Tim and Shannon wanted to downsize in order to pay off student loans and still have some money left over to indulge in their shared passion for travel. We asked them to tell us more about their experience of moving from a three-bedroom house into a 220-square-foot tiny house.
Why did you want to move into a tiny house?
Primarily, our decision to go Tiny was born out of our frustration of having a huge mortgage on a huge house, all the while trying to pay down four college degrees worth of student loans between the two of us. We just felt that we couldn’t keep up with everything, in every sense of the word: couldn’t keep the big house clean, couldn’t pay down our debts and still enjoy ourselves the way we wanted to and couldn’t travel because of it all (which is our greatest shared passion). We also wanted a badass house with high-end finishes and sleek design, which clearly wasn’t in the cards with our big house. Moving to a tiny house allowed us to have the high-end design that we desired, but since its so tiny it is significantly more affordable. Finally, when we really analyzed the way we utilized the space in our big house, we found that we spent all of our time in just three of the eight rooms: kitchen, living room and bedroom. So it made sense that if we could just cram those three spaces into one, voila, perfect house!
What do you love most about tiny house living?
The biggest thing we love about living in our tiny house is the convenience of it all. You are literally within a few steps of everything you need. The closet is a few steps from the bathroom, all of our kitchen supplies are within arms’ reach, and best of all, there’s no more hauling laundry baskets down two flights of stairs! It also forces us to keep things tidy, as before, we could just hide the mess in a few rooms and escape them so they were out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps the greatest convenience of living tiny is that what used to take us hours if not days to clean our house, now we can have things completely spotless in under an hour.
What surprised you the most about the process?
The biggest surprise for us was how difficult it is to actually find a place to plunk the tiny house down. Because the tiny house movement is still in its infancy, there is no precedence for them with respect to zoning laws. We spent countless hours searching through the various townships in our surrounding area trying to find the right combination of zoning laws and allowed property variances that would allow us to get away with putting our house on a piece of property. In all honesty, it is quite a hassle, but totally worth it in the end.
What was the hardest thing for you to give up when you were consolidating your stuff?
Obviously the hardest thing for us to give up when going tiny was our two precious feline balls of fur, Timmy and Pokey (cue a rendition of Sheldon’s “Soft kitty, warm kitty”, preferably sung in a round). We do get to see them over at our friends’ house, but it still isn’t the same waking up every morning to them in our face purring away. But as far as our “stuff” is concerned, I think we have a lot of guilt having to give up things that we received as wedding gifts, as there was a lot of sentiment in them, not to mention a lot of it (kitchen stuff) we used quite frequently.
What is your favorite design decision or technology in your tiny house?
Hands down, the best design decision in our tiny house is the way the bed is hidden away under the office/closet area. Our main goal was to have a very wide-open space and this really is the main key to that. It essentially removes an entire room from the house when it is not in use and frees up a ton of space. Technology-wise, the entertainment system is just ridiculously amazing. Come on, who can say they have a 100-inch HDTV with surround sound in their house… let alone in a 210-square-foot house!
Do you have any advice for others thinking about taking the tiny house plunge?
A shower curtain does not suffice as a bathroom door… think about it. (We are currently seeking out various door options.) Start getting rid of your excess stuff as early on as possible. Garage sales, goodwill, craigslist… just get rid of it! Make sure you fully understand where the house will be placed and how your city or town’s zoning laws will affect you. Go for it!!! We’re fully confident that this was the best decision of our lives and wouldn’t change it for anything, (except the bathroom door!)