I never really pictured what kind of house I wanted to live in. I think I always assumed I’d have a decent-sized house in a small town with a big yard. When I moved into my first apartment with Jeremy, the size felt claustrophobic. It was a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony. I had never lived somewhere so small, and I didn’t think I could handle it long-term. When we decided to move to Atlanta, we got a much bigger apartment to fit our stuff. I quickly discovered that a lot of the stuff I had I didn’t need.
I’ve talked about minimalism before, but I think the idea of owning less never crossed my mind until I watched The Minimalists documentary. It still took time after that to digest and let the idea sink in. Once I decided to start getting rid of stuff, the flood gates opened. Getting rid of clutter was so satisfying that we got rid of half of our things in storage. With so much less stuff, the apartment seemed huge and empty.
After moving a couple more times, I’m ready to find a long-term home. I’m over apartment living, and I am craving having a place to call our own. I want outdoor space for a garden and a place to sit. Being inside for all of quarantine made me realize how much I need sun and fresh air. I’m basically a plant.
With how expensive housing is and how little income we have with our current jobs, buying a house isn’t something that I can see us being able to do anytime soon. One thing that’s caught my attention within the past few years is tiny house living.
What is it?
I’m sure you’ve heard of people living in tiny houses. Typically, they’re presented as hippies who want to live with the land. Well, twenty-six year old me is ready to be a hippy. I want a basic house that I designed so it makes sense to me. I want to live off the grid and have a huge garden. I want to have a huge porch that I spend most of my time on instead of inside.
There are so many different reasons people live in tiny houses, and there are many different sizes and shapes of tiny houses. Not all tiny houses are one-room boxes, only big enough for one person. Not all tiny houses are in the middle of nature and off-grid. In some places, there isn’t another option.
When you decide on going tiny, you have the option to look for a tiny house that is already built, or you can build one yourself. If you decide to build one yourself, you can design and build it however you want it to be. If you want it to be all one room with a fireplace and a small bathroom, you can. You can also make it into a multiple-room house with a giant kitchen and separate bedrooms if you have kids. There are so many different options, and you get to decide them all.
A big reason why so many people go tiny is that the cost of housing is so high. Getting a house that is already built is so expensive. You have no say in the layout, and every place that I’ve lived so far has something that drives me crazy. Either the sink is in a dumb place in the kitchen, the bathtub creaks, there aren’t enough windows, or the electricity is hooked up weird, so you blow fuses constantly. Sure, you can change a lot of those things in a house. That will cost on top of what you paid for the home.
When you build a tiny house, you get to decide what materials go into the project. You can decide how much you’re willing to spend on different parts of the house. You can spend more money on areas that are most important to you. If you only see yourself living there for a few years, you can spend less on the build than you would if you planned on staying for a while.
When you buy a house that’s already built, you have to remember that you’ll be updating and maintaining the whole house. The bigger the house, the more you will have to take care of. I never understood why people have houses with several extra rooms. If you don’t use the rooms, it’s space that you are spending time and money on maintaining, and you aren’t getting any value out of it.
Aside from the actual cost of maintenance, you have to clean those rooms. I don’t mind cleaning, but I really like having a clean home. If there is extra space that I’m cleaning and not using, it’s a waste of my time and energy that I could be spending doing anything else.
The amount of time that I spend cleaning my tiny apartment is so small that I can clean once a week–or less–as long as I’m not a slob. I can’t imagine having to clean a giant house after working all day. And a lot of people do that with kids! Think of how much more time you could spend with your family if you weren’t so busy cleaning a big house with all of those extra rooms. There’s a difference between living comfortably and collecting so much stuff that you need a big house to store it all.
You also don’t need to work as long or as hard to afford to live in a smaller home. We work to pay our bills and afford some extra things that we want, so if your bills are smaller and you don’t need all of those extra things, you can work less time. That time can be spent doing anything you want.
A lot of tiny houses are built on trailers so they can be moved around. You can invest in a home that you designed and have the flexibility to move the house with you if you decide to move. Other tiny houses are built directly on land, but because they are so much less expensive than a typical home, you can sell that tiny home and build another one if you want to. The flexibility is important to me because we can move around without finding a new home every time.
Our houses use so much energy. Electricity runs all of our appliances and heating and air conditioning and water for our sinks and toilets. The bigger our houses are, the more electricity and water you need. If you have a tiny house, you can use way less. You can even get solar power energy and filter rainwater to be even more environmentally friendly. It’s less money in the long run because you are using environmentally friendly energy, and you need less of it because of the size of the home.
Tiny house living is not for everyone. I know not everyone will throw out half of their stuff to downsize to a smaller home, but I hope this explains why Jeremy and I want to. It gets exhausting defending ourselves and our goals, but I think many people are ignorant on the topic. Do what makes you happy, and if a big house with a lot of stuff brings you happiness, go for it! I’m just much happier reading in the sunshine than dusting off trinkets and cleaning multiple bathrooms.
If you want to learn more about tiny house living, there are a ton of different Youtube channels, shows, and books you can check out! Here are some that I’ve explored myself:
- Living Big in a Tiny House (Youtube channel)
- Exploring Alternatives (Youtube channel)
- Tiny House Giant Journey (Youtube channel)
- Tiny House Nation (Netflix show)
- Tiny House Living (Book)
- Living Big in a Tiny House (Book)
- Tiny House, Big Living (Hulu Show)
- Tiny House Hunters (Hulu Show)