Houses have never really meant that much to me.
Maybe it’s because I lived in over fourteen different ones before turning 18.
Maybe it’s because I ended up upside down on my very first house purchase, thanks to the mortgage crash of 2008.
Maybe it’s because all my most treasured memories take place outside my house – on a desolate beach at dawn, breathing in the 14,000 ft view that inspired the authorship of “America the Beautiful”, or snuggled up to my soldier post-deployment in temporary military housing.
Houses – big or small – don’t seem to make much of a difference to the inhabitants regarding the quality of life. I’ve known many a miserable person to live a 7,000 customized square feet, and met many a happy individual to have little more than a tent to call their “home”.
Tiny Space, Big Life
Popularized western culture champions big houses as a mark of “success”; however, over the past few years, I’ve noticed that many of my “successful” heroes didn’t give a rat’s caboose about high dollar addresses:
Take TOMs Founder, Blake Mycoskie (arguably one of the most ah-mazing entrepreneurs in the country) who, despite his net worth + high profile career, lives on a sailboat. Mycoskie practices a simple life, devoting his energy to helping and inspiring others, and probably doesn’t give a hoot what the investment banker living in $5 million dollar home thinks about his minimalist lifestyle.
Or what about Zac Giffin, star of Tiny House Nation, craftsman extraordinaire, and insanely incredible winter sports competitor? Zac lives in an adorable tiny house on wheels (too cute) and is able to live out his (many) dreams without compromising on quality of life.
Many of my favorite Instagram peeps live in small spaces so they can enjoy big adventures, like Kalen Thorien ( @kalenthorien ) Joah & Laura of @travelexploreuncover , and Giddi from @confessionsofavanwife . By living out of a home on wheels, these awesomely adventurous minimalists are able to travel the world and do awesome stuff without having to work a traditional 9-to-5.
Could we really go tiny?
I have to be careful about mentioning the possibility of becoming full-time tiny dwellers around my husband, as he’s all too ready to forgo the house in lieu of something under 400-square feet. Given that Morgan Beasley’s (Mountain Man) Alaskan frontier lifestyle is his postwar definition of utopia, I fear any hints on my part that I’d like to shove off 21st-century comforts for a cabin in the oh-so-north Alaskan woods would result in affirmative action.
Sometimes I wonder if my fear of going against cultural norms (i.e., not living in a 2500+ square foot McMansion) is holding me back from a pretty epic opportunity to experience more in life. Monthly payments on a thirty-year mortgage vs. visiting all the National Parks makes for a pretty tempting change.
I tell myself the reason we can’t move into a tiny house on wheels full-time is my work; however, I’m routinely met with entrepreneurs building incredibly successful companies from really small spaces.
Then I tell myself there’s no point in trying to live in an RV, as I won’t be able to travel as much as I’d like due to my farm animals (valid reasoning, given that I seem to always be on the hunt for a good pet sitter).
Then the business school educated financier in me considers how a lack of real estate equity would look in my family’s future – not good; but then, if the recent mortgage bubble bust taught us anything…
Finding Home Sweet Home
For now, I like having our tiny house for weekend getaways and calving season crash pad.
Trying to decide on my family’s next housing move, I’m interested in building a small (600-800 square feet) house on our current farming property within the next year or two. I bought some house plans, ran the building budget, and am in the process of getting financing and permits. While it’d be regarded as neither a super big nor tiny house, its five room layout should serve my family well.
Functional and economical – my two house must-haves.
Every so often, I’ll scroll through my favorite minimalist adventure’s Instagram feed, surveying their latest mountain climbing adventures and am reminded of a quote by George Bernard Shaw: “Home life is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo.”
Then I look out across the spring fed pond that’s adjacent to our proposed house site and think, “Maybe ol’ George was on to something.”