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Man Simplifies into Off-Grid Micro Cabin Life in California

When you think of tiny house living, I’m not sure exactly what comes to mind. But if you’re thinking simplicity, affordability, and freedom…

This man has built that life for himself. It started with a $950 micro home on a trailer that he bought on Craigslist. And it’s evolved into a wonderful micro homestead in California. Rob Greenfield has appropriately named his new micro house the Teeny Greeny.

Some may think he’s crazy… That he’s lost it, right? But you and me can both see that he’s happy. In fact, some of us might even feel a little bit of envy as he lives a lifestyle with almost no bills and no worries. He seems to have complete freedom, happiness, and radiant health… And the financial cost for this life? Next to nothing. Yet he seems to be living at a level of abundance that trumps over the average life of today’s millionaires and upper class citizens because he’s stress-free and gets to live his life on his own terms.

On top of that, he has created a beautifully functional homestead with a gorgeous outdoor bathroom, outdoor kitchen, and an area in the yard he calls his bird nest where he relaxes, reads, and enjoys the ocean view. You’ve got to see it to really understand it so please enjoy and re-share below. Thank you!

Man Simplifies into Off-Grid Micro Cabin Life in California

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Images © Rob Greenfield

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Images © Rob Greenfield

Video: Rob Greenfield’s Abundantly Simple Life

Rob Greenfield, you are an amazing modern example of being the change you want to see in the world. Thanks for being fully you and sharing it too. May life continue to bless you sir!

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 66 comments… add one }
  • Matt
    July 1, 2015, 1:44 pm

    I like that it’s getting him back to bare living…but this is gone too far imo

  • Carlos
    July 1, 2015, 3:05 pm

    This is nonsense. The concept of shelter MUST be protection from the elements. What does Mr Greenfield do when “nature calls” and at the same time Nature rages? Does he even own a chamber pot? Anybody can sleep a tool shed, but it don’t make it home…

  • Keith G
    July 1, 2015, 3:06 pm

    Yeah, the relevance of this one is along the line of those “man turns eyelids inside out” stories. Where’d he get the property with the ocean view? Mom’s back yard? And how would that outside kitchen and bathroom play out in, say, Ohio? And… wouldn’t it be nice to… oh, I don’t know… stand up in your house? Certainly, this proves: different strokes for different folks!

    • Matt
      July 1, 2015, 4:50 pm

      This type of thing more than likely hurts the tiny living movement more than anything. This is why restrictons are so tight in some places, because this looks like hobo living more than a home.

  • Tom Zollinger
    July 1, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Matt. No. Sorry. This is not “too far.” It is instructive, inspirational and intelligent. No, I will not try to duplicate it, but it is nice to see what can be done. As I age, more of my social security goes to the medicos. Mr Greenfield has shown me how to stretch my food and shelter dollar.

  • Rue
    July 1, 2015, 3:24 pm

    Good for him for having the courage to live the life he chooses.

    Which, the video makes clear, would require enough land for a compost heap and garden; a climate where outdoor living is feasible; and a bike-friendly community….at the least.

    Even so, this seems less like living and more like permanent camping to me. The only thing separating this living situation from third-world conditions is that he has clean drinking water and is managing his own sanitation. I didn’t see a shower anywhere, either – likely he is using someone else’s facilities for that.

    Which is all to say: his lifestyle may look idyllic, but is not as simple as it looks, nor even very practical for very many people.

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:30 pm

      He doesn’t shower traditionally.. He gets pretty creative and still gets the job done.

  • Nanny M.
    July 1, 2015, 3:26 pm

    Just goes to show how different people’s needs can be. He needs less than most people and seems very happy and proud of his creation. Pretty impressive how he has made it work. Kind of a luxury campsite.

