Friday, April 12, 2013

Is a House a Home? Is a Home a House?

These are a couple interesting questions to ponder. I mean, seriously, because someone lives in a house whether owned, rented or borrowed, does that mean that house is actually a home? And, when someone says they want a home or want to go home or have a home, does that mean it's actually a house? And for the purposes of this article, let's say that a house may be a detached house, a town or row house (attached), an apartment or a condominium.

I pose these questions because we often hear people describe other people who do not live in a house (of any of the forms I mentioned) as "homeless." But, are they really? Is it not possible that there are people on this planet and even in the United States who choose to have a "home" that is other than the forms I described? Is there a law or a policy that absolutely requires people to have homes that meet the terms, conditions and descriptions of those who choose to live in "traditional" housing?

A few days ago, Jerry K. offered up, on the Vandwellers Yahoo Forum, part of an article posted by Phil Madsen on his well-written blog, The title of the article was Living a Property Free Life. I was intrigued by the part of the article Jerry K posted on the forum and followed up by going to Madsen's blog and reading the entire article. I read further and found his and his wife's biographical information. It all really made sense and seemed to dovetail with the premise of this article on my blog.

Phil and Diane Madsen are property free. They don't own, rent or borrow a home, other than the use of an address of some relatives for receiving mail. Phil is a highly accomplished individual. Among his numerous accomplishments he graduated cum laude with a double major from college, he completed a year of graduate study in theology, he served as a U.S. Army officer in the Minnesota National Guard, he is a certified financial planner and a securities broker, he is a trained auto mechanic and he founded, chaired and ran the independent political party that won the gubernatorial seat for Jesse Ventura in Minnesota. Diane, not being a slouch either, is an attorney and was Jesse Ventura's general counsel and later an attorney working for the State of Minnesota. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they won the Minnesota Governor's office with a campaign budget of $600,000.00 against the combined campaign funding of $15,000,000.00 of the Republican and Democratic candidates. Phil has been on lots of national TV shows and was offered all kinds of opportunities by the Republican and Democratic parties. He declined their offers. There's lot's more about this couple, but you can read that for yourself.

The Madsens Went Houseless

Yes, this accomplished, educated, motivated, capable, competent couple ended up HOUSELESS. But, did you notice I said Houseless and not Homeless?

You see, after all of these other achievements, the Madsens fell in love with the open road and exploring America. Their particular way of doing it was through driving a truck. They started out in 2003 working for other trucking companies after considerable trucking industry research to see what part of the trucking industry they wanted to be involved in. In 2004, they decided they no longer had a need for a physical house, cars, furniture and everything that goes with it, so they sold it all and downsized. Their life was on the road and they lived in their truck and motel rooms. In 2006 they decided to become independent truckers and had a custom designed truck built for them. It included a custom designed 11-foot sleeper section connected to the cab that was, for all practical intents and purposes a fully equipped motor home. This truck became their "home." No, it wasn't a house, an apartment, a condominium or any other kind of structure that would fit into the "traditional" definition of a house or home. But, this was their chosen home.  

They have remained on the road continuously with their truck from 2006 other than some short breaks at a small Florida vacation home they purchased in May of 2009. They will remain on the road until sometime around the 3rd quarter of 2013 when the truck will be reaching 7 years old and have something in the range of 800,000 and 900,000 miles on it. They will leave the road and sell their truck to embark on their next adventure as fitness club owner/operators.  

The Meat of this Article

So, what's my point? Well I started out asking somewhat philosophical questions. Is a House a Home? Is a Home a House? And what defines a Home or a House? And who determines that definition? In the article Phil wrote in January 2009 for his blog, titled Living a Property-Free Life, he came up with some pretty poignant thoughts on the subject.

I am quoting Phil here. I looked for a way to contact Phil to make sure he didn't mind me using this quoted material, but he has removed any contact information from the blog which he has discontinued writing. So, if someone knows how I can reach him or if Phil becomes aware that I have posted this information, I hope he'll contact me so I can be assured it's alright with him to use it - or I'll remove it if he requests me to do so. In any event, I'll be posting a link to this article that will give you access to his entire blog until he takes it down at some point in time.

Here are some ideas that really impacted me:

"About a year after we took up life on the road to live and work as truck drivers —specializing in expedited freight transport — we sold our house, cars and most household goods. That was in 2004. Since then, our legal residence consists of rented space in a relative's house. This arrangement frees us from the worry, expense and maintenance that property ownership entails. It frees us to live, work and play on the road in a way we love.

On the road we live in a high-end, custom-built truck. Except for the smaller space and no washer and drier, it provides all the comforts of home. The front half is like an RV, the back is for hauling freight.

Let's start with what property-free does not mean. It does not mean that we:

(1) are homeless
(2) are committed to poverty
(3) have taken an anti-materialistic stance
(4) are more moral than people who have more stuff than us
(5) live this lifestyle for religious reasons
(6) care about the environment more than others
(7) are financially insecure
(8) are a couple of anti-social or anti-establishment nut cases that simply don't know how to live

For us, property-free means:

(1) the truck is our home instead of a house
(2) a path to prosperity to which we are committed
(3) owning high-quality stuff
(4) viewing property as morally-neutral
(5) living this lifestyle for practical reasons
(6) helping the environment by accident, not on purpose
(7) feeling financially secure
(8) being a couple of well-adjusted people who know how to live a simple life"

Phil went on to explain what "Home" means to Diana and him and included a link to a blog article he did on the subject, which I leave for your convenience and edification.

