“We weren’t spending time cleaning. We weren’t spending time maintaining the yard. We were spending time doing what we loved.”
And the question is understandable. In 2007, Kerri and her husband Dale downsized from a standard-sized house to one with less than half its footprint — and they share that property’s 480 square feet with six dogs, to boot. If you’re one of the many who lives by the classic American philosophy that bigger is better, you might find their decision thoroughly confusing.
Why on earth would anyone purposefully shrink their living space so drastically?
As it turns out, these two — er, eight — aren’t alone in their quest for less. In fact, there’s a thriving community of people who’ve ditched their multiple-bedroom mansions for much smaller accommodations.
It’s called the tiny house movement, and Kerri isn’t the only one talking about it. Tiny living is the topic of multiple blogs, forums, and memoirs, like Fivecoat-Campbell’s book and Dee Williams’s The Big Tiny.
Once you start delving into the tiny living experience, it doesn’t take long to see why everyone’s so excited. From getting out of debt to doing less dusting, reducing your physical possessions can help you get control of your time and your finances… and maybe even figure out your life’s true purpose.
Skeptical? Curious? All of the above? Read on to find out more about why so many people are choosing to live in small, alternative housing — and to learn whether or not tiny living might be right for you.
Tiny House Community
So, what could possess someone to do away with 80% or more of their possessions? (Because, spoiler alert: if you’ve got 1,000 square feet worth of stuff, it’s not all going to fit in a sub-500 footprint.)
Many tiny housers make their move for financial reasons. Big houses come with big mortgages, not to mention property taxes, utility bills, and the time and effort necessary for cleaning and maintenance. A simple way to shrink all those costs is to shrink the house itself.
By downsizing to a much smaller home, tiny housers are able to truly live within their means, allowing them to save cash to pay off outstanding debts or even retire early. After all, with their monthly expenses so thoroughly slashed, they don’t need that much to live on anymore in the first place!
Which brings us to one of the biggest reasons behind the new minimalist movement, which is alive and well both inside and outside of the tiny house community. More and more, people learning that focusing on experiences rather than things brings them real happiness — so they’re happy to trade their antique mug collection or spare bedroom for the freedom to relax, connect with loved ones, and travel.
Is Tiny House Living for Me?
Of course, living in a tiny house isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Especially if you’ve got a family, you’ll be dealing with a whole lot less privacy and personal space. Plus, now that this lifestyle is so popular, finding affordable tiny houses isn’t so easy. At the start of the movement, the cheap cost to build a tiny house was part of the point, but you wouldn’t think that by looking at the prefabricated luxury tiny homes available for purchase. You can still build your own, of course, but it’s a much more involved process.
But if you’re outdoorsy and adventurous and don’t spend a whole lot of time inside your four walls anyway, tiny living might be a great way to break free from the cycle of consumerism — and you can do it even if you don’t know a level from a lathe.
You guessed it: We’re about to talk up the full-time RV lifestyle. But it’s not just because we’re biased! RV living is a fantastic alternative to building or buying a mobile tiny house.
Advantages of RV Living
Although many tiny homes come on wheels, those luxurious wooden floors and cutesy A-frame ceilings don’t actually hold up very well to constant motion. Most owners leave them in one place for the majority of the year.
So if traveling frequently is part of what draws you to tiny living, RVs have a serious advantage: they’re a whole lot less likely to fall apart on the highway. And in the case of a motorhome or sleeper van, all you have to do is pack up and go, whereas tiny homes always require towing.
RVs are also much more readily available, and in many cases much cheaper than prebuilt tiny homes. Almost every major American city has at least one RV dealership — the same can’t be said of tiny house vendors.
How to Transition to RV Living
If you’re seriously considering transitioning to full-time RV living, you’re in the right place. We’ve written a ton about what you need to know before you take the big plunge.
For example, although RV living can be very affordable, it does come with its own set of expenses — such as campground accommodation fees, fuel, repairs, and of course the cost of the rig itself. You’ll doubtless purchase some RV accessories, from necessities like sewer hoses and RV antifreeze to convenient extras like folding camp chairs or an Instant Pot. None of these items will break the bank individually, of course, but it does all add up.
One great way to offset the expense of camping costs is to invest in special discount camping clubs, which can get you sweet deals on the items and services you need as a full-time RVer. Our favorite is Passport America, which gets you a 50% campsite discount at almost 1900 participating campgrounds nationwide — all for less than $50 per year. For full-timers, it’s basically a must.
There are lots of other ways to save money and live cheaply as a full time camper, which we’ve written about here. Below, find a few more posts that’ll help ease your big transition.
- Can you Afford to RV Full Time? Consider This
- How to Establish State Residency if you Live in Your RV Full Time
- RV Living Inspo: Full Timer YouTube Channels
- 5 Tips to Start Full Time RVing
- What Every Full Time RVer Needs in their Toolbox
Although it might mean giving up a few of your physical things, the freedom to call the open road your home makes tiny living totally worth it — and we can’t think of a better way to do it than by RV.
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