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How Losing Our Home Changed Our Lives For the Better

losing our home

Guest post by Sarah of Little Bus on the Prairie

Four months ago my husband and I were in a deep slump.

There wasn’t anything terribly wrong, per se, and there was a lot that was right with our lives: we had three beautiful children, a roof over our heads, a steady income, and a great marriage. We even owned a piece of property that we had plans to build a house on. However, our efforts to get that project underway had drained our savings and left us with nothing concrete to show for our efforts.

We both felt “stuck,” like our wheels were spinning but we weren’t getting anywhere we wanted to be.

Then, one day in January, as I was leaving to pick my oldest up from school, I opened up a piece of mail from our landlord. Annoyed, I assumed it was a rent increase. Instead it was a 60-day notice to leave the premises because they were selling the house we were renting.

I found myself immediately gripped with anxiety. We had been living in our rental for close to four years and were nowhere near where we wanted to be with our plans for building our future home.

It looked like we would have to find another rental that would probably cost more, not to mention the expense and effort that moving requires, and take further resources from being put toward our goal.

I sent my husband a text with the news and he reminded me that we had another option. We had recently purchased a 1970 International double-decker school bus conversion off Craigslist for $1000. It had been sitting for a decade and was a mess inside. There were vague plans of living in it once we had building permits for the house, but we had since regretted the purchase as the behemoth languished in our driveway untouched and building permits seemed such a long way off.

Now we had a new impetus to work at making it livable.

It was the spark that lit a fire beneath us and, with a lot of help from family and friends, we were able to completely update the bus in just a few weeks! We will now be able to live on our land, rent-free while we save money to put toward our dream house.

bus on the prarie

The past two months have been exhausting and full of hard work, but it’s like we have a brand new lease on life. Something that could have been a terrible blow, and pushed us further from reaching our goal, has instead been turned into a fantastic opportunity to achieve it even more quickly than we had hoped.

We feel more than ready to accept the risks and meet the challenges in our path as we start out on this adventure.

Have you ever done something that seemed “extreme” to meet a goal? I’d love to hear about it!

Sarah is a wife and mom to three living in North County San Diego. She coupons, homeschools and is otherwise completely normal (aside from the whole living in a bus thing). She’s a voracious reader and is always looking for great book recommendations. You can follow along with her family’s journey into full-time bus-living and house-building at Little Bus on the Prairie.

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41 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing! When my husband was laid off from his job in 2010, we moved in with my parents for a year and eventually moved across the country for a new job in 2011. It was a really humbling time, but it also increased our desire to be debt-free and find a place where we could do ministry full-time. I finally had the courage to start a blog, and we learned a lot more about frugal living through necessity. I wouldn’t want to live those hard times over again, but we are where we are today thanks to those difficult times. 🙂

    • Thanks Jessica! We’ve also been through a season of unemployment and in retrospect it definitely helped strengthen our marriage and our family. Sometimes the times that seem the worst actually wind up giving us the greatest opportunities!

    • francis says:

      Hi thanks for making me feel better. Also have to move after staying with kids for 5yrs. So scared but maybe its time to move on.

      Thank you again

  • Amy says:

    What an adventure! I’m cheering for you!

  • Bailey S says:

    For four months me, my husband, and my two boys lived in a fifth wheel camper on my in laws land. This included having to trot to their trailer house to use the restroom and shower. It’s not easy. However, I realize how blessed I am to have had some place to go besides living in a car. Praying that your journey is wonderful and that you gain much from it!

  • Kaye Edwards says:

    I would say you are taking lemons and making lemonade!

  • I love how God had already provided a home for you even before you lost one. 🙂 A great story!

  • Paula says:

    Lovely! Refreshing read! Best of luck to you and your family towards your goals!

  • Jennifer says:

    Wow, I loved this story! You and your family are so brave to try something different and rent-free, so cool! Good luck with everything.

  • Nicky says:

    We are 2 weeks in. 7 in a motorhome. It’s by choice. And we are LOVING it. There have been challenges. But everything is a challenge. When people enter our “home” they say how peaceful it is and that it “doesn’t seem too small.” It’s like the walls expand somehow. If you’re not on fulltime families on Facebook, join us! There’s a bunch of us there.

