10 aug A mobile home in Holland
The summer months of 2018 we were in Holland and explored ways to actually live there as a family, while holding on to our own terms as much as we could. We run two companies remotely and have two young children to care for. We love to be outside and spend as much time with the kids as we possibly can. From the summer to 2012 to the summer of 2017, we covered our need for a place to stay in Holland housesitting or renting a place for a couple of months. However nice this was to explore different parts of Holland: getting to know The Hague, Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Glanerbrug and Enschede, we felt the need to have a place of our own. This blog is about exploring our own ‘normal‘ and how we, ideally, like to live. It describes the quest to find an affordable place for which we don’t need a mortgage and that allows us to live outside as much as possible.
We sold most of our possessions when we first left Holland in 2011. We don’t have a fixed place to stay, we don’t own a car, we don’t have gym subscriptions, or school obligations or other things that lock us into a place geographically. So, if everything is open and we can decide how to live during the summer months in Holland, what would we like?
What do we love?
We made a list of things that were important to us, related to a place to live. We love to live our lives outside, not confined to a house. It is one of the things that keep us returning to Nina the VW van for another camping leg. If you live in a campervan, the inside space is so small, you HAVE to go outside. We wanted that for ourselves during the months in Holland as well, the kids would play outside and we would sit outside most of the time, while having a small, but comfortable living space. So a campervan is too small, a house is too big (and too expensive). Is there anything in between?
We considered building a tiny house. A small, well designed space in a beautiful place somewhere in the woods. One of the problems with that was, at the time, the regulations for constructing and placing tiny houses in The Netherlands were very much in an experimental phase, plus we would need land of our own to put the tiny house. Both of those things were too much of a hurdle to overcome, so a tiny house is off the list, for the time being.
What could be the equivalent of the space available in a tiny house (max 40m2), but well regulated and not difficult to find? It brought us to the idea to rent (or buy) a mobile home on an existing campsite. It turned out to be a brilliant idea… Outside: check. Not too big: check. Affordable: very much so. Mobile homes in Holland are recreational homes, which means you can only spend time there between april and october. Exactly the months we like to be in Holland. So, it seems perfect! How do we find a mobile home and how to we pick a campsite? Yet another reason to think about the terms again.
The one differentiating term
Since we have kids, one of the first things we think about is a place for our daugther and son to explore their surroundings, play with other kids and develop language, manners and skills. Our kids are and have been in our own care until about 23 months of age. Up until that moment no daycare, no kindergarten, just us and the road ahead of us, traveling, spending time with friends in Mexico or spending time with family in Holland. Since our daughter was born (in Mexico) we speak Dutch and Spanish with her, so she will be able to understand the people from the land she was born. The same goes for her brother (2017) who is also Mexican. The development of language is best (we researched) when immersed into a culture, spend a lot of time amongst people who natively speak the language. And that is what we look for while we travel or spend a longer period of time in a particular place. So, we could say, we first look into local ways to immerse ourselves in culture and language. Besides that, a physical place for our daughter (and next year, also our son) to spend a few hours, is part of the immersion we look for. Think of daycare centers or kindergarten or early Waldorf/ Montessori schools, BEFORE we pick a destination to travel to or to live for a while. Of course we decide what countries are appealing to us: Spanish speaking, Central- or South American. What should this center offer that we cannot provide ourselves? We love our children to be outside as much as they can, play in the dirt, play with other kids, learn to care for animals, help tend gardens and learn to grow things by taking care of the plants every day. We love them to play as much as they can and learn through play. We love it if they are taken places and learn from what there is to experience locally. Isa likes to do yoga, climb things and she becomes more and more comfortable in the water. We do research online to find places that offer this kind of environment and call ahead to inform. This is how we found ‘De Speelboerderij‘ daycare center on a farm in St Isodorushoeve, a tiny farmersvillage in the east of The Netherlands. And it became the number one differentiator to choose a campsite to buy a mobile home. It will be a place where the kids will return in the summer.
We found it!
In the vincinity of the daycare farm there were several campsites. In the land of campsites (Holland) it is not unthinkable to have a variety of campsites to choose from, wherever you look. With the number one differentiator covered, we were free to name the other things important to us. We would love to be near familey for one, but also a swimmingpool, an atlhetics track, a supermarket, some cafés to drink coffee and a variety of interesting places in the area to go with kids. And besides all this, we love to have a view. Overlooking the pastures of Holland haha! Of course we talked about this weird plan with our parents and it was Stevens’ dad who found us the mobile home that complied with ALL of these terms. With his help, we bought a mobile home at campsite Scholtenhagen in Haaksbergen, while we were in Mexico.
Our first summer
From april to october 2018 we lived in our newly bought mobile home and we loved every day of it! The mobile home is 12 meters long, 3,5 meters wide, three bedroom with a huge garden and an amazing view over the pastures. We even had cows on the lands directly adjacent to our garden. How amazing is that?! We loved it. Diana’s dad made us lovely wooden garden furniture that were our comfortable outdoor couches for the entire summer. Isa went to play for a few hours every day at the farm and learned to sleep in a big bed. She quit the diapers when she turned two and a bit, right before we arrived in Holland and learned how to go to the toilet by herself in the mobile home. She loved it. For our son it was a great time, exploring the garden, crawl and play outside, eating the acorns and making his first steps alongside the furniture made by his grandad. We managed to get some work done in the evenings or in the morning hours with Isa in the farm. Below we added some pictures of our new place and space we will call home for the coming years when we are in Holland.
For us a very important experience: define our most important term (or condition) and organize the nomad family life around it. After eight years of travel and working as remote entrepreneurs we can make it almost everywhere with WiFi. We feel at home relatively quickly and every travel leg we learn to better appreciate what is there in the moment. So for us now, in this phase of life, a nice (outdoor) place for our kids to play, learn and develop is THE most important differentiator that brings us to a particular place.