I’m an HGTV addict.
Cold wintry western days, you can find me (and my three 90+lb dogs) snuggled up with a cup of warm tea, binging on the latest International House Hunters, Flip or Flop, and Tiny House, Big Living.
I love learning DIY tips, watching real estate transformation, and getting to know the families behind the buys (and sells) that take place on the station.
Over the past few months, I’ve become quite partial to the tiny house shows – Tiny House, Big Living, Tiny House Hunters, and Tiny House Nation. I’ve watched in awe as families forgo over 2000 sq feet of living space in favor of less than 200, simplified their lives, and realized their dreams of travel, hobbies, and other lifestyle options many of us wish for but put off in lieu of a “normal” rent or mortgage payment + upkeep.
My thoughts were as follows:
- Wow – they are amazing!
- I would love to spend all next winter skiing with no housing expense!
- If I wasn’t keeping up this 5 bedroom Victorian house, I could afford that summer in Alaska we’ve always talked about!
After months of falling in love with not only the housing trailblazers behind the #tinyhousemovement but the freedom such alternative living offered, I asked myself “Why not?”.
Really – why not?
Why don’t I go tiny?
Ready to Shrink the House?
So I made a list of pros and cons detailing the whys and wherefores to live traditionally vs. tiny and realized everything included in my “Con’s of Tiny Living” all had to do with my ego – aka how others may perceive my decision to minimize – while the “Pro’s of Tiny Living” were direct benefits to me and my family. Here are a few that I included:
Here are a few that I included:
- TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL!
- Ability to pay off my student loans faster.
- More eco-friendly lifestyle with solar energy, rain water catchment, and compost toilet.
- Cost of living decreases so can reinvest more money into my business.
- Mobile lifestyle – not tied down to one community (great for seizing business opportunities).
- More resources – time and money – available for my hobbies: horseback riding, kayaking, cycling, photography.
The only things I’d be giving up was a bunch of extra house rooms that really serve as long-term storage for a bunch of stuff I don’t use and high utility and maintenance bills.
Tiny living seemed like a pretty sweet deal.
Building the Becker Tiny House
Unlike many of the tiny house dwellers spotlighted on HGTV, I didn’t have an extra $70,000 lying around to pay a custom tiny home builder to create the ideal space. Instead, I had access to a bunch of old building materials at salvage prices (one of the good things about living in rural America), an abandoned and snake-infested camper, and my husband’s put-himself-through-college-building-houses construction expertise.
We set a budget of $1,000 (yes, you read that right), and decided to see just how far we could get with our tiny house on a very shoestring budget. We knew a grand wouldn’t be enough to install traditional utilities (electric, water well, septic) to run the tiny house off of, nor would we be able to outfit it for hauling over the road very long distances; however, we could update it later to accommodate for both of those tiny house options.
The Ultimate DIY Project
Over several months, working around some pretty frustrating post-war surgeries and my insane work schedule, we were able to reserve one weekend a month, along with a couple long weeknights to building a super-budget-friendly tiny house that could serve as a rustic getaway.
We reached a pretty major milestone on our tiny home in July – everything’s been installed with the exception of a modern bathroom (we do have an outdoor shower with running water), a functional kitchen (good thing I married a grill master), and AC/heat source (currently going old school on this).
While our house isn’t exactly HGTV standards, it’s been a really educational experience (never thought I could actually build a house), along with providing a super low cost project with awesome return (thanks to my squirrel-like salvaging skills, we currently have less than $800 in the entire tiny house build). The house provides my combat veteran husband a place to “go chill” when things get to be stressful, and a great place for some weekend R&R when my tech-saturated work has my work-life becoming quite unbalanced.
Tiny House = Big Priorities
We’re talking about investing a couple grand (around $1,000 for the bathroom set-up, $1,000 for alternative utilities, and $1,400 for roadworthy needs) into the tiny house over the next year and moving into it full-time.
Given that I spend a lot of my workday in a home office, I’m a little concerned regarding how the whole work-from-home in the middle-of-nowhere would work without a home office as there’s no suitable commercial or coworking space available in our area; but am eager to minimize our expenses so we can invest in opportunities (agriculture land, more cattle, higher education, rental property, etc.) that will yield a bigger return.
We’ve still got some time before a decision needs to be made; till then, we plan on continuing to explore life in something under 200 square feet and re-establish our priorities.