The campervan downsizer: Will ‘Tiny Living’ beat renting?

Priced out of her Dublin home, composer Una Keane is taking baby and dog on a road trip

Composer and multi-media artist Una Keane with her daughter Willow and dog Indie: “Experiences are now more important to me than things. I can live without this stuff.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Composer and multi-media artist Una Keane with her daughter Willow and dog Indie: “Experiences are now more important to me than things. I can live without this stuff.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A hefty rise in Dublin house rental rates is nothing new. Yet it’s safe to say that composer and multi-media artist Una Keane’s response to it is.

The lone mother was informed by her landlord’s family that the rent on her three-bedroom Kilmainham home – where she has lived for 15 years – would soon increase significantly.

“I have a lovely landlord, but his extended family’s circumstances are changing and they see an opportunity,” notes Keane. “I’d love to be staying, but I’m not willing to pay Dublin rents. The situation has offered me the impetus to try something completely different.”

This month, Keane held a yard sale at her house, during which she sold or donated many of her possessions: homewares, furniture, keepsakes. The decision was partly motivated by a desire to significantly downsize, and partly financially driven. The funds raised by her clear-out will go towards the financing of her forthcoming studio album.

Keane will soon take possession of a campervan and, alongside her infant daughter Willow and dog Indie, will travel across Europe next year on a series of ‘house’ gigs, eventually landing in France to live for the summer.

Chance conversation

A chance conversation with a filmmaker friend introduced her to the Tiny Living movement: a growing faction of people that advocate living simply in tiny homes, often under 500sq ft. In the face of a deepening housing crisis, the idea has gained traction as a solution to Irish house affordability issues.

“I’ve designed the smallest room in the house around the space of a campervan to see how I can see the space in different ways,” explains Keane. “A €120 Ikea futon, for instance, will serve as a baby cot and a double bed for me and the dog. I also hope to use technology as best I can, and will likely teach music lessons via Skype.”

Keane is all too aware that the Irish are a nation born and bred on bricks and mortar, and that success, wealth, status and security are often linked to the square footage of one’s home. Similarly, we have an ongoing love affair with stuff – a mindset Keane is hoping to break free from.

“I had a Turkish ottoman sofa that I really didn’t want to sell, but it was a question of letting it go,” notes Keane. “It was a little bit scary and sad – I had to ask myself, ‘do you really want to give away that table you had shipped from Thailand?’ I could store stuff, but it would go against Tiny Living principles.

“Ultimately, experiences are now more important to me than things. I can live without this stuff. I don’t need to hang on to my copy books from secondary school.”

To contribute to Una Keane’s album crowd-funding campaign, go to: fundit.ie/project/una-keane-the-next-record

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