This post is in response to the question “What about when your daughter gets older or you have more children? How will you make the tiny house work?” Understandably, it is the question we get asked the most and we hope to provide a comprehensive yet wandering response below.
We are here to openly admit that our tiny house journey is not forever; at least not from a full time living perspective. With that said, it is one of the best decisions of our lives and has already gifted us so much more in return than any sum of money could provide. It has been an incredibly fulfilling experience that is far from over and I wish that everyone who wanted to ‘live tiny’ had the opportunity.
Ironically, more than any external factors, I think that the biggest barrier faced is internal hesitation. There is a fine line between productive future planning and overthinking yourself into stagnation. It is unfortunate that the fear of ‘plans changing down the road’ stops people from pursuing something that they think could have a very positive impact on their lives rather immediately. We see too many people afraid to commit to something under the guise that you should not move in a particular direction if you don’t have all of the questions answered ahead of time. For many considering a tiny house, there seems to be an ‘if it’s not forever it’s not worth doing’ mentality that is compounded by the throngs of internet bystanders waiting to holler ‘I told you so’ from the side lines if you decide to move on from the tiny life.
We frequently read comments along the lines of ‘I love what you are doing and I would do something similar in a heart beat but I want to have children in the future,’ or some variation there of insinuating that a tiny house for a particular stage of ones life and not forever is frowned upon.
Further more, the concept of ‘forever home’ is fading. A home that can satisfy the evolving needs of a person(s) for their entire life barely seems plausible now a days; especially if it is location static. People are constantly changing where they live for a variety of reasons so it doesn’t reason to harass someone who moves on from a tiny house if you’re not going to similarly categorize the empty-nesters that want to downsize, the people changing locations frequently due to employment, those who unfortunately lose there intended ‘forever home’ due to drowning debt, or any other number of reasons that require a majority of us to change living situations multiple times throughout our lives.
Macy Miller‘s tiny home has been an icon of the movement for as long as it has been main stream. In fact I would argue that the photo above of her tiny house taken half a decade ago can be partially credited for the exploding tiny house movement. When accompanied by headlines such as ‘single women builds beautiful tiny house on wheels for under $12,000.00’ people began to consider it as a viable alternative.
After over four years (which is long by this young ‘movements’ standards) of living full time in her THOW with her husband and Great Dane while simultaneously having and raising two children, they moved out. More accurately, they were forced out by the city of Boise, ID but many keyboard critics haven’t read that far and the long line of people that had always harassed her got ready to launch the next round of comment thread insults, born from a sort of idealistic absolutist perspective in which if you don’t live in your tiny house forever, it was an ill fated decision.
But before they could murmur ‘I told you so’ Macy and her family re-built and hit the road in a 84 sf travel trailer, full time, for the foreseeable future (learning the long way). While they continue the discussion with the city of Boise about productive and progressive solutions for tiny houses they did the opposite of what one would expect when ‘moving on from a tiny house’ and downsized again to road school their kids and see the country. It is something they wanted to do. It was something they felt would add meaning, happiness and life long memories to their lives while positively contributing to the development of their children. They took the steps necessary to evolve into ‘on-line entrepreneurs’ of sorts to create location independent income sources and they committed to an idea; to a dream.
I am not saying everyone should follow in their footsteps or that it’s a forever solution but they are out there right now, benefiting from their commitment. They are collecting experiences, exploring national parks, museums, cities and the back roads of America with their two kids who’s perspective will be more well rounded than many of their peers. You can bet that regardless of what their next living situation is, they won’t be looking back at these months and years on the road with regret.
While I cling to this tangent for a little bit longer, I am reminded of my favorite Chris McCandless quote (Into The Wild) in which he writes to Ron, an aging man who took Chris under his wing like the grandchild he never had. Chris sensed Ron’s admiration for his traveling ways while expressing discontent in his own life and encourages him to make a radical change in his lifestyle and ‘begin to boldly do things which he may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt.’
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security…”
-Chris McCandless, Into The Wild
For what it’s worth, the elderly gentleman took his advice and began touring the states. When interviewed about his interactions with Chris and the followed advice he said he ‘felt freer than he had in decades.’ He died a few years later of old age; presumably thankful for the new experiences in his waning years.
I bring these two anecdotes to light not to say that you should quit your job and hit the road but instead to encourage you to do what excites you and makes you happy. Our lives are evolving at a more rapid pace than ever thanks to an increasingly complex society. Lets reserve judgement, and perhaps applaud those finding ways to personally adapt, evolve and progress; tiny house or not. Moving in or moving on.
Sometimes we make decisions based on immediate needs. Sometimes we make decisions based on the future well being of ourselves and/or our families. I would argue that we successfully did both when we began our tiny house journey.
Our tiny house has been and continues to be an incredible tool and experience for this stage in our lives. It has allowed us to own our home outright while refinancing student loan debt to a very aggressive five year repayment plan and simultaneously building a financial safety net that would allow us to live comfortably for a year even if our sources of income completely stopped. Most importantly we have been able to take extended parental leave to spend more time with our baby for her first six months of life and I now have the ability to stay-at / work-from-[tiny]home to continue raising Aubrin. None of this was possible for us three years ago but we took intentional steps (including the tiny house) to design the life we wanted.
We will utilize the tiny house as long as it works for us and then re-purpose it. The best part about this project is it has the ability to serve our family in a multitude of ways. Should we choose to design and build a small home on a foundation to raise a growing family, the tiny house can serve as a back yard studio, or guesthouse, or airBNB rental or even be turned into an off grid retreat in the mountains. Its value and positive contribution to our lives will far outlive its use as a full time residence.
So ultimately this post evolved from the moment of moving on to being more about committing to an idea and embracing and adapting to the results and the inevitable changes of life. The answer to the initial question has yet to be written and that is just fine with us. But when that transition occurs we will proudly embrace it as yet another new opportunity made possible by our tiny house.