Thursday, September 25, 2008

Over Complicating Systems

This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

One of the great things about living in a nomadic home is the ability to reduce the stresses of every day life. Unfortunately many people starting this lifestyle are mislead by marketing that states the need for every conceivable gadget to make life easier. This leads many to the erroneous belief that living in a nomadic home is necessarily both expensive and complicated.

I'm not of the belief that being spartan to the extent of hardship is a good way to go, but simplifying systems often leads to much more reliability, which in turn lowers time and money spent on maintenance, not to mention first costs. In my opinion this can markedly improve quality of life.

Water systems are a good place to illustrate. Most people contemplating entering a lifestyle based around a nomadic home would expect anything less than a pressurized water system to be a compromise in comfortable living. Now, if we look at what is involved in running a pressurized water system, we see that there are electric pumps that can and often do fail. The pumps require electricity which needs to be produced and water consumption will be increased, which also needs to be replenished more frequently.

The simplified system would involve either a hand or foot powered manual pump system. My preference is using a Whale Gusher foot pump such as the one pictured to the right. These are very reliable pumps. Because they are powered by foot, you can still use both hands, as you would with a pressurized system. Because you are manually operating the pump, you only tend to pump water while you are actually using it. This dramatically reduces water consumption and thus how much time needed to be spent refilling the water tanks and you don't need to tap into the electrical system either.

For a shower, the best system I know of being used on boats is a six litre garden sprayer, fitted with a low pressure shower head with on/off control in the head. These give a good shower, use very little water and are very cheap and simple to assemble. I don't see any reason that this system would be any less advantageous on a road based nomadic home either. To operate, just fill with water of a temperature to your liking, give a few pumps and enjoy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Comfortable Living in a Nomadic Home

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There are a number of prerequisites that determine whether or not a nomadic home will be practical and comfortable to live in. The internal design and layout, along with adequate ventilation is crucial, not only for a nomadic home to be workable, but also to be a healthy place to live. There is a big difference between a nomadic home that is suitable for weekends and short holidays and one that is used for permanent living.

The biggest difference between a mobile home, bus, boat etc.. that is designed for weekends and short holidays and those that are designed for permanent living, is the number of people that they try to accommodate. For short stays the designers try to squeeze as many people in as possible, which limits the available space for other amenities, such as bathroom, kitchen and storage.

Most people wouldn't put up with a miniature kitchen or bathroom in a house, so why would a nomadic home be comfortable with a miniature kitchen and bathroom? The easiest way to ensure there is enough room for decent sized amenities is to make sure that there is no more sleeping accommodation, than there are permanent residents. Don't try to include accommodation for guests, they can sleep on the floor if necessary.

Ventilation is the other aspect which is invariably inadequate. Good ventilation is essential to keep humidity and mold from becoming a problem. It also helps in keeping warm and cosy. Just having people breathing in such a small space as the typical nomadic home will introduce a huge amount of moisture to the air, as will using gas or liquid fueled stoves. Carbon monoxide build up from stoves, lamps, or refrigeration that use a flame will be lethal if there is not enough ventilation, something that is often overlooked.

In a later post I will show the floor plan for a holiday caravan that I have designed for a couple with standing headroom for someone up to about six feet tall. It has a full queen size bed; kitchen, with as much usable space and functionality as an average house kitchen; separate toilet and shower, with two doors between the toilet and kitchen. The shower stall is a bit smaller than a house shower, but still bigger than most commercial motorhome or boat showers. It also has dining seating for six people, if you felt the need to entertain. with a total interior height from floor to ceiling of 1.91 metres (6'3") and outside floor dimensions of 3.64 metres (12') x 2.04 metres (6'8").

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nomad Business

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What sort of business is going to be practical when living in a nomadic home? What are the limitations to running a business from a nomadic home? What can be some advantages for running a business out of a Nomadic home?

I think these questions are a good way to evaluate possibilities for earning an income on the move.

Starting with the limitations, I think that lack of physical space and no permanent fixed address are the two biggest ones. This limits us to either selling a service, very small products, or products which are shipped to the customer by a third party.

The main advantage I see is being mobile. You can always move to fresh market opportunities. This can be especially good if you are manufacturing arts and crafts. The customer base is much larger if you are traveling from market to market, rather than just working one market continuously. If you are providing a service, you can travel to new areas for new customers, increasing the available pool from what exists in any one area.

So what are some examples of specific businesses that can be run from a mobile home? I think to start with, people should be trying to come up with their own ideas based on the above principles, but here are a few ideas that people are already doing. Jeweler, Writer, Musician/Performer, Retailer(markets,fairs, door to door etc.), artist, IT services.

New technology is opening up possibilities that were not available until very recently. For instance, this post has been written and posted on the internet, on an Asus eee pc with a G3 mobile service using a Vodafone Vodem, while I am sitting on my yacht in the middle of a harbour.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Making an income as a nomad

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Many view the nomadic lifestyle as some sort of escape from the harsh realities of contemporary life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact remains that all lifestyles have ups and downs. Legitimate reasons for choosing a nomadic lifestyle are many and varied, but choosing it as a method of escaping day to day hardships will rapidly lead to disillusionment if not worse. One of the biggest requirements to making the nomadic lifestyle successful is security in ones self. That coupled with a need for new experiences and challenges can make it a very full-filling lifestyle.

