Living tiny is sweeping the nation! The idea of having less possessions to manage, more money to put into experiences, and lessening our environmental footprint can be very appealing.
For us it came from nesseity and desire. We left our life in Colorado where we seemed to be drowning in trying to just achieve normal goals of a home and family with a little money left over to enjoy our life. We realized with the rising costs our goals just couldn’t be reached on a one income family where we were. So we packed up and moved to Oklahoma.
Once we were here we needed to decided what we wanted. First, we knew we wanted land, at least 10 acres. We found the perfect piece of heaven on earth not to far from town. Second, we would have to put everything on it, house, well, septic, electric, propane and that could add up quickly.
So we started looking at mobile homes and quickly learned that we didn’t want to spend that much money. If we did we could have stayed in Colorado. So we started looking for another way and that’s when Cowboy discovered the idea of a tiny house.
Our Tiny House Story
We watched the tiny house documentary that was on Netflix and Cowboy started reading everything he could find on the idea. He also started searching online for free or really cheap used trailers that we would be able to use. When he found a 40 foot RV that was free online, he jumped on it and we knew this was the way we were to go.
We decided to build our own because Cowboy has a construction background and we knew how to do it. We also decided to do everything in cash. This has made house projects drag on and doing without but was worth it. Even after living here for 2 years we still need siding outside and trim everywhere.
Preparing for our tiny house we had BIG plans! We had a 9 month construction plan so the tiny house was ready before Cutie Pie arrived. Cowboy had to work his regular construction job as well as build our tiny house. We also had some big custom built-in plans for every room of the house. My only job was to get rid of more than half of the things we owned.
I sorted and packed and donated and had garage sales. And then did it all again. And again! I read The Life-Changing Magic to Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo to help me learn how to get rid of so much stuff. I’m not a hoarder but I do have an issue with collecting things and getting rid of things we no longer need. This book changed my life! It was amazing to get rid of so much stuff! It was freeing!
What we didn’t really consider was what would happen if we couldn’t get it all done. We planned to have it complete in 9 months but when that didn’t happen there were some regrets. I wish I would have kept more of our storage furniture, dressers and bookcases. Not one of our custom build projects has been done so I had to replace furniture with cheap ones that fit our cash budget.
Are you considering going tiny?
If you are considering going tiny there are a few things I would suggest.
- Why are you going tiny? For us it was because we didn’t want to commit to a big mortgage payment. You might want to travel, have more spending money, live more simply, lower your carbon footprint or something completely different. Whatever your reason, it’s a great reason! It means something to you and that’s what matters but you need to figure out why.
- Do your research! Read everything you can about living tiny. Find out what people like and don’t like. If you want to travel know that not all RV parks will allow tiny houses or schoolies. Also if you are traveling with it remember you will need to consider the weight of the tiny house and if your vehicle can pull it. Read about lofts vs. bedrooms. We chose bedrooms but that meant less family living space. There have been many times that we questioned if this was the right choice. What are the laws regarding tiny houses in your area both for on the road and for building them permanently.
- Decide if you are capable of building your own or if you are going to hire someone. Obviously building your own can save you money because you aren’t paying someone else labor to build it. However, you will be spending a lot of your own time building it. If you don’t know anything about construction you will also spend a lot of time learning how to build. There will be costly mistakes made, and repairs later when something is done correctly. Our example to that is our electrical. Cowboy did very little electoral in his construction career but because it was a tiny house he thought he had it covered. We have struggled for the last two years with different problems. We had to replace our water heater twice, breakers going bad and we just now figured out the problem. Lucky for us someone at church is an electrician and is willing to come and help us correct it.
- Plan your layout. Then plan it again. We drew up probably 10 different layouts before deciding on the plan we used. While we mostly love the layout with bedrooms on opposite sides of the house we planned everything out with just enough electrical outlets for what we would need. Once we started living in the house we discovered that some things didn’t work the way we planned. We had an outlet in the middle of Cutie Pie’s crib which now can’t be used. We also decided against a dishwasher at first but after about 6 months changed our minds. I was spending too much time washing dishes and hanging clothes on the line to accomplish much of anything else. Adding a dishwasher meant rearranging our living room area and running a long power cord from the kitchen to work our electronics. We thought we planned everything out but once living in it somethings need to be changed. Really thing through each plan.
- Take a vacation to a tiny house. Airbnb and other sites now have tiny houses available for rent like hotels. Find one in your area or where you are vacationing next and spend some time actually in a tiny house. This can be the most beneficial because tiny living is hard! If it’s just you it might be an easier transition but if you have a family it can be a big adjustment. Before making the commitment check it out. We had been heading down this path for a long time. Every time we moved our houses decreased in size. Our first townhouse we lived in was around 2,500 sq ft and the house we lived in before our tiny house was 850 sq ft. The more we learned about life the more we realized that we didn’t need or want a large house. Living tiny has brought our family to a deeper level in our relationships with each other that make this experience worth it every day.
While living in this tiny house is still temporary and we don’t plan to stay here forever I’m so glad to have had this experience. We are currently looking at mobile homes again but much smaller than before. We are planning for another baby next year and know we will need more space. Our idea of the living space we actually need is very different than we once thought. If you are considering going tiny even if it’s only for a short time the experience will change your life!