By Jessica Rowan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding an apartment or home is always a challenge here in St. Augustine without burning a hole in your student savings, or parent’s wallet. But soon- to- be Flagler College junior, Armand Flutie, 19, figured out an alternative, more economical way to afford to live off campus.
“Moving off campus was probably the best college decision I have ever made. I love the campus, but the dorm situation really was a problem for me,” Flutie said.
While Flutie says he had a great freshman roommate, his suitemate’s lack of cleanliness became a major issue, as well as having to pay for a full-meal plan which ran up into the thousands.
Flutie was awarded scholarships to live on campus his sophomore year, but by the time tuition bills were due, the college increased the price of dorm living and meal plan to almost $10,000.
“You can’t keep up with it, and it’s driving students to the ruin,” Flutie said.
Flutie started to look at apartments in St. Augustine and was shocked at the outrageous prices for downtown studios ranging up to $1,000 per month.
“It was ridiculous. I couldn’t pay that. I was discussing my situation with my mother, who then said, ‘Armand, why don’t you just go live in a trailer park?’ After my mom proposed that idea, I thought, ‘I’m young, I don’t mind living differently. Hey, why not! If we can make it work, we can make it work,’” Flutie said.
Flutie admits that there are negative associations for people who live in trailer parks, but that didn’t stop him.
“There really are not that many trailer parks in St. Augustine, and only one that is actually nice. It’s the one I live in called Wagon Wheel, about five miles south of campus off US Highway 1. I like it here a lot. The neighbors are nice. It’s safe, clean and rent is cheap,” Flutie said.
Flutie pays a whopping $350 per month in rent at the trailer park which includes: a parcel of land, water, sewage and the lawn mowed. All Flutie had to bring was the RV.
After months of searching, Flutie found a 31-foot 1998 Airstream Land Yacht to call home. Encapsulated inside his home lies a separate bedroom with queen-size bed, full bathroom with shower, stove and oven, microwave, fridge with a freezer, sofa with dining space and a television, yet minimal air conditioning. His home on wheels sleeps up to six people.
“We were able to purchase the RV for less than what it costs to live on campus for an entire year,” Flutie said.
While Flutie spends much of his time doing homework on Flagler’s air-conditioned campus, he admits by living alone he misses out on some of the college social scenes.
“Sometimes it can get a bit lonely. It’s to be expected when you are staying out here all by yourself. I wouldn’t mind having a roommate in the RV, but whoever it may be has to be willing to live in a very confined space with few possessions,” Flutie said.
Of course, as with any unique lifestyle, it takes some getting used to. For example, no traditional plumbing.
“Dealing with the sewage is the worst thing to get used to living in an RV. The trailer park uses septic tanks, so I have to drain it myself when it fills up about every two weeks. It is fine when all goes well, but it’s not fun when something goes wrong. It’s a really long cleanup process. You are probably going to want to bleach your hands and the entire premises. And on top of that you have to fix your sewage rig,” Flutie said.
Thankfully, this has only happened to Flutie once since living in his RV.
Flutie has lived in his RV since August 2016 and has definitely learned how to live a minimalistic, yet economical student lifestyle.
“I do not plan on leaving anytime soon, I plan to live here until I graduate. Depending on where grad school takes me, I could drive my RV up to another place or sell it and make some money and get my payments back in rent,” Flutie said.
Everything is within an arm’s reach for Armand Flutie. He has nearly all the amenities of a home or apartment, all while saving money.
“It’s my own little patch of St. Augustine paradise. It’s not for everyone. My good friend doesn’t get why I live out here. He said he would feel claustrophobic. Different strokes for different folks.”