This is the first house Dave and I ever lived in. Prior to it, we rented apartments. This is where we brought Nathan home and where he lived until he was four. It was (and still is) a whopping 1000 square feet. Three small bedrooms, two bathrooms, typical, and all sort of squashed.
But it was plenty of room for the two of us, and later on, the three of us.
The only reason we moved was that it was rented and we bought a house. The one we bought was similarly sized but had yellow wood siding, was on a better, bigger lot and we liked it better. It had more “character.”
Since then, we’ve lived in lots of houses, in lots of places.
The biggest was 2000 square feet in Alaska. Our only reason for buying something that large was that in Cooper Landing, you pretty much buy what is for sale, and not much is usually for sale.
The smallest is an RV that measures about 280 square feet with all the slides in. With the four slides out, it’s probably around 400 square feet.
Living room, kitchen/dining area, bedroom/bath. Basically three rooms.
Here are the upsides of living tiny like that.
It can be cheaper, sometimes far cheaper. RV’s don’t cost as much as houses, although per square foot, they are pricey. There just aren’t many square feet. In addition, though, there just isn’t any room for anything.
I remember walking into Walmart one day and thinking that there wasn’t a single thing in that whole store that I wanted, or that I could use, or that I could store if I had to.
It makes you far more conscious of space. You don’t have much, so you have to pay attention. If you’re not using it, whatever “it” is has to go. If something comes in, something else has to go out. You find out that you don’t need twelve pairs of shoes. Three or four do nicely. You don’t need as many clothes as we’re wont to keep in our large closets. Dave’s tool set fit in one small box and was stored in the RV “basement.”
The traveling part can be a big positive. When you don’t like the weather, you just move. Same thing for the scenery. And ditto for the neighbors.
The feeling can be one of freedom, at least at first.
But there are also downsides, and some of them are major.
You have to park the thing someplace. One solution is to buy a plot of ground and park it, but then you’ve negated or seriously reduced the traveling thing. If you go into an RV park, you have nice amenities, but you get to pay for them, and you get to pay whatever the RV park wants to charge you. In south Texas, we were paying almost $100/month for electricity, well above the going rate per KWH in the area. The RV park controlled the rates.
Living in an RV park gets old, at least it did for us. Because the RV is so small, it’s nice to get outside a lot and “outside” means the rest of the park. Neighbors are close, sometimes too close. They also tend to be old. (I know we’re old, but these folks were older.)
And if you opt for parking elsewhere, that gets really old, really fast. Who wants to actually live in a Walmart parking lot or a rest area? Not me.
In addition, moving is a major pain. Everything has to be secured, all the slides brought in, the RV hitched to the truck. Then all this has to be reversed at the destination. We could do it in our sleep, but we tired of it.
There is no community when you are a part-time resident, and that might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a major one for me. No responsibilities might sound delightful, but I really need to have something I have to do, or some place I have to be. If I don’t, I start to get depressed.
None of these things are pertinent, of course, to a fixed so-called “tiny” house, except the lower costs.
We did not find the close quarters to be a problem, and I really want to emphasize that. We were fine. But there were only two of us, and as you can see from the photos, our RV had definite rooms, three of them. It was totally possible for one of us to watch TV in the living room while the other prepared a meal in the kitchen or took a nap in the bedroom. Privacy was never an issue.
So, what is the deal with the current fad regarding “tiny” houses?
I think it’s a backlash against this.
When we decided to upsize and buy a real house, this is what we did not want.
I have watched houses get bigger and bigger over much of my lifetime, to the point that the little house where Nathan was a baby is considered teeny nowadays, but was pretty much average when I was a child.
As Americans have gained weight, they have also reduced their family size and greatly increased their house size.
And all that house has to be heated and cooled and furnished and cleaned and maintained.
If you Google “tiny house” or even “average sized house 1950” you will find dozens of articles talking about this, and gushing over so-called tiny houses and bashing “materialism.”
Somehow, we can’t seem to find balance. We upsize dramatically, realize that it was a mistake and then downsize dramatically. The pendulum swings and tends to always swing too far.
Nicole’s garden shed has not been “turned into” a cabin. That’s like saying that if I put a saddle on Frances, she’ll be “turned into” a horse. She’d simply be a very pissed-off cow with a saddle on her back.
But I am curious about how Nicole thinks that her garden shed is “safer” than most of the rentals they’ve lived in. Safer how?
Obviously, they will not all burn up in an electrical fire. Nor will the place be flooded from a burst pipe. Nobody will forget to turn off the range and have the gas fill the place.
The wood stove is, of course, a problem. I’ve looked at photos of it and shown it to my husband (who knows about wood stove installation, having done it several times in several different houses) and he says it’s not installed according to any sort of code.
Beyond that, I fail to see how it’s “safer.” In what way were those rentals substandard?
Anyway, the comments are all about how cute garden sheds are and how delightful it would be to live in one.
We have a wood shed. It’s actually the original garage that was built when the house was built. It’s a shed. Walls. Roof. Shed.
I do not want to live in it. We store firewood in it. We park the milking wagon in it. It houses chicken feed and other supplies. My cats play in it and hunt mice, but even they don’t want to live in it.
However, the majority of the stuff you find online about this is not about a family of 13 people living in a garden shed with no utilities of any kind. They are generally about one person living in a garden shed. Two people at the most, complete with an itsy bathroom and electricity and plumbing.
I know that the Blessed Garden Shed is a step way up from the Blessed Little Shitshack, but when you consider that a tent from Walmart would also be a step up, that’s not saying much.
In fact, the largest family I could find (apart from the Blessed Nauglers) living in a shed was a mother with five kids, and people were rightly appalled. She is a recovering drug addict. Nobody thought that their housing was adequate.
What Nicole is doing is jumping on the “tiny house” bandwagon so she will look all trendy and crunchy, when the reality is homeless, broke, and no place to go.
And not surprisingly, some of those who ran bustling out at the beginning of this rather silly trend and began buying and building and decorating “tiny houses” and writing blogs about how glorious it all is. . . are upsizing.
They aren’t upsizing to McMansions, but to something that offers just a wee bit more space per person. You know, like a normal house.
I know exactly how they feel. We did it too.