too much stuff. We initially felt we needed every single bit of the storage space an RV provided to be able to bring all our “necessary” gear. Now we know we can downsize further. That doesn’t mean getting everything into a van (or another smaller vehicle) would be easy when/if the day comes. There are a handful of things that I’m not ready to give up yet – like our apartment-size fridge!
As good and livable as the space is there are downsides. The dogs seem to expand in size inside the Toaster at times. While Tybee has always had the ability to lay in the worst places, and the Toaster is made of nothing but bad places. When she stretches out in the same room as us, we have to tiptoe around her to get from one end of the RV to the other.
Rain is a hard to deal with in this space. I’m not talking about feeling closed in and trapped indoors by the weather; I get cabin fever on rainy days whatever size house I’m in. Rather having wet dogs, wet shoes, and wet rain jackets is a nightmare. We don’t have a good spot to dry the dogs, the entrance gets totally gross, and there’s a limited number of places we can hang wet clothes up to dry (so it all ends up in the shower).
And lastly, small spaces don’t hide dirt well. The inside of our RV is perpetually covered in sand, dirt, dog hair and rocks. I think there was enough space in our house for dirt to disperse, hide, and accumulate until it was big enough for us to notice.
But at the end, we don’t regret our decision to live in an RV this size. It was the right decision for this stage of our lives.