Interview with Brice Hopkins of Fruitiny

Interview with intentionally homeless Austinite Brice Hopkins

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The following is an interview with intentionally homeless Austinite Brice Hopkins. Check out his website where he talks about living gratefully and living as a couchsurfer at Fruitiny.com.

Wand’rly:
First, the basics. Name and age please?
Brice:
Brice Hopkins, 25.
Wand’rly:
From your blog I gather that you’re not an RVer or vandweller, but you get around with your own two feet. You state that you’re “intentionally homeless”, a term I very much love. Can you tell us about your decision to live as you do?
Brice:
I lived in an RV previously for a year, and had the original intention of moving back into it. I hit a point where I realized I didn’t want to physically move it — it seemed to big for just me (it’s 23′ … small compared to most standards, haha). That was a signal to me that I should take a different path. I had talked with a couple friends, and the offered for me to stay with them temporarily. I sat on that, and thought that staying with different people I know would be a great way to save money, cultivate community, and live more minimally. I wrote up a letter describing my process at coming to the decision, and what I hoped to gain from the experience. I sent it to my friends in the area, and within 24 hours I had my first month of housing covered. Definite sign that I was on the right path.
Wand’rly:
I’ve read that you’re trying to start a housesitting business. Can you tell us a little bit about that and any other ventures you’re involved/have been involved in to make money for your travels?
Brice:
I wouldn’t say it’s a housesitting business — really a way to share resources among community I have here. I’ve dabbled in online routes to make money, though quickly realized that my primary skill set (in healthcare) is quite dependent on going to the same physical location every day. Right now, I have opportunities opening up for short work gigs here and there just to get by, and I trust that whatever I need will make it’s way to me — I just have to be open and ask around. After I decided to make this leap, it gave me the courage to quit my 9-5 job for now. Not paying rent has it’s advantages, for sure!
Wand’rly:
What can you tell us about the transition from having a traditional place to live to your current roaming lifestyle?
Brice:
It was a surprisingly fun process. I’ve moved a lot in my adult life, and find that every time I do it gives me an opportunity to evaluate what ‘stuff’ I have and whether I really want or need it. Through this transition to intentional homelessness, I paired down my possessions to a 5×5 storage unit, and a couple bags on my back. I’m able to maintain my autonomy that way, and not be a burden on friends who’ve offered up space for me. The first couple weeks I spent really figuring out what I needed to carry with me, lots of shuffling and rearranging to find the set-up that will work for me for a while.
Wand’rly:
Where and what for are you going to school?
Brice:
I’m going to Western Governor’s University, for Health Informatics — a degree that’s really going to help support my work experience in healthcare administration and electronic health records. The school I’m attending is completely online and self-paced, which works really well with my current situation.
Wand’rly:
It sounds like you’re still in a state of great transition. What types of struggles and obstacles have you encountered with designing this new life for yourself?
Brice:
The first big struggle was really getting over my own fear. This idea seemed really beautiful, but also scary at the same time. I had to think through different scenarios and how I’d handle them, to give me a sense of how to be most prepared. For example, having plans to stay at one place and they fall through — and knowing what to have in place to make sure I have a roof over my head. It was pretty funny — but my first week in this adventure I had a few issues with my car — really the only large possession I have left. Navigating that and being fluid in taking care of what needs to be taken care of — a great reminder.
Wand’rly:
Are you actively traveling or mostly hanging around one area? What are your future travel plans?
Brice:
Right now I’m staying around the Austin area, though that may change, and I’m open to it. I have a trip to San Francisco planned for August, and after that — who knows? Before I settle back down, I want to pick up a 6 week Amtrak rail pass and criss-cross the country couch surfing with friends. I’ve got most stops planned out, just a matter of when the stars align and I know it’s the time to go!
Wand’rly:
Do you have some sort of savings or nest egg, or is it all fly by night?
Brice:
I have a small amount of savings from my last job, and a bit of student loans to help keep me afloat for now. I’m taking a risk, for sure, but the key has been trusting in myself and knowing that I’ll get what I need. Giving me a whole different perspective on money, and being creative to save where I can. I’m re-reading “Your Money or your Life” — great book for gaining perspective on that piece.