We here in chez Tiny House are amongst the vanguard of individuals and families choosing to live a more hands-on life in a tiny space. While I certainly don’t look down on my friends who live in the average 2,500 square foot house, I don’t envy their mortgage payment nor the time they have to spend vacuuming that puppy. A family of three living in 394 square feet presents loads of challenges (hello paper piles) but the plus sides certainly outweigh the bad (hello time NOT vacuuming). Paying less on our ten year “mortgage” (*cough* RV payment *cough*) than we would renting a single room in a 12 bedroom college house circa 2005 means we aren’t needing to exactly join the rat race… or whatever the fatcats are calling it these days. A tiny space means I shouldn’t buy FILL IN THE BLANK HERE because frankly there probably isn’t a space for it and I probably need the bucks for something else. Our house also brings us joy and the coziness of warm wooden walls, high ceilings, and abundant light is frankly good for the soul. I truly hope more people can find their way to living like this, which means I hope that laws and ordinances barring tiny houses will swiftly get the boot. Living this small allows me to do more with my life and tiny houses like ours could be a gateway to a better life for those burdened with debt or financial troubles, those feeling priced out of their neighborhoods, refugees, the homeless, and our aging boomer parents.
But, that’s not all this blog is about….
It Takes a Village
While a lot of homesteading blogs and tiny house blogs center on one person or a couple moving deep into the most rural-ist of rural America in search of the quiet life, that just ain’t my style. I rely on so many people to make our tiny house dreams a reality but I also believe surrounding oneself with dear family and friends makes life worth living. Have you heard of these “Blue Zones“? They are places around the world where the average life span is far greater than most other spots and one of the main reasons (aside from eating their vegetables, more on that later) is that people are part of astoundingly vivid and tight-knit communities. Families stay together and multiple generations live in the same home, or at least in the same village. People both support each other and rely on each other for all manner of things and there is trust that the village will help ease the stress of trying to do everything for oneself while celebrating the joys. Think Amish barn raising and Thanksgiving with your entire extended family but also fika with a good friend for an hour before she picks her kid up from school. As someone who loves life, I obviously want to live to be over 100, but the point of this really is that in order for ME to successfully live in our tiny house, I can’t be running off into backwoods Idaho. For starters, we are able to live rent free on my husband’s grandfather’s land, easing our financial output substantially and allowing us to stay in our awesome sliver of the world. Oh, and letting us do laundry. So much laundry. I also rely on my mom and James’ parents for childcare and a whole boatload of friends for my daily dose of adult time. Plus who would buy vegetables if my nearest neighbor was 25 miles away?Self-sufficiency is the bomb, but the village is better. Spread the skills around and there’s time left after for coffee.
Minimalism and Mindful Consumerism
I try to go as zero waste as possible, following Bea Johnson’s Philopophy of the Five “R’s“: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. It’s much easier to say “no” once it becomes habit and I’ve trained myself to never ever use disposables (where, “Crap! I can’t go get coffee from the drive up window while this baby sleeps in the car because I don’t have a mug!” is akin to “Crap! I forgot my wallet!”). I can ruthlessly get rid of stuff and donate to our local second hand shop rather than behemoth Goodwill. Or, better yet, give to the village! I try to buy almost all my and Stella’s stuff used and the stuff we do buy new is usually really good quality and almost never an “impulse” buy. Almost.
And of course not buying stuff means, basically, we don’t have to work as much and our debts keep getting chiseled away. Get lost, student loan debts!
Build It, Grow It, Know It!
Build or make it ourselves, grow the food we’ll eat, and learn the skills to live a simpler life. I’d like to think we are pretty handy here at chez Tiny House and the major reason this is a “homesteading lifestyle blog” rather than an instagram of cool tiny house pictures is because we aim to do things for ourselves rather than buy services or products when we can. Also my pictures suck. This means building chicken coops and fences, beds, storage in stairs, and all the other random things that come up while living and working on a farm. It also means baking our own bread, cooking our meals, sewing and repairing clothes, and brewing beer. This year with the start of the farm as a business we will be growing and preserving a pretty large portion of our food and can hopefully trade veggies and eggs for stuff we either need or want (ie- massages! and ice cream!). And Knowing skills one would usually outsource, like cutting our own hair and changing our own oil, means that less money is being spent and we’re also left with a hefty sense of pride and well-being.
Be in the World
We’re citizens, mother, father, daughters, sons, cousins, friends, teacher, farmer, rando customer at the cafe– we belong here and should do our part to make our piece of the world the place we want to live. Go be the change! Don’t give up! Work together! Cynicism is so 20th century.
My political and social philosophy basically boils down to “What Would Sweden Do?” Nice, short work week? Ja! Maternity Leave for ages? Yes please! Shockingly high taxes that buoy the entire population? You betcha! Not only do Swede’s drink more coffee than anyone else on the planet, they also build time in their day for it with friends. Environmentally, you can’t really get better and socially their programs create an equitable society that I’m seriously envious of here in America. I realize that both Denmark and Norway rate slightly higher on the World Happiness Index but they don’t have IKEA, which, even with all my minimalist leanings, might just be my consumer happy place.