I read your article, it was funny. Very funny in fact, nearly every single person I know sent me a note making sure I saw it, which was also funny :). You are no doubt an awesome person, to make all of those common questions people have about tiny houses into something that has folks rolling with laughter! I just wanted to take a second to reply, I know I am late, my life has been hectic in the best possible way lately!
The best reply to all your questions:
It’s not about the house!
Money is a tool that can be used to make your life what you want, the biggest expense most people have is housing. There are a LOT of things that people want in the world, sometimes its fame, prestige, family, freedom (from debt, ties, etc.), money, power, sex, etc. The choices we make in life impact our ability to get those things, so we all of course make choices that help align us with what it is we want most. My train of thought is that there are two ways to ‘be rich’, either make more money OR spend less. I choose to spend less on what would otherwise be my highest monthly expense. With that money saved I get to live more.
I never aspired to have a loft, I never wanted one (and don’t have one). Plumbing was critical for my sanity, wheels, I could take them or leave them… but codes drove me to use them.
I never thought, ‘man, I want to build this tiny house and have it in magazines across the world.’ I never even thought someone would look at my blog, I just thought bloggers were cool and wanted to learn more about that. It turns out there are a LOT of people interested in tiny houses as a way to improve their lives.
I never wanted to be called a hipster (nor did I think I ever would be!), I never thought tiny houses were or would be ‘trendy’. Honestly it blows my mind how popular they have become, but hey, for some people it makes a lot of sense! I, and most anyone who has gone so far as to complete a tiny house and radically redefine their life is most certainly NOT doing so because it’s ‘trendy’ or to be the ultimate ‘hipster’, which we are often called. It’s much too hard of a task that takes a large portion of your life to accomplish no mater if you DIY or hire it done because either way you HAVE to redefine your life to make it work. It is a huge act of introspection. It is an act of self exploration and most people who set off on the journey don’t complete it via tiny house. The journey though, to define what it is you want out of life ALWAYS leads to a better situation, no matter the outcome. The house is not the goal, the lifestyle is. The questions become, ‘what do you want your life to look like?’, ‘What do you value the most?’, ‘Where do you want to be in 2, 5, 10, 30 years?’, ‘How can you get there?’, ‘what matters?’ etc.
As a side note:
When I read your post I also read the comments, I was extremely sad at the end of that for all the wrong reasons. Yes, there were a lot of people who felt you were opening the door for agreement and a lot of folks vented about how ridiculous they feel tiny houses are, that is ok, no one is asking anyone to convert and that doesn’t bother me at all anymore. What DID bother me was all of the ‘tiny house people’ who spewed such hate and disrespect toward you and toward others simply because they either misunderstood the humor or felt you were attacking them somehow. I know what it feels like to be called names, not cool. I LOVE the tiny house community because we are a community and that is just further proof that things are growing. It is sad to know that ‘the movement’ is now big enough to include our own breed of ‘trolls’. It was not always that way, but I guess that is what you get when things get mainstream… Either way, I will personally apologize for some of that negativity, I did not cause it but just know that THAT is not a good representation of the tiny house community. In fact, I know MANY people who choose to live in tiny houses, I admin the biggest tiny house facebook community and I don’t know of anyone who actually lives in a tiny house who would say any of the hateful things I read directed toward you and others who have questions about tiny houses… no matter how much sarcasm they are laced with… which lead me to thinking… I think I know why it struck a nerve!
When you are planning this lifestyle everyone and their dog seems to object… it’s harsh. But it’s good, it MAKES you really evaluate things, you HAVE to be able to defend yourself and WHY you want this to literally everyone and their dog… being on the defense all the time is draining, taxing and purely exhausting. I think your words struck all those same nerves and many people in the planning stages retaliated in not the best way. The good part (for most of these people) is that, once you start moving forward with building your tiny house those critics often hush and things get better. Those of us living tiny seem to see your questions as ‘the common ones’ (because seriously, everyone wants to know about poop, farts and sex, by FAR the biggest questions!) and we are not offended… and the fact you made us laugh while asking instead of that awkward… ‘ummmm… so what HAPPENS to the poop?’, gets you big points, at least with me :). So while I understand the defensiveness some had I do not condone it in any way and I was very happy to see in your follow up post that you chose to focus on the positive replies and even see tiny home dwellers as the most supportive, because that is what we try to be!
