This should probably be two posts, but that's just not how I roll. Grab some coffee and a snack. This'll take a minute...
I don't want to write this post at all. In fact, little pieces of my heart and soul are dying as I type these words, but then my brain tells me to STFU because it's not as bad as it seems on the surface. In reality and in the long run, it'll probably the very best thing that could happen to us on our tiny life journey.
We are moving back to Texas and into my dad's house in the next few months.
Now, before you think, "Oh look, another tiny houser who couldn't hack living tiny is going back to their big house life," allow me to make one thing absolutely, positively, crystal. frigging. clear...
THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TINY HOUSE ITSELF OR EVEN THE ACT OF LIVING IN THE TINY HOUSE.
In fact, were we NOT living in the tiny house here in Colorado and instead renting one of the very expensive apartments in the area, we'd be much worse off than we are now. We'd be paying at least double the rent for just a one bedroom, likely triple the electric, and also be paying for water in an apartment. Really, the only advantage an apartment would have over our THOW is that I could potentially be walking distance from my job instead of 54 miles one way or a two hour round trip away.
We had a very specific list of reasons for choosing Colorado for our first stop in our tiny house adventure, which in no particular order consists of:
- Ability to live in our THOW full-time
- Ability to transfer within the company I've worked at for almost 5 years
- Having a stable source of income & legal parking = freedom to focus on debt elimination
- Remaining close enough to Texas to regularly visit family
- The Mountains! The Weather! The Everything-That's-Different-From-Texas! ;)
See the emphasis on the third line?? That's because that was THE reason we were okay with leaving Texas with debt left to pay off. We had some debt already, accrued a good deal more building the tiny house, and have no intention of traveling or moving to Washington until we have that debt totally paid off. We thought the security of having the same job and a safe, legal place to park and live in the THOW would be all we needed to really hunker down and start chipping away at the balances. We've had loads of credit card debt before and managed to pay it all off a bit at a time, albeit with two incomes instead of one, and we expected this time to be no different. Instead, though, we started a slow roll down the mountain that has surpassed snowball status and progressed to full on avalanche. We haven't been this broke since I was in nursing school and we were surviving off Brand's $7.50/hr maintenance job.
On paper, our overhead should be less than when we had our Big House. The cost of our truck payment, truck insurance, RV lot rent, electric bill, and our Texas cell bill (more on that in a moment) totals as much as our $2000/mo mortgage. Our electricity has averaged about $50-60/mo at the $1/kW rate the RV park charges, but because of the lack of reliable wifi (a must since Brand takes college classes online), our cell bill has more than doubled. We really weren't expecting a LOT of the pricing differences up here, and we blame that on being more focused on finishing the house and finding a place to park. Food costs more. Fuel costs more. There are state taxes here. We knew about the taxes, actually, but our entire grocery budget ($300/mo) is what that equates to every two paychecks. When your usual grocery budget is being usurped by the State with every check, it doesn't take long for your bank balance to start dwindling and you to start whipping out the plastic to pay for necessities. That, my friends, is a highly unsustainable way to live.
Really, that's not the whole problem, and really there aren't even just one or two issues I could point my finger at and say, "THIS is the reason we're broke." We knew it was a risk coming here with debt to pay off because yes, we did know the cost of living would be higher. What we couldn't have planned for was the hospital being delayed an additional two months, requiring me to drive those 54 miles ten times a week for 8 weeks in order to be paid full-time hours. Normally as a nurse we work three 12-hour shifts, which would have meant 324 miles of travel from Loveland to Westminster each week. Instead, I was driving 540 miles at $2.50/gal in a truck that was now getting 14mpg instead of the 18mpg it averaged in flat, 17-mile-one-way-commute-Texas where diesel was nearly $0.20/gal cheaper. Worse, on Thursdays and Fridays we all carpool to my work and R.A.D's school, which actually totals 164 miles in ONE day. Go ahead, do the math. I'll wait.