There is so much in today’s society telling us we need more. The pressures to live up to the American dream can sometimes feel more like a nightmare. It has become easy to lose sight of what’s important in life, getting caught up in having it all or keeping up with the Jones’s.
University of Mobile alumni Samantha and Adam Moats are among a small group of individuals who have rejected the normal way of living in hopes of simplifying their lives and focusing more on following the calling God has placed on them. The couple recently moved out of their home in historic Chickasaw and into a 30-foot vintage Airstream that they have transformed into their home on wheels.
Samantha graduated in 2014 with a degree in English literature and Adam graduated in 2013 with a degree in intercultural studies. Both native Alabamians, they met and fell in love while attending the university and stayed in Mobile. They have been passionate about making a positive impact in the city of Mobile since starting college, and see their move as one way to accomplish that.
They are looking forward to the freedom the Airstream will bring. It’s an opportunity to travel, meet new people, follow their calling wherever God may lead them. It’s a time to learn and grow closer to one another and to all they will meet along the way.
As Samantha and Adam embark on this journey, they are fielding a lot of questions about tiny living. Today, they answered a few.
Q. When you think about “home,” what comes to mind? How would you define it?
Samantha: I think home is far less a placeholder and more about people, connections and intentionality. You really can be at home anywhere, but what ties you to a place isn’t so much the stuff you do there; it’s about the connections you have with other people. That’s what made Mobile home. I love this city, I love the big city idea with a small town feel, but you can really be at home anywhere as long as you’re meeting with other people, whether they’re your relatives, friends or perfect strangers you find a connection with.
I think a lot about Christ when I think about home, because we know from scripture that foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. That’s because He spent His time on earth investing in others, and as Christians we are called to the same thing — no matter what type of home you live in.
Q. What made you guys want to live in a tiny home?
Samantha: When we first got married and started looking for our first home in Mobile, we really fell in love with the shotgun houses because they were smaller and had a quaint cottage feel that was still in the city. So while living there, we realized this wasn’t as daunting as we thought it would be. It’s pretty feasible. It was scary because it was more of a challenge.
Adam: Honestly, looking back on the past two years, we have been in a house three sizes bigger than our first house. Moving out of our house in Chickasaw was terrible because of all the junk we collected in those two years. We realized it just gave us more space to fill with things; you just fill rooms to fill rooms. At the end of the day, really, the reason that it came up was when we starting thinking about Samantha going to grad school, we thought, Why would we want to rent something, put money into nothing, in a city we had no intentions of staying in? Why not do a tiny home?
Samantha: It’s what pushed us; we really didn’t want to be a poor steward of our resources. We didn’t want to put money into something temporary when we could put it in something that would be lasting. It also means we have more opportunities to go and do anything. Life doesn’t have to be specific to a city anymore; I can do school and work and have this home that’s on wheels. We can take it wherever we go and, at the end of the day, we are still homeowners.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge in getting the Airstream livable?
Adam: Personally, I feel like the biggest struggle for us was that we couldn’t be there all the time (to renovate the Airstream). Our Airstream was in Prattville, Alabama, which is about two hours away from Mobile. So we had to go up pretty much every weekend for the past year to work, but luckily my dad has been so supportive and a huge help with working on it. He has put so much of his own time into it. There is not a doubt in our minds that if it wasn’t for him, there’s no way we would have been done this year.
Samantha: Absolutely. But yeah, leaving on the weekends was hard because weekends are times friends get together. We miss out, and we’ve really had to make an effort to keep up with everyone online, but our friends have been great even with the simple encouraging text message or phone call. It’s been really important to us.
Adam: More practically, it’s been a combination of things. We’ve taken this thing and really started from scratch. We started with what it looked like in 1982 and stripped down to the bare bones, making sure every little detail was correct and done right so it would last. There are so many minute details.
Q. Has downsizing been hard for you? Has it maybe revealed anything interesting about you guys as individuals or even as a couple?
Adam: Downsizing really hasn’t been too challenging because we’ve been there before, but we are sentimental sometimes, and most people are. Most people hold onto things because those things have some sort of sentimentality to them.
Samantha: For us, letters and cards really are the one thing that holds the most sentiment. I mean, I have cards from my grandmother that have been with me since my 12th birthday and made it through dorm rooms, apartments, two houses. So, why not hold on to them a little longer? They’ve made it this far.
But those are really the only sentimental things we have, and they’ve kind of been a mark of our relationship as well, Adam knowing early on my affinity for words, the written word in particular, and catering to that. I still have the first letter he ever wrote me, and that’s important to me. So, we are getting creative, trying finding solutions to store and showcase those items.
Q. So what are your plans for the future?
Samantha: For most people, moving into a tiny home is a permanent solution, but we just aren’t sure it will be for us. We think three to five years is a good timeframe to work with, so when three years gets here we will reevaluate and see where we feel God wants us to go for the next season of our lives.
Adam: I’ll say this, a lot of people say, “What about kids? Are you going to have a kid in the Airstream?” We say, “Sure, why not?” But I know that to some people it may not look like the most ideal situation, having a kid in a camper, if you will.
Samantha: Yes. Somehow in our American society we’ve gotten to a place where we associate “little” with “lacking.” That’s not to say there is anything wrong with having a lot, but it boils down to stewardship, being responsible for what you do have, and we hope to instill that principle into our children one day. But I’m perfectly content with the mystery of it all.
Q. Do you have any advice for people who may be wanting to transition to this lifestyle or just pursue any dream, for that matter?
Samantha: Think about what it is that you value in your house. Because at the end of the day it comes down to what you value in your home, which is why it’s not a problem to have much or to have little. One thing we did before making the move: we lived out of two rooms in our house and pretended the rest didn’t exist. We closed them off and lived out of our kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. It really showed us that we didn’t need a lot of the stuff we owned. So I would say start paring down, going through your things and asking, “Do I really need this?”
Adam: It can sometimes be an overly romanticized lifestyle. I think we have so many dreams, Samantha and I. This has been one of those that we have had for a while. So asking ourselves, what’s holding us back, and we realized nothing was, so we went for it!
Samantha: We also spent some time praying about it, and when it finally happened, we felt at peace about everything. So if you ask yourself, “What’s holding you back?” and the answer is nothing, maybe spend a little more time thinking and praying, asking if this is what God has for you.
Adam: I really feel like this is where the Lord was leading us. After everything happened and it all lined up, we had to ask ourselves, “Are we going to trust Him or just sit back and play it safe?”
Samantha: That’s really when we realized it was all put together by the Lord. That’s something to note. When big life decisions start to line up, and you can’t explain it, that’s when you need to find yourself at the foot of the cross. Recognizing that God is in control and He is doing things — it’s just time to trust Him.
To follow along with the Moats and their journey, check out their website castleandmoats.com