THAT is what the tiny house community has always been to me, the most supportive set of individuals! …who just happen to live in small houses…
So, for any number of reasons not everyone can live in a tiny house, nor should they! For some though, it’s a brilliant solution BUT… it’s not about the house, it’s about the life it allows. To get to your specific questions:
Do you actually love living in a fancy tiny house?
Yes, without a doubt I LOVE it. Some say it’s not peaches and cream, and some say it’s A-Maz-Ing, I am the latter. I was very skeptical about my ability to live solo in a 196 s.f. house in the beginning, now I live here, currently 7 months pregnant, with my partner, our 16 month old daughter and a Great Dane. We have recently grown the house to 232 s.f. because when I designed it it was for two adults and a dog… life changed, the house changed with us! In all honesty, if I won a million dollars tomorrow my life would not change at all! I love living here and I am SO grateful for the opportunities provided to me because of our choice to ‘live tiny’.
Do I ever think ‘I’ve made a terrible mistake?’
Plenty of times along the way, sure. Hell, through my whole life I have had moments of terror over this, and some WERE terrible mistakes… The tiny house took me pretty much all of my cash I had saved and a good chunk of my time and social life to build. I thought it would be faster to the finish line but it wasn’t. There were a lot of times along the build where I felt so ‘over my head’. BUT, when you make a choice you go forward, over your head or not. Unless there is a VERY good reason to redirect you take one step forward at a time and you see how things work out. Since moving into my tiny house I have never had one moment of regret about it. Through two pregnancies, a puppy, a transition away from full time work to full time mothering/contracting my house has covered every living need we have had easily.
Mexican food farts?
Ummm try Great Dane farts… oye! You learn to eat a good diet and FEED a good diet real fast. This isn’t to say you limit things but you learn about your life first hand because you feel the ramifications stronger and immediately. *Hint* If you add a little extra cheese it counters the gas! 😉 In all honesty, smells can be an issue, ventilation is key and one door open can do a complete air exchange in the house, simple and quick! 🙂
Where do you put your shit?
My hypothetical shit or the real stuff? 😉
My house is designed to hold all of my shit. When I designed it I was single but designed it for two adults so there was lots of ‘flex space’ to hold some imaginary future partners shit too, I got lucky and it worked out… There is not RULE though that says you HAVE to put all of your shit in your house. LOTS of tiny house folks have hobbies that take either ‘a lot of shit’ or ‘big shit’ like kayaks… you design a space to allow for your shit, inside, outside, under or around your tiny house, it’s part of that self exploration journey where you decide what shit is important to you and then you find a solution that makes that shit you decide IS important more important by keeping it and having a plan, just for it.
It does create a ‘one in one out’ or similar sort of policy that helps keep you on track to not let your life get over-run with ‘things’. It also creates boundaries and special relationships with those things though, I don’t have ‘a bunch of shit’, I have only shit that I love. Instead of having a ton of shirts and dresses and shoes I have only shirts and dresses and shoes that I love. You have less things and your things have more meaning and value. All of my things have a spot designed into my tiny house just for them.
We don’t share towels, we each have two towels which rotate while in the washing machine, which is in our kitchen. Many people find they enjoy the laundromat, I did, now that I have kids I find it more convenient to use my own washer… There are LOTS of options for laundering your things though.
Do you have privacy in your tiny house?
