10 Things We've Learned
Living in our tiny house
What an Adventure
1. Just because it’s on wheels does not mean it is easy to tow.
If you plan to tow the tiny house yourself, the dimensions & weight of the home will need to be kept front of mind during the home construction process as these are major factors when considering how feasible it is to actually tow the home.
Our house specifications:
- Height: 13’6″. This seemed quite tall while passing under the various height clearances of overpasses, low-hanging electrical wires, & the ill-maintained tree branches along the more rural roads of South Texas.
- Length: 32′ bumper pull trailer. Gooseneck trailer options are also available & while they may help ease the towability of the home, there are also space considerations of how the hitch configuration options may change the layout of the interior.
- Width: 8’6″. Wider trailers require special permitting during the move.
- Weight: 18,500 pounds dry. ‘Dry weight‘ refers to the weight of the trailer without any of our belongings in it.
For us, towing was one of those things where we had no idea just how much of a bear it was going to be until we actually did it. It’s really stressful to load what few possessions you do have (essentially everything you own), into a home & tow it down the highway at 70 MPH. Even small things start to add up – like planning which gas stations & restaurants you can stop at during the road trip to safely get the home in & out of the parking lot. Our F350 dually truck, while not ideal from a fuel efficiency usage to start, required nearly double, DOUBLE, the amount of fuel to tow the home. What went from an average of about 13 MPG in the truck normally, was cut to about 7 MPG with the tiny home in tow. Needless to say, between the stress of the moving process, the cost of gas to transport ourselves, & just the general stressed-out, anxiety-riddled experience it is for us to move the home, we have decided to sell the truck & hire a professional to tow the home for our next move. While we had initially intended to tow the tiny house ourselves, that hasn’t turned out to be the best option, for us. This brings me to point number two.
2. Be flexible on configuration changes as you get used to living in the space & be open to the space speaking to you.
I think it’s fair to say that having a bit of a nomadic lifestyle to date has nurtured our creativity & open-mindedness as to how we approach our living space. Though, even after taking ample time to envision the space & what it would feel like to live in it, we have changed several things about how we live in the home since actually moving into & living in the space.
We’ve also made several lifestyle changes that have required us to be adaptable to our ever-changing journey as well. Allowing the space to adapt to us as we adapt to it has permitted us the flexibility of expression in the home that is both welcoming & comforting. As each home is, our home is uniquely ours. It works for us.
An important note: don’t lose sight of the oddities during the planning process. If you live somewhere wet & muddy, be sure to have a place to hang up your jacket & place a pair of boots. A hook for the dog leash. Comfortable places for the CPAP machine, the trash & recycle, laundry hamper, dog bed & dog bowls, a broom, & all the little bits & bobs in between. Also, consider storage for items on open shelving during the move process.
3. Maintaining a clean & relatively clutter-free home makes a difference when living in the space.
Earlier this month, we discussed Shauca, or cleanliness, with regard to our yoga & ecosex practices. Here, we highlight a more literal translation as a manner of keeping our living spaces tidy. A tiny home is, as implied, a small space. In part, I enjoy minimalism because I enjoy the experience of living in a space that feels clean, fresh, & stress & clutter-free. It’s a more enjoyable experience to live in that space than a cluttered, chaotic, messy space. Making SMART(T) changes can have a huge impact. Having fewer things around results in less clutter. Less clutter allows us to enjoy the space more. Things like electrical outlets with built-in USB ports allow us to do everyday things like charging a phone or a watch with ease & simplicity.
Also note, when living in a tiny home, a Costco membership is not your friend. Making smaller, more frequent trips to the grocery store is not only helpful from a storage perspective but also often results in fresher meals.
4. Consider water treatment & filtering options.
Water is a huge consideration when living in a tiny home. At present, we have an in-house water purifier, an in-house water softener, & give an additional layer of filtration for our drinking water through our Berkey. Well water is very common in rural south Texas. Our parking site is no exception. The water here is extremely hard after passing through the abundance of limestone in the area. In passing through the rock, it accumulates mineral deposits. For our water, this resulted in a high-level of sulfur in the water. Generally speaking, having sulfur in the water is relatively harmless, but it did result in an ‘eggy’ smell & taste.
Investing in proper filtration solutions helped to make our water smell better, taste better, and ultimately gave us more confidence in what we were ingesting.
5. Air humidity & air flow throughout the space should not be overlooked.
To me, it’s quite counter-intuitive that airflow takes a good amount of thought in the design of the tiny home. Being that it is a small space, my assumption was that there wouldn’t be a terrible amount of consideration needed to create a consistent temperature throughout the home. I was mistaken.
Since moving in, we have purchased a fan for each room which helps with temperature consistency. We’ve also purchased a couple of heaters for when the weather gets really cold. We’ve placed a rather large dehumidifier in the bathroom. Being that this room generates the most humidity, it has really helped with keeping the humidity levels in the entire house down.
