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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Now welcome your hosts, David Walmsley, and Nathan Wrigley.
Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast, you've reached episode number 286. Entitled living the life that working in tech can allow it was published on Thursday, the 7th of July, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley. And just before we begin a few bits of housekeeping, first thing I want to mention is the WP build subscribe page, head over to WP Builds.com/subscribe that will enable you to stay up to date with all of the content that we produce.
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Okay, what are we talking about today? The truth is, this is like no other episode we've done. I reached out to Alex Standford a little while ago, and we had a little bit of a conversation about what we were gonna talk about in the podcast episode.
So he's a user of full site editing and he does lots and lots of stuff on the coding side. All of that was really interesting. And then he dropped in that he was living in a campervan by a campervan perhaps if you're in the us or somewhere like that, you might call it a camper or an RV. But basically Alex, his two kids, his wife, his dog, they all live in this 240 square foot camper.
And so I just thought let's do an episode about that. Let's talk about what it's like, how it is working and trying to be productive whilst living cheek by Jo with your entire family, everybody all squashed into one place. What amazing freedoms does it afford? What are the. Brilliant bits of this lifestyle.
And also what are some of the drawbacks? What are some of the things which make it more difficult and not quite so rosy, as you might imagine. Like I said, a really interesting episode, not like one we've ever done before, and I hope that you enjoy it. Hello there. Welcome to the WP build podcast. Once again, it's an interview episode this week and I am joined on the line from who knows where Alex Standford is.
[00:04:05] Alex Standiform: Alex. Hey, how's it going? Thanks for having me. You are
[00:04:08] Nathan Wrigley: so welcome. We had a brief chat before we click the record button. And all I can say is this episode, I think is gonna be really different from the typical episodes that we do about plugins and themes. Alex sent me a laundry list of possible things to talk about.
And many of them were right up the technology street. You know how to achieve this with this technology and so on, but we've settled on a completely different topic, like nothing we've ever done before because of Alex's really interesting approach to well life. Alex, just tell us a little bit about the way you live.
[00:04:45] Alex Standiform: Sure. We, I think that the term you would see if you looked for it online is a digital nomad. So effectively what we do is we live in a camper and we travel all over the United States. Full time. I don't have a house, I just own a camper a truck. I, and I take it all over the place. Try to stay in perpetual 70 degree weather as much as I can with my two kids, my wife, two cats at a dog.
[00:05:16] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. Wow. Okay. We're gonna unpack all of this. First of all, let's just rewind a little bit. Was there a point at which if we did, two years ago, if we recorded this or five years ago or 10 years ago, did you have a house? Did you have a sort of sedentary life? And there was a moment in time where you said enough, I can't cope with this anymore.
I just want the freedom. I want the the campervan lifestyle. Was there a point where you changed from one thing to.
[00:05:45] Alex Standiform: Yeah, definitely. Prior to being a web developer I was a mechanical engineer and I was, obviously very technically minded and I would go to the office and I'd work for eight hours a day, five days a week.
And to be honest, I just hated being in the office. I would be like two 30 and I would've, and I'd just be spent, I would've done everything I needed to do that day. And I would have no energy left cuz I just, I work fast and I work, I burn fast and hot, so I get a lot of work done really fast and, but I can't go for the full eight hours.
Like what a typical job asks you to do. So I would end up by two, o'clock just be burnt. I'd be done. I'd be spent and I'd have nothing left in the tank, but I'd have to sit there from two 30 until five o'clock because that's what office expect from you. And I hated it. So I left and I tried to find a job that.
Was remote so that I didn't have to have this expectation that I would be sitting there in front of a computer for eight hours a day, that I could just get my work done and nobody give a crap about how long I, am in front of my computer. Turned out that mechanical engineering at the time, this is pre like way before COVID.
This is 20 13, 20 14. There was nothing that did that. So I had to actually change careers into into programming. And that's where I found WordPress and I've, got into all of that. So I ended up finally getting a remote a good remote job working on affiliate WP for Sandhill development, which is now awesome motive.
And. I remember, I just, I had this kind of crisis where I was like, what am I doing? I'm sitting here, I'm in this house. I have this life. And all I've ever we've ever talked about doing was seeing the mountains we're from Ohio originally. And I would just dream of going to Colorado and seeing the Rocky mountains and all these other things.
And I kept on telling my wife and I, we kept on saying we wanna go see those things, but it's so impractical to just go and do it. It's like this big, expensive trip. There's airplane tickets, there's vacations. There's all this stuff that happens. And so we would always settle on going to the Appalachians.
So we would end up actually going up into new England where we would have a great time. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing, that's, we're actually heading to new England from here. And I love it up there, but we realized that we traveled really well. Not just my wife and me, but my kids too.
And that's a, from Ohio to Massachusetts, which is where we went for that trip. That was. 1213 hour drive, right? And the kids took it fine. There was no problems. There was no issues. And that was just this spark. It gave us this travel bug and we're like and at the time, the idea of even going so far as Massachusetts from Ohio just seemed like a crazy idea.
And it was this spontaneous thing that was fun and exciting. It was like on a Thursday, we were not doing anything. And then Friday morning we were halfway to Massachusetts, and it was just super fun. And I was like, we can do this. Like we have this opportunity. I didn't take any time off work, nothing changed.
I just woke up one day, I got in the car and we started driving. She did some of the driving and I worked while we were in the car. And I was like, why aren't we doing this more? Like we are I can be anywhere in the world right now, anywhere in the world with this gift that I've worked my butt off to have, right.
This. Gift of being able to work remotely and being able to be anywhere I want. And as long as I get my work done, nobody says anything right. And I'm squandering it by being 20 minutes away from where I was born all the time. And I, that, and then at the same time, I was having a conversation with my brother who actually gave me this statistic.
And I don't remember the exact number, but it was a shocking number of people who literally never leave a like 50 mile radius of the location they were born. And I was just like, that is not me. I want to see things, I want to travel and I want to experience stuff. And, we were talking about just getting in the car and traveling and doing those kinds of things.
But again, we're from Ohio. And a lot of the things that we really wanted to see were. Farther away. They're out in, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, CA, California, and all the states out west. And then we, at the time we were renting a house and the lease agreement was up in June and we had just bought this camper just right around the time that COVID was hitting.
