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Family Living in an Off-Grid Camper Cabin and Treehouse

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This is one family’s fascinating off-grid camper cabin and treehouse studio homestead.

Outside, you’ll notice an old camper that they bought for $600, gutted, and lined in beautiful pine. There’s a queen bed and bunk beds for the kids on the inside. Over the camper is a roof structure with metal roofing to allow snow to slide off rather than piling on top of the camper’s top. The camper and treehouse sit on 400 acres of land near a small lake.

The treehouse doubles as Jeff McIntyre’s art studio and his family’s living area. Inside, you’ll find a table and chairs, open windows that only close with shutters, and the whole place runs off of two batteries and one solar panel. The outside is a beautiful board and batten carpentry, and the inside has unfinished walls. In the corner, you can heat the space with a wood-burning stove.

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Family Living in an Off-Grid Camper Cabin and Treehouse

Video: Family’s Life in an Off-Grid Camper Cabin and Treehouse Studio


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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • phil iverson
    February 16, 2016, 7:22 pm

    love your whole place perfect way to bring up kids i am from nothern minnesota and have been to canada a few times on fishing trips i love it you all have the best off grid setup and so very nicely done

  • Eric
    February 16, 2016, 9:06 pm

    @Elizabeth Murphy… gee, that’s a pretty arrogant comment. Firstly, you don’t know their situation. Secondly, if it works for them then it obviously is how to bring up children… and Thirdly, many people all over the world bring up their children in what YOU would call even more primitive conditions. Had a look at what your forefathers (and mothers) brought up “their” children, of which YOU are a descendant?

    • Sherry McLaughlin
      July 23, 2019, 1:53 am

      Absolutely agree with you…..our ancestors lived in hovels to begin with and they did just fine I bet.

  • Comet
    February 16, 2016, 9:53 pm

    Wow—the level of hatred towards these parents from the poster is–shocking! Not her kids; not her decision! As long as the kids are not being harmed or living in an unsafe place–which this does not appear to be—then they are fine. Not sure if they are doing this full time or not but it looks very cheerful and I would have LOVED to live there when I was a kid; wish I had a place like this now!

    • Kristina H Nadreau
      February 17, 2016, 10:49 am

      I am noticing the level of vitriol directed at the woman who believes these parents are making poor choices and she had the guts to state her opinion. There are many factors to be considered when raising children. Many responsibilities…. physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual…. We do not have enough information to properly evaluate this families situation, and even with more information, we may not have a right to judge them or their decisions. We only see their housing. I find their housing ugly and non-functional, a subsistence style of habitation that I have not chosen for myself. and I would not have inflicted it upon my children. Obviously they are doing as they choose.

      • Comet
        February 17, 2016, 1:29 pm

        I find it hard to believe that some people are so judgemental; esp since we don’t even know if this is a full time or weekend place! I also have to wonder—do they forget that ALL of our not that distant ancestors lived a much more primitive life—due to lack of options? Just a hundred years or so indoor plumbing was not common even in larger cities; outhouses and communal water pumps were the norm; people esp kids often slept several to a bed or the kids slept in the barn or in a loft or on pallets on the floor. There were issues with some of this I agree—esp in a crowded place—but by and large people were fine—after all this WAS a step up from caves!

        My first house had an outhouse and a dug spring with the best water; I can’t say that I miss the outhouse but when we had water issues and had to re-place the actual well pump it came in real handy! And THAT was a step up from when the house was built in the 1700’s and water had to be hauled from the lake across the road. We also heated with wood—talk about WORK! The house I grew up in had at one point to have the water hauled up a steep slope from a gorge; these people were hardy sorts and not afraid of work.

        If the power goes out in my current house I would have to go fetch the generator; hook it up; pump enough water to flush and fill containers; run the heater for awhile; hope that nothing in the fridge or large freezer spoils—I don’t have the option of going to the spring and tossing in a bucket—or using the outhouse! Altho we are working on being able to heat with wood here if we needed to. When it’s minus 21* and the electric goes out–you NEED a backup!

        My kids hauled water and wood and slept on the floor on extremely cold nights in front of the stove—and they all survived just fine. Beats trying to keep cave lions out I guess.

