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Zac & Katie Ruiz are definitely walking the path less travelled. Two years ago they made the bold move to leave their busy Californian lives to create a completely different way of life, with Zac building a tent home for their family in New Mexico.
This unique tiny home has proven to be a tool that allows this family the freedom to live the life they choose. Their two boys, Fox and Grizzly want in on every adventure – whether it’s learning how to shoot a bow, chop or an axe build a fire. Zac shares with us how the pursuit of a simpler life has shaped them and what he hopes his boys take away from a unique childhood immersed in nature.
Who’s in your tribe?
We’re the Ruiz’s - a family of 4 - Zac, Katie, Fox, Grizzly
What was the catalyst that led you down the path of living in a tent home?
At some point, we all sit down and truly evaluate life. You either come to the conclusion that you love life or you’re just living it. We were just living it, barely making it by, living a half life if you would. So our options were, let’s stay in CA and live this half life, or set out and see what else the world has to offer for us.
The tent is 304 square feet (28m2) Tell us what you love most about living in a small space?
We’ve based our home in a nature setting, so we spend most of our time outside. Our goal was always to be outside more, so why do we need a big house if we’re outside most of the time. I think that’s what I love about it most, our tiny house is simply a tool that allows us to live the life we want, not force us to live a life we don’t like a large house payment would.
What have you learnt that was completely unexpected?
A lot, although I’m not sure I can put a lot of it into words. Lots of little life lessons that I would have never learned living in a 2-bedroom apartment in the city. I think appreciation for nature is the greatest one. I always enjoyed it, but there’s something about living in it that changes you. Seeing the same animals everyday and watching them live their lives just makes you enjoy it all that much more.
How do you feel this way of life has shaped and changed your family?
It’s greatly changed us. I often joke that where we live compared to Orange County is like living in a different country, but it kind of really is. It’s just a different way of life. The people out here think differently than people in California. And with that comes different activities and ways of life.
It’s been a refreshing change for us. It’s been the greatest for our boys. As I write this Grizzly is wandering around the yard collecting bugs and Fox is chopping wood, something they’d not be doing in our previous situation. It’s been a greater journey than I’ve ever imagined it would be, and we’re not done yet.
You’ve spent over a year living in the tent and have experienced all four seasons. So tell us, how cold does it really get and what has been the most challenging part of winter life?
This winter was the coldest, harshest winter our area has seen in years. We had reports of it getting down to -25 in some areas, but the coldest it got at our tent was -11. One week we got about 18” of snow pack. That being said, it wasn’t really hard for us. We managed the cold fine in the tent, and after making it through that all, we’ve realized we can do this for longer, because it really can’t get any worse!
What adventures have you got planned for the spring / summer ahead?
We just got back from 2 weeks in CA, and we’ll be traveling all over UTAH, CO, and NM the rest of the summer camping and mountain biking. We hope to make it to some other states as well, but that’s up in the air right now!
What do you hope your boys take away from this completely unique childhood adventure?
I hope they look back on this time with joy and appreciation. They have learned things and appreciate things that took me 30 and that is the greatest gift we can give them.
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