A van, a truck, a bus, a tree house, or a raft; there’s no end to the ways one can live. Exploring Alternatives is a mini-documentary YouTube channel that posts videos in which, hold onto your hats, the host explores alternative living with people from all walks of life, one more creative than the other.
Water & Waves
Some of the most peculiar homes Exploring Alternatives are those that can rock you to sleep with the rhythm of the water they float on. Here are two of them: a simple tent on a raft, and a complete two-story house with a garden, chickens, and even a compost on another (much bigger) raft!
“Jojo and Norah are on the adventure of a lifetime! They live in a tent on a self-built raft and travel around Sweden’s lakes via the Dalsland Canal. Their raft measures 2.9-meter x 7-meter and it’s built with impregnated wood and 28 x 200 litre barrels. It weighs a total of 1.5 tonnes and is powered by a 6 hp 2-stroke engine.”
“Shadow built this incredible floating island with salvaged and reclaimed materials. The island comprises a 2-story float home, a floating chicken coop, floating gardens, and even a floating compost shed! He’s been living on the water for 17 years and working hard to protect the Widgeon Slough area in BC, Canada. He gathers wood from the river to use as firewood, he grows some of his own fresh food in barrel gardens, and he collects fresh water from a nearby spring. He filters his greywater on a floating raft with multiple plant and husk filtration layers, and he composts his food and human waste to ensure that nothing goes overboard.”
Floating in the Air
You can float on water, yes, but did you know you can live floating in the air? We might outgrow tree houses at some age… or not. After all, why should we? Who wouldn’t want to live in a tree house even as an adult? The list is (I hope) very short!
“This epic 2-storey log tree house is built around 9 hemlock posts and salvaged and reclaimed materials that Mike, the builder, saved for years before starting this 3-year project. The upstairs is a complete living area with two sleeping spaces, a kitchen, living and dining room, and a small bathroom. Downstairs is an outdoor lounge area and a full indoor bathroom. It’s a really unique space and we’re really excited to give you a full tour!”
On Four Wheels & On the Ground; Fast or Slow, We’re Moving Around
Tree houses and lake homes are both incredibly interesting but what if you want to be able to wake up seeing the sunrise from a different place every morning? You pack it all up into a car! Build a whole home on four wheels or travel slow with a (very sturdy) tent. Do you think this can’t be done in winter? Let the following three home-builds and builders prove you otherwise!
“This epic DIY truck house is 8′ long x 6′ wide and sits on the flatbed of a 1996 Ford F-350. It was designed and built by Timmy from Truck House Life as a full-time home on wheels for his adventurous lifestyle in Alaska.”
“Brian has been living off the grid full-time with his dog Sierra since 2015. In the summer he lives in the back of a 4×4 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a DIY slide out extension, and in the winter he lives in a Big Horn III outfitter-style tent with a wood stove. At the start of his journey, he was working odd-jobs as a ranch hand, landscaping, and doing trail work, but now he earns a living as a digital nomad with his YouTube channel, Off-Grid Backcountry Adventures.”
“Take a full tour of our spectacular self-built camper van! It’s a Ford Transit conversion with a comfortable and functional bed that transforms into a couch and dinette, a swivel table, a compact kitchen, a toilet with a privacy wall, loads of accessible storage, a gas heater, solar power system, and more!
We built our camper in a 2015 Ford Transit van with a high roof and medium length. It was a used, secondhand daily rental van that had almost 100,000km on it. We added cruise control, insulated it, and built out the interior ourselves. It took almost 5 months spread over 2 summers to build this tiny house for our vanlife adventures around Canada and it was way more work than we thought it would be but we’re super happy with how it turned out.”
Lone and Alone but not Lonely
Do you have the kind of money that can buy you a whole island? Statistically, I’ll be right if I guess that the answer is no. I’m not one of these people either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an island all for yourself! You just have to incorporate some changes into your lifestyle, like commuting by boat or living without an outside source of electricity.
“Mark and Chera rescued and renovated an old cabin and transformed it into an epic off-grid home for their family of 5. The catch? There’s no road to get there, so they had to figure out how to do absolutely everything by boat and barge: transporting building materials, equipment, belongings, workers, as well as commuting to and from town for school and work.
They were limited in how much they could modify the existing cabin, so to make space for the kids’ bedrooms, they attached a yurt to the house with a mudroom. For heat, they have a wood stove in the house, a pellet stove in the yurt (to keep a constant temperature for the kids), and backup wall-mount propane heaters for really cold days, or times when they’re away from the house during winter (to prevent pipes from freezing).
Since propane has to be delivered on a barge, it’s really expensive so they try to limit their propane use as much as possible. For electricity, they have 3 systems. First, a solar power system with 18 panels and a large battery bank which works great in the summer even though they’re surrounded by mountains. But during the colder, rainier months, the system doesn’t keep everything running so they installed a hydro turbine which creates electricity using water pressure from a creek up the hill, and this provides 24 hour electricity for most of the year. As a backup to these two systems, they have a propane generator but they try not to use it unless they need to.
House but make it tiny
Another kind of alternative home is one that looks and acts almost like a “normal” house but takes up much less space. Tiny houses have all kinds of advantages. Sometimes, they can be moved around, other times, they help their humans keep their lives simple, other times yet they do both of these things and much more.
“This family’s ultra custom 32′ tiny house on wheels was built by D’Arcy from Acorn Tiny Homes. It has a beautiful chef’s kitchen, a cozy living room, a home office loft, two large loft bedrooms, an atrium shower & bathtub, and a super functional entrance with storage, a washing machine, and more. This house is bright and beautiful, and it’s packed with loads of functionality, storage, and space-saving design ideas!”
Exploring Alternatives has many more unique homes to introduce to you; just visit the YouTube channel and start exploring! There are many mini-documentaries to help you explore alternative living and, perhaps, even find something that inspires you. Let the inspiration become the nudge to start living your own way if you desire so!