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My (Honest) Tiny House Journey: Stop Dreaming, Start Doing

This is a Downsizing and Tiny House Journey guest post by Mariah Coz and Jenn

Today we have an AWESOME guest post from a Tiny Transition + Downsizing Course student named Jennifer, who is having her tiny house built right now and is making tons of progress towards downsizing and getting excited to move in! In this post Jennifer explains why she was inspired to build a tiny home, the events that made her realize she couldn’t wait forever, and the hardest (and easiest) parts of her downsizing and tiny house journey.

In the Tiny Transition + Downsizing E-Course, the practical weekly lessons and private student-only forum allow you to make progress at your own pace within a group of like-minded friends on the same journey. I’ve been told that the group is a catalyst for lifelong change. That’s because we not only go through how to eliminate all sorts of crap from your life and space, but because we fundamentally change your relationship with “stuff”. It has the cascading effect of positively influencing every area of your life. When you join, you get 8 weeks of practical lessons and challenges (lifetime access), guided step by step help, lifetime access to the private class forum, accountability, support and motivation from me and your classmates, and the tools you need to simplify your home and life.

How You Can Start Your Tiny House Journey Too

JensTinyHouse3

You can learn more about Tiny Transition and Downsizing and register here. Class starts May 3rd!

I’ll let Jennifer take it over from here!

How My Inspiration for Tiny Living Began

I am building a tiny house because my friend doesn’t have cable TV.  Well… that might be skipping a couple of steps.  But my curiosity and excitement for tiny houses can be traced back to a random (or maybe not) night spent pet-sitting at a friend’s house in spring of 2014.

Tiny House Documentary on Netflix

Since they don’t have cable, I ended up surfing Netflix to find something to watch. While scrolling through the documentary section, I saw a movie called “TINY: A Story About Living Small.”  The description explained that it followed a young man and his girlfriend as they built a tiny house on a flatbed trailer.  It sounded interesting enough so I thought I’d give it a go.  I had never even heard of tiny houses beforehand.  But by the time the 66 minutes was up, my heart and mind were racing. How had I not known about this??

Why I Chose To Live Tiny

It was the perfect living situation for me.  Most importantly, I would be able to buy a home outright and be mortgage and rent free.  Yes, I could spend the same amount of money to own a tiny house that I would use as a down payment on a condo or a townhouse.  Except there’d be another $1,000 or so coming out of my account every month for the next 30 years with the latter.

Easy to Clean and Upkeep

I’ve also always been kind of OCD about everything in my home being neat and “having its place.”  I don’t like to have a lot of clutter and the idea of only owning the things that I absolutely need and really use on a daily basis, was very appealing.

Determined to Make My Dreams Come True

But the biggest appeal of the tiny house was something very timely for me. Since my mother (who was also my best friend) passed away in 2013 after a six-month battle with cancer, I have been on a mission to live my life as fearlessly and earnestly as possible.

Not only because I saw with my own eyes how quickly your life can change.  But also because I realized from reading some of my mother’s old journals, that she ran out of time before she made some of her dreams come true. It was enough to make me realize that I didn’t want to end up the same way.

So instead of just talking about building a tiny house or dreaming about it, I decided to DO it. 

JenTinyHouse1

Living Big in a Tiny House

Plus, owning a home outright would free up more of my money and time to do things outside my house like spending time with friends, traveling and marking things off my bucket list.

“I didn’t want to end up the same way. So instead of just talking about building a tiny house or dreaming about it, I decided to DO it.”

Jennifer

Before I Started Building…

The fire had been lit.  I couldn’t wait to make my tiny house a reality, so I spent the rest of the year researching floor plans and builders, collecting design ideas and pinning them to Pinterest, and learning the in’s and out’s of tiny living.

See, tiny living is a lifestyle all its own.  Everything in a tiny house has multiple purposes; you have to make the most of every bit of space you have.  Plus there are all the options for making it more environmentally-friendly and able to go off-grid.

Off-Grid Ready Tiny Living

I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t be going off-grid right away, but that it was something I was definitely interested in for the future.  I don’t have the money for solar panels or a water catchment system right now, but that is something I could add in the future. By installing a composting toilet from the very beginning, I won’t have to be tied to a sewage hook-up.

Defining My Tiny House Needs

In fact, that ended up being one of the must-have’s for my home.  Besides a composting toilet, other key features I knew I HAD to have in my tiny house were:

  • Plenty of headroom in the bedroom loft (since I’m tall and kind of claustrophobic!)
  • A staircase instead of a ladder up to the bedroom loft
  • A functional kitchen with an oven/stove and a dishwasher (since I love to cook!)
  • A bathtub in the bathroom
  • Some outdoor space
  • Lots of natural light
  • Decent amount of storage

JensTinyHouse2

I also knew that I didn’t want the “log cabiny” interior that a lot of tiny houses had, but instead wanted a cleaner, more contemporary look.  And as for the outside, I didn’t want something that could be mistaken for a shed. I wanted it to look like a real house.  Just… tiny.

