I feel like many tiny house stories I read about start with unhappy people. The unhappiness can come from many different sources; unable to afford ____ (i.e. house or car), just lost their job, just went through a divorce, etc. At a time where people need to find a new way to approach life, many decide to reinvent themselves as someone who needs and wants for less. This downsizing concept fits right into the tiny house lifestyle. To revoice the old cliché, we live in a materialistic society. The label on your clothes, the kind of car you drive, and how many toys and gadgets you stuff your home with are all important factors in how others see you in our western society. I am not immune from these concepts, and I don’t think many people truly are. In fact, I think that to some extent, it’s healthy to want to be liked by others and to do things in order to ensure that happens. What’s unhealthy is the level that many people take it to. I see articles on a regular basis now about how belongings can make us unhappy, and even that having too many things can be unhealthy. So the trend that many have adopted is to downsize their lives in order to be happier.
In that sense, I understand why many people decide to go tiny in times of distress in their lives. I can absolutely buy into the minimalistic lifestyle making me a happier and altogether better person. I can picture myself being happy in a shiny new ‘Tiny’ life.
But that doesn’t mean that I am particularly unhappy with my life right now.
I am 18 years old at the time of writing this, and just over halfway through my senior year of high school here in Vermont. I am the youngest of three children, the last one living at home while my siblings are off at college. Our 7-acre property serves a double purpose as our home and as a small pumpkin farm. While certainly not in the middle of nowhere, I am almost constantly surrounded by the outdoors and have always embraced it. I am an Eagle Scout and an avid outdoorsman, spending most of my summers the for the last several years between attending and staffing various camps. I have done most of the Long Trail, hiked over 100 miles in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico, and taught outdoors skills at the local Scout Camp.
It is my love and comfort in the outdoors that made me want to go tiny. Jay Shafer describes himself as a claustrophile, and I would have to agree with that sentiment. When you’re comfortable with two people sharing a 5′ by 7′ space for weeks at a time, living in a tiny house is a significant step up!
Beyond being comfortable with the space constraints, I think that the tiny lifestyle matches really well with the kind of mindset a long-distance backpacker must have. I pride myself on my ability to leave for a weekend hiking trip with less than 15 pounds on my back. In order to pull that off, I need to plan accordingly. I need to know exactly what items are necessary and what items don’t make the cut. If something isn’t worth the weight, it doesn’t come with me, plain and simple. Living in a tiny space, the same logic has to be applied; is this item going to provide enough utility to make up for the space it’s filling? Can I fill that space with something that will meet my needs more efficiently? Can I combine several of my needs into one item? As someone who is more on the disorganized and cluttered side of the spectrum, I look forward to the challenge of downsizing my needs and my lifestyle to fit my new space.
The final reason for going tiny is my passion for architecture and for making things. I am going to be pursuing a professional degree in Architecture in college, and what better project to start out on than my own house? I was lucky to have enough basic training and support through my school that I could create my own tiny house plans and learn the basics of how to actually build such a thing.
There is still a lot of learning and new things to experience ahead of me, but I look forward to a new adventure. I hope to document my process here throughout the journey, and I hope I can inspire and inform a few people along the way.