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:27 pm

      He just needs a hot tub, right? 😀

  • max
    July 1, 2015, 3:34 pm

    It’s not practical for most people because he is living on someone else’s land. Not sure how he works the deal out with the home owner (maybe that’s the owner in the last picture ;). Otherwise the codes are impossible to work with. There already exists a house on that property that has passed code, but him advertising his life has potential for zoning regulators to question it. Neat though, and I sure hope this movement makes zoning more friendly though. Also never talked about how he showers.

  • Lisa Marie
    July 1, 2015, 3:37 pm

    I think it’s beautiful! When you live in a warm climate and don’t want to spend much time inside, how much do you really need? Not to mention that most people don’t spend a lot of time actually standing inside their home (gotta admit that most homes are a place to zone out in front of the tube or sleep after slaving all day to pay for the darn thing and the stuff it stores that are rarely used, neither of which require much head room). That his living space extends to the outside… Cooking outside is great, not to mention the glory of having a view of the sky whilst performing morning absolutions! Looks to me that all of his needs are met!

    Note to those who have commented in the negative for this article and all others: if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all! This site is for inspiration and information, full of tidbits to be used if it is beneficial to you. Making assumptions and judgments regarding how people get their space and how their life works is not only putting negative energy into the universe, but makes you look like a scared and immature individual. Relax! Move on!

    Thank you for posting this, Alex. I live on a beautiful 24′ school bus and hope to build an outdoor kitchen and loo here in Portland, Oregon sometime soon. It’s amazing how little we actually NEED and how much we gain when we think (and live) outside of the box!

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:25 pm

      Thanks for the kind words and thoughts Lisa! We’d all love to see your 24′ school bus sometime if you ever want to share it just send over pics/info to [email protected] and I’d be honored to post it up sometime 🙂

  • July 1, 2015, 3:47 pm

    Many comments on the tiny house stories get filtered through personal experience/preference and therefore get “critiqued” . Maybe that’s the human condition. The Teeny Greeny story is about one guy in one location experimenting with his own lifestyle. He never said it should be legislated for the rest of us! Henry David Thoreau went to Walden as a personal experiment to reflect upon simple living. He had no intention of it being forever nor did he say it was what everyone else had to do. Kudos to you Rob for tryin’ on something different and sharing it with the rest of us! Thanks too Alex for another interesting post!

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:04 pm

      Well said and thank you! Exactly. It’s not like he’s going to do it forever, but he is obviously enjoying it very much and I’m so happy for him.

  • Ruth Vallejos
    July 1, 2015, 3:58 pm

    I like that this is more of a settlement of tiny buildings than a house. It makes it easy to grow and change and afford. It really is a nicer version of an encampment you might find under a freeway. And therefore, he’s not living in 50 sq. ft, but more like 500 or more.

    But speaking of affordability, or feasibility for that matter, unless he bought that lot, and squared everything away with the powers that be, I really think he’s living off the largesse of the community around him. It’s not quite off the grid, really, nor is it up to code. Can you imagine most neighbors reaction to him pooping outside? What is this like for the neighbor closest to the fence?

    I’m glad he’s deliriously happy, but I can’t see imposing my “encampment” on an established neighborhood.

    • Comet
      July 1, 2015, 10:31 pm

      Sssssshhhh! Don’t tell any one he is using rainwater–he does not OWN that water according to some sources I have read about—

      But yeah–where IS he GETTING that water FROM?

      And–yeah-=-=-nobody had better be pooping in the open next to MY fence—and heading this as some guy living in a 10 x 5 FOOT space–misleading.

      I think it is–interesting–and I have done the same in primitive CAMPSITES–but–really? The sq footage here is many times what was listed—he seems to have a nice set up for the way he is doing it but—hardly living in a “Tiny House” more like SLEEPING in a tiny box. With several OTHER spaces set up for food prep; cooking; storage; clean up; “bathroom facilities” (which surely will get him booted if not arrested!) —I am really surprised that this is in CA and not in Portland tho.

  • Libby
    July 1, 2015, 4:19 pm

    I admire his simplicity. Much too primitive for me.

