The Cabin Dwellers

12 thoughts on “The Cabin Dwellers”

  1. Great post – nice to see an alternative approach to living. My boring, practical side is curious about other basic needs. Are bathing and laundry handled with a trip to town? Or do cabin dwellers choose a some simple outdoor approach to these tasks?

    1. The cabin is actually a normal house in every respect. They have a propane stove and electricity from the grid. They have a regular water heater. I didn’t include photos of the indoor bath, but they have a shower and sinks that function in the usual way. Gray water (non toilet waste) is disposed of via a perforated tank in the yard where the earth easily absorbs the modest amount of lukewarm slightly soapy water. The couple have typical jobs in the city which is actually only a ten minute drive down the hill – contrary to the impression that the location is in God’s country.

      This post isn’t about people living off the land or outside the bounds of civilization. It merely demonstrates that there’s a continuum of living arrangements that work at least as well as the cookie cutter standard.

      1. I don’t think a place with an outhouse is a “normal house”. It is uncomfortable and, more importantly, hazardous if you have too many in close proximity. Modern plumbing, together with modern insulation and reliable electricity, is one of the greatest advances in housing comfort of last 150 years.

        I fully agree about the uselessness of 4000sqft, but indoor bathroom is a basic modern facility. It doesn’t require wasting fresh water on it, if you have a grey-water system in place. I just don’t think this is an example of “middle class living standards without the trapping of car-centric single-detached suburban dwelling”.

        1. Do you think this couple is living a life of poverty and deprivation? Does it seem unhealthy to you?

          Can this standard be applied to a skyscraper in Manhattan? No. Could it work perfectly well in many quarter acre suburban subdivisions? I think it could without the Black Death ravaging the nation.

          In the end these issues will be resolved by economics.

  2. I think this is mostly relevant to, say, holiday homes, cabins, or those who choose to live in the countryside. This type of living is fantastically better for the environment than building a city-style home in the middle of nowhere.

    But there are too many of us in the world to make this doable for everyone. We can’t all compete for trickles of water, and build our own water infrastructure. There are economies of scale to be had. But I completely agree with your points about people expecting ‘gold-standard infrastructure’ while simultaneously crying for lower taxes. We have to educate people about the connection between their chosen lifestyle, transportation, and costs.

    1. I’m working on a couple of compare/contrast style posts about infrastructure and public expectations. 19 million people in southern California can’t all support themselves on trickles of mountain spring water as you say. But the current set of arrangements really are fantastically vulnerable and dysfunctional in so many ways. Stay tuned.

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