A Small Life is more than just talking about Airstreams. A Small Life is about living a happier, more minimalistic lifestyle. That’s why today I’m branching out a bit with a post from my friend, Leah. Leah is a badass who has built her tiny home from scratch. I love her can-do attitude and her realistic approach to tiny house living– something I don’t often see online or on television. Today Leah is going to share the top 10 reasons she and her boyfriend built, not bought, their tiny house. Take it away, Leah!
Recently a friend said to me, “What you’re doing right now [living in a tiny house] is very trendy.” I’ve been thinking about that statement ever since she said it. She went on to amend her statement by saying, “Well, you aren’t doing it because it’s trendy, and that’s even cooler.”
You might be the same way–hipster without trying. I just do what I like, and often it falls into the “trendy” category. I’ve been thrift store shopping since I was a wee babe. I’ve been a foodie since I was ten years old. I love coffee. And record players. And Polaroids. And Tiny Houses.
But this tiny house thing is more than just a trend, it’s an obsession I never thought I’d have. There are so many reasons we built a tiny house, but today I thought I’d share the “top ten reasons we built a tiny house.” These are the actual reasons why my boyfriend and I built the tiny house. Trendy was more of a side-effect!
- It allows me to actively create my living environment. Unlike an apartment where you can’t change anything significantly (and even need approval to paint a very ugly kitchen), I am in complete control of not only what color my kitchen is, but where my kitchen is, how I store my clothes and where the water and electricity come from. I’ve changed the house layout significantly three times over the last two years. (Now I feel like it’s gotten to a very comfortable place and I can stop the rearranging, at least for a while.) I have done things like cut out new windows on a whim. You don’t do this in a conventional house, but I can and have easily done it in our tiny house. This house is an experiment and an experience, and it teaches me new things on a daily basis.
- I grew up in a very large home. My mother, I love her, but she is constantly “having to dig out” her junk that accumulates. I am well aware that I have her “thrifting” gene, and I love to find awesome things at thrift stores and antique shops just as much as she does. The tiny house life appealed to me because I didn’t want to end up in the same situation as her, continually feeling guilty and burdened by all the stuff.
- I love this planet earth. Just yesterday I was marveling at the fact that scientists have been trying to find another planet with just water. Any sign of life, a virus, or bacteria would make them ecstatic. We happen to live on a gorgeous planet that is BURSTING at the seams with life in all it’s marvelous forms. We (currently) have (mostly) clean air, and beautiful water. My attempts at living a life that has a low environmental impact is the least I can do to help our planet stay the way it is.
Of course I have areas of my life that I need to work on–like not driving a car so much– but having only a small house is my start. And because we live in a tiny house, I spend a lot of time outside, enjoying this planet I love so much. In the long run, we will also be saving more money and we will be able to afford trips to see more of this lovely planet we get to call “home.”
- My boyfriend is very self-reliant. When we were in the initial planning stages, the idea of living in a tiny house and being off the grid was appealing to him because he wouldn’t have to pay money and be tethered to utility companies. He would know where his water came from. (We use rain water.) He could heat the house with wood that he himself chopped. He would also be able to pay for solar panels one time and be done with it. Currently our only recurring utility bills are a cell phone bill and an Internet bill.
- It’s an investment. We like the idea of not having to pay for rent every month or a mortgage, instead investing in a property that we will have for years and years and years. We tried to build the tiny house as cheaply as possible. That doesn’t mean we don’t have debt, but we didn’t need to take out a loan to build or a buy a house. We only took out a loan for the land. We should be debt free within the next two years.
- If we ever decide to move, we can move the house. Moving the house would be more involved than some tiny houses because of our porch and the rockiness of the land. We moved the house once from South Dakota to Kentucky and it was a very stressful few days. (While tiny houses are movable, they aren’t campers.) But if we did decide to move, we could bring this beast with us and we wouldn’t need to rebuild from scratch.
- I have intimate knowledge of this house. I put in every board. I know exactly how the windows are built. I know what the insulation is like. I know how what the wiring is like. All of these things give me confidence that if something goes wrong I can fix it. My boyfriend built the aluminum trailer and he can reweld it it if he needs to. He knows exactly how many watts are coming off the roof and how it’s all wired in. We know exactly where our water comes from and how it’s treated so we don’t need to fear lead poisoning.
- Windows! The light makes this tiny house feel so much bigger and in my opinion, more livable than an RV. I used a material called “polycarbonate twin wall” which is mostly used for greenhouses. It has better insulation than traditional glass windows, it was super easy to install, as well as being lighter and cheaper than glass. As an artist, I am well aware of how natural light makes everything so much more gorgeous and photogenic. As a person, I have bi-polar tendencies that are affected by the amount of sun I get, so having lots of windows makes me a much happier person.
- I love the permanent feeling of our house. Unlike an RV or Airstream, the tiny house feels more permanent. We often get the question, “Do you plan to build a bigger house someday?” It’s not completely off the table, but if we ever did, it would not be because the tiny house was only meant to be temporary.
- I am proud of my house. To wake up everyday in something that I built with my brain and my body is a feeling like nothing else. It connects me to a long line of build-it-yourselfers in our human family. It speaks to a very primal part of me; my bird spirit that wants to build nests, my rabbit spirit that wants to dig burrows and tunnels. I feel like a kid who built an awesome fort and now I get to live in it. It keeps me playful. It keeps me flexible. And it keeps me grateful every. single. day.
Thanks, Leah! I’m inspired to go build something! You can follow more of Leah’s journey on her Instagram.