For over 2 years my husband, my dog and I have lived tiny. We went from living in a beautiful (and big-to-me) 1,200 square foot loft to a 188 square foot Airstream Sovereign. I’ve learned so many lessons during that time. Some of those lessons were expected and some of those lessons were totally unforeseen. Some of the lessons have been easy and some of them have been hard. But more than anything I’m thankful that I’ve learned them. Living tiny has made me a better person. So today I’m going to share just a few of the lessons I’ve learned by living tiny. I’m sure there are so many more lessons in store.
Stuff is just stuff
I don’t think I’ve ever been a maximalist. Even as a kid, I liked having just a few special things. But as I got older, I accumulated more and more stuff. It wasn’t intentional, it just happened. When we were forced to pare down our life, it made me truly question why I was hanging on to stuff– stuff that I didn’t use, stuff that I thought I might use one day and stuff that I felt obligated to hold on to. None of that stuff was making me happier. It was just stuff and I had to let it go. (Here’s the questions I asked myself when I was paring down.)
I can’t minimize anyone else’s stuff
This is such an important and hard lesson. In the beginning of our journey, I wanted George, my husband, to minimize with me. I wanted him to throw away (or give away) stuff with reckless abandon, just as I had done. But minimizing wasn’t the same process for him. And I can’t force my minimizing ways on him. We’d resent each other. Instead, I set an example and expressed my intentions and feelings about minimizing. In the end, he minimized on his own. It’s been a slower process for him, but we made it through in one piece.
I’ve become a more savvy consumer
Even after living in the Airstream, I ended up giving or throwing away more stuff because I now expect more from my things. I expect items to do double-duty. I expect items to be beautiful and long-lasting. I read more reviews than I did previously and when I do have to buy something, I try to make the best possible choice. I’ve become a more savvy consumer because I expect more from my things.
I need less than I think I do
I feel like I’ve said this a million times, but one one of the best things I’ve learned is that I need less than I think I do. I don’t need 15 spoons, I simply need to wash the dishes more often. That “make do and mend” mindset has helped me to save money and it’s made me into a more creative person. Now when a recipe tells me to use a fancy kitchen gadget that I don’t have, I won’t go out and buy it, I’ll look around the kitchen and see if I can improvise with something I already have.
Living in the Airstream has made me feel closer to nature. I feel the seasons more in the Airstream. I have to anticipate the snow, so the pipes don’t freeze and I have to keep a close check on our air conditioner in the summer. And although I rarely feel stifled, it feels absurdly refreshing to get out into the big beautiful world. Since living in the Airstream, I’ve become a big fan of hiking and getting out into nature to clear my mind.
Everything I do has an environmental impact
One of the most important things I’ve learned by living tiny is how my actions effect the environment. Prior to living in the Airstream I rarely thought about how much trash I produced or electricity I used. It was easy to leave all the lights on in the house and run the dryer multiple times because I left my clothes in there for days. Now I’m more thoughtful of my environmental impact. I don’t leave all the lights on because I can easily see if I left a light on from anywhere in the house. I don’t have a washer or dryer now, so there’s no multiple washings or dryings. Living tiny has forced me to become aware of my environmental impact and in turn, I’ve become a little greener.
Time with family is so, so important
A tiny space has helped my husband and I have a better relationship. When we lived in the loft, we were often in separate rooms. Not because we didn’t like each other, we would just be busy in separate spaces. I’d be cooking and he’d be drawing. Or I’d be sleeping and he’d be drawing. (Do you see a pattern? Ha!) A physically small space has forced us to be together more. We talk more and just generally spend more time together. It’s made our relationship stronger and helped me realize the value of time with family.
There’s always a solution to a problem and I can fix it
The Airstream has many less problems than a traditional house, but we still have problems every once in a while– like the leaky hot water heater. With all the hard work and problem solving that we did to renovate the trailer, I know that we can fix anything. There’s solutions to problems and the Internet is great for finding those solutions. I Googled and YouTubed our renovation problems many-a-time. We then worked diligently to solve whatever problem came our way. Now all I need to do is apply this skill to my life!
What lessons have you learned from living tiny or living with less? Talk to me in the comments!