Disclaimer – this plan is a highly individualized solution for our family, and not, regrettably, a plan that addresses the needs of the unemployed and nearly homeless in general. As such, if you are in our situation, it likely won’t provide the hope you anticipated. Frankly I doubt there are any one size fits all solutions to the growing problem of the long term unemployed, nor is there sufficient attention paid to the problem. You might not think this plan will work, or it might be something that you would never do yourself and we understand that. That said, this is our plan, and we hope you will follow along on our journey as the Box Car Kids move beyond the box!
In approximately two months (once school gets out) we shall say good-bye to friends and the blue Pacific Ocean and pack our belongings and head inland to the great Midwest. Of course it will actually be a lot more complicated, labor intensive and emotional than that! I left the Midwest some 30+ years ago after graduating from high school. A west-coaster originally who had moved to the Midwest as a small child, I applied only to California colleges and cheerfully headed west to the adventures awaiting me. Truthfully I had not intended on returning. I like the ocean air, gentle climate and open horizon. But, since the key to life is remaining flexible and open to change, and the effort I have expended to stay in California has not come to fruition, it looks like we are going ‘home’ to Indiana.
No, I haven’t gotten an offer of a paying position with benefits – and I’m not sure the job possibilities are significantly better but the unemployment rate is at 8.4% in Indiana versus California’s 10.9%. The main and most important reason for this move is that we still have family in Indiana, family who are willing to let us roost with them for a time. Since they live in the country we will be able to enjoy more outdoor space and even grow / raise some of our own food. So it’s not a commune but will have some aspects of co-housing. I will continue the job search (there is a university nearby), and continue my writing, editing, proofreading practice on the side (as well as the cat beds). We are planning on gardening, raising chickens and a small flock of either goats or sheep.
It will be an adjustment for all of us – my family will be surrounded by children for the first time and my children will be surrounded by green fields and woodland. My son, who is afraid of bugs, and my youngest daughter, who doesn’t like to be far from stores, may consider it less of an adventure once the novelty has worn off! The colder winters and hotter summers will take some getting used to as well.
One of our first challenges will be to create some sort of housing. We will stay briefly with my family but they are unable to accommodate five people for any length of time without significant disruption of their lives (which we will strive to avoid). So in order to make the arrangement work we will need to erect our own home. Hence the interest in unusual houses – log cabin kits, shipping containers and grain silos (they have an empty one), and such. We will be greatly constrained, as usual, by the cost of any potential home but are sincerely hoping we do not end up back in another trailer (even with the significantly increased outdoor area)!
These are the bare bones of our plan – it will evolve once it’s underway, depending on resources and opportunities. The initial steps involve the move – sorting, packing, and shipping our meager belongings, raising money (selling our trailer and holding a fundraiser yard sale), and making our way across the country. Once the route is planned out we hope to schedule some meet ups with friends and supporters along the way. Sort of a BCK Blog Tour!