And I'll never forget this, my I'm sitting there in, in the basement working. And my wife had come downstairs and we had already flirted with the idea. We, at this point we had already been talking like, maybe we could take the camper and just live in it forever. Could we actually do that?
Cause we've always been pretty minimalist anyway. So it wasn't that big of a jump for us to even think about doing that. But it was no, we couldn't do that. Could we, And I'll never forget. I was in the basement, I'm working. And my, my wife, Kate, my wife, she comes down and she leans against the door and she goes, so about this camper.
And I just looked at her and I already knew what she was gonna say. And I just said, if you jump, I jump Jack, let's go. And and I'm not kidding. Fast forward six months, we had this camper gutted and completely changed into what we wanted it to be. And by November of that year, we were on the road.
[00:11:30] Nathan Wrigley: That is such a fantastic story. I'm just gonna dwell on the whole digital nomad thing and the opportunity afforded. By that just for a moment because yeah, I think it's one of the things which was sold really sold to the web development community a while ago. We've always been told haven't we, that it's one of the most fantastic jobs on earth.
The WordPress community, obviously it extends in almost any direction, whatever you're working on with a computer, if that's all you need a computer you have freedom, but it's interesting that it mostly is an academic enterprise. Most people know that's true and they probably don't react to it.
They might be in some kind of office work like you were, or they might just never take the plunge and carry on, but it does afford you that opportunity. I. Incredibly lucky. I haven't done the traveling thing in the same way that you are, but one of the things that I really enjoy about the fact that I work for myself is the ability to set my time.
So I can have a lazy morning one morning, if I wish to, or I could go out for a walk. And like you say, there's nobody breathing down your neck. There's no boss that you need to worry too much about. And what I'm really hoping that we get to in the process of the next 20 minutes, half an hour, whatever it might be is if you are Alex from 20, whatever, it was just before they gutted the campervan, pay attention to what Alex says and see if it can tip you over the edge, it may be that there's a, an interesting and an exciting life just around the corner that you haven't managed to realize for whatever reason.
And so we'll get into that. So first thing that really amazes me about this story is the fact that you've got the family. You've got kids. I think you mentioned two kids there, but you've also got the pets just run me through that decision making process, because I know that in my case, I think it would be fair to say that the whole kids thing would've been a constraint that probably would've stopped me from doing what you are doing.
Did you, how did you come to the decision that this was gonna be okay for your growing family? Maybe they were really young at the time. I don't know. Maybe they weren't settled into a school, but how do you do that? How do you raise the children on the road? Are you homeschooling, have you got them involved in some kind of online teaching regimen?
Do you do all that yourself? So let's just do the children bit first.
[00:14:05] Alex Standiform: Sure. As for the concerns my biggest takeaway was they're gonna travel. They're gonna get to see. The country and anywhere, anytime I've ever read or seen anything, people always say that travelers, people who travel frequently tend to be a lot more level headed and a lot more just more nuanced people.
Because they've seen people from different communities. When you think about a lot of the division in our world as it becomes more more divided is a lot of that happens because a lot of people, I believe that a lot of that happens just simply because people don't travel, they don't, they've never actually met a person from this other country or this other state, even in my case I've got, we have people from, my home state, who've never.
Left the state. So how so they don't know anything about what it's like to live in New Mexico. They don't know anything about the people in New Mexico. They don't know anything about their culture outside of what's in a book, and they're a part of this country that's supposed to be this United States, and yet here we are with two completely different cultures and different parts of one country that are different enough that they could almost be separate countries. You know what I mean? Yeah, I do. And yet Ohio and yet they don't know anything about each other and really you could Google it.
You could look at it all you want, but there's something about just being there. It's just there's information that you take in that isn't express that isn't explicitly stated. And I think that there's a lot of value there in terms of an education for kids, and we're actually using that for our homeschooling regimen for our kids.
For example, we're heading up to new England right now. My wife does all the homeschooling, so she's actually planning their homeschooling routine. Around where we're gonna be. We're gonna be in Massachusetts and maybe we'll be near Boston. So we'll be talking about the Boston tea party, things that happened around that time in those areas.
And we do the same thing and all of the other areas throughout the country as we travel. And all of those things can apply into science. They can apply to math, they can apply to writing, all of that stuff just naturally falls into place with a lot of just good literature and a lot of history because you could take history and then you can take the science and you could talk about the science of a musket, and you can talk about how guns work and like how, every force has an equal opposite reaction, and all that, all of those scientific things. And then you can get into you could also get into cuisine in the local areas and you can talk about math and you can talk about, how many eggs do we need?
Okay. We're gonna do a half batch. What's half of six, and there's just so many opportunities to just. Teach when you're traveling, they just come to you, they're just there, they're just a part of your life. And I think that's the big thing you're gonna see.
The big arch here is that I believe that in a lot of ways, traveling in a camper for me is the ultimate form of integrating everything in your life. So there was a time where, people would say, we keep my work life and my home life separate and people still do that. But I don't. I used to believe that even, I don't believe it anymore.
I believe that everything just should be integrated. I work sometimes I homeschool. Sometimes I'm traveling. Sometimes I'm not, it's just, everything is just there. It's in a bubble. Maybe I carve out times where I specifically do things, but that's changing all the time too.
This week, right now, I'm in a very different routine that I was in a month ago. And you just have to get used to that. But as for the kids, we just did it anyway. There, we were afraid there. Of course we had some fears, at the time when we left, we had our kids are young, so that definitely helped.
We, they weren't already in school, so they didn't have to say goodbye to a lot of friends or anything like that. So that was I can't imagine how different it would be. I can only speak from my perspective, but for me, we had a six month old baby and a I guess he was four at the time or maybe he was, yeah, he was four turning five.
So we had a four year old and a six month old baby. So our four year old was just now coming into homeschooling and Devi, our youngest wasn't walking yet. So with that, we just. It was a good time too. And that was another reason why we were so motivated to jump in when we did, because it's if we don't do this now it's gonna get harder because our kid isn't in school yet we can start him on homeschooling before he ever even goes to public school.
