Living in our “tiny” house for the last two years has been a dream come true. We’ve reclaimed much of that childlike wonder that we suppressed in our 20s as we attempted to live out someone else’s dream of a 40-year career with a pension and a 30-year mortgage on a McMansion.
After living in a small house for two years, I can say with certainty that it was the right move for us. Others might disagree with the location or the type of house we had chosen, but that’s OK! There is no one right way to live for everyone.
Here are all the reasons why tiny house living has been perfect for us.
Cutting our payments in half meant that we could pay off the mortgage faster, too. Downsizing meant that we could be debt free years or decades faster than in the “big house” days. Of all the benefits of tiny house living, this is my favorite; I feel far more secure without the debt looming over us.
I know the exact moment when I felt noticeably more secure about money. Garrett and I were on a tour of the local makerspace back in May. If you know Garrett, you know he lives for building stuff, so the maker movement is right up his alley. Our local makerspace has all the equipment he could possibly enjoy, so I knew when we went for the tour that I wanted him to be a member no matter the cost.
At the conclusion of the tour, the maker-in-charge began signing up members. Garrett was super picky about the whole thing, as he tends to do when he says he’s on the fence about something BUT I know that he really wants to do it. Basically, I said we’re not leaving until you sign up.
Now, I knew going in that he was going to love it and that a membership was right for him, so I was prepared for a monthly fee of at least $200. Makerspaces provide access to lathes, mills, 3D printers, and so much more equipment that $200 would make it a bargain. If we hadn’t felt so secure with our finances, I imagine that we would have had to consider the cost of the membership first before making a commitment. Being able to make the commitment sight unseen was huge for us.
Much to my surprise, the membership is just $35/month. He signed up right away and he’s been as happy as a clam ever since.
Tiny house living gave us the ability to control a lot more of our “after work” time.
Because our 500 sq ft house is simple in design, so it requires little maintenance, daily cleaning takes just a few minutes and a weekly deep clean takes about 30 minutes. We’ve taken up some new fun side hustle projects to see us through winter. We’re walking daily. We’re exploring new areas on the weekends. Of all the benefits of tiny house living, this is Garrett’s favorite; he appreciates the efficiency of our new life.
What used to be a chore at the big house is now something I look forward: weekly cleaning. Dusting, sweeping, wiping, scrubbing…I love it all. We clean our house daily, but the weekly cleaning is the deep clean. Deep cleaning is an opportunity to take account of everything we have and everything we have to be grateful for. And I am so grateful that we don’t have a big house to clean. HA! At 500 sq ft, we could be more efficient, but we’re pretty efficient as it stands.
Tiny house living has also made us truly appreciate time and space, particularly how we use both. Other than the 8 to 5 workday, we have the ability to choose what we do. We can read or we can binge funny YouTube videos. We can stay indoors and read books or we can take our kayaks to the river that’s a few blocks away. We used to spend most of our time running errands or cleaning the house to get ready for another work week, activities that are now compressed into a couple of hours on a Sunday. Now, the focus is on using time wisely, using time to do things we enjoy, using time to do things that will help us grow personally and professionally.
What I’ve come to enjoy most is the slow start on Sunday mornings. We sleep in a little later. We have our coffee in mugs and not to-go containers. We take a moment to consider the week ahead. We express gratitude for the week prior. Having the space in our lives to make choices makes me appreciate the space we’ve made — downsizing wasn’t the only reason, but it’s been a big help.
Tiny house living helped us improve our emotional health.
Over the weekend, we re-read many of our blog posts from the last couple of years and remembered what it was like to be stressed about the slow progress on our personal finances and frustrated with our poor choices and a scarcity mindset.
Downsizing meant being able to leave the past in the past, especially after we became debt free. We learned what we could from the “big house” chapter of our lives to focus on the awesome life we have today, thanks in large part to our “tiny” house.
I don’t feel stress about our finances like I used to. I don’t worry if we can cover a $1,000 emergency like I used to. I don’t let my thoughts spiral out of control when we do encounter emergencies like I used to.
I feel we’re in control of our financial future like never before. Consequently, we’re happy and live stress free.
Tiny house living put us in touch with amazing people who are living out their dreams and inspired us to do the same. At the Tiny House Conference, we met people of all ages, all backgrounds who seek the same thing: simplicity. Boomers who sought to downsize and get rid of all their stuff in the process. Millennials who live life on the road, WOOFing and freelancing along the way. Different stories, but the same simple message.
At the conference, we met a freelance grant writer and organic farmer who WOOFs her way across the country. She’s living the life we pictured when we started this blog: traveling across the US in a tiny house, earning a little cash and volunteering along the way. Tiny housers like her are so generous with their time and talents. We’re instantly drawn to entrepreneurial spirits like those who have figured out a way to live FI today.
In the personal finance blogosphere, there are others who have downsized, like Ang and Sas from Mostly Mindful. At the moment, Ang and Sas are house sitting for organic farmers while also freelancing. Reading about their house sitting adventures made us pause and consider our own FI plan as we were once again inspired by the creative nature of other entrepreneurial types and their can-do attitudes.
Tiny house living made the pursuit of financial independence possible.
Because we downsized, our plan to be financially independent by May 18, 2019 might actually be achievable. Smaller house, smaller mortgage, smaller bills…more money available to invest in FI. We have more time to invest in our own entrepreneurial endeavors, which will also go a long way in the pursuit of FI.
In the seven months or so since we became debt free, we struggled with determining a path for the rest of this FI journey. Getting out of debt is straightforward — cut expenses and increase income. Getting to FI is not so straightforward. Every FIRE blogger has a plan and even if that plan sounds straightforward, each person has a different twist that makes it unique to them.
What we thought we wanted to do at the beginning of the year with respect to real estate investing isn’t at all what we want to do now. Being debt free has given us more time, space, and energy to devote to crafting a plan that’s right for us, not simply adopting someone else’s plan. If we wanted to be FI today, all we’d have to do is follow someone else’s plan and within a year or two, we’d be set. But then we’d be living someone else’s dream again and not our own.
What we have now is the time and space to really consider what FIRE is and what financial independence means to us because it ultimately impacts our time and space. How we spend our time before and after FIRE doesn’t have to change if we do this right. What this means exactly is to be determined, but you can bet you’ll be the first to know.