Trailer Trash to Treasure

by Chloe Jeffreys · 8 comments

in Our Midlife Crisis

When my husband told me that a trailer with a piece of plywood for a front door had moved in next to us, I laughed. Then I came home and found this:



I promise you that when I think about how my life is working, it totally makes sense. It’s only when I open my mouth and try to explain it to someone who is asking a completely reasonable question like, “Hey, how is travel nursing going? Oh, and I heard your husband moved into a trailer.” that it suddenly feels loony. All I want to do at that moment is scream, “DONALD TRUMP!”

Because if Donald Trump running for president is actually happening–and makes sense to anyone–then my living next door to the above abode needs no further explanation. Clearly my husband and I are preparing for the coming Apocalypse, and the last thing anyone needs when that happens is a mortgage and a lawn to mow. Am I right?

I mean, what the hell is going on anyway?

I Told You My Boss Was Insane

I came home after the grueling work month that was my December to spend time hanging with my husband, my grandbabies (and my daughter), and reconnecting with some real life friends here on the mountain.

Today I went out to coffee with a former co-worker who proceeded to tell me a hair-raising story about what a liar my former boss is. My shocked and dismayed former co-worker told me she could not believe my ex-boss could look her–and a room full of other people, mind you–squarely in the eye and make up a story that could never in a million years be true. She shared with me how hysterical she felt when she realized it was possible there were people in the room who believed this woman’s utter nonsense because she could lie so convincingly.

I smiled, and I told her, “The way you felt at that one meeting is how I felt every single solitary day for four entire years. Now you know why I was so desperate to get free, and why I was willing to leave no matter what it cost.” She nodded with a compassionate understanding in her eyes that I had so longed for when the insanity was happening to me. It was tremendously validating.

So, while it might seem strange to some that we walked away from a perfectly good house, that I now work 3.5 hours from where my husband works, and that we do indeed live next door to a tin can with a plywood door, I know deep in my heart that we’ve made all the right decisions for us.

And, as God is my witness, I will never sit trapped in a room with a pathological liar who has any control over my life or my happiness again.

Building Our Dream Home? Or Not.

Despite the coming Apocalypse, the taxman says that having a mortgage isn’t all bad. After a visit to our accountant, it would seem that we have a choice: 1) Have a mortgage, or 2) Pay the Government the money instead.

Why putting all the money we’re making now into a retirement account we’re going to need later isn’t an option is beyond me. Here we are working hard so we’re not a burden to our children, but it doesn’t work that way. Even after maxing out our 401k contributions, including the extra “catch-up” amount, we need a tax shelter.

The biggest problem for us is firmly deciding to tie ourselves down to a house again, because once you are free from “The American Dream” it’s hard to see why you should sign back up for slavery a mortgage again.

Without a house, we can decide on a whim to go spend three weeks in Paris. We’ve decided we’d like to do that this April, thankyouverymuch.

Without a house, I can go work wherever the money is without worrying about a yard, house repairs, or watering my house plants.

Without a house, my husband doesn’t have a lawn to mow, gutters to clean, or trees to trim.

Honestly, it is very freeing not having any of that stuff to maintain or worry over.

But not having a house means nowhere to put the Christmas tree. It means no place to bake cookies for my grandkids. (Don’t even get me started on baking in a trailer oven!) It also means that some of my shoes are in a storage unit and some are riding around in the trunk of my car.

It is a little unsettling being 54 years old and carrying my shoes around in the trunk of my car. That can’t possibly be the right way to live, can it?

How many steps is it exactly between carrying your shoes around in the trunk of your car and having a piece of raw plywood for your front door? I’m pretty sure it’s not as many steps as I’d like to think.

So we’re 99.9999999999% certain that we’re going to build our dream house.

Extreme Marital Sports

The above title sounds pretty dirty but this section isn’t about sex. Building a house is far more dangerous than sex. Or so we’ve been told.

My daughter and her husband built a house in a year and haven’t had a single argument. Or so we’ve been told. My husband and I haven’t even finished submitting our house plans and already we’ve had several.

I think most of the conflict comes from our mutual ambivalence about home ownership.

My daughter and her husband have little children. When you have little children, having a house to raise them in seems very necessary. But building an expensive custom-house for no real good reason when you’re in your fifties is not necessary. Maybe it is even foolish. Isn’t there a better tax shelter than this?

There Was a Tiny House…

We’ve tried to think this thing through from every angle. We’ve even looked at tiny houses. They are so cute.

tiny house

Photo from Country Living

But living in this trailer has convinced us that tiny house living might not be for us.

