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At Home On the Go

A one-bedroom apartment in Tacoma is home base for a flight attendant's globetrotting kids



Isa, Haddie and Abe plan their next trip with their mom, Renae Cooper.

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

For Renae Cooper and her three kids, life isn't confined to the four walls of their 1,100-square-foot Tacoma apartment.

A career as a flight attendant provides Renae the freedom to often bring Isa, 10, Abe, 7, and Haddie, 3, on family globetrotting excursions. She initially moved into the one-bedroom apartment expecting a time of transition, but has settled into an exciting routine and doesn't see a bigger, more costly space in her family's future.

"We all sleep in the same room. For me, the importance of living small is that it affords us to live around the world," Renae says. "And so that added income has only given me more freedoms outside of my home." After flying with Alaska Airlines for nearly a decade, she has been fortunate enough to bring her children along for numerous trips around the globe.

Young Haddie has traveled 18 times to Australia — where her father, a pilot, lives. Isa loves visiting Australia, too, where she knows her surfboard awaits. Just recently, they all spent an entire month in Europe, featuring an extended stay in Portugal at a house in Lisbon. Renae believes in the importance of experiencing as many different cultures and locations with her children as possible — something the constraints of home ownership might prevent. After moving into a small apartment with three children, Renae found that she didn't need to own a house to provide a wonderful life for her kids. "I didn't have a washing machine to replace," or a garden to maintain, she explains. "I felt safer, and I gained a community of dear friends who live literally above me."

PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON

Sharing a one-bedroom apartment means this family has more time and money for travel.

Without the extra expenses that previously accompanied home ownership, Renae discovered she could dedicate her resources to seeing the world and giving her children experiences that many other kids may never have. 

With the kiddos in tow, Renae has visited Tokyo, Singapore, Bali, Thailand, Hong Kong and Dubai. In addition to Lisbon, they spent time in Bordeaux and Amsterdam this summer. Her oldest, Isa, loves to help at airports by pushing the stroller and searching for the right gate for their connecting flights, and Abe can't wait to find new soccer jerseys abroad. This past summer, he made Portuguese friends by playing in neighborhood soccer matches with other kids who gathered at halftime of Euro 2016 matches in France.

Renae knows her life is unconventional, but she's happy to share the gift of travel with her family. She knows that for many, owning a big house is the ultimate dream. "Somebody else's dream doesn't have to be mine," she says. And after a long trip, it's a relief to have their lovely Tacoma apartment waiting for them — their cozy "crash pad" in such a big, fascinating world.

Follow Renae at colouranddust.com

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