And we can just, set those routines and not have to make any course corrections or any significant changes in his life. Any additional significant changes above and beyond. You know what everybody else has to go through whenever you're traveling. So yeah, that's. That's probably the big four 11 on what we do with our kids and the homeschooling.
[00:19:15] Nathan Wrigley: That's really interesting. I think, yeah, I think you're right. Probably to point out that the whole age thing is really critical. Maybe if you'd left the, if this revelation had come to you 10 years after that, when the kids had become really embedded in their, I don't know, sports teams and educational institutions and whatever else it was, it may have been a more difficult decision to make.
Not that you wouldn't have done it. It's just a different complexion to the whole thing. Now, very briefly you mention, you mentioned pets. Just what,
[00:19:48] Alex Standiform: What pets have you got? Yeah, I've got two cats and a dog. Okay. Okay.
[00:19:51] Nathan Wrigley: The dog I can deal with. I totally get how the dog comes along for that.
How do you do a cat in a
[00:19:57] Alex Standiform: camper? what the irony is cats are actually, they travel extremely well. And I would argue that they're actually better. Traveling partners than dogs. That
[00:20:09] Nathan Wrigley: is fascinating.
[00:20:11] Alex Standiform: Yeah. Yeah, because of a couple of key things. One, they, campers, they are drafty.
They've got holes everywhere, cuz they're just, that's just how they're built. They, nobody cares. They just drill a hole through the wall whenever they need something, they stick a wire there and they might plug it if you're lucky. So inevitably you'll and they're always buried and you can never find these holes, which means that there's always these clear paths for mice to get into your camper.
Now, granted I'm not saying that we have, like a dozen mice coming in our camper every month or something crazy like that. But the reality is they exist. They happen. They're a part of traveling. You're out in the woods, you're out in the wilderness. Sometimes it gets cold at night and you're gonna see, you're gonna have a little mouse.
Who's gonna say, Hey, that looks warm and they're gonna climb up on this wire. They're gonna find their way into your camper. And then you've so you have to deal with them. It's just a part of camping. I can, they're not a problem for me just because I've got two cats, so I have two cats who have.
It's been very successful in keeping any mice out of our camper. Either one, the mice just smell 'em or see 'em and they just, Nope, the head a heck outta here or two, they don't do that. And then they, they meet their untimely demise due to my cats, discovering them.
[00:21:29] Nathan Wrigley: I've got a couple of cats and it, I just feels like they, I would never see them again, yeah. They would just disappear off and at the crucial moment when you needed to drive away and they'd be gone for a couple of days, , you'd be 20 your thumbs thinking, where are the cats? ?
[00:21:48] Alex Standiform: Ours, ours don't generally we don't have ours just stay in the camper, to be honest, they've been perfectly content with that.
They were content with staying in the house and they're content was staying in here for that place. The only thing that's difficult with having them is you have to find a place for your litter box. And it goes without saying that campers do not design. For a litter box space because they don't even design for a trashcan space most of the time.
There's, there, there's some challenges that come with that. In fact, I'm actually dealing with that in our new camper right now, I actually had to build, I build a custom cabinet for my desk because I had to find something that, where it would fit. And then I also had to build a custom cabinet literally to hold the litter boxes.
That's, it's sole purpose. it's key purpose rather, cuz there's no such thing as a unit Tasker and a camper, but it's key purpose is that, but it's also like an ends table and I had to build in these carbon filters and all this stuff, cuz it's a small space and you wanna make sure that, you don't get that smell permeating in the camper.
And so it's a that's a challenge. But to me that's a design challenge and I. Eat those for breakfast. Yeah. So
[00:22:55] Nathan Wrigley: that, that kind of brings me nicely to the whole topic of the amount of space that you've got. So I don't really know much about the internal workings or models or names of manufacturers or anything, but just give us some idea of the camper, maybe the one that you began doing things, traveling around in, because it sounds like you've just upgraded.
I dunno if that means in terms of space or just comfort or whatever, but let's go back with the original one that you started out with. Just give us some kind of idea of what that's like how much square footage do you have, how long is it, how wide is it and do I'm guessing that you basically have no space for anything that isn't totally essential?
[00:23:35] Alex Standiform: Let. Let's see this current camper, that's true. Our new camper. That is not so true. Cuz you're right. The upgraded camper that we're getting now has more space and more comfort. Ha have you ever, I don't know, have you ever bought a guitar or your first instrument or your first like thing?
Yeah. So the advice they always give whenever you're buying your first instrument is just get one, just get inexpensive one, get something to start with. Don't worry too much about all the bells and whistles and all this stuff, cuz especially if you've never played before you don't actually know what you want yet.
And the good starting point is to just get one practice with it. And eventually one day you're gonna look at something you're gonna go, oh, that's nice. That's a problem I've had. I would like to solve that. And then you now know you have that context and that background to be able to know why you're making that upgrade and you're making that change.
And I think that with campers, it's the same thing. So with our camper, I would say the best camper for you to have is the, if you have one, now it's the one you currently own, obviously. But if you don't have one we just pick up an inexpensive one that doesn't leak . Yep. Depending on how comfortable you are with, making renovations and stuff, but for ours this is, we have 240 square feet, so it's a 26 foot camper eight feet wide and it's a bunk house.
Basically, if you're looking at the layout, there's a bathroom in the back. It's very small. Like you like to give context you barely have enough room to like you're standing and there's the toilet in front of you. And if you were to bend over your butt would hit the door. You can't completely bend over cuz it's too small.
Yeah. The shower is also quite small, so the bathroom is very small. In fact, the sink doesn't even fit in the bathroom. It's actually placed outside of the bathroom and it's used as a, which is actually convenient. Cuz if somebody's hogging the bathroom, you can still wash your hands or brush your teeth or do whatever.
Then there's the bunk, the kids bunk beds. And literally where I'm sitting is my office on the other side of that wall. And there I am. I'm probably three feet away from my sink, my oven, my refrigerator and everything, which is actually nice. Yeah. Cause if the kids are, if the kids are if I'm making dinner for the kids, like macaroni and cheese or something, I'll have the macaroni and cheese boiling and I'll be working and I'll just roll over and I'll mix it and I'll roll back.
