Sometimes The Tiny Life = MORE Stress

Originally posted on January 12th, 2015 on our original blog, recovered using the amazing tool Wayback Machine

This morning I read a post from The Rich Life with Casey Friday and SO much of it really connected it with me. I really love posts that open up the chest and get to the meat of things, and this was one of those posts.

To summarize, their tiny house was stolen, and the reality of that moment really got them to thinking about their decision to “go tiny.” When their tiny house was returned, they decided to sell it. They had realized that, for a number of reasons, they did not want to live in the tiny house they had just spend 2.5 years and over $20k building. And you know what? THAT’S OK!!

John and I get asked all the time why we don’t live in our tiny house, and while many of the questions are out of pure curiosity, others seem to insinuate that we’re hacks or impostors and that we can’t really be part of the movement without living in the tiny house. We don’t take it personally because we truly believe that our part in the movement is an important one (and arguably more beneficial to the movement than if we were quietly living in it ourselves) but that kind of criticism can be a lot for some people. I want to be the first to tell you, if you’re considering going tiny, and you get half way through the process, or hell ALL the way through the process, and you change your mind, WHO CARES?? You have not failed at anything, you’ve just found something that doesn’t work for you. Like that orangey-red hair color I tried out in college, or that anchovy pizza I ordered and convinced my husband that I’d like. Sell the house, move on.

Jessica Friday goes into great detail about why they’ve realized that living in that tiny house (note that I didn’t not say “going tiny”) was not the right decision for them at this stage in their lives, and I want to discuss a couple of them.

1) Safety. She talks a little about how the land they painstakingly located, purchased, and planned to live in their tiny house on no longer felt safe after having their tiny house stolen from it. She went on to say that that she didn’t want to go through that process again to sell and then buy more land. I personally have been through that painful process and I can tell you I wouldn’t want to do it again either, but there is merit in her safety expectations. While there are ways to prevent your tiny house from being stolen, if you live in an area where people steal shit, they’ll just go for other shit. Your car, your bike, or maybe they’ll just break your window and come inside. My point is, don’t compromise your own sense of security just because it’s the only place you feel like you can put your tiny house. That’ll just add stress to your life.

2) Living in the “boonies.” Anyone who has spent 5 minutes with me, watched some of our video interviews, or read our blog from end-to-end knows how I feel about tiny houses placed on large acres of land. To each their own, and right now it’s the only option for people who are passionate about living in a tiny house (legally), but John and I believe tiny houses BELONG in urban centers. They belong in areas where they are helping deal with affordable housing needs and infill. They belong where you can take a quick trip to the market on your bike, or where you have access to things like public transportation, and well, other people. To me, there is no sense in downsizing your life, moving out to the sticks, and then commuting and hour each way to work. You’ve just made efforts to reclaims a chunk of your life, just to give it away to your daily commute! I should clarify (before I start getting hate comments) if you WANT to live in the country an hour from civilization and you work from home or love commuting, or whatever, DO IT! Our retirement plan includes a homestead, farm animals, a few acres and our tiny house, but right now, we’re working at jobs we love and saving that cash for that farm and I don’t want to spend the hours I could be with my family in the car driving to and from.

3) Priorities changed. This is a big one. The tiny life is a patient life, and sometimes (especially when it takes 2.5 years to build) what is the most important to you at the beginning isn’t at the end. Maybe you had a baby, or started school, or graduated school, or changed jobs, or changed significant others, or maybe you tried out the life and realized that you hate small spaces or that you like having stuff. That’s life! You know what else is life? Not living in the same house forever.

I’m starting a new paragraph here to emphasis this point. Deciding to live in a tiny house does NOT mean you have to continue to live in one FOREVER. I have always seen tiny houses as the perfect housing solution for some people are SOME points in their life. Simple as that. When you’re in college? Perfect housing solution. Single? Perfect. A couple without a lot of stuff? Perfect. Retired? Perfect. A small military family that moves a lot? Perfect! This list goes on and on, but my point is that tiny houses may not be the perfect housing solution for EVERY stage of your life, and that is OK! John and I get asked a lot if we’ll move into our tiny house if (when) we get the zoning and building codes changes in Nashville to allow them. Our answer always shocks them when we say probably not. The thing is, we built the tiny house with the expectations of living in it a few years while we built a small house (600sqft or so) and then used the tiny as a guest house. We don’t plan on being a family of 3 forever, and when that 4th person comes, our tiny just won’t be big enough. It’s already been a year since we began our tiny house journey, and it’ll be only another year or two before we add that 4th person. Luckily it’ll still be there when we retire:)

4) A shrinking life. This is a realization that probably wasn’t easy for Jessica to make. Her determination to fit herself and her life into her tiny house had resulted in her shrinking her expectations of herself. To her, this life decision meant she didn’t need to make much money or live a life with any luxuries. But she LIKED making money and maybe she wanted to choose a night out with friends drinking good wine instead of saving every dime to construct her tiny house. I get this one. I TOTALLY get this one. If you’ve made a life decision that is compromising your happiness with your own life, move on. I applaud her for recognizing that her tiny house life was not making her as happy as she would have liked and taking steps to rectify that.

5) “Going Tiny” does NOT mean living in a Tiny House on Wheels/200sqft home. This one is the most important, so I left it for last. All of you probably already know this, but you CAN “go tiny” in things other than “tiny houses” and in things bigger than 200sqft. For Jessica and Casey, this now means a small apartment in the city without a car.  Yay! “Going tiny” might look different for everyone because the truth of the matter is that it’s not about living in a small space built on wheels, it’s about a mindset of living with less, making more mindful purchases, utilizing less of our natural resources, spending less money so that you can spend less of your life working to pay for your lifestyle and so that you can have more time to spend with your loved ones or on things that you love. None of those things require a house to do so feel free to “Go Tiny” where you live today!

To conclude my post, I want to invite all you readers to make efforts to “go tiny” in the lives you’re living right now, even if you’re not in a tiny house. Hopefully I’ve spewed some helpful information that will assist you in some way along your own tiny house journey:)