“Why? Why did you choose to live tiny?” This is a question we get asked pretty often. Tiny living goes against the grain here in America, but the tiny living community is growing! Here are some of our reasons for choosing to downsize to 250 square feet on wheels.
1. Everything you own in one space
The condensing of all your possessions to the space that immediately surrounds your body might sound claustrophobic, but it’s actually (strangely) a major relief. Pulling out of Florida for the last time, every bit of our lives trailing behind my truck, we felt free. Now when we travel – vacations, weekend getaways, trips home to see family – it all comes with us. There is a strange comfort in the simplicity. We take everything we own with us anytime we’re hitched up. This means we don’t pack. We are always ready to go. We are like modern hobos, everything we own on a stick over our shoulder… but instead of a red bindle, it is custom cabinets and AC. Still… we’re hobos. Please believe us.
2. It forces you to stay organized
Living in less than 250 sq. ft. with two people and a large dog can be challenging. We are essentially all living in a medium sized room together full-time. To make this work, we have to be intentional in the way we live. Actually, the Airstream forces us to. We have to live by the adage, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Jackets go back in the closet, books back on the shelves, and shoes in their cubby. All of this is done immediately (Taylor tells me), or else the whole place seems disheveled. Our things have homes. In a small space like ours, there is a fine line between Instagram ready and the 5th circle of Dante’s Inferno. We are forced to stay organized. If you are organizationally challenged like I am, this might seem daunting. But I’ve actually found the ease with which our home becomes a hellscape to be a helpful inspiration – we keep it clean or it gets scary. I need the push. It gets messy quick, but it cleans up quick.
If you can’t find the motivation to keep your place clean, go tiny. We think that will change your mind .
3. Not having to commit to a single location long term.
Ok, we admit it… we have commitment issues. The idea of settling down permanently is terrifying. We’re not ready to commit to the white picket Craftsman in Mayberry at this juncture. We have grown accustomed to the way the views keep changing outside our windows even while our home inside stays the same.
For us, tiny living has always been about flexibility. Being able to move and grow without having to plant somewhere is appealing. We are like moss, growing without roots. We want the freedom to choose, and to choose repeatedly. To move to the coastline in the summers, and to the mountains when it snows – to chase the seasons around… or not. Tiny living is about options, about freedom. And Augustine is freedom in a tin can.
“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if “Thou mayest’ – it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’” – John Steinbeck, East of Eden
4. Saves money.
Let’s talk money, ‘cuz you know money talks. I’m not going to pretend we are struggling, but the post-college journey to our thirties hasn’t been nightly swims in gold coin vaults like Scrooge McDuck. I haven’t made it rain once – not once. Saving money matters, and we are conscientious about what goes out and what comes in. This mentality is what initially led us to search for an Airstream and to pursue tiny living.
Back in Florida, Taylor was paying $1,200+/month rent for a 1-bedroom apartment. Across town, I had roommates (shoutout Brad and Mac!) splitting a house at close to $1,500. We were flushing cash. Sound familiar? We didn’t want to commit to buying a house in Florida, but we also weren’t happy with how much money was being wasted each month for us simply to exist. Renting was not a viable long-term option.
So we came up with a plan. Here’s how it broke down:
Taylor had a year left on her hospital contract, meaning she would spend $14,500 on rent during that time. We decided that if we invested that same amount into something like an Airstream, we would come out on the other side with a functional asset instead of a loss. She would live in the airstream while we worked on it. We would put that potential rent money into acquiring and renovating, and we would have a year to finish.
With a little creativity (and Taylor being rad), we essentially got Augustine for free. At close to the same expenditure as we would have wasted on rent, we left Florida with a home… a chrome home. A chrome domed home in which to roam. Someone stop me…
Tiny living is an easy way to buy instead of rent. It was our solution. Heating and cooling are surprisingly cheap. Electric, trash, water, and wifi are often included in the fees at most campground areas we choose (which typically charge $300-$500/month). We now own our home – a home that costs comparatively little to maintain.
5. Less stuff, less stress.
Getting rid of your stuff feels so good! It also hurts so good too… initially. The journey to less stuff makes you question how you got to be this way in the first place. Before the transition to full time tiny living, I was like a questionably qualified museum curator. I began asking myself if I had always been materialistic.
While getting rid of collected things can be painful, it’s relieving. It is a weirdly cleansing act – especially for your mentality. The more stuff you let go, the better you feel and the easier letting go becomes. I didn’t know it then, but I was pretty attached to some of my things. Stuff started to accumulate, and by my late 20’s, there was this strange amalgamation of dishes from college and superbly garish travel trinkets, sitting alongside my first attempts at “nice” adult furniture. It was unbalanced and too much. We needed change.
While our airstream isn’t the poster-trailer for minimalism, we still trashed, sold, or donated ¾ of our previous possessions in preparation to move into Augustine. We committed to less stuff. This became a “possession purge” at the end of each month for a period of 6 months. Even now we have a semi-purge around every 3 months. Those black trash bags come out and, let me tell you, I feel lighter every time.