"Home: It has been said that home is where the heart is. We feel best when we are on the road. We like to say, the truck is our home, the nation our back yard. We do not need to own a house to feel at home. For us, home is wherever the other one is if we are apart. When we are together, living and working together in a truck comes naturally. Home is not a place to be. It is a way to be. I wrote more about this in The Meaning of Home."

Read the linked article, it will show you where their hearts and minds were in 2004 as they made a huge change in their lives.

Living the Lifestyle

There is so much more to this lifestyle. There simply is no "one-size fits all." That's part of the magnificence of the human experience. There is no question or doubt about there being significant problems in society and government and more specifically, the society and government we embrace in the U.S. But, for you who just have this itch, this feeling that life is not as it should be for you, we are fortunate enough to still have a lot of freedom of choice in how we live, where we live, what we live in and how we define "home." Sure, we may have to buck the system. We may have to separate or even segregate ourselves from traditional, mainstream society. We may be called non-conformists or hippies (remember them?), but just remember the old children's song that goes, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Life is about living. Living should be as free as possible. We should be able to make all the choices for our own lives, right or wrong, as long as we don't infringe or deprive anyone else of this same right to freedom and making their own choices. Today, more than ever before, it's very challenging to live free and make a lot of these choices. There are so many laws, regulations, rules, restrictions, limits, constraints, etc. to overcome. But, most of them can be overcome by making choices for yourself and how you want to live your life.

There are a lot more powerful thoughts in Phil Madsen's writings and I'm hoping to cherry pick some of the others that I feel will be useful to readers of this blog. Meanwhile, if you want to read more of and about the Madsen's and their interesting life odyssey, go to Living a Property-Free Life and gain what insight you can before this blog leaves the Web forever.


Melissa West said...

A house can definitely be a home. However what one defines as a home is personal and individual. A home can be anything not just a house. I think like most ideas everyone projects what they "feel" an idea is. The concept of what a home must be is not different. I honestly never thought of the words house and home as being one in the same. To me home is more a state of mind, a concept. A house is a place to dwell in that is also a home. If that makes sense!

Great post!

Linda Sand said...

Yes, I checked out that link, too. Some wonderful stuff there.

For me, right now, home is two places. One is my RV and the other is where my husband, Dave, is. For now he's in an apartment in Minnesota and only the weather is keeping me from taking my RV there to join him.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Excellent thought, Melissa --

I really like your thought that home is a state of mind. I feel the same about freedom and happiness.


Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

All I can say, Linda is Brrrrrr!

Someone forgot to tell Minnesota that it's spring. In a way it sounds like you subscribe to some of Phil Madsen's thoughts.


TexCyn said...

I live in a ClassC motorhome. I live in Texas, but I traveled to Pa last summer,where most of my family lives. My mother actually lives in a campground, where she works, in a modular home. I was able to park & hook up on her lot, It's a small community there, folks started talking about me. One of my sisters told people I was "homeless"!! I was NOT happy with her! People were feeling sorry for me! I was livid! And well, most of those folks have summer residences at that campground in their RV's. Soooo??? If they thought I was homeless, then they must be too while they live in their summer spaces? Even though they have houses, they weren't IN their houses. I no longer have a sticks & bricks house. I now have a sticks & fiberglass house on wheels. My choice, my dwelling, my house.

My sister is a smart person, but not so much in alternative living. I tried to educate her a little about this, but I don't think she can grasp the concept of it. Ah well, tis her problem, not mine. I shudder to think of how she'd feel about vandwelling or living in a car! I love my little RV. I used to have a business & one of my clients gave me a trivet one year for Christmas.This was a home based business in my sticks & bricks home. The trivet is heart shaped & contains the words of "Home is where you hang your heart". It was one of the first things that I placed in my RV! And it's true. A house is just a house until you hang your heart. It doesn't have to be a traditional home at all.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

It sounds like your heart is in the right place. It could be a Class C RV, a one or two room cabin in the woods, a big truck rig, a cave or a loft in an old warehouse. If you're happy, comfortable and secure there - and you can hang your heart there - well it sounds like home to me.

I've been fortunate, so far, no one has seen me as the stereotyped unfortunate, poverty-stricken, homeless person. Mostly they immediately see the advantages to my "living free" house-less, simple, minimalist, frugal lifestyle and many even envy me. But, that may be because I jump the gun and expound my happy, free lifestyle and even have a professional looking "Living Free" business card that establishes the image I want to portray. But, that's just my way of representing our lifestyle choice.

Thanks for your comment,

Linda Sand said...

My daughter currently lives in the cab of a semi-truck and loves it. She is getting paid to satisfy her wanderlust! It sure helps to be a minimalist. :)

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Absolutely, Linda! Pretty similar to the Madsen's lifestyle. I knew a couple who did that back in the early 70's - kid's grown and gone, middle-aged (compared to the young buck I was back then). They were paid to see the USA. Is your daughter a solo driver or a team driver?