Our house has two lofts. Loft one, initially our bedroom loft, has a rather large storage cabinet between the loft & the main space. This cabinet has been huge for storage but does disrupt the airflow quite a bit & generally tends to stay a bit warmer than the other spaces in our home. Ideal for my office as I run cold, but not ideal for a bedroom – especially not in south Texas in the summer. We have since switched our bed to be in the second loft, which has a half-wall opening to the main space. This creates much better airflow in that loft & generally stays cooler than loft one.
6. Composting toilet “duties”
Let’s get real y’all – a composting toilet is a fancy way of pooping in a bucket. It gets less weird, but still warrants a call-out here in this list.
Cover material, such as coconut coir, helps to keep the smell down. And taking out the toilet every few days, just as one takes out the trash every few days, can be made more eco-friendly through the use of compostable trash bags.
7. Have a plan for leveling the trailer & give special consideration to parking sites that aren’t exactly level.
The first time we tried to level our trailer it took us three days. THREE DAYS! We had no idea how uneven our parking spot was until we pulled in & spent the first two days clearing low-hanging cedar & live oak branches (refer to #1 for height considerations). Once we finally got the height clearance we needed for our trailer, we had to accommodate the natural slope of the rocky terrain to park it.
We used 8″x2″ wooden planks cut into small sections to elevate the lower side of the trailer. We placed these under the tires & trailer jacks on all sides of the trailer to add stability, with additional planks stacked on top of one another on the lower side of the trailer. Fortunately for us, this was enough to level out the trailer, but another option would be to dig out the ground under the wheels on the higher side of the trailer if additional leveling is needed. We use a combination of jacks to support our weight & stabilize. The corner jacks provide stability and the jack stands help support the weight load throughout the length of the trailer (for long-term parking).
Make a plan. Do your research. Ask questions. Prepare for what you can prepare for. Hold on to your butts for the rest!
8. You might have multiple addresses.
Mail is a bit of a thing when first getting into the tiny house lifestyle. We use Traveling Mailbox to receive the bulk of our physical mail. They give you an address to list as your mailing address, then scan in all your mail for you to view online, at which point you can download a PDF of the file, have them forward it to you, or shred the contents.
This, of course, differs from our physical address. This differentiation comes into play with employers, taxes, mail, driver’s license & vehicle registration documents, but to date has not been anything that is not readily approachable by generating a lease with the person we are renting our parking spot from.
9. Truly evaluate your appliance needs.
I had no idea how much electricity a blender used until we started to approach living in a tiny house. Giving ample consideration to your appliance needs helps to prioritize space and use resources efficiently. For us, a laundry machine was not on the must-have list. Especially the smaller ones that are so frequently used in smaller spaces. We’d be doing laundry every day! Right now, we go to the laundromat once a week and knock it out in two hours. Not only does this make it so that we are doing laundry less frequently, but we are also using less water in the process. A refrigerator is a must-have, of course. A microwave? Heads or tails. Developing the patience for re-heating leftovers in the oven requires practice, but the food really does taste better that way. Less rubbery.
10. Sex is sometimes humorous with 3’8″ ceilings.
As mentioned in #5, our bedroom is located in a loft. Naturally, the loft has abbreviated ceilings. It makes for a cozy space when we’re hanging out and relaxing or sleeping, but it can provide a bit of a challenge for sex. Bumping an elbow, or your head, on the ceiling while having a roll in the sheets is pretty standard for loft sex.
Creativity is your friend here! We’ve installed multiple anchor points throughout our house that can be used for tying or suspending, and also gives us a dedicated spot to hang our sex swing. Have sex in the office chair, or the kitchen, or the shower. We are only as limited as we tell ourselves we are.
And if you do bonk an elbow, that’s okay, too. Incorporating this approach of joy and experimentation into our tiny home brings realness and authenticity to our sexual expression.
#11 – ?…
Truthfully, I could list many more than 10 things that we have learned in our inaugural journey into tiny house living. There have been moments of frustration, anger, being overwhelmed., it’s a lot of new-ness. Perhaps even more than learning new things, we had to unlearn old ones. Old habits, or samskaras, still creep their way into our flow from time to time – we have 4 boxes of crackers in the pantry right now (see #3 re: Costco membership), but more and more, there seem to be incredible moments of growth and reflection. Of “holy crap – we’re doing it and I’m so proud of us”!!
I am absolutely certain that we will continue learning throughout this process and lifestyle choice. Perhaps that’s what I’m most proud of right now. Be it kink, tiny homes, or whatever your jam is, it’s a choice. Recognizing it as such brings intention to its execution. What a beautiful adventure. Blessings to ours, and to yours.