Shelter vs House

Last night I was sitting in my darkening cabin thinking how lucky I am live the way I do.  It’s hard to explain but just sitting there watching it get dark is the best feeling.

That’s the great thing about cabin life, it doesn’t cut you off and protect you from the world like a house.   It more enhances life than cut you off from it.

When it’s dark, you know it’s dark.  When it’s cold outside, you know it’s cold.

If you want heat, you go chop wood.  If you want water, you need to melt some snow.

If the cabin burns down, you need to figure out a new shelter.    But that’s all it is—shelter.

Some people think my life is harder than for people who live in a house.   I can tell you, from my house sitting experiences, that I have far more time and far less chores to do than a house dweller.

It takes me like 40 seconds to clear the snow off my porch.

When I house sat for my sister, I had a long walk to shovel, many decks to shovel, and a long driveway to plow.

My toilet is a bucket.   I have two of them.   Once a week I dump them under a big pine tree, rinse them out with my saved gray water, and rake some pine needles over the top. It takes 10 minutes a week at the most.   They work flawlessly, don’t use water, and they make top soil.

At my sisters, not one of her three toilets worked flawlessly.   A half of day was spent cleaning up after one of them overflowed.

Though my cabin is cold in the mornings, some night it’s probably close to 80 degrees.   To be that warm when it’s cold outside feels delicious.

I make a nest on the floor with blankets and pillows and in the dark cabin, stretch out in front of the wood stove and the propane heater, drink tea,  look out at the stars, and think, “There is no where I would rather be.”

At my sisters house she has inlay hot water coils that heat the floor of her large house.   You set it and the house  stays that same temperature all the time.  So it’s too hot when you’re sleeping and too cold when you’re awake.

The one thing I thought that her 3500 sq ft. house would have over my 200 sq. ft. cabin was space.   In my cabin, I carefully lay myself out to do some yoga postures so I have enough room.

The shocker was that because she had filled all her space with stuff, I had the same problem at her house as in my cabin.  She had no more room to stretch out and do yoga as I did.

If I need a new roof—500 dollars.  If she needs a new roof—10,000 dollars.

I can wash all my windows, inside and out in under an hour.  She needs scaffolding to wash her windows.

My shelter serves me; she serves her’s.

I could go on and on but my point is cabin life is easier, more comfortable, more beautiful, and much more sustainable than big house living.

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Hermit, long distance hiker, primitive cabin dweller, seeker.

11 thoughts on “Shelter vs House”

  1. I always enjoy visiting your site to see where you are or what you’re up to. Cabin life sounds ideal,but many, possibly most people eventually want to marry and have children. Would such a life be feasible if you were raising two or three kids?

    1. Lots of people out here raised kids while living the backwoods life style. There is a documentary called, “Back to the Garden” that has some of the local hippies that live around here in it. They raised their kids in cabins. The kids are now adults and seem pretty cool. Like one kid didn’t go to public school until she was 10. She said it was the first time in her life she had been judged.

      I do know that my life is easy because it’s only me to take care off. Life is easy if everyone takes care of themselves. Hauling water for one person—not much work. Hauling water for five people—probably a lot of work.

      Though I think there are a lot of advantages to living in the country, my son benefited greatly from the educational benefits of living near a big city. I didn’t move out to “the middle of now where” until after he was grown.

  2. A city might be better for raising children until they are about 14. At that point, they would be able to do their part so that you wouldn’t have to be hauling water for 5 people as crow stated.

    The thing I’m trying to figure out is how to make a living while living that life. Perhaps driving out to town wouldn’t be so bad if it is within an hour or so.

  3. Maybe I should put this reply on the previous post, but don’t you ever feel like the cabin is yet another energy-sapping possession? That is how I felt both times when I owned property. Couldn’t wait to sell and go back to renting. I felt even worse about owning an automobile. Whereas owning 50 pairs of boots doesn’t bother me in the least. But then I never owned property in a rural area. Maybe that makes a difference.

  4. I wouldn’t know because I don’t own one but I don’t see a cabin as an energy-sapping possession. It is a shelter as opposed to a house. A house is not a necessity whereas a shelter is. A cabin costs $5000 or much less as opposed to a house costing well…ridiculous mortgage payments and seemingly endless debt. The cabin is also only several months of rent. I feel bad for buying a new vehicle. That has got to be the most stupid buying decisions I’ve made.

  5. Yeah, property is a rural area is a lot different. It’s not like owning a house. Everything is paid for. There isn’t a whole lot of monetary value to the structure so you don’t have to that concerned about it. The only bill that I have to pay is property taxes.

    It’s a place I can go that is beautiful, quiet, and nobody bothers me, most of the time.

    I like having a place to go where people just leave me alone. People drain my energy—the cabin I’m okay with.

    Maybe some day I will give up everything but I definitely don’t want to ever rent again. And I definitely don’t want a storage locker.

    The truck doesn’t cost much money. It’s paid for, it gets good gas mileage, and the insurance is cheap. I don’t use it very often. I do think of giving it up though.

  6. I was set to inherit a cabin on an island in Minnesota. All my life I dreamed of how I might live there some day. The cabin was built in 1944. There was stuff written on the outhouse walls about it. There was a winter cabin that was tiny and insulated and a summer cabin and a wood-burning sauna. There was no electricity and you pumped water from the lake. There was an outhouse but no other plumbing. You bathe in the sauna!

    My mom gave it to the relatives and bought a motorhome instead. I was crushed. Now I’m set to inherit a piece of vacant land in a suburban-style neighborhood. But I don’t get to keep my land when it’s mine. I have to sell it. Maybe then I will be able to get my cabin in Minnesota back. If not, my “cabin” will be on the open road.

    If you have high-speed phone and internet, you can work anywhere. Not sure if that is possible with a low-tech cabin.

  7. you probably can’t get DSL or cable but you can have a small solar system powering a laptop and a satellite connection. My neighbor has that setup and it’s pretty fast.

    I know someone who works from home with a dial-up connection. But actually phone is hard to come by when looking for remote land. I think satellite requires a good view of the southerly sky.

  8. I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and love it! I actually look forward to the day that my life is turned upside down and I have to start over with only the basics. I have a small 35 square meter cabin in Finland on the coast and there is nothing in the world I like doing better than isolating myself there. Sometimes it scares me that I have these thoughts but when I found your blog I realized that it is perfectly normal considering where the world is headed.

    When I am at my cabin I can hear myself think better and I become so much more creative which helps with my hobby: photography. Of course it also helps you fix problems that you wouldn’t think you could fix in the real world.

    The one thing I have been wanting to ask you is how you support yourself? I can remember you saying that you sold your house and I guess that you live off of that. Here in Finland of course we have a great social security system that I could live off of but I would feel awful taking advantage of it as I am capable of working.

  9. Hi Kris,

    Oh yeah, the benefits of solitude are so grand that if people knew about it everyone would be sequestering themselves.

    I live off of money that I have. I didn’t intend to, but when I finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for the first time and was preparing to go back to work, I thought,”What’s a summer worth? And how many do I have left?” So I didn’t go back to work. So far it has worked out okay.

    It’s been almost 10 years. I’ve done a bunch of hiking, a bunch of thinking, and a bunch of reading. Which doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, but the biggest accomplishments are internal. For instance, I know my soul.

  10. I’m so glad I’ve found this blog… the idea of living alone in a cabin has been a childhood dream that I buried in the back of my mind for most of my life because I never really thought it would be a viable option.

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