Thursday, April 11, 2013

John's top 10 survival tips for small-space living with another person...

I interviewed John (my husband) the other day to find out what his survival tips are for a couple living in a small space (such as a 300-square-foot Jazz fifth-wheel trailer). He's an expert. We've been doing just this for over three years now.

Here's what he said:

1.  First of all, before going into the small space with another person, assess for compatibility. Focus on attitude. Is the other person flexible, adaptable, mindful of the other, willing to change set habits if called for, willing to learn new things? (This is like the management philosophy of "Hire for attitude and train for skills.")

2.  Living in the small space must be a dream or part of a dream for both parties. Otherwise it's not an advisable lifestyle to adopt.

3.  Share responsibility for engineering the small space and the associated equipment. We both searched together for the right RV before we hit the road. And all alterations to the interior were discussed and agreed upon before changes were made.

4.  Patience. One must wait often. To use the one bathroom. To get to the trashcan under the kitchen sink when the other is busy with meal preparation.  And so on...

5.  Let the small stuff slide. Living in a small space fulltime with someone intensifies personal differences. There is much to chose from when it comes to the battles one can fight.

6.  Work as a team on everything with a fairly clear and agreed-upon division of labor.

7.  Have lots of outdoor time.

8.  Let the other person know what really bugs you about what s/he is doing and ask him/her kindly to change a behavior. For instance, John has asked me kindly many times during our big adventure to please refrain from slamming the RV door when I exit. He want me to close it gently. It jangles his nerves and hurts his ears when the door is slammed. This is where that willing to change behavior comes in. I had to become mindful that I was "slamming" the door and consciously do the door closing differently. It took a while to get this skill down and I still forget sometimes. But John just kindly reminds me again. (Side note - the "kindness" helps with my "willingness.")

9.  Sense of humor. Laugh at every opportunity!

10. Shared division of and responsibility for ongoing upkeep of the lifestyle - necessary resource gathering (shopping, earning money, etc.) and ongoing maintenance of the interior and exterior of the RV and vehicles.   

At the conclusion of our interview, I realized that John and I have many of the same things on our "survival tips for couples living in a small space" but there are some differences too. I'll share my list in the near future. What are the top two things on your list?



  1. 1. Adaptability: Be able to let go of your traveling urge if circumstances demand. Both of us love to travel and we had a year of traveling and workamping. However, financial circumstances have us living in San Antonio, getting full-time jobs to pay off debt accumulated in 2012 due to medical expenses (no insurance) and problems with renters. Other people may have medical problems or family members with failing health requiring a change in RV full-time plans.

    2. Communication: Tell the other person frequently how much you love them and what you love about them. If you plan to do something out of the ordinary (that isn't a surprise) let the other person know and discuss the plans.


  2. Bill & I are into our 13th year full-timing in a 27' Class C Lazy Daze. I don't think we've changed a whole lot from the way we were before we hit the road. We might change our location, change our plans, even change our minds.... we have no hard and fast rules to go by. But basically it's still the same... respect each others thoughts and feelings. The amount of space we live in doesn't make a difference to us.

    1. I see what you mean. It does come down to respecting one another's thoughts and feelings doesnt it?

  3. I'm solo & the dogs don't seem to care if I nerve them or vice-versa ;-) But it's a good list!

    1. You remind me. I need to interview Gingee too. She probably has some thoughts and feelings on the subject!

  4. I would say that you really need to 'like the person' to live in such a small space..and communicating well would be my top two!

    1. You got it there Sue. Liking the other person is critical. I have had days where I wasn't in that particular space and it was miserable!

  5. When two people share a common goal, to make the other person happy, you argue over who gets to do without rather than who gets - then you break the last cookie in half and smile :))

    It is what it is - accept that and laugh or want it to me something else and cry. Either way it still is what it is. (fulltiming is an attitude not just a place you live).

  6. The end of this month will be three years for us. Very good tips here!


I always love to hear your thoughts.