Our journey to simple living and self-sustainability started years before we decided it was time to leave the city – we just didn’t realize it. There were pieces here and there in both of our backgrounds that had not totally come together to give us that “ah-ha” moment of what we wanted in this lifetime. And we certainly never planned to go tiny. This wasn’t even a thought just a few years ago.
Back in Florida, we were tired of working 50 to 60 hours a week on top of hours of commute time every day. It seemed like there was never enough time for the fun stuff in life – gardening, woodworking, cooking, just hanging out. When we tried to be rock stars and pull it all off, we just exhausted ourselves. At that point, the reality was that work was the first priority, and sometimes the only priority, and that’s just the way it was.
We eventually realized that we needed a change and honestly, we yearned for a drastic change. In 2015, we decided we would move somewhere with four seasons and somewhere less crowded. We wanted mountains more than anything we had ever wanted. In 2016, we landed in North Idaho.
Sounds dreamy, but for us it wasn’t so simple as picking up and leaving. We were pretty rooted in Florida. Erick was born and raised there and I had lived there for over 10 years. It took more than a year of preparation to make a move like this – 2,800 miles away from our little bungalow in Florida.
Once we started pricing things out so that we could budget the move, we realized that we just could not stomach the one-time expense of moving all the stuff we had accumulated. I estimated it would take about $6,000 for us to move across country and that was by doing it ourselves. I can’t even imagine what a moving company would have cost. Additionally, there would be expense from storing this stuff for years until we could built a cabin. When I told Erick the numbers, it wasn’t even much of a discussion – pretty quickly, he said, “That’s it. We’re buying a cargo trailer for half the cost and if it doesn’t fit, we can’t bring it.” I was …. pretty shocked …. and excited! We scaled down so much “stuff” and we almost became addicted to getting rid of material things that really served no purpose. We felt our minds begin to unclutter as we continued to sell and donate all the way down to only enough purposeful things that would fit in the cargo trailer.
And that was just the beginning of our transition to live more simply, more minimally. Ideas were really coming together for us. We needed something to live in when we landed. I mean it really comes down to Day 1 in Idaho on bare land – what are you going to do? We went back and forth on lots of ideas – RVs, sheds that you can turn into a tiny house, yurts, a rental house or apartment. We even considered tent camping for the long-term. There are some pretty spiffy four-season tents out there that can accommodate woodstoves. We were prepared to make sacrifices that would benefit us for the long-term. But we were also concerned with what the best investment would be and with that, we chose to buy a 200 square foot shed and convert it into a tiny cabin.
Converting a shed into a tiny cabin was the best option for us and this is how we landed on tiny living. It would have been nice to build a tiny cabin from the foundation up but as with any project, it’s usually time, cost, or quality driving your decisions – in our case it was time. As I mentioned, it really comes down to Day 1 – what are you going to do? And we didn’t want to spend any more time than we had to living in a tent, which turned out to be seven weeks while Erick built out the inside of the tiny cabin to be a custom and functional living space for us.
Living tiny is a blessing for so many reasons. It simplifies our daily life:
- It takes minimal time to clean. Erick and I can knock out a serious clean session in 30 minutes. Our small house in Florida took me six to seven hours to clean, usually taking up my Saturday morning and afternoon.
- With the wood stove and no oven in the cabin, our electric bill is teeny tiny. Our first bill for 10 days of the cycle was $15.49. For real! Our electric bill in Florida was always at least $400 – year- round.
- We spend more time outside. We live on a beautiful 1-acre plot of land across from the Pend Oreille River where the river feeds into to Lake Pend Oreille. We are obsessed with listening to the sound of water and watching all the beautiful birds, including bald eagles!
- Living tiny makes our life more about people and experiences and less about stuff. We give serious thought to what we need to spend our money on. Our spending habits have really changed since we decided to live tiny. When it comes to spending money on non-essentials, we are more inclined to spend money on adventures whether a camping trip or just getting out to see friends than to spend it on stuff that will just become physical and mental clutter.
- Speaking of money – we OWN this tiny cabin free and clear. That’s right, we do not have a big mortgage holding us down for decades. And in just a few more years, we will be debt-free because of this lifestyle.
We have lived in the tiny cabin for almost a year now. And you may be wondering, is this something we plan to continue? Absolutely. And at the same time, we do want to build a bigger cabin but it will still be only about 600 square feet. Living tiny has taken ahold of us. We’re hooked to this minimal lifestyle.
How tiny would you go or have you gone? Leave a comment below.
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