The Story of our Tiny Ass Cabin
As we have traveled this country over the last 2.5 years we have noted places we loved and that have automatically felt like home. For quite a while I was sure when we had a home without wheels it would be in NW Montana. It turns out I was wrong. Here is the story of how we came to call a Western North Carolina cabin our own.
Early this past summer Adam and I began talking (again) about the idea of home base or halftime home. One of the main reasons was the desire to add to our family, and for us a more stationary home base felt like necessity to move towards that. At the time we had ideas about some of the places throughout the country that might be right for us but the idea of picking one place still felt like a challenge. As the summer progressed we talked and talked and narrowed down our lists of must haves and would like to haves, and set some rough time frames.
Top on our list for must haves were small (under 900 sq ft), affordable (to allow for lots of travel), and on a couple of acres preferably in or near mountains but not in the complete middle of nowhere. While we were in Montana we did some searching of properties in the NW part of the state – the area the we absolutely love – but sadly we couldn’t find that combination of must haves. It wasn’t the first time we looked. I am pretty sure Adam has probably down so on and off since the first time we set foot there on our honeymoon. While it felt a bit disappointing to let the idea of Montana go we knew that we have friends and a place to park Betty White in a couple different parts of the state and felt like our Montana love could be satisfied by that….at least for now.
We left Montana at the end of July to start to head east to New Jersey by the start of September for my sister’s bridal shower. We spent some time in North Dakota, Minnesota and Michigan. While North Dakota and Minnesota weren’t on our list for places to own property we thought Michigan might have some possibilities.We had only popped into Michigan previously but had heard a lot of amazing things and despite that fact that there aren’t mountains there we have also gravitated towards the idea of a lake house and decided to keep an open mind while exploring. While we really loved visiting and exploring part of Michigan and its unexpected beauty we didn’t get “the feeling” we have had other places (like Montana).We enjoyed the beauty of the gorgeous lakes and some cute small towns. We even browsed real estate in a few places but it all felt a little forced. We took our cue that it wasn’t the right fit.
On our way out of Michigan we stopped in Indiana to visit friends before plans to head to New Jersey. While there Adam continued to search properties online. This time focusing on Western North Carolina. About two years ago we had spent a couple weeks in Asheville and really fell in love with the area. It provided the proximity to nature we were looking for plus the access to art/good food and resources that come with a city. When we were there we both said on a few occasions that this was an area that felt like home to us and it has always popped up in discussions of a place we could see ourselves staying awhile.
We planned to head down to North Carolina to explore more areas outside of Asheville and hopefully look at some properties at the end of the year – after out trip abroad and after my sister’s wedding. If things didn’t feel right to us during that time we’d move on to the next potential location. However, while browsing properties online Adam came across a property that felt like something we couldn’t pass up. After talking to the realtor it seemed to fit our must haves so we ended up taking a LONG detour from Indiana to New Jersey by way of North Carolina. Not ideal but we didn’t want to have any “what ifs” in the future. We left Indiana on a Thursday afternoon and arrived in Western NC on Friday evening. We explored the closest small town to the property, walked around the downtown, had a delicious dinner and then enjoyed a music in the park event that was taking place and some ice cream before driving around the area a bit to get the lay of the land and ending up in a Walmart Parking lot for the night.
Late Saturday morning we had an appointment to go see the property. We spent maybe twenty minutes in the cabin and on the property (the owners actually had it rented out that weekend) and maybe another half hour talking to the realtor before needing to grab some food and start heading north. We stopped for lunch in another small town about ten minutes from the cabin for some barbecue and started the long drive to New Jersey. On the drive we talked it over. It checked all three of our main boxes – 1. It was small -576 sq feet to be exact. 2. It was in budget – in fact it was actually under budget 3. It was on almost three acres in the mountains, in national forest and not in the middle of nowhere – there were multiple small cute towns within 15 minutes, more within 30 and Asheville about an hour away. There were also some things that were bonuses – under 30 minutes from Smokey Mountain National Park, it was a newer property built in 2015 (no work needed!), it had previously been used as an Airbnb rental so potential to continue to do so when we travel, and the realtor lived on the property nearby and could help keep an eye on things while we were gone. The interior of the cabin itself wasn’t one hundred percent our taste but that was all cosmetic and could be changed down the road, and the property was a little steeper than ideal but it still kind of felt like a no brainer to us. We slept on it (in a Cracker Barrel parking lot somewhere in Virginia) and on Sunday morning we put in an offer and it was accepted. We closed on the property remotely from New Jersey the day we got on a flight to head to Iceland.
We hadn’t planned to buy a house quite so soon – more like sometime start of 2018 to mid 2018. We hadn’t even told our families of our plans to look at them yet. It all happened quickly and fairly easily and seemed to fall into place. And it felt right. That was big for us. Last time we talked about buying a house again we weren’t ready. This time we were. For a few reasons but the main one being that we changed the way we looked at buying house. Previously we had looked at buying a house as the end of our travels, now we look at it as a new way of traveling, maybe even a more sustainable one for us. Previously we fell into our old way of thinking that buying a property would lock us down to one place or one thing, now we remind ourselves that if we don’t love it, if this doesn’t work for us it doesn’t have to be forever. We have that choice.
We’ve been in the cabin for almost two months now, with only a trip to Alabama to visit family for the holidays. We love the cabin and have no regrets about our impulse buy. It felt like home the first morning we woke up here all three (four if you include little Miss Dakota) sharing a mattress on the floor. While I’d love to say we will travel for six months of the year and stay put six months of the year I couldn’t. I imagine that what our travel looks like will evolve as we do, as our family does. We will stay flexible, open and continue to do what feels right. That seems to be working pretty well for us.