Does Ditching the Suburbs Really Lead to a Closer Family?

Simpler Living. Closer Family. Richer Education. Uncommon Adventures.

These are the 4 pillars that make up our Ditching Suburbia focus. We touched on our view of these in our Manifesto.

I thought it would be interesting to hear how other Ditchers and Becoming-Ditchers define them. I reached out to our Facebook Ditching Suburbia Group and asked for input.

We’ve already talked about the first pillar, Simpler Living. This time we’re looking at the second.

Closer Family.

Our Experience

We lived in a typical ranch home in a suburb in West Michigan. The kids and I homeschooled upstairs and Mike worked downstairs. We were home together and I felt we were a pretty close family.

Then we set out on a “one year RV trip” around the US. The first few weeks were stressful:

  • Miranda had just become “best friends” with a neighbor girl and she wanted no part of this trip.
  • We were all crammed in this small space.
  • It rained a lot.

But at the end of those weeks the sun came out and we started to get into a groove. We:

  • Worked as a team to set-up the 5th wheel - from back-in to sitting-outdoors-with-a beverage - in 18 minutes.
  • Experienced sea-shores, battlegrounds, deserts, mountains and redwoods.
  • Snorkled, surfed, biked, and hiked.
  • Tried new foods - fresh tuna, shrimp, gumbo, and In-n-Out (a family favorite).
  • Visited cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents at times and in places that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.


Always together.

And now?

Our son has been on his own for nearly two years. We text and chat weekly. We’re the first people he calls when he’s had a favorable work review. Or been hired part-time by his church. Or received a donation toward his upcoming YWAM trip.

That closeness we developed while traveling and experiencing together continues.

Our daughter is gearing up to launch this fall. She texts me during her lunch hour to let me know how things are going. She picks up new foods to share on her way home from work. There is a bit of tension during this time of transition (adult living with parents - adult living on her own).

But I expect that after a short time of separation, the close relationship we forged over the past 6 1/2+ years will continue, just like it did with our son.

And the relationship between the kids?

They are typical siblings, sure. But they can talk for hours when we get together. They have their own “language” (at least that’s what it sounds like to us). They’ve been states away for much of the past year, yet they’ve maintained their relationship via text and skype.

That’s us, how about other families?

A Becoming-Ditcher’s Thoughts

Here are thoughts from a family not yet completely ditched, with some experience from long trips:

We are ditching at the end of this month. However, we have taken a few multi-month trips to try to simulate what the full-time lifestyle may be for us. Our family dynamics definitely change. The stress level is greatly reduced. I think the main factor to this is that we don’t feel boxed in by our house, community, city, etc. That we have more latitude to do what we want. Additionally, being closer to nature certainly makes the entire family happier. I think the biggest challenge for us is to not fall into “we’re on vacation” trap. This is a lifestyle decision and with that we still have “normal” responsibilities such as school, work, paying bills, etc. What we hope for the most is a more intentional, not normal life with less stress. We also want our kids to continue to develop their skills, work ethic, personalities, outlook, etc. through experiences. To us it is much more meaningful and lasting to develop, learn, and cultivate by doing vs by being told what we should do.Jay McCormick

Other Ditchers’ Experiences

And input from other completely-ditched families:

Well we started April 28th.. we are a family of four and have a 9 & 11 year girl and boy… We just came back from a two week visit in our home town and it was so stressful. We had so much to try and cram into two weeks dr appt and seeing family and VBS and my husband had to work from his office while there and that was just a hard adjustment for everyone. We got on each other’s nerves more and were short with each other. Today is our first morning out of town and already I feel the dynamic has changed. It’s been a slow morning the kids are still asleep and we were able to sit outside this morning enjoying coffee while he started his work day. I think we are still in the adjustment period… My hope is that we will grow closer as a family and be able to experience some truly awesome things… For us we feel this is what the Lord wants us to be going right now. It’s not all roses but the good moments far out weigh the bad.Jodee German Moffett

We sold our house in April 2017, but for the past 5 years we are on the road 8 months out of the year. My kids are 14 and 15 always make do with what we have. Short showers most of the time, chipping in to do the chores that need to be done. This year has been challeging for us financially… We have become more patient and tolerant to unforseen circumstances. But I would not trade this for anything. I just hope that someday my girls will look back at all the things we have seen and done in hopes this will prepare them for the future. Lisa Aiken

The moment we hit the road on our first rv trip, there was a noticeable change for all of us. The kids giggled more, we laughed more, the kids became engaged in geography, history & weather. We sat around campfires together at night, instead of at computers or tablets. We engaged each other. We played more - all of us.Lisa Pietsch

Not being able to “send our children to their room” meant Chris and I had to deal with the interpersonal issues that come up. This has helped us with communication, empathy, and created an amazing bond with our kids. I have no doubt, had we stayed living in a traditional lifestyle (big house where problems can hide and fester) we would have missed out on this one single thing that has made all the difference.Kimberly Travaglino, Fulltime Families

We ditched 5/26 and are having a blast… We did a shake down 3 week trip over Christmas break and that was very stressful and difficult the first week. We feel like we worked out a lot of the bugs though, and this last month has been a blast. NOT perfect, but we realized on our shake down trip that we need to roll with the difficulties and just logically work through them, providing patience with each other… We are thoroughly enjoying family bonding time, though, and have explored 5 states in less than one month.Jill Scholz Franklin

We’ve had a super close family prior to ditching. Now, 30+ days as official full-timers, we are growing even closer in a different respect. Instead of just being “close” and loving, we are now more in sync and working together. Space is smaller, tasks/chores are different, and we are all developing our roles. Moving forward, I expect us to continue to grow closer in the sense of being present. Present and aware of what we are all doing, feeling, and accomplishing . . . it’s awesome to look forward to.Lou Schaber, The Uncommon Road

What Does “Closer Family” Look Like For You?

For those who have already ditched - are you seeing a change in your family’s dynamics? How so?

For those looking to ditch - what are you hoping for?

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