I've got the roller blade wheels on the chair, so they just roll all over the place. Do
[00:26:11] Nathan Wrigley: silly question. Do you ever lose anything?
[00:26:15] Alex Standiform: Actually you would expect not to. Yeah. Maybe because it's such a small space, but since everything is so concentrated. Yes. Yeah. It's so easy to lose stuff because it, it's all like.
Piled on top of each other in this small setup like that. And that's, that makes it sound a lot more messy than it is, but it's organized, but it's just, there's just a lot of concentrated stuff in places. So I would imagine. Yeah. There's a
[00:26:38] Nathan Wrigley: lot of time. Yeah. I would imagine that everybody's been into some sort of campervan or a caravan or, some equivalent.
So we've got the idea that. Yeah, maximum utility. Usually, there's a cupboard where you wouldn't expect there to be a cupboard and there's a table hidden in a gap that you didn't even realize could hold a, a piece of paper, let alone a table. It's all there. And do you have to do a lot of moving around?
I'm just trying to imagine a typical day. So if you are working, do other people have to clear out and they have to go off and do their schooling over there, or how do you manage the space when everybody needs to be in the same bit at the same time, I'm imagining a cold rainy day.
Yeah, everybody's living on top of each other. Does it ever get tough? It sounds, from everything that we've said so far, it just sounds like rainbows and unicorns all the time. Yes. But I'm guessing there's times when you just, I just need some space.
[00:27:30] Alex Standiform: Yeah. Oh yeah, for sure. there are definitely days like that.
I think I, I will say this before. I'm gonna preface this with this statement and that is. I have never missed a house since I've been in a camper. Nice. I have never missed the extra space now. I can't speak for everybody, but for us it's been fine. But in terms of the challenges and the reality of what you're talking about and a cold rainy day is the perfect example because that's exactly, those are the hard days.
I was actually in Texas for this big freeze last winter. And every, everything was there was snow on the ground. And for Texas, that means the entire state is shut down, so we were in the camper and obviously we're all just stuck in here together. But honestly, it's not that bad because what we do is we use headphones.
So we divide up the space. We make up for the lack of walls by having headphones and having ways to isolate ourselves. So if you were to look at a photo, if you look at a photo of my current setup with my desk, you'll notice that my desk is strategically placed in a corner facing a wall. And that is very much intentional because if I had it facing in some way where I could see the rest of the camper behind me, I would know what's going on around me.
And I would never get any work done. Yeah, it's too. It's just too much chaos like, and you can't, you just can't get around that. I use a really good set of noise canceling headphones. Oh, genius. Yeah. I put those on, I faced the wall and the rapture could happen and I'd have no clue.
So like it's fine. And a really good way for, to test that is and what we did before we moved in was we actually just, we put the whole family in our living room. So we had a living room and a kitchen. And what we did was we took bin. And we put them on our counter and we put all the stuff we planned on taking to the camper with us in these bins, and then everything else stayed in the camp, in the kitchen, in storage.
And then basically you would just use the stuff from the bins. And if you ever found that you kept on reaching for something in the kitchen, you just put it in the bin. So then you had an idea of what are the most important things that we have to bring with us. And obviously some things like still had to go anyway we didn't bring a we went from like a French press down to the arrow press system PLA oh yeah.
We use that. Yeah. It's the best, but it's plastic and it's smaller. So you don't have to worry about it breaking and it's more compact and it's just, it's the perfect camping on the go espresso set up, cuz it's super compact. So you know, you had to optimize some things like that.
So that was really helpful for the kitchen, but as for the living area to be able to really get the hang of what it's like to actually live in a camper like that in this scenario that you're speaking of it's really just helpful to just sit in your living room, set up a desk, set up a table or something and just work, work in the living room while Daniel Tiger's playing in the background.
And while your kids are running around screaming in the living room and your wife's there doing homeschooling with the kids and just. Take it in and get a feel for it and figure it out. That's really what it is. Like your blood pressure's gonna rise and it's gonna not be pleasant for a while, but eventually you figure out how to make it work.
And for me, like I said, the things I really discovered while doing that was I can't be facing my kids. I can't see the TV. I can't see the movement because then I'm stressed because I'm aware that they're just being kids. Yeah. And yeah. So I, I made myself turn around and as soon as I faced a wall and as soon as I put on noise, canceling headphones, bam, I was fine.
It also doesn't hurt that. I have a long history of getting up at five in the morning and I work. From five until whenever my work day's done, that varies from day to day. But my goal is usually to be done by, at the latest, two o'clock, three o'clock maybe. Yeah. And most days it's earlier than that, but the good thing about that is then I get the bulk of my work done before anybody even wakes up.
[00:31:41] Nathan Wrigley: Yes. There's some really good tips in there. I love the, the turning your back, it's so obvious when you say it, but right. Probably would've taken me many months to figure that out, but also the noise cancel. But it's a replacement for physical walls. Isn't it? It's just, it is, it's what you can do.
And yeah. Now that technology exists. That's absolutely genius. Yeah, it sounds to me like you're you're obviously technically savvy sounds like you've repaired various things at various times. I'm just wondering in terms of what you do for your work, you mentioned earlier sand Hill's development.
We know that you write code. So I can, at the very least I'm imagining that you've got a laptop. What are the other things that you brought along to enable you to do your work? Maybe it's just an ordinary set of things. Were there any things that you deliberately had to leave behind that you thought you might have needed, but never did.
I'm just curious as to what your setup actually looks like. Maybe it's as simple as just the laptop. Maybe there's.
[00:32:37] Alex Standiform: I actually work at GoDaddy now after they got after sand Hills got acquired, I decided to not proceed with working there and I ended up going to GoDaddy instead. But I so as for the setup, the it's not that different than my actual desk set up.
So originally, whenever we first moved here, first moved into the camper. I tried to like hyper optimize this and because we had this surface beside the desk and we wanted to have the maximum floor space for the kids, our youngest kids, so he could learn how to walk. So at that time I had this like really optimal, very small minimal setup where it was one of those roost laptop stands.