For one thing, my husband and I sleep at different times of the day. It’s about as fun for me sitting quietly in the dark so he can sleep as it is for him. Also, most tiny house designs incorporate a loft bedroom with a low ceiling, First of all, there’s no way in hell I’m climbing a ladder to go to bed when I’m 80, and second, we like standing up. It’s not like we’re asking for much. Or are we?

The Just Right House

Our dream house isn’t a million square feet big, and it doesn’t cost a gazillion dollars.

Our dream house is comfortable for two, can accomodate a party of 20, but doesn’t have any unused rooms. It is sunny and bright for me, and has a dark and quiet room for my husband to sleep during the day. It’s private, but it’s centrally located and within walking distance to town. It’s a house that fits us now, but is safe for us to grow old in later. Most importantly, our dream house will shelter us from the tax man during these, our last good earning years, but be paid off when we retire.

In April, hopefully before we go to Paris, the well will be dug. In the fall, we’ll see the foundation poured. And come the spring of 2017, the real construction will begin.

Unless the Apocalypse comes early.

In which case we’ll be stocking up on plywood.

Because you never know when you might need a door for your trailer.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi Cathey March 24, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Love that you’re still on fire. Big things to consider.
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Sarah March 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Hi Chloe,

I love your website and have been lurking for the past couple of months. You might want to read the book “In Sheep’s Clothing” because it will explain a lot about your boss. Unfortunately, I worked with such a person a long time ago and I was amazed at how long it took for others to figure it out. I figured it out during the panel interview for this person. But, no one else did. I made sure to get far away and fast. Such people are SCARY because most people do not even know they exist.

As for houses, you are so very intelligent to give up building a large house in your fifties. I am also a fan of Tiny Homes, but often they are too tiny. I like this series by Tumbleweed homes. They are all under 1,000 square feet and look adorable. No, I do not represent Tumbleweed, I just think they are forward thinking and I have been a lurker and a fan.

This is the (3 bedroom) B-53 from their Cottage Series. There is a wonderful day bedroom on the first floor and 2 full bedrooms on the second floor. I think it’s just genius because it’s around 800 square feet but lives like a bigger house.

I have several friends in their 50’s with grown kids and I have been telling all of them about these houses. I have seen nothing else like them and I would be happy to live in one after our small kids are grown. 🙂

Many blessings to you, Chloe. You are SUCH a great blogger and I feel like someone else ‘gets it’ when I read your posts.


D. A. Wolf February 9, 2016 at 11:11 am

There is something wonderfully hopeful in “building” whether building a home (just the right size) or remodeling one you already have. The very very act of constructing is a stake in the future, staking out the RIGHT to a place in the future. It is affirming.

So glad you’re doing this.

And a little note on your last post, if you don’t mind. “In the face of your failure, other humans will instinctively avert their eyes.” It’s amazing how true this is, and how wonderful when you encounter someone who will not do so. In a wiser society, there would be more who understand that failure is how we master our toughest lessons.
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Dawn Quyle Landau February 5, 2016 at 9:12 am

Love that you’re still on fire. Big things to consider, but you’re the woman to do it!
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Pamela February 4, 2016 at 5:22 am

With 2 in college, we’re still tied to the mortgage. We were smart and lucky enough to refinance back when interest rates hit rock bottom; thank goodness because now we pay for the boys’ rents on top of school. We can’t find anything in as nice a location for less money, but we have twice as much house as we need, along with a money pit of a yard.
So we’re staying put and renovating the basement to be another residence for anot her family member. Two neighbors have this, and it seems practical.
But I wish I had an RV to take me away.


Tammy February 1, 2016 at 9:24 am

Daring, brave, and oh so smart. Everything in life worth having has a price. Everything. This is quite the adventure and I applaud the both of you for daring to dream it and make it come true. I’m not at all sure I could do the same. I’m awfully attached to my creature comforts. Keep your eye on the prize!


Jack January 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

All you need is a tiny house with an accordion roof, ya know something that you can just squeeze a couple of times and voila, more space.

Ok, maybe that is not so easy or sensible, but…
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Annie January 27, 2016 at 7:50 pm

I think that your old boss couldn’t/can’t separate fact from fiction in her own mind so of course, it is all very convincing…except not quite! As far as plywood for a door, the health of yourself and your family is the cake, and a solid door on a dream home is just wonderful frosting!


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