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:22 pm

      I admire it too. Probably too primitive for me. But in the right time, in the right area with the right scenery I might just go for it too!

  • John Day
    July 1, 2015, 4:32 pm

    It’s cool. You can tell Rob’s life is not about his abode, but his abode reflects a minimalist philosophy of life.
    Did you notice the bamboo frame bike?
    Yeah, that’s a pretty special piece.

  • Beachguy
    July 1, 2015, 5:06 pm

    I was felling a little sorry for him until I saw his girlfriend.

  • AL
    July 1, 2015, 5:11 pm

    I do think it is great. To each his own. Simplicity & Freedom are priceless. Personally, I think it is a great idea & life. If people are bothered by his simplicity & daring to do things outside what what many people consider “the norm”, then that is sad. He is living his own life. More power & blessings to him! 🙂

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:21 pm

      Exactly, thanks Al. He’s not hurting a fly doing what he’s doing.

  • Dane
    July 1, 2015, 5:36 pm

    So…as I am scrolling down though the photos of his simple and enviable life, I was thinking…yeah, but you’re never going to interest a lady living like that! Oops.

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:00 pm

      LOL, right? Rob is currently a living example of the beauty in just being yourself, and being true to yourself and not worrying about what others think. Without even ‘trying’ the right person will be attracted to you, and have no ‘issues’ with you. I think it’s awesome.

  • JB
    July 1, 2015, 5:45 pm

    I love how Rob has used the inside & the outside space. Living in California affords the opportunity to create such a life. A garden, rain water capture, using the sun, affordable shelter — a beautiful solution to living the life you want.

  • Adina Hirschmann
    July 1, 2015, 5:49 pm

    Way too primitive for any kind of civilized permanent living. No indoor plumbing. Looks more like a homeless encampment. The open outhouse and makeshift outdoor cooking without running water would not pass ANY code inspections, no matter how generous, in whatever municipality of the USA where it’s located. I agree with Max and Matt about this making anything related to tiny living look bad to the powers-that-be. This is not typical of what I’ve seen on this site.

    • Alex
      July 1, 2015, 6:20 pm

      I doubt it’s permanent! In fact, he’s temporarily camping there. That’s all.

    • AL
      July 1, 2015, 9:07 pm

      I think one’s definition of “civilized” is debatable. I personally believe living in simplicity, freedom, & harmony with nature is much more “civilized” than some other ways of Living. Just because one does not agree with another being’s choice of THEIR way of life, does not mean it is “uncivilized”. The level of “civilization” of codes may also be debatable. I agree: live & let live peacefully, to each their own. Simplicity is quite civilized in many’s point of view.

    • Varenikje
      July 2, 2015, 8:28 pm

      I dunno. I have lived in some fairly fancy schmancy neighborhoods with lotsa covenants. I don’t think the phrase “live and let live” is in their repertoire.

  • Tim
    July 1, 2015, 5:53 pm

    I’m always amazed at the type of negative comments that come up. I usually get the feeling that they come from jealous people that don’t know how, or can’t, do these things. Just something beneath their social status.
    If this guy figured out a way to live the way he wants give him a break. Give him credit, not condemnation.

    July 1, 2015, 6:19 pm

    EVER HEARD THE SAYING LIVE AND LET LIVE. Why do so many Americans critcize every one else, but keep their mouth shut when it comes to themselves? Ever been out of this country? Other than travel films i mean.
    Americans are so small minded that it’s no wonder others from “overseas” think we are rude and boreish humans. if it’s not our way than it “HAS TO BE” the wrong way to do something. god open your eyes and minds people, learn to live TOGETHER on this shrinking planet. SO WHAT if it’s NOT THE WAY YOU THINK it should be done, at least he’s DOING something about his life, not like those who sit and complain and never DO ANYTHING about stuff. ! grow up expand your tiny minds, SEE the world how it is for once.!!! stop hiding behind all you righteous, judgemental, attitudes. Now i feel better letting off some steam.

