FACT: There are no definitive steps to living in a tiny house. In fact, it is a bit of an arcane idea. There is a different method for each person. This much is true though. There are certain steps that must be taken in order to move towards life in a tiny house. It is illogical to think that one can simply pack up 2,000 sq.ft. and cram it into 200 sq.ft. Likewise, it is illogical to think that one can keep their ideas of consumerism while living in a tiny house.
The early days of “going tiny” can be idyllic ones. They begin perhaps with a television program or an article in DWELL. Hours are spent pouring through Pinterest boards and dreaming of the simplicity that must come from life inside a miniature floorplan. Conversations begin to encompass the liberation and financial freedom that surely accompanies a home on wheels. Words and phrases like “debt free”, “minimalism”, “composting”, and “tandem axle”, find their way into conversations. British novelist Jasper Fford once said, “My mind wanders terribly. I’m not wholly annoyed by my daydreaming as it has been immense use to me as regards imaginative thought, but it doesn’t help when it comes to concentration.” And so therein lies the rub. Those early days of “going tiny” often lack concentration; focus.
The past 5 years have been crucial for the modern tiny house movement. Books have been published. Movies have been made. Articles have been written. Festivals have sprung up. You are no longer in your pursuit of “going tiny”. Google Images can show you almost every tiny house one could hope for and Tiny House Blog can provide every article you care to read. But again, as Fford said, “…it doesn’t help when it comes to concentration.”
One of the best resources in helping develop the steps to living in a tiny house is also one of the oldest.
Written by Tammy Strobel and published online since 2007, RowdyKittens focuses on going small, thinking big, and being happy. Together with her husband Logan they initially downsized from a two-bedroom apartment to a 400 sq.ft., one-bedroom apartment in 2005. The couple then proceeded in lightening their life by selling their cars, building a tiny house on wheels, etc. The entire journey including there they are now in life is documented and can be an amazing blueprint for so many others seeking a more simple life. It isn’t just the reading of someone else’s story though that will move you in the direction of a tiny house. There has to be realistic analysis, composed strategy, and action. The tips below are perhaps obvious but serve as the most forward and reasonable steps to beginning your new life in a tiny house.
- Visit your personal debt, financial responsibilities, and income. Be realistic. If you owe money, admit it to yourself and start looking at how you can reduce that debt. Evaluate the interest rates. Negotiate better interest rates. Eliminate credit cards. Start budgeting with cash only.
- Minimize your monthly overhead. Do you like to go out? Does this involve a $50+ dinner at least once a week? Do you enjoy shopping but don’t know when to say no? In order to prepare for the tiny life, you need to live within your means and gain a better grasp of your miscellaneous expenses. Explore where you can save money. Every dollar saved is a dollar toward your outstanding debt.
- Learn NEED -vs- WANT. This is fairly self-explanatory but can often be the most difficult step. It takes discipline and honesty. What you need in life and what you want or almost entirely different in nature.
- Downsize. It’s a general term, yes. It can range from your automobile situation to your rental situation, to your personal collections, etc. But it is necessary. Again, the tiny life doesn’t involve packing 2,000 sq.ft. of stuff into a 200 sq.ft. structure. It is about downsizing your possessions so you can downsize your requirements.
- Isolate your style. Building a tiny house is like building any other house. You need to understand what you like and what you don’t like. Can you physically handle a sleeping loft or do you need something single level? Start planning now so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming when the time comes.