  • Amber says:

    Sarah I am really moved. I am from south Texas, literally minutes from the border, and my father is Mexican-American and the majority of the population is here too. What you and are your family are doing is not a very foreign concept to many down here. I actually thought it was a “Mexican” thing to do because it is not strange to see people who buy property and live In a trailer while they build their home. Of course you won’t see this in town but when people buy outside city limits and have an acre + it is not weird to see small travel trailers or mobile homes on the edge of the property. Slowly but surely a home will be built little by little. As a little kid I used to “feel sorry” for these people but I had no idea they were doing things the “right way”. I have had a sibling do it this way and they had a fifth wheel and a newborn. My parents bought 5 acres in 1993 for 15 k and paid it off in 3 years. They continued to payoff their home and were free from a thirty year mortgage in the early 2000’s. When they were ready to build on the 5 acres, they bought a very old 2 bed/1 bath mobile home and moved it to the property. My dad contracted out the building of the home himself (we children prayed like crazy because we were afraid my dad would be too spendthrift and compromise the quality of the home… We were wrong) and spent 82k on a 2200 sq ft custom built home in 2007. Completely debt free. The property plus other things that they added have valued the property to over 300k! It seems they had the right idea all along. So my dad is retired and mom nearing retirement and have their dream home paid for. Major kudos to you and pray that The Lord continue to show you favor and wisdom along this process. I look forward to hearing more about you journey.

    • Wow! That is amazing! As we’ve gone along this journey so far people have shared a lot of stories with us of either doing it themselves or knowing people who have and it is so encouraging.

      I also understand what you mean about “feeling sorry” for people choosing to live this lifestyle. One of the things a few people in our circles have had to come to terms with is the sort of stigma that can accompany not living in a permanent structure. We are glad to be able to help people get over that prejudice 🙂

    • Ginger M says:

      Love this!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • You are very brave, but I admire you! Go for it! I hope your house just flies together! Thanks for sharing about your adventure!

  • Lori says:

    Each of us have a cross to bear, some with finances, others with health. We have a child with an illness and although we have some very bad days, I know it could be so much worse and others have it much worse than us. I am thankful for what I have and the older I get, the less material items matter. I can imagine this will be a great memory for you and your children, something they can tell their own children. Take plenty of photos.

  • Maggie says:

    In late 2003 my husband lost his job, it was just the push he needed to start his own business! We are just getting ready to celebrate 10 years of being self employed. What a crazy decade of running a business and being parents, but we have been extremely blessed!

  • JESSICA says:

    This funny on how this story shows up now.. My husband and I are in serious debt and bad credit. We have two kids 2 and 6 and paying a apt of 770.00 and just stuck with bills.. We tried to get trailer to put on my in laws land that they own and we got denied again. So after struggle with this we are putting everything in storage and buying a travel trailer and we are going to live in it for 6 months to a year or longer if we have to. Just to get this debt and problems under control and gone and for my husband to found a better job. Then we are going to build a house or find a another trailer.. Its going to be rough but God puts this on our hearts and we have to do so we can breathe and have better life for the kids without the stress. Thank u for posting this is gives me more confidence and encouragement to know that I’m not the only one to have to do this.. thank you.

  • Delray says:

    Prayers for you and your family as you take a brave step and do something a lot of people couldn’t dream of! You can do it!

  • Turner says:

    What an interesting story, thanks for sharing! Best of luck to you and your family.

  • Kathy Spann says:

    We bought some land to build a home, sold our house (after 2 years on the market), and then built a shop and lived in it for 2 years. We built our home right in front of the shop. My husband uses the shop for car repairs and in his younger years body shop work that he had learned in high school. It was tough and Christmas was kind of depressing those two years. But now 20 years later, our house is paid for, kids are out of college, and it was all worth it.

  • Kathy Baker says:

    Back in 1999, my family of 5 lived in tents on the 28 Kentucky acres we had just bought. We showered with water bags from water in the spring and cooked on the grill. We lived that way while we built our house for 5 months.

  • karise says:

    This is so inspiring. We recently moved into a new home. All was well, but we had different dreams and goals, that weren’t being met because if the cost of living in this home. We have decided to start the journey if selling our house, downsizing, and truly be able to live out the dreams we have! It’s scary, yet a huge leap of faith that is energizing! Thank you for your inspiration!

  • Randi says:

    Thank you for this article. We just got a similar letter to evict the premises this week, but unlike you don’t have another option yet. I know this is in God’s hands and He will reveal it to us day by day. God is good!

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