I was lucky enough to find a great builder who has worked with me every step of the way and designed a house specifically for me, that will have everything I do want and leave out the things I don’t need.

Why I Chose To Hire a Builder

And since I am currently single, am recovering from some health issues and have zero construction experience, it’s best for me to have someone else build it.

Important: Preparations for Living Tiny

So now that the “foundation” (a.k.a. the trailer) for my house has been purchased and the walls are going up (literally!), it’s time for me to take on the fun part.

Downsizing!

It actually isn’t nearly as scary as some may think.  In fact, if I’m being honest, I think I’m getting a little addicted to clearing out my stuff.  Every time I add more stuff to the “yard sale pile,” I get a little high!

Getting Rid of Your Stuff

It’s just amazing to realize how much you stuff you have that you really don’t need.  The last time that I moved, I filled up one of those fairly large U-Haul trucks all by myself and I remember thinking, “How can one person have so much stuff??”

Moving into 144 Sq. Ft.

But now that I know I only have 144 square feet (yes, I said 144) to move into, it’s almost like I have permission to finally get rid of stuff!

All of the extra dishes and kitchen wares that I thought I’d use for “entertaining” (yet only use once a year, if that), all of the books and movies that I never touch, all of the clothes that I think I “might wear one day,” and probably the biggest thing for me… all of the “mementos” that I’ve been holding on to since childhood.

I am a very sentimental person and I do love holding on to nostalgic items.  But really, how many of them do I need?  Do I really have to have my communion dress, my prom dress and my graduation gown?  Stuffed animals from my childhood?  Every paper/assignment I ever did in school?

Sure, it’s fun to find old trinkets and relive some memories once in a while but when you have not two or three, but four, five and six Rubbermaid bins of stuff… it might be time to get rid of some of it.  And what I’ve found through this process and going through the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course is that I can still have the memories and the emotions in my heart and mind, even if I don’t have the physical objects anymore.

I’ve also finally been able to be honest about things that I’ve been holding onto in hopes that one day I might use them. You know… the tennis racket, the pool cue stick, the yoga mat. Do I play tennis, shoot pool or do yoga?  No. Will I one day? Maybe. But I can always borrow a racket and I’m pretty sure billiard halls still have sticks and yoga studios still have mats.

It’s all about being honest. And you know what? It feels AWESOME.

I think there’s something to be said for “cleaning out your life.” And since this has come while I’m also healing my body physically, letting go of some old emotional baggage and paying off a lot of financial debt, it couldn’t have happened at a better time for me.

Clean out my heart, my mind, my body, my wallet, the garage AND live more cleanly for the environment, all in a home that is completely paid for? Sounds good to me.

Bring on tiny living!

You can follow Jennifer and her adventure at her blog!

Jennifer is a student in the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course. If you want to join an awesome group of other friends and companions transitioning into a tinier, simpler, happier life, you can join us too. Class starts on May 3rd.

If you’re ready to get out from under your stuff, I’m ready to help you get there. This is an 8-week class that fundamentally changes your relationship with stuff and helps you de-clutter, downsize, and clear out your home and mind. I hope to see you there!

The next session of Tiny Transition and Downsizing, the 8-week e-course starts now. You can register for the class and see all the details here!

Tiny Transition + Downsizing is the 8-week course that fundamentally changes your relationship with stuff and helps you de-clutter, downsize, and clear out your home and mind, in a step-by-step zero-overwhelm environment. Registration is open for the session starting now.

Preparing to transition into a tiny home, RV, trailer or cabin? Just want to clear your space and get some sanity in your current home? This is for you.

Mariah’s 8 Week Downsizing Course

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=> Sign Up

I’ve been getting emails from students who have completed the class, and I keep hearing this one thing that’s really stood out to me:

“I’ve tried everything before – read books, articles, blogs, bought all the containers – I’ve been trying to downsize for YEARS. But nothing worked until I took this class. This was totally different. It finally clicked.”

I love that. It really gets to the heart of what this course is all about: it’s NOT a bunch of downsizing and organizing tips  – it’s a paradigm shift in how you think about stuff, clutter, mental space and physical things. It changes the way you think about “stuff” so that you can get EXCITED about getting rid of what you don’t need and start living the way you want to.

When I started the Tiny Transition and Downsizing class, I hoped that it would be helpful and motivating, but I had no idea that teaching it would allow me to witness the absolutely amazing things the class has accomplished.

Tens of thousands of items purged.

Money saved and dollars kept in pockets, instead of spent on “stuff”.

Bad habits broken and replaced with good, healthy ones.

Unfulfilling jobs and relationships told to hit the road, to make room for the new joys of living simple.