      • Comet
        February 17, 2016, 1:44 pm

        I just had my 9 year old grand daughter look at the pics and the video–first off she LOVED the place; second it is clear that they do NOT live there 365 but rather they go in on snow shoes or X-Country skis etc—-seems like the ideal place to me. Seems like paradise for kids.

  • philip
    February 16, 2016, 11:07 pm

    be nice were have a world war to worry about

  • Joyce
    February 17, 2016, 12:51 am

    I grew up living in a hiking tent with a tarp in front and I thought it was great way to spend several months in the summer. Looks quite comfortable! Now that I’m in my seventies, I appreciate a bathroom nearby but outside of that, it’s not a hardship. Why people think it’s so bad, I don’t understand. Mind you, washing each day when the water was frozen wasn’t much fun. Don’t knock it until you try it

  • Emily
    February 17, 2016, 4:42 am

    When I moved into my small house in the French boondocks with my 6-year-old daughter, the only toilet was an outhouse and the only heat was a wood-burning cooking stove. Many people criticized me for bringing a child into that kind of environment. I thought (and still think) that it was an improvement over our life in an apartment in the city, where we had all the modern conveniences but I had to work so much to keep up with our rent that I barely saw my daughter, and most of her friends spent most of their time in front of a TV or computer screen. This trailer/treehouse combo looks like a paradise for children.

    • Comet
      February 17, 2016, 1:55 pm

      Looks like paradise for adults too! I showed my 9 year old grand daughter the pics and video and she LOVED the place–one thing she was very excited abut was the built in bunk beds! She just moved into a new room and left her loft bed to her little brother and I think she misses it. Where they are looks much like where we live and we all should appreciate these people preserving that land—the lakes around us are by and large over populated and noisy and the water—well—there are no loons on those lakes! We have loons–but not in the over built areas. We also have moose; large numbers of deer; bears—

      Your little corner of France sounds beautiful!

      • Emily
        February 17, 2016, 5:21 pm

        Comet, I still live in my small house in the French boondocks and I’m still glad I moved out here. You made an important point that these people with the trailer + treehouse are living lightly on the land, the way we should all try to do. Sounds like you live in a beautiful place, too!

        • Linda Corr
          April 7, 2016, 8:46 pm

          Hi I live in Australia , where are the french boondocks you mention? I think where they live looks awesome ,, Linda,

  • Dianne
    March 4, 2016, 7:47 pm

    I don’t think it’s anybody’s business how these chose to bring up their children. Looks like heaven to me.

  • jake
    April 7, 2016, 8:20 pm

    Once, I was a child.
    Did a lot of camping.
    Lived in a shed with a bunk bed.
    Worked in the woods.
    Mended fences.
    Chopped, split and hauled wood.
    Roofed, floated, taped painted.
    Went to college.
    Became a Soldier, officer, helicopter pilot.
    Did logistics and process improvement.
    Saved tax-payers several hundred million.
    Like simple, tidy, tiny, enough.
    Understand I don’t understand a lot.
    Get a little freaked out by hatred.
    Love what this family is trying.
    Is this site is about war & child raising?

  • Bigfoot
    April 7, 2016, 8:49 pm

    Can somebody buy me a ticket to this destination? I’ll play caretaker.
    Just kidding.
    What a wonderful RETREAT. It was smart building the roof over the TT they scored for 6 bills. To me, this is paradise. Water, dock, boat, picnic spot, treehouse, a place to lay down out of the elements, woodstove, & a pretty slice of heaven all around.
    There was a period years back when my family lived on 160 acres with thousands of acres around it & a river flowing through it. Kids could fish, hunt, trap, & just romp around being kids. All I had to worry about was gators & snakes. No corners to hang on. The kids still have great memories years later & I bet their kids will too.

  • Cassie
    April 7, 2016, 9:59 pm

    What do they do as far as a bathroom goes??

  • Jerri Middlebrook-Vogel
    September 20, 2019, 3:13 pm

    I really love this! I mean I love the idea of doing something like this for my family. Naturally I would want to create some type of rustic chic environment in the living space and bedroom while being very minimalist.

  • Theresa Perdue
    February 13, 2020, 1:49 pm

    Someday their kids will bring their kids and then their kids will bring their kids…. so hopefully it will never be just a wonderful memory

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