Living In 218 Sq. Ft. With Three Others

We don’t write a lot about the personal aspects of living in an RV and on the road: How do we actually feel about it? How is it living in a small space with each other, Tybee and Tyki?

There are various reasons why I haven’t written about any of it. I feel like the topic has been talked about a lot. Is my experience living in a 200 sq. ft. moving home really that different from the next person’s? And partially because life on the road has now become so normal that I don’t think twice about it.

But it’s time. It’s time to move beyond the glacial peaks, turquoise lakes, wildflower filled single track, and moon-like red rocks. There’s more to our lives and living on the road than that. We don’t want it to seem like all we do is play outside because that wouldn’t be a true representation of our lives.

Although we wish we could mountain bike every day - with views like this!

Although we wish we could mountain bike every day - with views like this!

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop sharing my photos and trip reports. I love sharing beautiful things and encouraging people to spend time in the natural areas that many individuals and organizations have worked so hard protecting. I believe that people will only want to protect natural places if they’ve had an intimate experience with it.

So with all that out of the way, let’s start with the big picture.

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. (I won’t go into why in this post.)

We bought the Toaster back in 2012, before it was the Toaster.

We bought the Toaster back in 2012, before it was the Toaster.

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.

Jerud and I have a love/hate relationship with slides.

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 ramp for Tybee in the Toaster.
 

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.

Where Tyki and Tybee sleep. And you wonder why we don't shower very often.

Where Tyki and Tybee sleep. And you wonder why we don't shower very often.

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. In 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 that we needed 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 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.

Queen Tybee.

Queen Tybee.

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.

 
This is what our floors end up looking like when we were boondocked somewhere during the mud season. Didn't matter how hard we tried to wipe clean 8 feet.

This is what our floors end up looking like when we were boondocked somewhere during the mud season. Didn't matter how hard we tried to wipe clean 8 feet.

 

 

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.

The Toaster.

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