  • two crows
    July 1, 2015, 6:33 pm

    Wow! What a happy way to live. He managed to bow out of the rat race. And more power to him!

    He’s in SAN DIEGO and managing to live on rainwater? THESE days? What? Is he Mr. Miracle Man, or what?

    I see a few nay-sayers above. Hey! He’s found what works for him. So what if not everyone would want to live this way? Lots of folks say the same thing about us who wish to live tiny. Here’s an idea: live and let live. What a concept!

  • Gloria
    July 1, 2015, 6:56 pm

    In San Diego there are probably plenty of opportunities to swim and pools usually have showers.

    • Varenikje
      July 2, 2015, 8:22 pm

      In Hawaii, many beaches have showers. Maybe that is true where this house is.

  • Theo
    July 1, 2015, 7:00 pm

    Outdoor toilet. Outdoor cooking. Might as well just live in a tent.

    • Jaykay
      July 2, 2015, 7:08 am

      Actually, his creativity is amazing!

  • Happy Hank
    July 1, 2015, 8:03 pm

    A neat way to live in that climate. However, I was really expecting to see how to live in 50 sq/ft . That would be about a 4ft by 12ft box on a trailer.

  • Cahow
    July 1, 2015, 8:42 pm

    Oh, my. Words just escape me…

    All I can politely say is “N.I.M.B.Y.”

    • Varenikje
      July 2, 2015, 8:18 pm

      Lesse…”Not in my back yard,” right?

    • Cahow
      July 2, 2015, 8:33 pm

      You’re correct, V.

  • July 1, 2015, 9:22 pm

    Hi all!
    This is Rob Greenfield from the story. Even though what I’m doing may be a bit extreme for you I hope that maybe you got a little bit out of this whether it just be that we can all use water more consciously, or grow some of our own food, or just be happy with the simple things in life. I’m not saying this life is for everyone but it is excellent for me and I am living in a manner that is actually beneficial to the earth, my community, and myself. I hope to inspire others to do so as well in whatever way works for them.
    To answer some other questions like who’s yard it is, do I pay rent, etc you can check out http://www.robgreenfield.tv/TheTeenyGreenyFAQ
    Happiness, health, and freedom to you all!

  • Sue Gentry
    July 1, 2015, 9:29 pm

    First and foremost–this waaaaay too primitive for me. If I get a tiny house–I want more spacious atmosphere and regular accommodations, as in running water for a shower at least and a regular kitchen, sink, and the like. NO-I would not fit into this scheme of tiny living at all!!!

  • Dee
    July 1, 2015, 9:38 pm

    Simple yet functional. My only ? Being what happens when it rains. How do you cook outside and use the loo? Would have to have some protection from the elements. A simple solar shower would do the trick. 2 gallons water will wash and do long hair. That’s an easy solution for shower. But got to have some kind of rain roof

    • Alex
      July 2, 2015, 10:31 am

      I’m pretty sure he finds a way to work around the weather. He seems pretty in tune with what’s going on around him.

    • Renee Davis
      July 1, 2017, 8:07 pm

      Did not mean to flag comment. His plan is similar to mine. I have an acre big island of Hawaii. I will have a small cabin approximately 12×26. But living will be mostly outside on lanai(covered living area). Kitchen outside on lanai so as not to heat up off grid home. Outhouse and kitchen with running water from catchment (pump solar/wind powered). Inside small living area for rainy days and bedroom with lg closet/storage area. When finished hope to contact Alex….
      Total plan to add 2more Ohana tinies for when my grown children visit. My son wants a Japanese style with shosugi bon siding and convertable floor couch bed.

  • Rod Cullins
    July 1, 2015, 9:57 pm

    When I move off grid, it’s going to be so far out, it’ll take people days to find me. I want my next door neighbor to be at least five miles away. But I’m really impressed that Rob has carved a niche for himself in the city he so obviously loves. Good on ya, Dude!

