A few months ago I read a post about tiny homes and land sharing. The post prompted me to think about moving to the ranch. It’s not a feasible option right now, but it’s something I’d consider doing 5 to 10 years down the road.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages we have considered…
1. Open space to park the tiny house
2. Being near family
3. Zero rent (as long as the tiny house is paid off)
4. Options to build a deck, a green house and space for gardening
5. Food cost would decrease
6. In alignment of long term goals
7. Close access to hiking, camping, biking, running and other outdoor activities
8. Lower cost of living
9. Cooler winters and summers
10. We could get a puppy!
1. Limited employment opportunities
3. We would need to buy a car and that would make me very very sad
4. Conservative political environment
5. Slow internet
Finding land to park a tiny house is challenging and the ranch would be a perfect parking spot. But that will have to wait a few years…
We’re moving to Portland at the end of January and might build a tiny house this year. I’m hoping we can park our little house in someone’s backyard. But, you never know what the future holds and our plans aren’t set in stone.
In a recent issue of the SLJ, we talked about food and cooking in small homes. Cooking in a tiny space hasn’t been a problem for us, but I’m worried about how we are going to store bulk food in our future tiny home. Currently, we are using a few strategies to store our bulk food, like turning our storage buckets into furniture, hiding it in cool dark places and storing it in our pantry.
After reading Michael Pollan’s book, we decided to eat more whole food and cook meals at home. Some of our bulk food storage items include whole wheat berries, rice, beans, honey and plenty of fresh produce.
I love having so much extra food in the house. But Logan and I continually talk about where we are going to keep our extra food when we move into our tiny house. I don’t know where it’s going to be stored in such a small space.
But, Logan doesn’t think food storage will be an issue. Some of his suggestions have included:
1. Storing food in small, visible containers to use up the bulk food quickly and to keep an eye on what food we’re storing.
2. Building a tiny food storage shed.
3. Storing food under the house in plastic buckets on pallets.
4. And digging a tiny root cellar.
I think these options will be dependent on where we decide to settle down. If we move to the ranch in the future, I’m not concerned about where to put our extra food because it can be stored in the pantry of the larger homestead house.
What do you think of these solutions? What are your creative food storage strategies?
I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise that members of the Small Home Movement are nonconformists. If they weren’t, odds are they wouldn’t be so attracted to an idea so radically outside the norms of mainstream America. Starting with Thoreau and his $28.12 and 1/2 cent house, small housers have all marched to the beat of their own highly-individualistic drummer.
Even knowing that, however, it still catches me off-guard to discover how different the motivations and exact solutions are of various members of the community. For that reason, I thought it might be worth the SLJ writers taking some time to discuss the personal appeal and perceived advantages of tiny homes.
Also, this issue welcomes a new regular writer: Lellewynn from Project Rolling Freedom. We also have a guest post from Betsy McCullen who is becoming a regular on the “premises”.
We hope you enjoy our latest issue…
Friends and family always inquire about our tiny house obsession. Usually they ask: “Why a tiny house?” Living a tiny lifestyle appeals to us on a number of levels. Below are the top 10 reasons for choosing a tiny solution:
1. Exiting the Consumer Lifestyle
Living in a tiny house is one way for us to exit the consumer lifestyle and decrease our consumption of stuff. (Watching the The Story of Stuff drastically changed how I view my own consumption patterns).
For instance, there is no reason to go shopping for more stuff when you don’t have a place to put it. I don’t need 20 pairs of shoes or 50 different outfits to wear to the office. Earlier this year, I downsized my wardrobe and personal items. For me that meant donating an incredible amount of books and clothing to the thrift store.
My policy is 1 in, 1 out. Every time I buy something new, one of my personal things must go.
2. Saving Money
The cost estimate for our tiny house is about $25,000 (about 2 years worth of rent). The low cost of the tiny house will enable us to save money for future expenses and help friends and family members in need. Our tiny house will be about 200 square feet. Our heating and cooling bills will be so tiny! Right now we live in a 400 square foot apartment and our PG & E bill ranges from $4.00 to $25.00 a month. I can’t wait to see what our power bill will look like in a tiny house.
Downscaling from a suburban, 2 bedroom apartment, and 2 car life to an urban, 1 bedroom apartment, and no car has given me a sense of freedom and lightness. Our stuff doesn’t own us anymore. As long as we have each other and our cats, we will be good to go.
4. More Free Time
Last summer one of our family members became suddenly ill and almost died. Since then, I’ve changed my life dramatically and have chosen a simpler lifestyle that allows me to spend more time with family.
Downscaling to a smaller apartment (and eventually a tiny home) enabled us to devote more time to outdoor activities, writing and the important things in life like friends and family.
5. Debt Free
Within the last year we sold our car, paid off our student loans and moved into a smaller apartment. These changes have allowed us more flexibility in our finances. If all goes according to plan we will either build or purchase our own tiny house in 2010.
6. Working Less
Eventually, I want to work part time. The United States is notorious for a workaholic culture. So owning a small home will enable us to work less and pursue career goals that didn’t seem possible a few years ago. Eventually, I want to get out of my cubicle and telecommute. Telecommuting is a feasible alternative to the cubicle forest because it allows people to do their job from any location.
I’d love to look at this view everyday…
7. Less Cleaning
A tiny house requires significantly less cleaning and maintenance and that make me very happy. I didn’t realize how much time we spent cleaning our large apartment until we moved to our new home in Sacramento. Instead of cleaning we spent more time riding our bikes outdoors. Yay for less scrubbing, vacuuming and sweeping!
8. Ease of Movement
Ease of movement to a new location is a great feature. Being tied down to a traditional home doesn’t appeal to me because they can’t be moved. But with a tiny home, if we decide to move we are free to bring our tiny house with us.