Yeah. And I would set my laptop on that. And it's kinda like your, your. , if you're at a coffee shop and you're a little extra and you've got your own keyboard and your own coffee, your own laptop stand in a mouse basically is what it was. And I realized that wasn't enough for me. I was used to my big office desk with my standing desk sitting desk, and all of this, these 2 27 inch monitors and this like nice setup.
And again, like always, I started by getting rid of everything, but what was essential and tried to use it and gave it an honest try, you know what I mean? It wasn't just, I sat down, I looked at it. I said, Nope. And then I just stopped. It was, I sat down, I worked with it for a few weeks.
And then whenever I realized I can't stand this anymore, I changed it. And I had, we had discussions on how we changed that. The living in a camper is very much that it's very iterative, right? So a lot of people I think will do this for a while. They'll get burn out and then they'll leave. And there's a million reasons why, but the one of them is because.
Whatever they look at that challenge. For example, this challenge that I'm talking about right now, of the laptop and the keyboard and the mouse. They'll say, I can't work with this. I need an office. I need a house. We gotta get outta here. No, you don't need a house. You just need another monitor.
Like you don't need to just completely change your lifestyle again. You just need to just think about this and iterate. With that, I ended up buying, a teeny tiny, like a it's not teeny tiny, it's a 15 inch 4k second monitor. And it's a thin little like portable monitor.
That's about the size of an iPad and It powers, it gets power from my computer via USB. It actually gets, becomes a second monitor and everything just with one cable. My setup at that time then turned into this roo stand a keyboard and it, Keisha don't know what a roost stand is. It basically elevates the keyboard.
Yeah. The computer up so that it's more ergonomic, right? Keyboard mouse, and two monitors. This is much better for me. And I'm using this for a while, but then another problem happened was the expectation was that with this setup I would in the morning or before I go to bed every night, I like to do something called set myself up for success.
So what I do is I have a moment where I think about what I'm gonna do the next day. I intentionally write down those tasks. I make sure I'm set up. And I set up my computer. I set up my workspace so that when I wake up, I'm able to just sit down and work. And I'm not kidding. When I say I get up at five and by 5 0 5 I'm writing code.
Like it's literally that. So I, I. Wanted to apply that here. And in order to do that, I had to set up my laptop every day, set up my computer every day. Yeah. And then before I stopped for the day, I'd have to tear it down cuz we needed that surface for like cooking or whatever. And a couple of problems ended up happening was I'd be working and my wife would come in and she'd be trying to make coffee or something like that in the morning.
And all of a sudden the dishes would just spill over in my workspace and I'd be like hugging a bowl while typing for a few minutes and like just crazy stuff like that, and I was like, this is ridiculous. And I was like getting mad at her and I'm like, stop doing this. And she's I can't, I don't have anywhere to put it.
And I'm like, okay, we need another iteration. So what did we do? We stopped. And we looked at our setup and we just realized. Just need a dedicated workspace. I didn't want to want that. I didn't want to have to sacrifice the space or add the extra complexity or any of that stuff to really do that.
But I needed it and it was very clear. I was sitting on like a folding chair and my back was hurting and I was like, this isn't working. I need an office chair. I need a proper desk. I need a keyboard. I need a mouse yet. Again, this is another one of those situations where you can hear somebody say, oh, I need an office chair.
I need a desk. I don't have those things right now, man. I need an office. Let's build house. Let's get outta this camper. No, you just iterate again. So that's what we did. So we, so this past winter actually we were camping in Texas and like I said before. I didn't actually, but we will rest for a couple months, two months, usually in Texas during the holidays.
And during that time, we're usually making like small renovations or salt tweaks to the camper that are on the road. And that's whenever I, at that point decided, okay, we are going to build me a desk right in this spot. We've got this space. We can make it work. We can do something. So we ended up building a desk.
I ended up mounting a 27 inch monitor to the, computer. I used my other, my actual Mount lap laptop monitor as a second screen. And I just set up a desk, I've got two hooks on the side for my noise, canceling headphones, which as we know is very important. I've got another set that aren't noise canceling.
But they have a really good microphone, which is actually what I'm using right now. And we set it up and it's been really great. I haven't had to hug a bowl in weeks. I have been more comfortable cause I got a proper office chair and. It just took a while to get there, right?
Yeah. Yeah. We could have probably started here and if you're looking at it from this perspective, maybe you would start here, when you don't know what you don't know, and the best thing you can do is just start with the least you need and then just add to it because it's because there's just not enough room to do it any other way.
You can't just start with everything you need because you'll end up with too much. And then you're gonna add to that and you won't have any room for those iterations. Yeah. It was a very organic process. Now, granted our next camper, we already know what we need. Be from the evolutions from this one.
So we're already building those things in and a little more what's the word? Elegant manner, right? Yes. So we're being a little more thoughtful. We're choosing better materials. We're, building it more intentionally, cuz we know. in a lot of ways. This first camper was our prototype, right?
We're learning from this one, we're iterating from this one and I'm sure there'll be more iterations in the new camper in the future, but we didn't need that upgrade. We didn't decide to upgrade to this bigger camper until we knew why we were doing it. We didn't and our new camper that we've upgraded, we're upgrading to is it's all about double the square footage of this current one.
And there's, there's repercussions for that too. It's gonna be a little harder for us to find a spot to park it. It's gonna be, we needed to get a bigger truck. There's, it's more expensive in general. There's so many reasons why that's not the best, first step, right? This camper that I'm in right now, we bought it for $7,000 and probably put, five or $6,000 into renovations.
And that's a very low touch point. That's a pretty, for me, at least that was a low barrier to entry. Compare that to, and we were hauling it with a Toyota Tacoma. So it wasn't like it was a, a, a. Half ton truck or something like that. It was a pickup truck. Yeah. And then now with the new camper, we've had to upgrade that to a bigger truck, which means worse gas, mileage, more money.
And then the bigger camper is more money to, it was like $45,000 for this camper. So it's significantly more. But the point is we didn't have to make that commitment. We reached this. Impas where it was like we could stay in this camper and do this and be fine. With our family everybody's different.
So like everybody, and the biggest reason why we actually went bigger is because we've decided we're gonna do this for at least three more years, probably more. And we're looking at our kids and we're aware that they're getting bigger and the spaces they're needing bigger spaces, they're needing more room.
