- 1.Unique Places to Call Home: A Big Yellow School Bus
- 2.Unique Places to Call Home: A Floating Hospital Off the Coast of Africa
- 3.Unique Places to Call Home: A Shipping Container on a Texas Farm
- 4.Unique Places to Call Home: A Solid Stone House
If you look up the phrase “living off of the land,” you just might see Nate Bennett’s name. I’m kidding, but the 36-year-old Virginia native takes the phrase’s meaning to another level with his rural property outside of San Antonio, TX.
Bennett enjoys life from his cozy two-unit shipping container that sits on an 11-acre farm. In this third installment of my “Unique Places to Live” series, you meet Bennett, who dares to live outside of the box (yet kind of in a box).
“I’m all about helping people grow food and live a sustainable lifestyle,” said Bennett, who nearly single-handedly constructed his container house. “I’m in the middle of nowhere and the closest town is 3 miles away. I live about 30 minutes from downtown San Antonio.”
Bennett’s property, boasting nearly 25 species of trees, is located in a quiet agricultural community complete with horses and cattle.
“I’ve been taking all of my projects in stages,” said the software architect, who primarily works remotely. “Next year, I think I’ll be 75% self-sufficient. A lot of people talk about maintaining a sustainable lifestyle but very few people walk the walk.”
He cooks on a small propane stove and has come up with a variety of creative ways to use his small living space. He uses a Murphy bed (which folds up into wall space when unused) among other space-saving strategies. He also managed to find a way to save money as well.
“I chose to go with containers because construction was cheaper than other alternatives,” said Bennett. “I also went with containers because I could retain a low taxation status since containers don’t qualify for residential zoning.”
Bennett, dog Daffodil and two cats reside in two adjoined containers, which is about 644 square feet of living space. He’s still finishing his home construction by working on his master bedroom.
“I used 2 x 6s when I built it and added insulation for the walls,” said this ultimate do-it-yourself expert. “But I have to admit that sleeping in the container during the wintertime with no insulation was pretty tough.”
Bennett even constructed a mini-power plant, dug a 140-foot well and planted corn, beans, squash and other vegetables. He also erecting a pole barn and a workshop that is almost complete.
“I spent about $4,000 to rent a drilling rig and air compressor to dig my well,” he explained. “It took about a half a day. I have a sediment cleaner that I use for my water and I clean it out every month.”
He admits some of his friends don’t understand his earthy lifestyle, but he enjoys it.
“Some people I talk to say ‘Wow, you almost live like a homeless person,’ but I’ve chosen this lifestyle,” he said.
Despite Bennett’s simple lifestyle, he has a television, internet service for work, and transportation when he needs it.
“I plan on making and selling things out of my workshop in addition to selling produce that I grow,” said Bennett, who was raised on a farm in Middleburg, VA. “I’ve learned a lot from all of my experiences. If I had to give some advice, I would tell people to go for it if they have a dream they want to pursue.”
He is very proud of the sweat equity that has gone into establishing his homestead. One of his neighbors also wants to establish a fruit stand on his property in the near future.
“The best thing about sustainable living is that I’m completely free. I’m not beholden to anybody,” he explained. “I just want to live a happy and simple life. And when I need something, I just figure out how to build it.”
Despite his long list of projects, Bennett anticipates completing most of the major ones by June 2017.
“I’ve lived many places, including San Diego, San Francisco and even Hong Kong,” he said. “But I’m most happy down here.”
To learn more about the progress that Bennett is making on his container home and farm, visit his Facebook page. If you or someone you know wants to share insight about a container home, share it below.
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