Site icon Alexis Chateau

My Two Words for 2022 Are “TINY HOUSE”!

While reviewing how the past year unfolded, I shared that I recently bought land in New Mexico to build my tiny house. It’s almost surreal to think that in roughly two months, I’ll be breaking ground on my brand-new home. But, how exactly did any of this come to be? Am I not perfectly content with roaming across North America with my RV? Does this mean the end of life on the road?

The truth is that there are still many questions I don’t have the answers to just yet. I am perfectly content with roaming across North America, but I am even happier when I have options. I built out the Overlanding features on my truck because I want options other than my RV. And now, I’m building out option number three: my geodesic dome.

Back to the Beginning

I started this blog shortly after discovering minimalism and its benefits. All my life, I had watched people measure success by the material things they owned. How nice were their cars? How big were their houses? How beautiful were their furnishings? As a recent graduate—at the time—I hadn’t yet considered what success meant to me. I was just trying to survive on my $3.50 hourly pay from the American company I worked for in Jamaica.

But, every time I met travelers and asked them the secret, their answers were the same. They told me that if I wanted to travel more and live a freer life, I had to give up my things. In a few months, I ditched my newly furnished apartment, quit my job, and narrowed my personal items down to three suitcases and a laptop bag.

Being voluntarily homeless was one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever had. It was a wonderful instructor for my current life of houselessness. However, building a home base that was uniquely mine has always been on my to-do list.

The Search

Ironically, the turning point that cemented my RV purchase for me was the growing desire to build a home instead of buy one. There were quite a few places on my tiny home list that I wanted to visit and I didn’t want to buy sight-unseen. I’m glad I didn’t because some of these areas were so racist that setting foot there only after a sale would have been a disaster. Nevertheless, I kept my eyes open and my ears to the ground.

When I arrived in Mexico, I noticed an interesting RV lifestyle among American residents. These people took regular RVs, renovated them, built add-on suites, and then added a rooftop deck. They looked nothing like the trailer park homes you see in America. These Americans were not poor and their homes reflected that.

It really got me thinking about how to turn my RV into a permanent home, so I could downsize to an even smaller RV for the road. But, all the lots were taken and no one wanted to sell. A local real estate agent suggested I buy my own lot, but being on an isolated property in Mexico didn’t seem like the safest idea to me.

The Find

One thing I did know for sure was that I wanted to park the RV for this summer and travel via Overlanding and Airbnb. So, I started looking up options online, while also checking out properties along the route. This eventually led me to an RV park in New Mexico. It was selling 99-year leases for its lots. To add to this, it was also encouraging owners to build on the land.

I requested a copy of the lease and could find nothing to object to. It seemed too good to be true, so I sent it to my dad. He looked it over and did some digging into the company and even researched ownership of the property to ensure the park truly owned what it was selling. His advice was to get in early while I can. The company was young and the favourable terms would likely change later.

There was only one main concern for me. The town had 200 people and you could find hardly anything about it online. This is unsafe territory for a Black person in America. While I happily risk 200-population towns in California, anything under 10,000 people anywhere else in America is usually good cause for caution. So, I decided I would visit first before making a decision.

The Visit

I arrived on Thanksgiving day and spent three nights and four days exploring the area and getting to know the owners. What first impressed me about this New Mexican town was that there wasn’t a single flag in sight. Not even an American flag. And certainly no Confederate Flags. For the record, I didn’t see any Trump flags either.

The people were also insanely friendly and very welcoming of young people and diversity. They had an incredibly realistic and blunt way of viewing the town. “We want people who are still going to be here in 20 years,” one rancher told me. “And that’s you—not me.”

By my second day, I had picked out my property and by the third, I let the owner know which two I liked. “Either one is fine,” I told him. He offered me both of them instead in exchange for using my tiny home as a model, once completed.

Why? Because no one else had built anything yet. I was going to be the very first one. So far, everyone else has been living in their RVs on the tiny home lots.

The Tiny House

Another reason the owners were willing to barter the second lot is that I specifically wanted to build a geodesic dome. That was precisely the ideal structure they had in mind. Geodesic domes are inexpensive and can be constructed in a day with no special tools.

However, the domes are custom-made and do have long lead times. It will also take time to build the deck that will serve as its foundation. This is why I expect to spend the summer working on it, instead of a mere few days. From a cost perspective, we’ve projected a budget of $20,000.

While this is an exceptionally low cost for building a house of any kind, no lender is going to fund a construction loan for that amount or to build a dome. I also don’t happen to have $20,000 just lying around, so I’ll have to get creative with the funding process. So far, I’ve been making some progress. But, if you’d like to contribute, feel free to add to my Dome Fund on Kofi.

The Future

If I had to choose between a mobile setup and a tiny home on a permanent foundation, I would choose the former—and I did. I had the money and credit score to either buy or build a home in 2020. Instead, I bought a truck and a tiny house on wheels. Even so, the opportunity to create a unique living space and to be part of a like-minded community is one I think I would be a fool to miss.

I’ve written several articles this year lamenting the fact that I rarely run into millennials. I’ve wondered where to find them and how to get them to part ways with their big-city fetish. Well, here is a community looking for young people too, so they can preserve their town. Seems like joining forces is the common-sense thing to do!

Does that mean I won’t be RVing anymore? No, it means the way I travel and where I travel to will change. Ironically, it was always my plan to spend the summers in New Mexico. My trip to Wyoming and Colorado was a huge detour from what I had in mind. But now, I’ll actually have a home base and one easy location to get my mail.

I can also enjoy a different kind of minimalistic peace and a sense of community for the spring and summer. Then, for the rest of the year, I’ll be Overlanding, Airbnb, and RVing solo.

Well…that’s the plan. We’ll see how it actually turns out. Wish me luck! And have a happy New Year!

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