We. We've all have we have one day bed, couch combo in the back of this camp, in the front of this camper right now, our current camper right now, and all four of us and the dog, all snuggle up in this and we fit, okay. It's not a problem, but it's getting there because our seven year old's getting bigger and he's starting to take up a little more space and, the youngest is catching up too.
So we're just trying to stay ahead of that.
[00:41:25] Nathan Wrigley: So they definitely don't get smaller. That's yeah, I can tell you that for sure.
[00:41:30] Alex Standiform: So yeah that's a lot of that is like iteration and just knowing and deciding, instead of going with the bigger camper we could have, this was, that was that chance.
That was that moment where it's okay, you've done this for two years now. You've got this camper, that this camper can't last much, much longer with your current family without running into problems. What do you do? Yeah. Do you throw in your chips? and get a house. Do you start renting?
Do you go back to, not traveling and not doing all of these things and living in a single house and doing what you know. Yeah. Or do you spend that money that you may have spent on that house? Some of it, maybe not all of it, of course, but on upgrading your camper and giving yourselves another three years at it, we opted for the latter.
[00:42:22] Nathan Wrigley: It's interesting. You mentioned the sort of cost of things that, that was one of my questions is how does this compare? Because if you've got a car and you've got a house and you've got a car, roughly what the cost of the car is gonna be and there's maintenance and all of that, but you've also got the mortgage and the heating and the gas and the electricity and all of the bits and pieces, roughly speaking.
I'm imagining that the cost of your lifestyle is cheaper than were you living in a house and paying rent or a mortgage or whatever it might be. I dunno if that's a subject that's appealing to any of the listeners, but it might be that people are looking for a cheaper lifestyle and just that alone maybe worth talking about.
[00:43:05] Alex Standiform: Yeah. So this the past two years definitely have been, I don't think the next three are going to be if you want to live cheaper, you have to first get a cheaper camper. You have to get something smaller because you don't wanna have to pay for a bigger truck. So you'd want to go with something smaller.
You'd have to go with a, like I said, a smaller truck, you're also gonna spend a lot of time out west because there's a lot of BLM land. There's a lot of opportunities to do boondocking and camping and staying for free. And you're also gonna end up moving a lot more often. So for example we went all the way up California and spent almost nothing.
I spend a lot of money on wine. Don't get me wrong. but we didn't spend a lot. We didn't spend a lot of money on our stays because we did a lot of BLM, which is bureau of land management. It's basically land that's just public that they have dedicated camping areas and it doesn't cost you anything to park there.
And you could park there for up to two weeks now, since it's public your mileage may vary, right? You may go to a place and there might be, like bullet casings all over the place. Cuz some Yahoo went out there and they shot their guns and they didn't clean up after themselves. Or you never know what you get and, but you also will be, wow, you're staring at that and cleaning up these bullet casings.
You're staring at this beautiful mountain and this sunrise that you just you're like, that's it. That's why I'm here. Yeah. Like I wanted to see that I wanted that moment. So you know, it's it's absolutely possible. It's just It's a very specific approach. Yeah. You have to be willing to.
Go places that some people will be unwilling to go. And sometimes that means a kind of a sketchy back road. Sometimes that means for us, we saved a ton of money because we parked in a little town north of Santa Fe, New Mexico called Taos. Oh. Actually to house, I freaking loved TAs, but yeah. TA is the
[00:45:08] Nathan Wrigley: best place.
Yes. With all the Adobe architecture and yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, yeah. I spent quite a long time in TAs. I loved it there.
[00:45:17] Alex Standiform: Yeah. There summer. Yeah. It's so funny. Yeah. So we spent all summer this past summer in Taos and as it's a very very progressive. Town in terms of energy. It's really, so it has the Earthship biotech there.
So they do a lot of the, the Earthship type homes where with passive solar and, off grid living and all this stuff it's the perfect place to go. If you really wanna learn about that stuff, it's just the culture. So we went there partially to learn more about that stuff, but also because I actually bought a parcel of land there for, it was relatively inexpensive, it was like $5,000 I think, and we bought it because I wanted to make sure I always had a place to park it out west should some catastrophic event happen oh, I don't know a pandemic. And all of the campers shut all the campgrounds shut down. That's what happened in the us. Everything shut down. If I, at that time wasn't traveling.
So I dodged that bullet. But if I was on the road, I'd have been screwed because I wouldn't have had anywhere to go. Like obviously if I can always come back to Ohio, I can always park somewhere at a family member's house or something like that. I can always squat if I have to. But if I was in Arizona and COVID hit and everything shut down, I would have a lot, I would have a hard time crossing the country to get back to Ohio just to park it because I wouldn't even have anywhere to stay overnight.
We wanted to have somewhere where we on the out west, where we would have a shot at getting there, if something happened. But also it was because. I mean it's cheap land, right? It was now to be clear, this land is a piece of dusty Auckland, dirt. Like it's essentially not good for any kind of farming.
It's not really good for anything really. It's, , it's, there's Sage brush everywhere and it's rough. There is Sage
[00:47:21] Nathan Wrigley: everywhere in tales. That was that's. That's my memories. I've got do a
[00:47:24] Alex Standiform: Sage all over the place. Yeah, man, I'm still rubbing. I'm still like wiping TAs dust off of my, every crevice of my camper.
But yeah, so it but this road, like the access road to this land even is like this dirt road with big old rocks on it that are that I blew two tires and I blew out a window and like I did all kinds of crazy things happened when I was int stairs. I could go on about, I could have a whole podcast episode on that experience.
But we spent. Like I said, we spent $5,000 for the land there and it doesn't cost us anything to get there. I actually got my tax paper for owning that land and it was like $6 and I but it's this cheap little spot where I can park and we did that. We parked there all summer and we actually got most of our money out of it, just from parking that one summer.
Now, every time we go back there, we can park there and do the same thing again and get more money out of it. But you can also do that in there's other ways to do there's BLM. Like I said, there's also, like harvest hosts where you can stay at wineries breweries, et cetera for free for one night.
