Yep, people live in these garages. With rent through the roof, many families here in Watford City are seeking atypical housing. Erin is one of the brave ladies out here who left a perfectly comfortable house in Utah to come and live in an RV in the middle of the Bakken to give her family a leg up.
Erin’s husband is an electrician and when he was laid off in Utah he found out about work in North Dakota. They decided to send him here for 6 months to make some money until work picked back up in Utah. Erin stayed in their home in Utah and her husband bought an RV to live in here. Well, 3 months went by, there was no sign of work picking back up in Utah and Erin and her hubby decided that they needed to get their family back together.
You’re going to hate it, he told her when they were discussing whether or not she and the kids should come out. But she had stirrings, one any adventurer will recognize. She’d never lived out of Utah and the call of the unknown, the strange, the foreign was oddly enticing. She decided that not only was she going to come to this unknown place, but that she was going to make it work and she was going to be happy. She was going to prove everyone wrong.
Erin hauled out to North Dakota with her kids and into the RV, planning to stay there temporarily until they found more permanent housing. They’ve been here nine months.
If someone wants to pay under $2000/month and don’t have company housing, an RV is a very real option for living. Because of the severe winds and freezing cold temps in the winter, Erin and her family decided to go with a spot inside. Not only are the bays temperature controlled but people can also take advantage of the space around their RV for storage.
Winter prices are $1250/month for anything less than 37′ long, $1350/month for 37′-39′ and $1450 for 39′-42′. Summer prices are up to $200 less/month. Each bay has a hanging electric heater and are kept around 50 degrees. For reference – an outside spot is about $700.
So here’s the skinny:
What are the upsides of living in the indoor RV park compared to outdoor spaces? Pipes don’t freeze, no wind and a bit of outdoor storage. Erin is happy not to have to worry about the severe temperature lows, especially with her children. There is also a main community building with space for parties, pool tables, a full kitchen and some washers and dryers. This is also apparently the only RV park in the area that does a background check – no sex offenders and no felons hanging around.
What are the downsides? Little to no natural light makes Erin feel like she’s living in a cave. It’s a bit dark and you are in tight quarters with your neighbors. If you get a rowdy crew in your bay your life could be pretty miserable. Also, since there is not a lot of air flow Erin gets irritated by the smells, smells coming up from the sewage pipe and propane stove etc.
Here is her kitchen
Turning around from the kitchen here is your view with Erin and her husband’s bed to your right.
You pass through the bathroom on your way into the back bedroom.
So imagine, you right now, moving into less than 150 square feet. What would you bring? What would you toss?
I asked Erin how she does it, how she functions with 3 kids and a husband in her RV. In Utah they were in a 3000 square foot home and felt like they didn’t have enough space, and now, she has become a minimalist! They buy less and frankly have to have less. She’s got a storage unit full of things they haven’t used or needed in 9 months.
The small kitchen is hard. She grocery shops every few days, buys milk almost every other day.
Her little guy, who is 5, is frequently bouncing off the walls. They join every activity in town possible, gymnastics, hockey, horse back riding, soccer to get out and run around. They also take weekends away to stay in surrounding cities in one of the hotels with a little water park inside.
Erin has surprised herself and she’s one of those people who have shown me how to have a good attitude. She is making it because she decided she was going to make it. Family and friends back home think she should be miserable but she isn’t. Not to say that every day is grand and they never get tired of stepping on each other but she is not miserable. The close quarters and lack of internet and TV has brought them closer as a family. There is something to say about having to play with each other and being happy with what you have.
While I was chatting with her, a friend stopped by to sell her some eggs.
Above her door is this reminder, one that keeps her grounded and strong.
Erin knows where she lives is crazy, but she’s cool with it because she’s proven to herself that she is a real live adventurer.