This particular post is a little bitter sweet for me to write. Nearly 3 years ago, I signed on my tiny trailer – my tiny home that had been 2 years in the planning.
Four months later? I met my husband the weekend my apartment lease was up and my new home was ready for me to move into.
My husband liked the idea of tiny living, of simple living. But, there was just one issue: my husband is over 6′ tall. And, my trailer ceiling was barely tall enough for him. He’s also a wide-ish guy (honestly, he’s just a big teddy bear), and the space just kind of, um, shrank when he moved in.
Then, I grew. Over 9 months, as we continued living our first year of marriage in less than 200 square feet (total, not even per person), I was pregnant with our baby girl.
Tiny became absolutely un-livable.
There are some families that do very well in small spaces. We just realized there wasn’t quite enough space for two, let alone three. And a bunny. Especially when one of those 3 works from home, one is in school, and one is a baby trying to learn the world.
So, we looked into larger tiny homes, but that didn’t work out for us. We found a 1 bedroom apartment – as a family of 3. We were even turned away from some housing, saying for a family of 3, we had to have a 2 bedroom.
Then we moved to another city, and we got a manufactured home. It’s ours.
And, it’s 3 bedrooms – 1200 square feet. Which, by my research is still TINY for a family of 3, soon to be 4. It’s 300 square feet a person. The average American home today is 2500-2800 square feet, and a family of 4 would have double or almost triple the amount of space we have. People still ask us how we are going to make it work with 2 kids and needing a home office.
For me, it’s a big compromise to the tiny dream I always had – and a way to be forced to learn to continue to live the simple, more minimal, meaningful life that attracted me to tiny living, while in a significantly larger home – almost 10 times the size of my cozy little trailer.
We have been extremely comfortable here, and it has taught me a lot to go from tiny to slightly larger to slightly larger, just like our time living tiny taught me a lot.
Before I get into the lessons learned, I just wanted to remind you guys: if you have a plan, and life changes, and you realized what you thought was ideal for your life is no longer ideal: it’s ok to change the plan.
The older I get, the more I’m realizing, plans are just guidelines. They speak to our heart for something, but sometimes God has something more, or life comes a long and plans shift. And, that is okay. This is actually, come to think of it, probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned.
So, what have I learned about living tiny & what if Tiny just doesn’t work?
- First, like I said, if the plan changes, it’s ok. Life is full of twists and turns, God drops little surprises in your lap. Bumps in the road come up. If both people aren’t fully on board, it just won’t work, but a compromise might work. If you both set out for this specific kind of life, but life can throw curve balls or God can send surprises, then you may have to realize something else has to happen. No matter how much you dream about some kind of life, if life throws something at you, the plan has to change. And, if your on your own, you can just go with it. If you’re a partner or a family, there has to be agreement and compromise.
- Tiny living isn’t for everyone. I LOVED living tiny – on my own. When I started this journey, I was alone. I didn’t even know my hubby. I met him, literally, the week I was preparing to shift to my trailer. For me, it was absolutely perfect. I had everything I needed. I had everything I wanted. And, he and I legitimately thought that it would work out for us as a couple. And, for a year, it did. But, as I got closer to giving birth, it worked less and less as we brought in baby stuff and tried to figure out where our baby would have space. Then I began to feel guilty, she wouldn’t have the stimulation of being in multiple rooms, or spaces. Not a lot of room to learn to walk or crawl. And, when you have to work from home or do homework at home, and you’re the type of person who needs to do that in a separate space, certain types of tiny simply won’t work. This is also true if one or each of you simply needs extra space from time to time.
- This leads me to the next lesson: If you’re an introvert who needs space, but there is no space, it can put a strain on your relationship. My husband and I are both this way. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be an issue, because we technically had a “bedroom” and I thought headphones would be enough. But, it wasn’t. And, that’s not something you can know until you’re actually living with another person, figuring out the marriage together. If you need that room, and you’re going to live tiny, make sure there are separate rooms, make sure you can close that door, and make sure your spouse understands your need for space. If you don’t need this space, or you are both going to have ways to get that space some other way, tiny could work. If not, something a little bigger, with just a little more space might be best for you.
- You can absolutely live simply and minimally with a little extra space. At first, to me, it seemed like a packaged deal. If you want to get into a better financial place, live minimally and simply, live by these ideals, tiny was the way to go. Hubby and I have committed to living more minimally and simply despite the bigger space. We do have a lot more downsizing we need to do, more minimizing. But, we’re definitely doing much better than either of us used to do separately. A lavish, materialistic lifestyle doesn’t match up with what we want to show the world, anyway. It doesn’t line up with out beliefs. But, that doesn’t change our individual needs for a bit of space, or the fact that we want our kids to also have some options to find their space if needed (though, they will be sharing a room for several years, but that’s a story for another day).
So, what if you find that tiny isn’t the life for you, or you are trying to decide if tiny is right for you?
Well, first, take a look at this list of lessons. Do you think any of these things fit you, you might figure out it just isn’t for you. You need some extra space, or you work from home and have to have a dedicated office. Or perhaps, your family is growing and you have to ensure there is enough room for everyone. There are so many factors that determine if tiny is the life for you or not. I still love tiny house videos, and meeting tiny house and full time RV families, it just isn’t for our lifestyle now.
Next, what fits your lifestyle? Do you have a stationary job and can’t travel much? If you’re not going to be getting out of your house much, tiny may start closing in on you. But, if you want to travel, and work from the road, tiny could be perfect. That’s what attracted me. I was looking for ways to work from the road, because I wanted to travel. That changed with getting married and having a baby. That wasn’t an option anymore, at least not to the extent I had planned, so look at your lifestyle.
And, if you determine tiny isn’t right for you or for your family? You can still enjoy the ideal, you can still watch the videos, interact with people who choose that life, and be glad there are housing movements that are trying to make a difference. If it’s about living simply and minimally, then do that in the space you know you need for your lifestyle: give away things you don’t need anymore, don’t bring new stuff in unless it’s a need, decide what you need to be happy and survive, and let the rest go.
Tiny just doesn’t work for everyone.
We are still living small. Smaller than some people think we should, especially now that we’ll be a family of four. But, we are living in what works. It’s perfect. It is exactly what we need for this time of life.
That’s basically what it’s about. Most people don’t need these 2800 square foot homes to be happy. You just end up living completely separate lives in these vast expanses, anyway, but knowing you have enough space to keep your sanity can be reassuring.
Know what you need. If you are someone who needs that much space, then maybe the larger home is great for you.
Where my struggle comes is when we keep these huge homes just for the appearance, or because we can, or because it’s the norm. Life is about so much more than the home we live in, the stuff we have, or the car we drive.
The smaller the space, the less stuff we have to keep up with, the more time we can carve out to spend with family and friends, making memories and connecting.