Cabin Life on Salt Spring!

It’s been just over 1 year since I’ve moved to quiet and quaint Salt Spring Island from my city life in Vancouver. It truly has been an incredible experience thus far; filled with excitement, new learnings, moments of pure bliss, and of course a few challenges!

I figured it was time a write a blog post to give anyone who’s interested some deeper insights as to what life is like while living in a quiet place and a very tiny space!

Photo Credit: Syd Woodward

Where I live?

  • I live in a 250 sq. foot cabin – hand built by my partner, Luke. I helped a bit with some of the interior insulation, dry walling, mudding, & painting – but I really can’t take much credit! It was all of Luke’s sheer determination that got us to where we are today. I should mention that he’s not a trained carpenter nor had he built a whole lot of anything before the cabin – but somehow he managed to do everything from the framing to the wiring all on his own
  • When I first moved in, the cabin was approximately 180 sq. feet, had no indoor sink or hot running water, no wifi, and a very minimal kitchen space – since then Luke did a kitchen reno, which now has pretty well everything I could want – including hot running water! It was a long 6 months of doing dishes outside, (especially considering how much I’m in the kitchen) and an even longer 12 months of no wifi (especially considering I work most “from home”)
  • We live on a 2.5 acre piece of land, owned by a dear friend, John who graciously gave Luke the opportunity to build the cabin!
  • We have 2 gardens on the property – one is right out front the cabin. We call it the “Upper G” and grow a lot of greens up here (so we can harvest as we are making our meals). We also grow things we need to keep a close eye on (like peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes). Our “Lower G” is much larger and loaded with plants like potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, zucchini, squash, peas, radish, asparagus, beans, and a few others I’m likely forgetting 🙂

What I Love About it?

Gah – where to even begin! I truly love living here so much. Although there are certainly challenges (that I’ll get to below), I couldn’t imagine it any other way! Listed below are just a few of my most favourite things:

Photo Credit: Syd Woodward
  • Being able to grow a ton of food – this was the #1 reason I wanted to move to the island
  • Waking up to the birds, roosters, and sun light beaming through the french doors of the cabin
  • Going on my quiet morning walks/ runs and waving to every car that drives past me (although I don’t love trying to run up all the hills)
  • Living in a small space with Luke (most of the time) :p where everything feels so within our means, comfortable, and cozy. It feels easy to stay accountable for our actions and connected with each other!
  • I love that because we live in such a small space, it forces us to be minimal and is much easier to ensure every single thing that comes in here is of the highest quality – all the candles, appliances, clothing, dishes, books, etc. we bring in are very intentionally thought out and have value to us!
  • Having space to think, feel, reflect, and go inward – this one is huge for me! I love not being distracted by certain ways of city living (the noises, people, signs, events, etc.). After being away from the cabin for a while and then coming back, I truly understand the importance of having this space to do so
  • Our cute little kitchen! Although there are definitely days I wish I had a bigger one (and a dishwasher), I truly love creating in this kitchen! Everything is within reach and it feels like such a safe and calming space for me to be in. I can’t thank Luke enough for doing the reno for me to feel this way!
  • Having our little wood stove to heat the cabin
  • Having fresh well water (aka no chlorinated/ fluoridated tap water!). Although our water is quite sulfury, many people wouldn’t see this as a positive, but I’ve learned to love it for how it is!
  • Living so immersed in nature – our cabin is up on a hill side amongst beautiful trees, shrubs, and greenery, everywhere we look, and flying birds overhead. The air is always fresh, and I always feel like I’m apart of nature (as opposed to yearning for it when I lived in the city)
  • Living within a small community and knowing I most likely will say hi to at least 5 people every time I go into town/ the grocery store
  • Not having any big box chain stores close (NO Starbucks, Best Buy, Walmart, Home Depot, etc.)
  • Being so in touch with the seasons – I love watching distinct blossoms come out in Spring and seeing leaves fall one by one on distinct trees in Autumn
  • The Salt Spring Exchange (Salt Springs very own Craigslist)- you wouldn’t believe what you can find on here and also how easy it is to promote events/ connect to the community
  • Going to community events and seeing people so free – always dancing, kids running bare foot in the grass, no need to dress up, etc.

The Challenges?

  • Missing my friends, family, and my dear Vancouver wellness community. I truly miss connecting with them and feeling understood by those people closest to me
  • Feeling lonely – it’s taken me way longer to feel fully integrated into the community, and I am still yet to find tons of people I truly connect with
  • Missing my “go to” places – I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed all my Vancouver hot spots (especially Kind Cafe, Heirloom, Be Fresh, & Whole Foods). There are very few places to eat out on the island that excite me or leave me feeling inspired and nourished. This is tough for me as good food is such an important part of my life!
  • Missing previous work opportunities that would come up in Vancouver. Not to say cool ones don’t come up here, however they are definitely different than some of the opportunities that were coming up for me when living in the city
  • Living in such a small space with another person – at moments I know both Luke and I drive each other crazy. It’s can also be a challenge to navigate our schedules, friend visits, wake up times, solo time, phone calls, online streams, etc. to ensure we are giving each other the space we both need
  • Missing the “polished” vibes of more modern living – although our life is glamorous in its own way, it is also very rustic and often far from picture perfect. We have a composting toilet, no fancy bathroom, and an outdoor shower only. There are days I really miss having a space like that – especially if I want to dress up or just take some time for “beatui-i-fying” self care.
  • Hosting people as opposed to hanging out: don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hosting people. However, I often miss having a quick hang out with a friend as opposed to hosting them for a few days. Especially because our lifestyle is rather rustic, it can feel tiring explaining to people about how are systems work – and in all honesty the cabin really was only built for 2 people (max!). That being said, most peoples reaction to our space have been so wonderful that it takes most of the worry/ stress away!
  • Getting “Island Fever” (aka feeling like I really need to get off the island or else I’m gunna go stir crazy) – this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I know it’s time to plan a trip to Vancouver, Victoria, or Duncan
  • Not being able to walk everywhere/ not having exercise integrated into my daily life as much. I used to bike/ walk absolutely everywhere I went in the city!
  • Ferries – co-ordinating ferry schedules, paying for ferries, sitting on them for so long, etc.
  • Health care – luckily this hasn’t been a huge challenge for us, however the one time I did need to see a specialist I realized how tough it would be for someone who had a lot of chronic health issues. There is a hospital on the island, which I am super grateful for, however it obviously doesn’t have the capacity of those in larger cities

Final Words

I truly love living this exciting and unconventional life! For anyone who is feeling called to move to a smaller space or quieter place – I can’t recommend it enough! It certainly takes time to get used to, and regardless challenges will come up, however it has been such an incredible and invaluable experience for me. After living in this way, I don’t know if I can ever go back to a fully “modern day” home – I truly feel blessed to live this life.

Photo Credit: Diana Pattison
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