Saturday, April 26, 2008

Deflating Lifestyle, pt. 1

I've been thinking lately about lifestyle deflation.
It's something I've done for a while under phrases like "voluntary simplicity."
Now it's something I'm doing more consciously as an environmentally and socially responsible way of life.

I DO have 2 homes at the moment but that is temporary and due to extenuating circumstances. One is a 1974 trailer in a small town that I rent for 400$/month plus utilities. It's a bit expensive to heat, but other than that is fairly enviornmental and certainly cost effective. It comes with about 1/3 of an acre of lawn and a landlord and lady who do not care what I do as long as I pay rent and don't destroy the place. This is good since I'm not required to water the lawn, can hang my laundry out on a line, grow lots of containers of vegetables, set up a greywater system with the washing machine, and have a vermicompost system in the front bathroom. It also allows me to walk to work, walk to the grocery store, post office, city hall, and the gym if the mood strikes me.

The second home is because I have temporary custody of a kid who needed to stay in school in another town. Unfortunately this means about 1 year of commuting 50 miles each way to work which is NOT environmentally or socially responsible, but taking care of friends and family IS environmentally and socially responsible so maybe it's a wash.
That place is a 1 bedroom apartment (I created a 2nd bedroom for myself out of part of the very large dining room) in the upstairs of an old house that rents for 500$ a month will all utilities but electric included. This ends up being cheaper in the winter than the trailer due to cheaper heat. The environmental/social responsibility aspects are pretty good other than the commute. The apartment itself is "re-used" since there are now 5 units in the formerly single family dwelling. Since it is upstairs and has good attic insulation, it has been easy to heat. There is no air conditioning but the local climate and lack of southern exposure should make it very livable in the summer. There is a shared washer/dryer in the basement and I have a wooden rack for drying clothes. I've moved the vermicompost with me as well. Since it is in a college area, we've been able to furnish it partly from others' perfectly usable castoffs. The busline that runs along the street in front of the house has wifi which we can pick up adequately for our needs and it is public so we're not even stealing! There is a grocery store across the street and 3 buslines within a block so that once I'm home, we rarely need to use the car. There are several ethnic restaurants within easy walking distance and 4 very good thrift stores as well. I'm looking forward to garage sale season and when I move I out I intend to donate or sell or giveaway all of the household items used there.

But why keep 2 homes you ask? The small town I usually live in and still work in has a serious shortage of rental housing and an even more serious shortage of quality landlords. So, rather than move 50 miles away for a year only to find that I can't move back, I'm keeping the trailer and staying there when possible which cuts down on commuting. And it amuses the kid and I to note that much like rich people, we have two homes. But they are both crap!

So, how has my lifestyle deflated? More on that in the next post.

No comments: