Drew and I decided to start dating while inside an igloo we built in my side yard. Where we live we don’t usually get much snow, but that year we got around two feet, so as any college students on break would do, we built a 6ft wide by 8ft tall igloo that defied all forms of physics. We made jokes about living in it – where the kitchen would go, if we could rent it out as a bed and breakfast to the neighborhood dogs, etc. But what we didn’t realize was that five years later we’d want to build something only a tad bigger to actually live in – an 18-foot long tiny house on wheels.
We both recently graduated from college and have been trying to plan our next step. We’ve explored the idea of living in an apartment, getting full-time jobs to support said apartment, maybe later buying a house with a $1,200/month mortgage in a nice neighborhood, and, if we’re lucky, have some money leftover for retirement. In college, I majored in filmmaking and Drew majored in creative writing with plans to become a teacher, so while we were following our passions, we didn’t exactly pick the most lucrative careers. This made it so, like many people our age today, we couldn’t even afford the American Dream if we wanted to. I’m in my early twenties; I don’t want to settle down into a job that only gives me two weeks of vacation time a year. I want to have the freedom to travel to other countries and learn about different cultures, try to understand life’s both big and small questions, and explore the world.
When I came across the tiny house movement, I was immediately inspired by Jay Shafer’s work. Tiny houses are broadly defined as living spaces under 400 square feet. They’re a more green living option, since they utilize fewer resources to run and have a smaller environmental impact on the planet. They are also more cost effective and provide the freedom to live more freely financially than be stuck in a long-houred job to pay huge mortgage bills. It will also allow me to live the minimalist lifestyle I’ve been craving. By limiting the amount of things I have, I have more freedom to focus on my family, friends, and passions.
I talked to Drew, we attended a tiny house workshop, and now we are going to build one on our own. We bought plans for an 18’ tiny house, and are going to make some modifications, including bumping out the front so the door is flush with the front side, and adding a fold-down porch. The house will be about 7ft wide and sit on an 18-foot trailer. This way we can transport it with us if we go to grad school, or wherever else the wind blows us. This provides the flexibility we’ve been deeply searching for.
What separates us from many other tiny houses is that we want to do it as green as possible. For example, instead of fiberglass or Styrofoam insulation, which at the ends of its life will end up in a landfill and will never fully deteriorate, we want to use wool insulation, which can be composted. We want to use sustainable materials, which while are often more expensive, are worth it to us in the long run. It aligns with our life values.
We’ve both been working hard to earn money to support this build – from selling the majority of our possessions and working at our day jobs, to doing odd jobs wherever we can find them. We’re keeping a tight budget of our finances, and have been scouring places like Habitat for Humanity and Freecycle for reclaimed materials. It’s been a challenge thus far, but it’s been gratifying as well. Throughout the project we’ll be regularly updating this blog on our progress, providing tips and documenting our journey. If you’d like more details on the particulars of our build, for instance, answering the question as to what the heck we are going to use for a toilet, our blog will provide those vibrant details. Thanks for joining us on this crazy adventure of ours, living life up over the hitch.