There aren't many friends that I've written about on my blog by name, but my friend Cara is one of them. I wrote about her and her husband's Xtracycle, about visiting them in their teeny tiny home, and shared a guest post that she wrote about how they made living in a teeny tiny home work for them.
When you become well known for something rare and considered extreme by many, and then your lifestyle changes, it makes people curious about why your lifestyle changed, and how you're adjusting to it. In that spirit, here's a guest post Cara wrote about why and how they moved to a larger home. Their home, now, is even bigger than my home!
Just a note- Cara wrote this a little while ago, but took some time to get it to me, as she had a healthy beautiful baby girl in March, who has been keeping her busy.
Tiny House Living: An Update
When I last wrote of how we made tiny house living work, we had a very different living situation. My husband worked in the city and it made sense to stay where he could bike to work for free rather than have to spend money on a cab or bus. As I mentioned in that other post, I needed to be in the city for medical reasons that thankfully are no longer relevant. And, because my husband's job promoted him and gave him a raise, which included free use of a car, we were no longer bound to bus schedules or ability to bike.
So we moved out of the city.
We're now in a suburb about 45 minutes away from the city (maybe up to an hour and a half by car in rush hour), and from our 270-foot, 700-dollar apartment in the city, we have moved to a two-bedroom apartment that is 592 square feet, for exactly the same rent, 700 dollars! We are probably spending a bit more on communal building maintenance fees, but that may honestly be mitigated by things like less spent on electricity (every room in this house has windows! In our old place the bedroom didn't have any, so if I wanted to be there, ever, I needed to turn on the light) and groceries (I remember noting that mayonnaise was something like 75 cents cheaper here than there, and even within the suburb itself, because there are two grocery stores in easy walking distance rather than the one I had before, I can do a lot more price-comparison).
Naturally, moving itself is expensive, but we did what we could to cut costs. One of the biggest expenses, of course, is furnishing a much bigger apartment. My husband built bookshelves, for the third time since we've been married, and our landlady gave us a recliner and a bedside table. We dumpster-dived a second clothes rack, so now I can cycle laundry more efficiently, setting up both clothes racks in the second bedroom. The biggest expense, I think, other than the moving itself, was that we finally bought a couch, and I splurged on that rather than finding a used one for free or cheap because the one we found online during a sale was the same one my husband had had when he was younger, and he really liked it, and I wanted him to be able to have it again.
The best part of why we chose to move to a bigger place, rather than finding another tiny house for much cheaper than 700 dollars, is that we're expecting! That, more than anything, was why I wanted to move specifically to this community: our neighbors in our old place were perfectly nice, but all older and non-English-speaking (and not all of them spoke English or the local language!). I found during our time there that an “older” community just doesn't have some of the same conveniences that communities like this one, or Penny's, has. There are email lists here, and Facebook groups, where people are always giving things away for free or wanting to trade things, and hardly a day goes by that I don't see a “meal train” set up for a family who just had a baby or something. So, by moving to where I can easily find free things online, I've picked up a crib, mattress, sheets, changing table, bouncer, and a few different baby carriers (plus Penny's cloth diapers, of course!). I won't have to cook much or rely on expensive convenience food when the baby gets here.
And when I'm ready to look for a job again (mine ended for reasons beyond my control and I haven't been able to look for a new one just now), I'll have a lot more options, especially since I'll want to be home with my baby if I can, and there are any number of English-speakers here who might want to pay me to watch their babies in addition to my own, which I wouldn't have had space for in any of my previous apartments. Or I could work online from home again, and be able to save money that I couldn't save before, since I always needed the light on if I was working after sunset (which most of these jobs require). And if I wanted to work out of the house, there are any number of English-speakers who I could work for, and I could stick to morning hours and have my husband take care of the baby before he starts his shift in the afternoon, and then we're not spending money on babysitting.
It's actually kind of weird to have this much space. Penny told me once that if she had to choose one thing to associate with me, it would be tiny house living, since that's all I've ever had in the nearly five years I've been married (and she met me at my wedding). So by moving to what a lot of people would call a regular-sized place, or maybe even small by some people's standards, I feel like I've lost part of my identity! But I know this is what's best for us right now.