Picking up and moving across the country is no small feat, and in our case it was made even harder by the fact that we were downsizing. We were moving from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 650 square foot log cabin.
And on top of that we were moving from a big city to a small one, from a populated area to a rural one, from flat Texas to the Tetons. And we were having a baby in two months. Basically, we were turning our lives upside down (but for good reason!).
One thing that I didn’t count on was how different life would be living in a log cabin. I figured it would be the same as the other places I’d lived, only made of logs. Perhaps it would be cozier, warmer. I envisioned snow fluttering outside the window while I curled up with a cup of hot cocoa in front of the fire.
It’s not that my visions of log cabin living were false, just that there ended up being more to the story… more that changed in everyday life, in our family, and even in my mindset.
I wish now that I had been more prepared for what it would be like to live in a cabin. If I could go back in time and talk to myself before we moved, here’s what I would say:
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to a Log Cabin
1. You need less than you think.
Most cabins don’t have a ton of storage, if any. We had to get creative in how we used our space (for example setting up our baby changing station in the bathroom closet…). Even though we sold almost everything we owned before we moved, we still had too much stuff. When you live in a small space, clutter make it feel even smaller.
So we learned to use less than we did previously. Lots of things that I defined as ‘necessary’ before we moved no longer applied.
My mindset shifted immediately. I used to regularly shop on Amazon or online. Not for anything crazy, but for little things I felt I needed. Something would pop into my head and I would convince myself that I needed it. That without this thing our living room or my closet or whatever wouldn’t be complete.
But in the cabin we don’t have much extra space. So I would find myself going down the old path of ‘I need this,’ and thinking of ways around it. What else can I use instead? Is this actually an essential? Do I already have one of these or something similar?
And I found that I needed less than I thought I did. Perhaps this is a minimalistic approach, or maybe just a practical one… Either way, I’m thankful that the cabin taught me this lesson. We have less clutter, more in our bank account, and I feel that it helps have a clearer mindset in general.
2. You have to pay closer attention to the weather.
This one is serious. I got really in tune with the weather here really fast. There’s several factors to why this happens:
We don’t have central A/C or heat, and heat is generated mostly by wood stove. If you aren’t paying attention to the weather, you’re going to be sweating or freezing when you don’t want to be.
In the colder months, this means watching out for how cold it will get so we know to keep our fire going. In the summer months, this means opening windows throughout the day. And sometimes it means opening every window and praying for a breeze:
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When it’s so hot you have to open all the windows & pray for a breeze ? (However I’m willing to bet once winter is here we will miss these hot days!!) . . . . . #summer #dogdaysofsummer #summersun #summerheat #ihavethisthingwithwindows #window #openwindow #logcabin #cabin #loghome #cabinlife #jackson #jacksonhole #jhdreaming #blueskies #cabinvibes #cabinlove #cabinwonders #cabinfolk #discovercabins #homesweethome #wyoming #wyomingsummer
Sometimes our entire days are scheduled around the weather… Weather is an influence no matter where you live, but in a little log cabin a big Wyoming mountain valley we feel it strongly!
I don’t like the strong presence of the weather when the days are too cold or when 25 mph winds whip around the cabin; but I do like it most of the time. I like it because it forces me to pay attention to nature. I feel closer to my surroundings and to nature.
3. You’ll have less control over your surroundings.
Just as we only have so much power to determine how the weather impacts us, there’s other things we don’t have control of. For former city girl like me the biggest of these were:
- Household maintenance: things break. We had a plumbing issue one day and when the plumber came over he remarked that “a plumber definitely hadn’t set up our plumbing!” It was a do-it-yourself job by the man who originally built our cabin 10+ years ago. This means that things are a little tricker to fix and easier to break.
- Wildlife: we’re lucky that we get to see lots of animals where we are. Elk migrate through our yard twice a year. Moose, foxes and coyotes regularly hang out in the neighborhood. Sometimes the close proximity of these animals mean that we can’t walk the dog until they pass. Or one time I took the baby for a stroller ride and had to turn around because of a moose.
