The Perfect Place to Live

We have been searching for the perfect place to live for the last two and a half years, criss-crossing the country in VANdal a total of six times and traveling over 80,000 miles, always with an eye out for the place we might one day call home. Yet, though we’ve found dozens of amazing places, several of which had great potential, none felt like a year-round place to lay roots.

Some did, yet didn’t meet our budget (hello, San Francisco), some had too much traffic and felt too far removed from nature (Portland), some were great, but were surrounded by too much Texas (Austin), others were too far from the amenities and cultural, culinary, and intellectual offerings of the big city (Hood River or Blue Ridge), and many had perfect weather seasons juxtaposed by absolute misery the other months of the year (Tahoe/Truckee).

ElkLake-Banner

Alas, we felt like Goldilocks and her proverbial beds… not a single place satisfied all of our criteria all of the time. As a result, we came to the conclusion that there is no perfect place, yet many places that are perfect in small doses. Ultimately, we agreed that the only way to fully experience each one was to be completely mobile, thus sparking a mission to find the best way of converting our entire life, INCLUDING all of our gear for every season, to one based out of an expedition vehicle.

Hundreds of hours of research have gone into every painstaking detail of the build (which we’ll go into soon). It’s taken a while to come up with the right builder, the right chassis, the right layout, and all the other small decisions needed to craft a vehicle that can go on any road, any time, in any weather, without having the fear of being stranded, stuck, or uncomfortable. Plus, we wanted to have all of our gear in tow, some creature comforts we deemed necessary and enough space to be able to call it “home.”

Since we can’t afford even a small house in all the areas we love (plus we don’t need that kind of carbon footprint or management headache to deal with), we figure that, with a few small sacrifices, we can make our home wherever we decide to park it. We have always felt most at home when traveling in VANdal anyway, so this seems like a natural next progression and, fortunately, the universe seems to agree. The house was sold with ease, all of our big possessions were sold on Craigslist or to friends within the same day we put them up for sale, VANdal sold just this week, and Martin can make a clean break from his law practice as one of his former partners takes the reigns. All signs point to “Go!”

These big changes, though, combined with the stress of packing up our entire lives and all the unknown variables, have Bethany in an absolute headspin. Now that our last day in Florida is drawing near, she’s been maniacally packing & sorting, creating a completely paperless office and systematically tossing any possession that might not earn space aboard a 132 square foot living space. 132 square feet. Even a tiny house, which is usually around 200-600 square feet, is palatial compared to what we’re about to embark on!

Bethany Gator Skater
Bethany: Ever the goober and always up for adventure, yet a ball of stress when it comes to packing…
Even though the head and the heart all say that our new wheels will be the perfect place to live and the perfect launchpad for all kinds of new adventures, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to give up some of the little things we acquire and grow accustomed to having.  It’s one thing to travel when you still have a place to come home “to,” but packing for this lifelong trip feels like an entirely different animal.

Martin & Bethany

Part of it is having the confidence that you’re going into it with the right partner and, fortunately, we complement one another well. Martin is an expert at reading me, always knowing just what to say to calm me down when my nervous system betrays me. So, amidst my ceaseless packing conundrums, he quietly sat me down this morning and said, “Bethany, I know you need to have a plan, you love schedules and lists, and that you’re afraid of all the unknown, so I’m going to write down this schedule for you so you’ll feel better:

Martin & Bethany Life Schedule:

6/1/16 – 6/9/16
  • Leave SRQ
  • Have fun
6/10/16 – 7/15/16
  • Work our Goal Zero Costco show in Missouri
  • Have fun
7/16/16 – 12/31/16
  • Truck/Van Swap
  • Work Goal Zero (location tbd)
  • Have fun
1/1/17 – 3/1/17
  • 3-month intensive Glass Blowing study in St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Have fun
3/17 – 4/17
  • Snowboard, snowshoe, snow ski…somewhere cool…
  • Have fun
5/17
  • Go somewhere. Have fun.
6/17 – 7/17
  • Head for the last frontier: Alaska
  • Have fun.
8/17 – 9/17
  • Go somewhere. Do cool shit.
10/17 – 12/17
  • Head south to Mexico. (Todos Santos, Baja?)
  • Have fun.
Ahhhhhh…. I’m feeling better already. And the perfect place to live? I think we’ll find it for a day or month somewhere on that calendar.
NOTE: If you were interested in VANdal…sorry… You’re a day late and about $100,000 short.😉 VANdal sold on May 8th, 2016, but we’re leaving the site up as an idea bank. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. 

2 comments

  1. Totally agree! I’ve felt the “not close enough to nature” thing in Portland since we’ve been back a scant few weeks. I think variation in activities and place will have to keep me going.

    Congrats on the transition out of law, home, and order. Here’s to the next leg of the adventure. Have fun!

  2. I am so excited for both of you ! Martin , you have had this special glow about you since you met Bethany . I wish you both extreme happiness and may you explore all your dreams safely . You will be missed here .Go find what makes you happy ,Safe Travels !!!

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