We stumbled upon the Ruiz family from New Mexico, USA on instagram (@denforourcubs) and instantly fell in love with their unique family home and inspirational simple living. They make you question how sustainably you are living and show what you can easily live without.
Zac, Tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
So we’re the Ruiz’s- Zac, Katie, Fox, Grizzly. I (Zac) am not anyone special. The coolest thing I’ve probably done was get mistaken for Chris Hemsworth at universal studios. Life’s just been downhill from that moment on. We’re currently living in New Mexico, enjoying being close to Colorado, and have a summer planned out full of camping, MTB races, Mineral hunting and, really, just whatever we feel like.
How did you end up living in a tent?
There’s a lot of back story to how we got where we are as a family and what has given us our mindset we currently have, but to spare this from being a Tolkien length novel I’ll give the abbreviated version. We’re originally from OC, CA. If you are unaware, OC is a great place to visit, not the greatest to live once you have a family. Of course this is just my opinion as there’s still 4 million residents in OC alone. We had debt, we worked a lot, and we didn’t do anything worth doing in OC because we were working or didn’t have the money. And with the current housing market sitting around 600k, there just wasn’t anything for us there anymore. Once we got out of OC things were better, but we still felt like we were stuck with the same problems, just different town. So the idea originally stemmed from wanting to get out of debt so we didn’t have that burden on our shoulders anymore. If you’ve looked into the tiny house market, you’ll quickly find that the concept is far from affordable, and for us would have meant going into further debt, which would be completely counter productive to our cause. It came down to finding the absolute cheapest option. We looked into buying yurts, RV’s, fithwheels, buses, and they all required us spending a bunch of money that we didn’t have. We really liked the yurt concept and have talked about it for a few years, so we were naturally drawn in that direction. I started looking into wall tents and found that people would stay in them for weeks at a time during different times of the year. So from there is was more research and planning to come up with something we could live in full time with kids. Since I couldn’t find anyone doing what we planned to do, it was more of an experiment, can it be done?
Tell us more about your business Moon Stone Fox?
My wife started a children’s clothing company back in OC, called MOON STONE FOX. I use to dabble in making lights for our apartment and people would always say “you should sell these” , so I did. The lights started to outsell the clothes, and so we eventually just switched over to being a lighting business. That’s our main income, but I also work for 2 different companies working with marketing and social media.
Your images make living in a tent look like a fairy tale. What are the biggest challenges?
Our life is far from a fairy tale, unless you count Dennis the menace as one. Like I said earlier, I work in marketing, so I like things to look nice in photos, but it’s a battle of being real and taking nice photos a lot of times. I try to just let life be life and capture real moments as a family. Kids are 100% the hardest thing about this lifestyle, but also one of the main reasons we did it!
How do you have running water and electricity?
We don’t have running water. We haul water in from the pump house and filter it though our Berkey for drinking water and just use a gravity system for our sink. For electricity we have a generator, but we don’t have to run much inside. I do almost all of our cooking on a BBQ and we run a propane heater in the winter. We’re looking to get some solid solar panels up and running, it’s just not on the top of our priority list at the moment.Do you have internet?
The joy of unlimited 4g data usage. I usually save all of my laptop work for when we go to CA to visit. Everything else is easily done via Mobile or just hit up the local coffee shop.
New Mexico would be quite hot in summer. How do you deal with the heat?
Heat is definitely something that can be dealt with easy solutions in NM since it’s not humid. If it’s too hot filling up the kiddy pool in the shade is a must and having a Yeti ice chest constantly full of ice helps too. We aren’t inside the tent much during the day, but it definitely gets hot in there and I’d rather just sit outside. AC is really just a convenience we think we can’t live without, but there’s millions of people that do it daily in hotter places. Not having an AC bill is nice.
Tips for others wanting to set up a life in a stylish tent? ( Us haha )
If you're a “I can’t live without that” kind of person, I’d say don’t bother. You have to be open to the adventure of it, and be ready to settle for less than ideal setups when it’s hot, cold or when things don’t work how you thought they would.
How long did it take you to build/set up?
The whole thing took about 1 month to be move in ready. That wasn’t a straight month of work, but a few hours here and there kind of work.
Best part about living off the grid in a tiny house?
We aren’t off grid fully as far as being out in the wilderness, but our little piece of land and having the freedom to do whatever we want as a family is what makes everything we’ve been through worth it.
Where can we follow your tent life and family adventures?
You can follow along all our adventures @denforourcubs on IG ✌🏼
All photo by Zac Ruiz