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Tiny House Living Transitions: Making the Decision to Leave the Tiny Life Behind

Article by Laura LaVoie

What is the permanence of the tiny house living? Do people move into tiny spaces and live there for the rest of their lives? Since the movement is still rather young I imagine that we have not yet reached that moment of maturity when first generation of tiny dwellers begin to consider their next move. I was certain that stories had to be out there of people who made the decision to leave tiny behind so I searched and found three tiny house builders who made the decision to move.

Almost a year ago Zoey from Living Tiny 365 posted that after some changes in her life she was moving from her Lusby into a condo with her new partner. The condo, she said, was still small at 700 square feet and that her daughter was planning to move into the tiny house. I reached out to Zoey to find out more about her life since the decision to move out of her tiny house but I have not yet heard from her. Zoey, we would love to hear the next chapter in your story so please reach out if you see this.

Zoey's Tiny House: Moving Out

Photo Credit Zoey, http://www.livetiny365.com/

Collin and Joanna, a young couple who documented their tiny house build at their blog Our Wee House announced in January that they were expecting a baby and putting their newly built Fencl on the market. In spite of his busy new life with a brand new baby boy, Collin took a few moments to answer some questions for me. I asked if they missed living in the tiny house. “We do and we don’t miss living in it. Where the house was situated when we were living it was quite far out of town. Through the process we realized again that we love being around people. Where we live now is right in the city and we love it.” But they don’t regret their tiny house experience. “I am so glad that we did it but for us it was for a season. Some people can really strip down there stuff and we did, but not for it to work. It may have been different if we had our own land. Not sure. We have things like several musical instruments and a winter wardrobe.” I asked if they would consider another form of alternative building and Collin expressed an interest in an Earthship for their next project. They still haven’t sold their tiny house, so if you are in the market for a Fencl, and are near the Ontario Canada area, you might want to consider their tiny house. 

Collin and Joannas Tiny House on Wheels Now for Sale!

Photo Credit Collin & Joanna, http://www.ourweehouse.com

I was also able to talk with Jonathan, whose LiveJournal is a great first person account of all the ups and downs of the tiny house journey. I’ve known Jonathan online for years, bonding over a common origin from the mitten state of Michigan and our shared love of tiny homes. Earlier this year Jonathan had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave his tiny house behind but began a new adventure in Eugene Oregon.  “In June of 2009 I started building my tiny house with the hope of one day being able to live in it on a plot of wooded land (just a couple acres) out in the country.  Building it turned out to be the easy part – as was actually living in it.  Being allowed to live in it was the issue, as the county in which I lived in Southeast Michigan, as well as all of the counties surrounding it, all declared dwellings under 960 square feet to be uninhabitable.  I spoke to code officials, zoning officials, and went to town hall meetings in several townships before finally realizing that the laws and bureaucracy were stacked against me.  Not wanting to abandon my dream, I purchased some land anyway and parked my tiny house far enough back in the trees so that it couldn’t be seen from the street.  Unfortunately, it could be seen by the neighbor, who told me (on the day I closed on the property) that he had wanted my land.  A few months later, I discovered that he had reported my tiny house to the zoning board, and the code officials stuck a notice on my door saying I was in violation of the law.”

Jonathan's Tiny Home on Wheels

Photo Credit Jonathan, http://gungy.livejournal.com/

Unlike Zoey and Collin, Jonathan didn’t choose to move out of his tiny house. However, he said that if he had not been forced to make the change he would not have embarked on his current adventure. Jonathan left his tiny house in Michigan and followed the famed Oregon Trail out west, a move he is very glad that he made. But was the fate of his house? “My tiny house is currently still on the property in Michigan.  It’s perfectly legal for me to leave it there; I just can’t live in it there.  Yes, see, it is fully within my rights to buy the land and do whatever I want with it – neglect it, trash it, whatever.  However, I am not allowed to live on it and take care of it because my house is too small.”  Jonathan doesn’t plan to be without his tiny house forever. He is currently looking into his options to move his tiny house out west, so I promise I will follow up with his story.

People who build and live in tiny spaces are unconventional by nature. Life is forever changed by the tiny house experience. Even though they may have shifted gears they haven’t altered their new way of thinking. I know tiny living has changed me immeasurably. I want to see more stories out there. Do you know anyone who has built a tiny house but doesn’t live there anymore? Send them our way to share their experience.

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Alex is the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. Send in your story and tiny home photos so we can share and inspire others towards simplicity too. Thank you!

{ 122 comments… add one }

  • Kathleen February 14, 2014, 9:45 pm

    This is what is so frustrating about wanting to build a tiny house. If you end up moving somewhere you have to make sure that you are zoned for the home on the land. It is funny, because I have just made the decision to build my tiny home (it will take me a while to save up, but I being 27, I suppose I have some time) and my Mom was not exactly warm to the idea. She was fine with me living small, being the eco-nut that I am, she just wanted me to be on a foundation, not on wheels. However, she told me yesterday that she is coming around the idea of my future tiny home on wheels that she wants to buy me a piece of small property to put it on, so that I can have a small garden, some famr animals (if I want) etc. Hopefully, since I am going to be an environmental attorney, that’s the plan anyway, I will be able to have my dream of a tiny house sooner rather than later. It is my hope that these restrictions will be changed no matter where we tiny house enthusiasts choose to live (I have sympathy for the MI gentleman, as I currently live there, too).

    Great blog! Love it!

    • Alex Pino February 16, 2014, 10:43 am

      Thanks Kathleen! Best wishes

  • Mary April 9, 2014, 2:21 pm

    I live in 300 sf… down from 600 last year… down from 1800 two years ago. I’m glad for the experience of living small for lessons I learned about organization and necessity, but I hope to move on soon. I don’t care for 1800 sf, and never did. But room for guests, for exercise, for tools, for cooking… I miss those things. Other things I’ve learned I’ll probably never miss: ovens, large fridges, stuff for the sake of stuff. If I build, it will be something around 600 sf with a garage. If I buy…. we’ll see. This area’s homes are often too large for comfort, but there are a few that would be about right. We’ll see what the year brings.

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