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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Little tin boxes

My dad lives in a “retirement community.” That means it's a trailer park for older people.

It's actually not a bad lifestyle. The trailers are pretty low maintenance. There's lot of activities for people to do. People walk and bicycle all over the place. Dad seems to like it.

I tend to look at systems and self sufficiency. These trailers are connected to city water, the power grid, public sewers, and just about everyone has the phone/Internet/television bundles. Actually, it's not that much different that the way most people live.

Maybe you don't live in a little tin box, but most houses rely on outside systems to keep them going. Cut all the wires and pipes that come into your house and is it livable? Cut the power from most trailers and it's a tin box sitting in the sun. Dad's is somewhat better off than most as at least he has some good shade trees. How's your house situated?

Energy changes everything. Abundant grid tied electricity makes these tin boxes livable. People may look down on the humble trailer, but most “normal” houses don't do any better on the self sufficiency scale. It's not the house, but the systems that keep them going that matter.

Dad's pretty limited with what he can do with his trailer. The park has rules. It's not like he can drill a well, replace his sewer with a composting system, or put in alternative energy. When you move into a park, there are some things that one just has to accept.

Don't be too smug if you own your own house. Is there a homeowners association you must conform to? Sign any agreements? Restrictive zoning? Might as well be living in a trailer.

Rural life is different. Even a trailer out on the woods can be part of a self sufficient lifestyle. The land around the home makes all the difference. A good well, septic system, solar panels, and trees for firewood make my homestead a bit better for the long term.

My income is fairly limited. Because of that, I try and avoid bills that can go up steeply without my control. Electric rates can make huge jumps. A friend of mine is looking at big increases because a major industry that used to use power went out of business. The stranded costs of a big power plants will be passed on to the rate payers. My dad is looking at a 25% increase as his energy company has a couple of failed power plants to decommission.

My local power company will be doing rate increases for much the same reasons, but they'll have to do it without me. I'm completely off grid now. Perhaps they'll pressure government to outlaw off the grid living. I'm not paying for the bad decisions the local power company made.

Some places are being hit with huge water bills, or sewer bills. At least a person could always turn off their TV service and save some money that way. Sadly, TV can be hard to give up in most households.

Affordable and reliant energy makes all the difference whether or not life in the park is viable. On the bright side, it's just a trailer. It's not like leaving a mansion behind. Dad can always bunk in with me if necessary.



  1. I always thought that one of the best investments I've seen for country folks living in trailers, was made by those who put an open-sided pole shed overtop their trailer. It keeps the sun, rain and snow off the trailer roof, and if you build it oversize, can serve as a wrap around porch and carport.

    1. That's a good idea as trailer roofs tend to leak over time. Bet it reduces the cooling bill quite a bit too.

    2. Yes to all. I have two relatives that have done this to their respective places.

      Win Win.

    3. It's a simple but good fix.

  2. It matters not whether one lives in a little tin shed on wheels or a huge mansion. As long as the occupier is

    1. Exactly! Dad's having a good time here, so it's the place for him. Then again, dad's pretty adaptable. Happiness is a decision.

    2. Lincoln supposedly said that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.