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Living Your Best ‘Bunkie’ Life — at Home and on Vacation
BY Jim Bamboulis | August 25th, 2023
In 2015, David and Karrie Fraser were confronted with an obstacle all too common in many households — how to create more space for visiting family staying overnight, and make it comfortable enough for everyone from grandparents to grandkids. While many of us usually work with, and manipulate the limited space we have by moving furniture and rearranging appliances for visiting family, the Fraser’s looked for another solution. It was David’s Mom, undoubtedly tired of sleeping on the couch, who encouraged the Fraser’s to explore other options. So they went to work, researching best methods, and accounting for cost. The solution came in the form of a “bunkie,” a maximum of 108 extra square feet for everything from cosy living to added convenience.
Traditionally, bunkhouses were used by farmers and ranchers to house seasonal employees. Nowadays, the modern-day bunkie adds much-needed square footage, and provides a surprisingly spacious solution with a less expensive price tag — qualities many homeowners desperately desire. David and Karrie Fraser found their inspiration for creating more space from across the pond. They discovered, and quickly ordered, their first bunkie kit from Europe, where the concept was not only far more common, but also sold as a ‘garden house.’
Soon after, the Fraser’s became co-owners of Bunkie Life, offering bunkie kits, which come with all the materials needed to build it over a single weekend, including pre-cut logs that fit together by tongue and groove with an airtight, waterproof seal, all without the need of a building permit or a second mortgage.
A Unique Way to Travel
If you build it, they will come. And they did. Turns out, many homeowners began ordering and building bunkies not just for visiting family and friends, but also for travellers hungry for a more unique, even quirky way to travel. The Fraser’s listed additional bunkies they built on Airbnb. The idea of a year-round country escape from the city quickly caught on, and each bunkie across Ontario was booked solid almost immediately.
The extra revenue doesn’t hurt. Many who’ve purchased their own bunkie have picked up on the Fraser’s idea and turned it into their own Airbnb, hosting travellers from around the world. It allows people to be off the grid and off the beaten path, and a chance to get closer to nature.
Of course, a bunkie travel adventure isn’t for everyone. It does take a particular type of traveller to book an experience like this, including one who doesn’t mind living without the everyday comforts of home and technology — but would rather not pitch a tent. But generally speaking, there’s a swath of travellers who find bunkie life, even for just a few days, to be a refreshing change of pace. A welcoming return to disconnecting while intimately rediscovering the sights, sounds and scents of the natural world, by-products of travel that we took for granted for far too long.
From rustic and surrounded by forest, to funky and steps from the lake, unique bunkies can be found, suited to both budget and travel needs. If you’re looking for a quick getaway with some creature comforts, Young’s Bluewater Beach Bunkie is just 10 minutes from Wasaga Beach, Ont. This lakeside oasis features two queen mattresses in the loft, a living room, fireplace and sectional couch. Although it comes with TVs, an air conditioner and a balcony, the space doesn’t include a kitchen, cooking space or shower, but does have a toilet and sink. Meanwhile, Annie’s Bunkie by the Pond in Acton, Ont., sleeps three comfortably, is equipped with a propane furnace and powered by two solar panels. Fresh water is provided, as are bedroom, bathroom and kitchen essentials, with a private outhouse located onsite. Depending on the season, location and amenities you can — or can’t — live without, there are several bunkies to choose from ranging anywhere from $75 per night to more than $200 per night.