These things may not seem like a big deal, but coming from an environment where we could control almost everything, I notice a difference. In our apartment, if it was too hot we would put on the A/C. We would walk the dog at regular times each day, etc — there was never a need to look out for large, dangerous animals!
For example, this is the moose that I almost walked into while taking the baby for a stroller ride one day:
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Took the baby for a stroller ride & almost walked right by this moose! She was laying with two babies under some trees. I would have kept walking by her (a little too closely! ?) except someone stopped to point her out to me. I always look for wildlife when I go walking but after today will be even more aware! ? . . . . . #jacksonhole #jackson #cabin #cabinlife #thecabindiaries #thesecabinmoments #moose #wildlife #wildlifespotting #wildanimals #wildlifeofinstagram #wildlifephotography #moosespotting #mountainlife #mountainmama #mountainbaby #takeahike #optoutside #exploreoutdoors #loghomeliving #adventureculture #wyoming #outwest #westisbest
Sometimes things come up around the cabin that mean we drop everything and deal with it. At first these interruptions felt like inconveniences but that has passed. The benefits of cabin living — seeing wildlife, being close to the mountains, living in a log home — all outweigh any feelings of lost control over my surroundings.
4. You’ll want to go outside more.
There’s something about living in a log cabin that makes you feel closer to nature. You feel the elements more — whether it’s the snow piling up against the logs or the breeze blowing through. In warmer months, our windows and door are open often, letting in the air and sounds of outside.
This inspires us to get outside more. On nice days the sunny skies call to us inside and on bad weather days we want to get outside on the next nice day all the more. It’s impossible to not want to go outside on days that look like this:
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Our backyard turned into a field of dandelions ? they seem to have a mind of their own & popped up everywhere! . . . . . #dandelions #flowers #flowersofinstagram #flowersofig #dandelion #mountains #mountainscape #spring #tetons #mountainlove #cabinlife #flowersmakemehappy #floralphotography #flowerlover #nature #naturephotography #stayandwander #getoutside #outdoorculture #jackson #jacksonhole #wyoming #summertime #summerblooms #naturalwyoming #wildflowers #thecabindiary
Also, cabin fever is very real. Getting outside is a good cure for it.
If I could go back to myself before we moved I would say that you’ll want to go outside more. But not just in the ways you imagine: hiking, strolling around town, skiing. You’ll also go outside in the evenings on pretty days when the husband gets home from work. Or some mornings you’ll be itching to go for a walk. Or when the baby is crying in the afternoon, he’ll quiet down when you step outside on the porch.
5. Log cabin living is cozy.
This point is extra special to me. It’s one of the highlights of log cabin living. I would go back to myself before we moved and explain that I’d love how cozy the cabin is. It’s cliche: a cozy log cabin. But it’s a cliche for a reason.
Before we moved, I was nervous about winters, about being cold or cooped up in the cabin. But there’s something so enjoyable about being cozy inside by the fire while it’s cold outside. Going to bed cuddled up in our loft with a fire cracking is one of the best feelings. Waking up to a fresh blanketing of snow outside the cabin windows is one of the prettiest sights. And hot cocoa under a heavy blanket with snow falling outside isn’t bad either.
Some of my favorite memories of living here aren’t the mountains we’ve hiked or the wildlife we’ve seen — they’re moments cozied up in the cabin!
All in all, I would go back to myself before we moved and say that everything will be different. Some parts of log cabin living feel harder than what you’re used to but it’s worth it. All the cliches of living in a log cabin are (mostly) true and you will love them all. Lots of things will be unexpected, but overall it will be better than expected.
What are some myths or facts that you’ve heard about log cabin living? Drop them in the comments & I’ll give my $0.02 from what we’ve lived so far!