One aspect that cannot be ignored, irrespective of lifestyle, is the need for resources to survive. In the contemporary western world that means income, or a stash of money. For people who are independently wealthy that's not a big issue, though for most of us it creates some unique challenges that most in contemporary society are not faced with. Fortunately traveling in your own home does make things easier than for most travelers, in that accommodation and general living expenses are kept down and you can keep more resources on hand than otherwise possible while traveling.

Obviously a standard nine to five job is going to be unsustainable if you are going to do any travel, which is the primary reason you would consider a nomadic lifestyle. So what are some options? If you are wanting to work as an employee at a work site then you would be looking at short term positions, such as seasonal work; fruit picking, farm work etc. Alternatively you may consider running your own business. There is a good case to be made for this option if you are living a nomadic lifestyle. For a start you are already likely to be independently minded and decision making is much more of an ordinary part of day to day life than normal. The running costs can also be much lower than for someone in fixed accommodation.

There are further considerations as to what sort of businesses are suitable for someone living in mobile accommodation which I will start to explore in the next post.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Environmental Impact

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Not necessarily a question that most would ask, when considering living in a nomadic home. But one worth considering never the less. Living in a nomadic home is generally considered an alternative lifestyle by mainstream society, which often brings ill conceived prejudices with it. In these days of global warming and other environmental concerns, it is worth having at least some idea of how the environmental scales tip between living in a nomadic home and contemporary housing, with it's associated lifestyle.

There are two main aspects to consider; the first being the building itself, and the second being the general lifestyle.

If we look at the physical home itself, then I think that it would be hard to make a case against pretty much any nomadic home, as they are by their very nature, much smaller than standard housing. Which should mean less material resources are used in their construction. There are different types of materials used though, such as epoxy resins (particularly in boat construction) which are petro-chemicals. I would suspect though, that those differences would be quite easily offset just by their small size, as would be the energy costs for maintaining, heating and cooling.

On the lifestyle side of things, again, I think that living in a mobile home is likely to have less environmental impact. Sure, most land based mobile homes are going to use more fuel than the average car, but then how much distance are you actually covering on average, per day? If you are working at a site specific location, you are more likely to stay closer to it than if you are living in a house. So the house dwellers car will be clocking up plenty of miles in comparison, just getting to and from work. If the nomadic dweller is running a business from their mobile home, they won't be burning any fuel getting to and from work. More likely, they will travel a few miles here, and there, for a change in scenery, which will still usually still be less miles over a month than the contemporary house dweller.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Types of mobile accommodation

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What are some of the merits of some different types of nomadic home?

I think it is worth considering traditional types, that were, and in some cases, are still being used by traditional nomadic cultures. In many cases, contemporary westerners will be wanting a much more modern approach. But given the limitations imposed by most production setups, which if viewed honestly, are mostly designed for short holidays, rather than permanent living accommodations, could be improved by incorporating ideas from the more traditional nomadic lifestyles.

So, in no particular order.

Bus, truck, RV: Can be self contained, allowing for full independence on the road.

Caravan: Can be moved with a car, which means only one vehicle may be required if the home is to be left during the day. Home doesn't need to be replaced in it's entirety, when vehicle comes to the end of it's economic life.

Yacht: Can travel anywhere in the world, that has a coast or harbour and is self contained.

Tent: For the super mobile, low cost solution. Good accompaniment when primary transportation is a bicycle.

Friday, September 5, 2008


This blog has shifted to a new web site called Nomadic Home. Click here to see it.

There is scant information on the internet about this subject, unless you hunt all over to get a little piece here and a little piece there. Mostly it is closely related topics which have some answers, but create a whole lot of there own limitations.

I guess my definition of living and traveling is different to most, partly through upbringing, partly by outlook. When I look at how most people travel I tend to get one of two reactions. Either it is ridiculously expensive, or horribly uncomfortable. Neither option makes travel practical or particularly attractive in my opinion.

Getting past the expense of traveling in luxury and staying in flash hotels, it is very sterile and isolated from the places you stay in and pass through. Which makes me question why people who travel that way, even bother. You don't have the true comforts of home, because you can't bring them with you and you don't develop any cultural awareness, because you are essentially cut off from the local population.

The other common option of backpacking, dossing, hitch-hiking, etc does bring about valuable experiences, but in my experience, also has it's share of down right uncomfortable times too. Also, if you are planning on spending any real length of time traveling it's not necessarily the cheapest option either.

This brings me to the "third way" as some clever politicians have labeled themselves to gain power. Why not travel with your own accommodation. Gypsies have done it for hundreds of years, in one form or another. More recently hippies have been doing it with house trucks and buses. Retirees in America are doing it in R.V.s. For myself, I grew up living on yachts. Even traveling with tents works if you really know what you are doing.

It is on these themes of traveling with your own accommodation that I intend to explore on this blog and I invite comments on different related topics to write about. Areas which I see as valuable to write about at present are types of mobile accommodation, how to finance it, different ways of earning an income while living in mobile accommodation, and the differing variety of lifestyles possible while traveling. Also what are the practicalities and difficulties with this approach and what do people do to solve them.