Honestly, more people come over now that I have a tiny house then ever came over to my other houses… I have had strangers knock on the door and ask for a tour.. at nap time… grrr! I design less space on purpose and everyone wants to hang out in it…ironic… I get at least 10 drive-bys a day, not exaggerating or joking at all. People stop their cars in front of my house, get out, take pictures, it does not matter where I am, a lot of the time I am in the front yard and they never even see me, just want pictures of the house… so privacy, I think that is less than before but at any time I can go inside, close the doors and the drapes and feel at peace just as much as I could in any home. I think because tiny houses are an anomaly still they are viewed as a side show, as they become more popular I hope that dies down because really it’s just like any home, just smaller…
What if you’re having a shitty day and you just want to be alone?
Personally, I have always been one to go for a drive or a walk when I want alone time but that doesn’t happen too much. I think this comes down to knowing yourself and communicating with your partner. And kids, well they are kids, mine hangs on me no matter what or how I feel… What IS cool is that there is a lot more disposable time and income so if I am having a shitty day I can take myself to lunch, or meet a friend for coffee without feeling any guilt or stress or strain.
Don’t you feel like a rat trapped in a cage?
Never, not at all ever, there is not lock I don’t have the key to, if I want to go, I go! I feel more trapped by a mortgage than a tiny house. When I had a mortgage I felt the need to pay it down extra fast so I would ‘save money’ in the long run. Every spare cent went to the bank to accomplish this. I don’t have that burden anymore, if I want to do something, I do it. I can go on trips at the drop of a pin, even with kids! I have been able to quit my full time job in lieu of dinking around as a blogger and live off a very meager income which gives me an awful lot of free time to explore the world with my kids and further dink around… I felt MUCH more trapped in the standard ‘rat race’ that I was in before my tiny house was completed.
What about sexy time, huh?
People have sex in cars, have you never done that!? It can be fun! In a tiny house it doesn’t HAVE to be creative, it can be boring bed sex if you want… but man, this is one of those areas in life that you get to be creative, get creative! I have now conceived two children in a our tiny house, it is not impossible. Sexy time with kids in any house changes… but the great things about kids is they sleep hard and a lot…
they might grow up to hate tiny things and end up building a McMansion with ten empty bedrooms just to spite you.
I’m going to do my best not to scar my kids but I am certain I will in some way, that’s just one of the joys of parenthood ;-). If they want to grow up and have a HUGE house, and that is a priority for them, I will support it… because it is not about the house! 🙂 It’s about living the life you want to live! I want to live a life where I can constantly learn, I can teach and be a good example to my kids, I can be a loving partner, I can work less and explore more. For me a tiny house helps that dream become real, for them… well they will have their own dreams and part of a parents job is to support and encourage that!
What about guests? Where do you put your guests? Can friends and family even visit you? Do you have friends and family? ANSWER ME, DAMMIT! Are people now afraid of you?
I don’t like guests usually but I get more than ever now, we sit in the living room or on the patio. I prefer to go to them… regardless of my house. Personally, ALL of our family lives in town so it’s easy to do that but if people come in from out of town I can afford to put them up in a hotel for a few nights with the money saved on rent/mortgage and we spend our time exploring the city usually! 🙂
I DO have family over occasionally, most ARE afraid to use my toilet… I don’t force it on them. 🙂
*This post is half in jest. I actually do commend people who can live this life, but I am curious if it’s all peaches and cream like the swanky design magazines suggest. I do believe that overpopulation of the Earth is a problem, so downsizing seems like a great option. I also think these tiny houses are a great dwelling alternative for homeless individuals.
As for this part, I have different feelings about tiny houses being an alternative to homelessness… but to each their own and any progress is good progress… I just think there are better options.
Each tiny house person has a different story, there is not one blanket statement that can be made about all tiny house people, they span generations, income brackets, genders and ethnicity. For some people though tiny homes create amazing opportunity.
I really appreciate your post and that it has gotten people talking about this option that they may otherwise not find out about. Swanky or not tiny houses suit their owners, contribute to better lives and provide opportunities.