9. Going Off-Grid
We plan to take the tiny house off-grid. Hopefully, this will allow us to learn how to live more self sufficiently and insulate ourselves from a system we believe to be unsustainable. The looming peak oil energy crisis is scary.
10. Economic, Environmental and Social Merits of Compact Housing
Last year, I read a few books on tiny tiny homes. Two of my favorites were: The Small House Book and Little House on a Small Planet. After reading these books I realized there are enormous economic, environmental, and social merits of compact housing.
Here are some interesting facts from the books:
- The average American house, which is about 2,200 square feet, emits more green house gases than the average American car;
- The average American house, produces 7 tons of construction waste and;
- The size of New Jersey is lost each decade as a result of urban sprawl.
I see over-sized homes as a debtors prison rather than a source of enjoyment. The average American has a 20 to 30 year mortgage. By going small, we will have our tiny tiny house paid off in less than 1 year.
For the sake of the environment and economic sanity (ex. sub-prime mortgage fiasco), it is clear that we must change our attitudes about house size, building codes and the basic home financing structure.
I’m such a total proponent of small housing that it would be simpler for me to discuss the things that turn me off about tiny houses. Nevertheless, here is my “Benefits of Tiny Housing” blitz.
In a society built so heavily on self-aggrandizement and the display of material status symbols, (a condition that leaves me in a state of virtually perpetual disgust), the tiny house is a modest house. And it’s nice to imagine that modesty still has admirers in America.
Affordability – The tiny house is an affordable house. While the price of prefab tiny houses ranges considerably, the vast majority of tiny house options run a fraction of the price of a conventional house. In fact, the tiny house averages in the new car price range.
Accessibility – I am not a man of means. I live in one of the most expensive regions in the world on a rather pitiful income. The likelihood of home ownership, (something I’ve dreamt about from a very young age), has, for my whole life, seemed on the same order as space travel. But then, I was imagining a conventional house. The comparative affordability of the tiny house renders it far more psychologically accessible than the conventional house to a chronically destitute individual like myself.
The tiny house, in every incarnation I have come across, is highly customized to the needs and desires of the people who call it home. Customization is essential to turning a dwelling into a home, and the tiny house lends itself uniquely to customization.
Tiny houses, even the ones that don’t come with integrated wheels, are vastly more mobile than their conventional counterparts.
The tiny house, because of the simplicity of its engineering and construction, invites owner design and building, (or at the very least, much greater participation in these activities). Participation in the design and construction of one’s own home is not only deeply fulfilling, but also an unsurpassed opportunity for practical education and confidence building.
Minimalism – The tiny house demands the discipline of minimalism, which can promote increased focus on the individual activities and material objects that make up our lives.
Ease of Maintenance – The tiny house requires less work in cleaning and maintenance. The less there is, the less there is to care for.
Conscience – The tiny house, whose construction and operation consume far fewer resources than a conventional house, should assuage the conscience of the individual who considers consumption a vice and conservation a virtue.
Less Energy to Heat and Cool – With obvious financial and conservation benefits.
Historically and Globally Appropriate
Housing for virtually all people throughout human history, and today for most people throughout the world, is and has always been tiny. The conventional house is a disruptive anomaly.
The tiny house enjoys character compression. Tiny houses have easily as much personality as conventional houses, but distilled into a much smaller frame. This distillation produces a more potent product.
Embraces the Outdoors – The tiny house encourages forays out of doors. This is good.
Higher Quality Product – Because construction of a tiny house requires a fraction of the materials of a conventional house, it encourages an investment in higher quality materials.
The cozy factor of the tiny house is off the charts.
The Small House Community
Tiny housers are fun, interesting, and unique! (At least that’s my general evaluation). Becoming involved in the small house community is a great perk of tiny housing. And we haven’t even witnessed the arrival of the prophesied Intentional Tiny House Community yet! Think how cool that would hypothetically be if it ever, you know, happened!
The Salvage Factor
Tiny Texas Houses owner Brad Kittel has demonstrated that the tiny house can be built out of approximately 95% reclaimed materials. Once again, the financial and conservation benefits should be self-evident.
Lower Visual Profile
The tiny house takes up less space visually! That means it’s not messing up your neighbor’s view. And if your neighbor is a tiny houser, her house isn’t messing yours up either.
Decreased Impact on Immediate Surroundings
The tiny house has a tiny footprint, and the negligible engineering requirements mean that the site preparation work is insignificant compared to that required for a conventional house. This means less impact on the immediate natural surroundings, which is good for all the other things that happen to be living there.
Site Specific Design
The tiny house’s reduced impact on the immediate surroundings, coupled with the customization and owner participation to which it lends itself, encourages a degree of site specific design that the conventional house simply cannot offer.
Decreases Consumption by Necessity – Life in the tiny house enforces a consumption pattern radically diminished from the lifestyle encouraged by the conventional house; you are simply forced to consume less.
Relieves Wage Slavery – The lessened financial burden of life in a tiny house should presumably empower the owner with greater financial independence.
Strength – Consider the ant. Proportionate to it’s size the ant is mighty! This is a general physical phenomenon – relative strength is inversely proportionate to size – i.e., small stuff is inherently stronger, big stuff is inherently weaker. That’s why, given a fixed set of materials, engineering small stuff is easier and engineering big stuff is harder. (This explains why there are loads of tiny flying creatures and not many giant ones).
What does this mean for the tiny house? My house endured being dragged 600+ feet up a 30+ degree slope with a winch hooked to the framing, and suffered only minor cosmetic damage. Imagine trying this with a conventional house.
And last, but certainly not least, the tiny house is the house that has allowed me to build my home in my favorite place in the world.
Thank you, tiny house.
*Special photography credits to Amanda Abel