Sometimes it's a couple nights, depends on where you're at. Boondockers welcome, which allows you to do the same thing. It's like a community of people who boondock, but also people who offer up. Hey, I've got a spot for you to park it. You can do that. Yeah. Yeah. And we did a lot of, all of that out west and saved a lot of money.
Now, in terms of budgeting, we actually looked at it as like dollars per day instead of dollars a month, because you can't look at it per month, cuz it's just not how it works when you're traveling. So we were, our goal last year was like $15 a day was basically wow. What we were able to get it down to.
What my wife was able to get it down to. Cuz she's just amazing at that. It's definitely a little more expensive on the Eastern side of the us because there's not as much of that kind of land available out here. There's definitely still boondocks welcome and stuff like that, but there's no BLM. And you end up parking at a lot more campers.
So our, we actually knowing that doubled our budget for when we're coming out east. Yeah. But still, so
[00:49:36] Nathan Wrigley: But still mightly that, that budget is very much smaller than what it would be if you were living in some kind of house and paying a mortgage and all of that. Yeah.
[00:49:47] Alex Standiform: Now of course that's one number you're still, if you, depending on there's, you've got your camper payment. If you have one, you probably have a truck payment. Depends. Yeah, everybody's different, right? Yeah. Yeah. But that's why I was saying it's so important if you're trying to be budget conscious, to focus really hard on getting a smaller camper so that you can get a smaller vehicle.
And if it's just you by yourself, you could go all the way down to a crossover, or an SUV and get a very small to mid-size like teardrop, like a 15 foot camper or something and be completely fine. And you would save so much money because those campers are inexpensive and those vehicles are inexpensive and the gas mileage is good on those when they're not hauling.
And it's just, you could absolutely do this inexpensively. It's just, it just depends on how big of a rig you need. Yeah. And how comfortable you are with parking out in the middle of nowhere. yeah.
[00:50:45] Nathan Wrigley: You, all of this of course is completely contingent upon the job, you've gotta, you've gotta be bringing in the money in some way shape or Formance.
Sure. And obviously you've mentioned the fact that you've had a couple of different employees. Presumably the opportunities for this kind of I'm gonna stay distributed work. So you're working for a company. Maybe you're a freelancer, in which case you've got complete rights to do whatever you like, but if you're working for an employer, do you get the feeling that over the last couple of years, this is more possible than it's ever been before?
Have you noticed that the places that you go are more full of people carrying out the lifestyle and they've got the laptop switched on and they're doing the work and all of that are people migrating to this kind of lifestyle. And are there more jobs where the employers are willing to allow their employees to have this kind of lifestyle?
[00:51:43] Alex Standiform: Yes to all of that. Yeah. Yeah, to put it simply, I COVID, it accelerated a lot of things. And working remote has certainly been one of them. I I've been joking with my wife. I was like, we were doing this before. COVID that's we were doing before. It was cool. Cool.
We were doing, before it was cool. Yeah. But it's definitely been an accelerator and I've benefited from that personally, even just because when I was working at Sandhills, they were a unicorn WordPress as a whole, the community, companies like automatic and stuff like that was their badge was like, Hey, like you said, this is the promise.
We let you work remote. We let you be wherever you want. And that was truly a unique offering that nobody else had then the pandemic hit and everybody was forced into that. And a lot of companies just said, okay let's not. Change this, it's working, it's not hurting productivity and apparently the employees really want this, so let's keep it.
Yeah. And so that actually was a daunting realization for me whenever I was looking for a new job after my separation with Sandhills, I was like, my God, I can apply to places that prior to this, I absolutely could not even consider. I think of Netflix even, and Nickelodeon and like some names that are completely outta the word SP repress space that are all of a sudden an option, a consideration for me.
Maybe not the other way around, but certainly for me that we're not even on the table because I just won't, I will not accept employment for anything that isn't distributed. Yeah. And all of a sudden these companies are like, yeah, okay, fine. We'll do it. Yeah. I, you,
[00:53:24] Nathan Wrigley: I feel that's the way it's gone, rather than being a kind of an edge case.
You would imagine that a lot of companies will now be looking to put some kind of offering together whether or not that's constrained in time. You said that you can crack on at five past five in the morning and be busy and productive because you know what you've gotta do. And I guess the job has to afford you that luxury, the work is known in advance and you can break it up into 12 hour sections or do two hours here and have four hours off and then another six hours or whatever you can do all of that.
And I guess that's the only constraint is that you need a, you need to know what the boundaries are there. If they want, you sat at your computer between nine and five, even though it's distributed, that might be that might be something, to think about. Just one, right? One. A couple of last questions, but this one, what?
This is a random question. Where do you pay tax?
[00:54:14] Alex Standiform: I technically have an address in Ohio. Oh, okay. So I, yeah I, to, before we left we changed our address to a family member's address. Got it. And got it. So for all intents and purposes where we live in the state of Ohio. So it all the rules for everything you can think about with taxes license plates, your ID, everything all applies as if we live in the state of
[00:54:42] Nathan Wrigley: Ohio.
Yes. Yeah. You're you are very lucky living in the gigantic country of the United States because the options to go left and go right. And go up and go down. They're more or less endless. I, we, I'm now living in post Brexit Britain. So I don't know exactly how many roads I could travel before I, I ran out and hit the sea obvious, slightly different experience, to be honest, what, okay.
For sure. Just to finish off two questions, the complete opposites of each other, and you may not have an answer just tucked away, ready for this, but we'll go for it anyway. Okay. So you've got this new life. It's fabulous by all accounts. What's the best bit, and what's the worst bit.
[00:55:27] Alex Standiform: The best bit is without question for me, the evenings staring evenings and mornings staring at mountains, honestly.
That's for me, that's it. That's what I wanted from day one. That's what I got. And I'm happy with it. Yeah. When we were INTS, there was this wonderful time of day. Oh yeah. People always talk about the golden hour, right? Yep. This wonderful golden time of day. ONTs I actually affectionately called that the indigo hour because we had this partial land that we bought, for all of its flaws and all of its ragged edges.
It had what I think might be the best view of the mountains and towels, the Sanger to mountains. And I. I just would spend every single evening. Not every evening, most evenings sitting there just watching the sun sets on the opposite side of these mountains. So this indigo hour would happen.
