Well we’ve done it now. After 4.5 years of living exclusively in the Airstream (we’ve only taken a single one week vacation away from home the entire time) we’ve moved into a house for the winter.
The idea to rent a house was conceived over a year ago. The logic went something like this…We will already be on the east coast for the summer and fall so we might as well spend the winter in Florida. From previous visits, we knew we liked the Flordia Keys and wanted to spend more time there. Since the state parks in the Keys are hard to get into and the private parks packed tight like a can of sardines, why not ditch the Airstream for a few months and rent a house? And just like that, a plan was formed.
Of course, there was a bit more to it than that. First, we had to find a place. We already knew we wanted to be on Big Pine Key. For one, because that’s where my dad lives, and for two, we like that much of the island is protected key deer habitat which means lots of open space for biking, walking and exploring. With the search narrowed down to one Key, we scoured VRBO for places in our price range. House rentals in the Keys are plentiful. Tons and tons of houses down here are second homes that the owners rent when they’re not here. Finding a house on the small side within our budget was a bit of a challenge though. After striking out with several houses that appeared to be available, but were actually being saved for repeat visitors we finally found one that met all requirements.
We ended up with a two bedroom, two bath house at the far end of a dead end street surrounded on both sides by empty lots. The house is on a canal that gives us direct access to the ocean. We’ve already put our kayaks in the water and done some exploring. I see lots more of this in our future.
The yard is pretty bare and gravel covered, but we have a nice sized deck that overlooks the canal. It’s the perfect place for entertaining, working, breakfasting and even sunset viewing.
Inside we have so much space to spread out. The house is actually only 960 sq. ft. which I once would have considered small, but these days it feels like a mansion. The first day I was overwhelmed by all the space and storage options. It took a few days to get organized, but once I had the kitchen set up to my liking and Tim had all the electronics in their proper place we quickly settled in.
As an extra bonus, we even have room to park the Airstream right next to the house. This was not something we included in our initial search because we thought it would be hard to come by. Turns out that the owners were more than happy to let us keep it here.
Not only does this save us on storage fees, but it also gives us the chance to do some of the renovations we’ve been putting off while it was our only residence. We started a list of small repairs/upgrades that quickly blossomed to include much more involved projects. One of those projects is to remove the old carpet (actually a product called Ozite) from the walls and replace with a foam backed vinyl. To do this we have to take out most of the cabinets and pull back furniture from the walls. Of course, once that happened we thought, hey, now would be a good time to replace the floor. Oh boy, this could be dangerous. I plan to write at least one blog post about the renovations when they are complete, but for now, I’ll share this slightly scary photo of the current state of our bedroom. Seeing it like this makes me both nervous and excited.
Aside from ripping apart the Airstream we’ve been busy exploring the neighborhood. The best way to explore down here is by bike. With no hills and an island-wide speed limit of only 30 mph (because of the Key deer) it’s both an easy and safe place to bike. There’s also dedicated bike lanes and bike paths all over which means we can ride most places without feeling like we’re going to get run over by tourists gawking at the deer. We also discovered some nearby trails that are perfect for off-road biking.
I’m sure I’ll have much more to share from our new neighborhood over the next few months, but for now, I need to get outside and enjoy the day!