We’ve had students leave corporate jobs, hit the road in an RV, and go part-time at work so that they could spend more time volunteering or working with animals. People have cleared out ad sold their homes during the 8 weeks and actually moved into their tiny home shortly after.

I’m literally floored by the courageous and incredible things people accomplish within the group. The combination of motivation, accountability, friendship and step by step instruction that the course provides is a powerful force.

I want to invite you to be a part of the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing course.

When you sign up for Tiny Transition + Downsizing, you get:

  • 8 weeks of downsizing lessons and challenges (it’s like Downsizing bootcamp!)
  • LIFETIME access to the private class forum
  • Accountability, support, motivation and camaraderie from me and your classmates
  • The tools you need to simplify your home, mind, and LIFE starting right now.

I’ve been told that the group is a catalyst for lifelong change. That’s because we not only go through how to eliminate all sorts of crap from your life and space, but because we fundamentally change your relationship with “stuff”. It has the cascading effect of positively influencing every area of your life.

Tiny Transition E-Course 800 Button

=> Sign Up

Here’s what some recent students had to say about their experience:

“This was the most helpful and inspiring course I have ever taken! I have learned so many things, gained new friends and have become more inspired to downsize my life. My life is forever changed (all for the better) after this course! Thank you for taking the time to create and make available to us this information to improve our quality of life!” — Shelby

“This class has single-handedly changed my thinking and life. The email course is rocking my world with the “how” to do this, the access to the associated group forum is invaluable. You could lurk and never post with this group and it’ll change your thinking and life.” – Andrea Mortensen

“In fact, I am more convinced than ever that taking this course to figure out how to ease into the whole downsizing process thoughtfully and gradually was one of the best moves I could have made, especially because of all the incredible support that this group provides in so many ways.” – Jack

“Mariah’s Tiny Transition E-Course was fantastic!  She provides tons of useful tips on how to start your downsizing journey and her encouragement and support are truly amazing.  One of my favorite things about this course was the incredibly supportive and engaged online community.  This course helped me jumpstart my own downsizing journey and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my dreams.  This course will help you overcome obstacles, it will provide encouragement and it will help you succeed on your own downsizing journey!”  – Lora Higgins

“I took the challenge and am so glad I did. Even if you never “live” in a tiny house I found that the course helped me to look inside myself and found out all kinds of things about ME! I am truly grateful for the experience. You will find yourself very proud of what you will accomplish!” – Diane

Downsizing is HARD. But you don’t have to do it all alone.

The process requires you to think critically and intentionally about what you want your life to look and feel like, instead of just going through the motions of work-sleep-spend money-repeat. 99% percent of the people you meet won’t accept the challenge.

Will you?

You can join us in the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course by registering here. Class begins on March 1st! I hope to see you there!

When and How to Sign Up

This e-course is 8 weeks long and the next session begins on May 3, 2015. Sign up now to save your spot (space is limited)! If you want to join us, see all the details here: http://tinyhousetalk.com/downsizingecourse.

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=> Sign Up Here.

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Mariah lives in a 1960's vintage trailer that she renovated herself to be eco-awesome and off-the-grid. Her home is also a mobile classroom. Mariah currently spends most of her time in Worcester, MA and Vermont. Mariah holds a certificate in Sustainable Design/Build, has a degree in Tiny Houses (no kidding!). When she isn't traveling the country researching tiny houses, or towing her tiny vintage home around teaching workshops and doing tours, she's at home philosophizing and scheming about the future of tiny houses and planning widespread tiny house domination. You can see what she's up to and get in touch over at www.cometcamper.com.
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Michael Ostaski May 3, 2015, 2:07 pm

    Lookin really good-!! I like the contemporary look as well for the inside there was a sweet tiny home just recently on this site thst had a nice clean interior, check it out if you all ready have not, also look at my interior work with my house trucks-!! look under my name and keep up the great work good luck,,, MO

  • Drew May 3, 2015, 2:17 pm

    One thing that I dont see put first and formost in most “tiny house” articles, which is very disingenuous, is that living tiny is NOT RENT FREE!! First tell me where you will find rent free land to plant a home you can’t move very often without expense and you have to be in compliance with local laws. What are most people with these homes doing? As far as I know, is 10% or less of the market is Tiny home building or buyers. The only thing I’ve heard of is someone making an “arrangement” with friends or family to squat on their property or make a deal to RENT for less.

  • Barbara LeSure May 3, 2015, 4:38 pm

    Love this!! Just down-sized from house to three-bedroom apt, now, one-bedroom (now more kids@’home’). Feels great!! I love the freedom!! Husband is a pack-rat (hoarder), but working on him! Going thru to get rid of more ‘stuff’ – clothes, mainly!

  • Varenikje May 3, 2015, 10:39 pm

    Any chance that this class will be offered again? It does look like something I would be interested in, but right this second isn’t a good time for me.

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