Thinking about downsizing? This is how you can live large in a tiny house
October 07, 2015 at 11:30 am
Can you imagine if Nelly’s infamous “Tip Drill” video was shot in a tiny house? Well, I don’t think any of us want to, but it certainly wouldn’t have the same effect. We’ve been sold — literally and figuratively — the lifestyle of fast cars and mansions of mammoth proportion. I certainly set my sights on a mansion after watching MTV Cribs. But what if you could live just as well, if not better, in a house a (very small) fraction of the size?
By definition, a small house is a home between 400 and 1000 square feet, while a tiny home is less than 400 square feet. That means its more than six times smaller than the average single-family home in the United States. Hard to imagine, right?
I caught up with Christine Moline of Dashboard Priorities. She took the plunge into tiny living. She and her husband relocated to Austin, Texas after leaving New Orleans 10 years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They live in a 700-square-foot home at the moment, but just started construction on their new 484-square-foot home last month. Christina decided to live tiny because it detached her family from relying on material things.
“With this move to a new city, we decided to move forward mindfully in life by not taking up more space or collecting more items than we needed or wanted to fund and maintain,” she said. “Not being able to remember most of the material items we lost in the flood, we realized how little significance it held in our lives.“
There are so many benefits to living tiny on beyond simplifying your life. The average cost of a tiny home is between $20,000-$50,000. Raise your hand if you want to be a debt-free college grad! You could even bypass utilities if you purchase or build a home that’s off-the-grid. And forget about wanderlust, fit that bad boy with some wheels and you can travel anytime, anywhere. This is great if you work remotely or in a job that moves you around a lot. Take, for example, Christine, who works with overwhelmed entrepreneurs and other professionals seeking balance to simplify their lives and work with technology.
With the lower cost of living without room to hoard more junk (especially if you’re packing a family), you would have a lot more money to pursue other passions or travel outside of the country. In the last eight years, Christine and her husband have been to Paris, Spain, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and Cuba. Even when they’re away from their tiny home, their experiences with living small continue to teach them about living better.
“With each trip, we refined our perspective of what was required to have a great quality of life,” Christine said, “For example, we traveled to Central America and the Caribbean for one month one year with just one carry-on each — our preference for the last six years.
“That experience and others confirmed how little it took to have a balanced and rewarding life. In fact, when traveling light, we discovered the flexibility to see and do so much more. This lesson stayed with us. And following each visit, we returned home to purge items we had not touched or utilized in six months or longer. That included clothing, books, technology and anything else that was taking up our limited real estate without earning its keep. This is now an ongoing practice.”
The downside? There are actual zoning regulations requiring a minimum square footage for a new construction on your own property. And if you put your tiny home on wheels, it could be considered an “RV,” which you might not be allowed to park on your own land. But not all cities zone the same so I would always suggest doing research into your local government’s property regulations. And there are so many other ways to live tiny.
If you are considering living tiny, Christine has a few tips for you:
“Be mindful about your consumption. Collecting without curating will drain your physical and mental space as well as your bank account. Secure your needs first and then acquire a few items that will enrich your life.
Invest in experiences. Memories with people who bring you joy will always trump collections of stuff. Ask yourself why you work? Is it to bury yourself in trappings or to live freely and flexibly?
Shop smart. Look for quality items you’ll wear often or sturdy furnishings with dual or triple purposes. Living tiny calls for constant streamlining for sustainability.
Go outside. The beauty of living in a small home is that your city becomes your social space. It could also be your healing space. Go for a walk. Join a gym. Reconnect with your tribe.
Embrace the process of letting go. Stepping away from what doesn’t serve you doesn’t happen overnight. It comes with ongoing evaluation and refinement. One step at a time, let it go and carve out space to thrive.”
We are the generation of AirBnB and TravelNoire. We’ve figured out how to work from anywhere at any time with even more efficiency. We choose to make a difference over making a buck and experiences over possessions. We’re finding ways to live better, longer and more sustainably. But society will only reinvent the wheel as long as we allow it. So why not shock the system and make living small the next big thing? We are the generation that breaks conventions, right?
Connect with Christine on her blog, Reset Your Default, or on IG and Twitter @dashboardc.
In the market for a tiny house? Make sure to check out Tiny House Listings as well.