This time of day would happen where the mountains would just turn this beautiful shade of purple. And I would just spend every most, every evening just watching those. And I just remember. It they are so powerful for me, the sight of these this beautiful mountain range that I would have a bad day, I'd be working and I'd be like super caught up into what I'm doing.
And I would turn around and I'd go to say something to my wife. And I would be like, you won't believe what's oh, like I would be like mid sentence and I would just happen to catch the mountains in that moment. And I, it would just like melt. Yeah. And it still does that every time. And TAs is a lot of things.
Mountains in general are a lot of things, but for me, that's no question that's it. That's where it's at. Like this evening time staring at the mountains. And even the morning time staring will sunrise with my wife, having what we call our morning, coffee time. The worst thing yeah.
Sorry. it's okay. The worst thing is. The shakiness of the camper, I think specifically I think about New Mexico again, ironically enough, there's a place called elephant Butte, New Mexico, where we parked our camper and it was on the edge of this cliff. We didn't know this until we got there, but we had reserved this spot.
That's like right on the edge of this cliff and we parked and we got it all set up. And of course we set up our chalks extra tight, cause we were like really nervous about just rolling over this dang thing. And it just so happened that night, it was extremely windy 45 mile an hour, wind gusts and stuff like that.
And we were faced broadside of the wind. So the entire ti that entire night. The camper was just, just rocking hard, like scary, hard, and I'm just laying there and I'm like, I'm gonna die. this is it. Like the chalks are gonna give. Yeah. And this thing gonna just roll over the cliff and it's over for me, my life is
[00:58:43] Nathan Wrigley: held in the balance of a couple of bits of wood under some tires.
[00:58:46] Alex Standiform: Yes, exactly. If I, and honestly there, and there's just so many moments like that are just scary and it always seems to revolve around wind and the rockiness of the camper. And it's not even just wind. It's also just, the kids they'll like in our particular camper the stabilizers aren't very good.
Now the new one they're much better. So this is again an upgrade, but the stabilizers are okay. They're not that great. So if. I know my wife's coming in the camper before she even touches the door because she'll step on the first step of the camper and the whole thing will just rock a little.
Okay. Got it. So now take that and then take the energy of a seven year old and compress that into a 240 foot square foot space and then watch them jump and bounce around the house. Yeah. And you're in the house and it just feels like you're an earthquake and you're just constant. Like I can't isolate from that.
I can try always filled the coffee cup half
[00:59:44] Nathan Wrigley: full,
[00:59:44] Alex Standiform: never to the top that's right. That's right. Lids, lid for everything lids on it. but yeah, so that's by far been the worst thing for me is just shakiness of the camper. I'll tell
[00:59:57] Nathan Wrigley: you what I would take the shakiness for the mountain views any day of the week.
Really? No other podcast we've ever done. That was so interesting. I am sure that there'll be a certain proportion of people who just totally get it. Maybe there's a, maybe there's a collection of people who are just horrified. I can't do that. I need my hot shower and, heated floors and all of that.
But but if anybody did want to get in touch with you and pull you about what it is that you've been doing and what the pitfalls are and what the short circuits are, what's the best way to get in touch with you. So
[01:00:32] Alex Standiform: specifically on the topic of our travels obviously you can always follow me at Alex Stanford on Twitter.
I'm pretty active on there. I'm quite active on there. In fact and I talk about everything I do. So everything from the web development courses I make to the, to just programming stuff and also travel. Of course lately, it's been a lot of renovation talk. But if you're looking to talk specifically or see specifically our travel stuff, my wife actually maintains our Instagram account which is at, I think it's casual weirdness life.
Let me, I gotta check. Okay. No, it's at our, let me just, I think it's our underscore casual underscore weirdness. Yeah. That. At our underscore casual underscore weirdness. And then we also have a website, casual, weirdness.life that every once in a while I tell myself I'm gonna write blog posts on and then inevitably forget to until somebody asks me for the 1500th time exactly what my internet setup's and then I say, okay, fine. I will write the post. I'll do the post. Yeah.
[01:01:30] Nathan Wrigley: I'll do the post .
[01:01:32] Alex Standiform: Those are probably the best
[01:01:35] Nathan Wrigley: places. Yeah. I will make sure that all of those hit the show notes. So if you're interested, you can look into the show notes and find out what Alex. Is up to so a really different episode.
I really appreciate you talking to me about something which is not necessarily to do with WordPress, but it's a different thing. And maybe one of the more interesting episodes that we had. So thank you very much, Alex. I appreciate it. Yeah, my
[01:01:58] Alex Standiform: pleasure. I would AR and just, I would argue that it's what it's all about, honestly.
Yeah. Like I think the whole reason why people do this is for that promise. Yeah. And maybe not travel specifically and maybe it doesn't even take this form for you. Maybe it's, maybe you're more of an Airbnb hopper type or maybe my hope is that if nothing else, that you look at this and you think, okay, maybe that's not for me, but maybe I should just get out a little more.
Maybe I can get in my car and go to new England for a week and just work there. Or, even if it's a hotel or staying at a friends or something, get out, you can use it.
[01:02:38] Nathan Wrigley: Nice. A perfect way to end it, Alex. Thanks.
[01:02:42] Nathan Wrigley: I told you at the top of the show that was gonna be like no other episode that we've ever done before.
And so it proved to be episode number 286, Alex Standford telling us all about is really interesting life. I found it enormously captivating and very interesting. Just all of the benefits that it brings as well are some of the drawbacks head over to the WP, builds.com website, leave us a comment there.
There's also some URLs and bits and pieces like Alex's Twitter handle and website. And so on. You heard it all in the show, but it's there in the show notes, like I said, search for episode number 286.
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Okay. We will be back next week because we did an interview this week. It will be a chat with David Wamsley and I next week do remember we've got our, this week in WordPress show, live 2:00 PM UK time. Every Monday you can find that at WP Builds.com/live, but that's it for this week. I hope that you enjoyed it.
If you've got any comments, head over to the website and leave them there. But all it remains for me to do now is to fade in some cheesy music and say, stay safe. Bye bye for now.