When Jay Adler’s marriage broke down in the middle of 2020 he decided he needed a fresh start.
Despite being in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, the 30-year-old decide to sell his stunning three-bedroom town house and quit his steady office job to move into a shipping container and open a bar.
Jay, who previously lived a conventional life with his wife in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and worked nine to five in marketing, sold his house for £250,000 and spent £3,000 buying and converted the 20ft by 8ft shipping container on a decommissioned farm.
He explained: “For everyone, 2020 has been a bit crazy. Splitting up with my partner was my catalyst for change and living simply was always something I wanted to do.
“I had a house, a wife and an office job, as well as a very standard life. I never really signed up for that, it kind of just happened. My marriage ending was such a big change already, that living simply was just the next step.
“So, I asked the owner if I could buy and move into the shipping container – renting land and utilities from her. She agreed and I began living there from July.”
The basic space was nothing new for Jay, who opened a pub, The Outdoor Inn, based in two shipping containers, with his business partner Matt Nolan, 30, in March last year – a job he will make full-time when Covid-19 restrictions permit it.
And he insists he’s never been happier – especially as he’s now saving £700 a month from his outgoings.
He said: “When we were working on the bar, I saw how convenient and useable shipping containers are. After that, using one for a home seemed to be the perfect fit.”
And his £3,000 outlay bought Jay the container and luxury fittings, including a kitchen, insulation, storage space, a bed and an attached 6ft x 4ft shed, containing his bathroom – with a shower and toilet.
Jay said: “Despite the restrictions on the hospitality industry this year, saving money wasn’t my main motivation for doing this. But saving £700 a month is certainly welcome.”
And while the shipping container lies on an “exposed” part of the farm, Jay has not had to forgo all modern comforts.
He explained: “It’s not 100 per cent off-grid. The location itself would be, but I do have a water feed from the farm and I do have an electricity supply, which is constantly running.
“I also use a fan heater for circulation, because shipping containers are prone to condensation and moisture build-up, so that helps with that problem.
“I’ve insulated the walls, too, and have another heater, so that really helps now we’re coming into winter.”
Most of the time, Jay lives alone in the compact but bijou space but he has entertained at the container – not only inviting some mates over for a few beers around his fire pit outside, but also letting them stay over.
And everyone has praised his new digs and his minimalist lifestyle in an idyllic setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre.
Jay said: “My friends really understand where I’m coming from with it. I don’t have as much in the way of possessions as I used to.
“I still drive to work in a company van, but I have stripped a lot of unnecessary stuff away and that’s brought me real joy. The things that I have in the container serve a purpose.
“I do have to take my clothes to a launderette in town but, basically, I have everything I need to live comfortably.”
But, Jay did confess that his sister Leanne Jennings, 29, a homemaker, was alarmed when she heard that he was living in a shipping container on farmland.
He said: “I think she had an image in her head that I was in the container with nothing inside. You know, maybe a mattress on the floor with no electricity.
“When she saw photos of it, I think she was relieved to see that wasn’t the case at all.”
And while Jay sacrificed many luxuries, he did keep some treasures – including his TV, mobile record player, which is now his most prized possession.
He said: “Music is one of my big passions. The record player in the shipping container takes up a good amount of space, so that shows the importance it has in my life.
“In normal times, I’d be going to gigs and festivals, so this is the closest I’ll get to that for a while.”
Even with winter closing in, when most of us reach for our home comforts, Jay – who uses mobile hotspots for an internet connection – has no regrets about pairing down his life.
He said: “There is definitely something to be said for simple living. I think people can, to a degree, become obsessed with material items and possessions and the way society is, it becomes a big part of your life.
“It feels like there is never an end to it, you always want more. Yet, when you strip it all back, you can find yourself really enjoying yourself by living simply.
“I walk a lot more than I used to. I read a lot more and listen to way more music. In fact, I have ended up doing far more of the things I really enjoy.
“I’ll definitely be here for the foreseeable future – I love it.”
Jay’s previous monthly outgoings
Mortgage – £500
Car – £100
Council tax – £60
Mobile phone contract – £40
Internet – £25
Food – £200
TOTAL – £1,025
Jay’s new monthly outgoings
Rent and utilities – £200
Laundrette – £30
Food – £70
Mobile hotspot – £25
TOTAL – £325