STORIES
November 11, 2018

5 Stunning Photos Of Tiny Home Prove That Travel Nursing With Kids Is Possible.

By Mariam Yazdi

There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home…there’s no place – like a tiny home! Merging travel nursing and mobile living may not be appealing to those who aren’t drawn to the RV lifestyle. But when your temporary housing is an actual home…well, now you’re talking! The Flake family have found the best of both worlds and are off to see the country through the windows of their custom-built tiny home. 

Bryan, a NICU travel nurse, and Bethany, a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher to their three kids, began their travel nursing journey four years ago when their children were the ages of six, three, and two. Originally from Roanoke, Virginia, the family always knew they wanted to travel, but never really knew when or where. One day, a recruiter notified Bryan that there was a travel contract in Arlington, Texas with a start date in about 3 weeks. The family decided to take it and so began their travels.

The travel housing crisis - a tiny home was the solution for this family of 18!   

The Flake family of five is really a family of eighteen, with seven cats, two dogs, a pig, and a snake. It took a lot of planning and coordination to find townhomes that would accommodate them, with most of the townhomes requiring longer leases. In those first few years of travel nursing, the Flake family lived in Arlington, Corpus Christi, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. During that time, there was a lot of packing, unpacking, cleaning, deposits, and contract extensions. Bryan and Bethany realized they wanted more mobility and flexibility; with so much of the country left to see, it was difficult to check off all the places on their list when they were faced with 6 and 12-month leases. 

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That’s when the inspiration from the show Tiny Houses on HGTV came in. Inspired by the efficiency and homey feeling of these mini homes, the Flakes decided to order a custom-built tiny home from a builder in Vancouver, Washington. They crafted the perfect 415 square foot space for all their children and creatures, and are currently on their first assignment with their Tiny in Southern California. Follow their adventures on Instagram at @tiny.wanderers and read on to learn about how they did it, the advantages, the challenges, and what they plan on doing next!

MY: What has been your favorite aspects of having a tiny home?

Brian: When it comes time for a new assignment, it’s a very stressful time. Not only are you looking for a new job, but you have to cancel utilities, set up utilities, pack and unpack. Now with the tiny home, the biggest decision will be where to park it. Once we nail that, we don’t have to worry about packing or deposits. It’s just a matter of hitching up and going.

Bethany: The perks are endless; it’s like night and day. I thought it would feel small and that everyone would be on top of each other, but that is not the case at all. Everyone has their own space, and we have plenty of room for storage, the animals, and guests. And it has given us more mobility and flexibility in our lifestyle.

MY: Why the tiny house and not an RV?

Bryan: We wanted something that would feel more like a home, especially for the kids. We also have a traveling zoo with us. With all the animals, we wanted something that would last with them as well. The construction is built like a home; with bumper framing and wood siding, it holds up better than the traditional RV aluminum. 

MY: What is the difference in cost?

Bryan: We paid $74,000 for our custom-built tiny home. The cost of a fifth wheel trailer that would meet our needs and have this quality would have been about $150,000. And we got to design our tiny home, making everything how we wanted. It was really nice to be in the process of building it.

MY: Do you park in regular RV spaces at campgrounds or mobile home communities?

Bryan: Some RV places will accept tiny houses, some will not. It depends on the county’s zoning codes. Besides RV parks we use national parks and personal property as long as it falls within the code. Right now, we are essentially parked in someone’s backyard. They have full RV hookup, water, gas, electric, and a septic tank.

MY: What is the rent for the space to park your tiny home?

Bryan: The rent is $780 per month, and we get half an acre. If we were to rent a 2 or 3-bedroom home with a backyard in this Los Angeles area, it would likely be around $3000 a month.

MY: How did you find the space for rent where your tiny home is currently parked?

Bethany: I joined many Facebook groups for this area. We posted a picture of our tiny house saying that we were looking for space. Within an hour, our landlady had contacted me. We were still on an assignment in Las Vegas at the time, and she was passing through, so we met up and had dinner. It was perfect.

MY: Walk us through a verbal tour of your tiny house…where does everyone sleep?

Bethany: From the front door, you enter right into the kitchen where we have full-size appliances, including the stove, oven, and fridge, as well as a big beautiful porcelain farmhouse sink. On either side of the front door, there is access to the loft. On the left is a ladder that goes to our boy’s loft. Underneath that, we have our daughter’s room. Then we have a patio which we made specifically for our cats; there are big windows and a stand for their litterbox which takes out all the smell. On this side we have unfinished storage with access from the outside; we keep Christmas ornaments and other keepsakes here.

On the right side of the front door are steps that go to the master loft. We have a king-sized bed and it’s very roomy. Underneath the master loft is the living room area. There is a custom couch which is also a twin sized bed where our guests can stay. The bathroom is here, and it has a regular toilet, a vanity, and full-sized shower.

MY: What is it like packing up your tiny home for a travel nursing assignment?

Bryan: First we pack up anything on the counters that would fall with the move. Then we place crossbars in the house that stabilizes it in transit. The house is built in a certain way that is meant to move, so it does really well on the road. We have a special Blue Ox hitch for towing 22,000 pounds, and it comes with stabilizers and a slay bar. The entire tiny house is 30 feet long by 8.5 feet wide, so we don’t need any special permits to tow it.

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MY: What are the challenges of living in a tiny home?

Bethany: The biggest challenge right now is laundry. We have an electric washer/dryer combo; they are very popular in Europe and they are convenient because they run both wash and dry cycles. They are also very small. Because there are five of us, the machine is running almost 24/7.

MY: How long do you see yourself traveling in the tiny home with your 3 kids?

Bethany: Now that we have our tiny home, we’d like to spend another five years on the road. There are many places we still want to explore, and eventually, we will choose where to settle down.

MY: Was it a difficult transition to begin traveling with the kids and do you homeschool?

Bethany: It wasn’t a difficult transition at all. We had already traveled a lot with them and they were used to being in the car during road trips to see family. They got used to the lifestyle right away. 

We also homeschool our kids, so we aren’t worried about missing school days, we just take school with us.

Bryan: We did talk about what to do if they ever get to the point where they want to stop traveling and stay in one place. But most of the time, they are more excited about the next place we’re headed to than we are.

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How did your family react to your decision to travel nurse with a family?

Bryan: They were pretty supportive given that they were only given about 2 weeks’ notice. I had started looking into travel nursing, contacted a few recruiters, and the first company that I had applied to - which I’m still traveling with today - notified me of a position in Texas that started in three weeks. So we decided to take it.

Where will you be exploring next?

Bryan: We wanted to check out the Pacific North West and we’d also love to see Alaska. We’re using travel nursing to find out where we want to settle and as a way to see the country.

MY: What advice do you have for other nurses and families that want to jump into this lifestyle?

Bethany: It’s so important to be flexible and organized. I’m not the most flexible person, I like being on top of things and know what’s happening ahead of time. But this lifestyle has taught me to go with the flow and trust the timing of things. If something happens and it’s not necessarily in your plans, just go with the flow and enjoy it. There’s probably a reason why that’s happening, and it’s just easier to enjoy the experience.

Next Up: 10 Tips to Make Over $100K as a Travel Nurse

 

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