  • mary
    July 1, 2015, 10:13 pm

    Wonderful! Whose to say where the line is for others? If one person in this world can simply be happy, that is a contribution to all of us. He is harming no one, he’s happy, he’s contributing. He’s using so much less of the world’s resources than most of us. There are millions of people in this world who would think this nothing less than paradise – while so many of us drive the environment toward calamity. Thank you Rob.

  • Bob
    July 1, 2015, 11:09 pm

    He’s camping. If I was to do that I’d camp deep in the woods with a good rifle and hunt. Find a stream that’s clean and safe to drink or boil water if needed. Personally, don’t want a girlfriend, women are all crazy.

  • Lynnette
    July 2, 2015, 2:16 am

    Dude, you’re a BEAST!!! This is awesome. Come up with a shower process in your outside bathroom. That would be perfect! My shower cap off to you!

  • Mimi
    July 2, 2015, 8:45 am

    Wow! Pretty awesome! I give you lots of props being able to live like this! Love the outdoor potty but you totally need a shower, no? Good job! 🙂

  • stacey
    July 2, 2015, 10:12 am

    I used to camp off grid in a camper on 7 acres for weekend getaways and I loved it. This reminds me of those times and how I wished I could take a whole summer and live there. It’s his life, let him live it on his terms. As long as the contents of the loo is disposed of responsibly and in a timely manner, who is he hurting? Good luck, mate 🙂

  • dea
    July 2, 2015, 10:51 am

    I’m thinking…and thinking…I rather like it, I like the fact he’s not doing the same thing everyone is doing, and the challenge of how to-etc is not the challenge but a journey…I love his constitutional fortitude as is, Amen…

  • Jeff
    July 3, 2015, 1:23 am

    I love this guy…

    • Alex
      July 3, 2015, 9:10 am

      Me too 😀

  • Steve in Palm Bay
    July 4, 2015, 8:51 pm

    I do love the concept. …and while yes, the entire area is much larger than the 50 s.f. of just the lodging….it is still fun to see. Obviously this won’t work for everyone. …but it works for him and that is what counts here. I can imagine that if the neighbors were aware that they would be on speed-dial to code enforcement. But I really don’t see the harm in living as you please if no one else gets hurt.

    This wouldn’t too well where I live in Florida….the summer monsoons here would hamper cooking….but hey, life is full of choices and compromises….one must do what makes them feel happy in life! Just my libertarian thoughts here.

  • Lisa
    July 6, 2015, 4:57 pm

    He’s my hero! I watched it a second time just to feel the freedom that he is living.

  • Susanne
    July 7, 2015, 1:35 am

    Yes, congrats for doing what you want to do without harming anyone but for me too-primitive. I would love to know if the weather is so perfect there that one would not hesitate to camp outside? Bad weather? Heat? Humidity? Bugs? I lived in California for two years, though in the 80’s, and it was hot then…must be worse now with all the odd weather changes occurring.
    When he saves enough money he could build another addition for the kitchen and bathroom.

  • Elle
    July 8, 2015, 3:13 pm

    And believe me (grew up in So Cal) this man has a mult-million dollar view, literally. Nice job dude! Thank you for sharing and showing us how to think outside the box.

  • Kelli
    July 13, 2015, 2:53 am

    Thanks for sharing this great story. I just always find it really inspiring and life affirming to see people who are doing exactly what they want to and seem to be truly happy with themselves.

  • Michael L
    July 1, 2017, 5:54 pm

    Cudos, Rob. What I gleaned from this wasn’t about how many codes might be broken but rather what can I take away from it for my own life. Though I’ve started practicing a simpler life, I see some things that I can pick up from your experience. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sunny Johansen
    July 1, 2017, 9:08 pm

    Hey, whatever works for him. That’s what matters…that, AND the neighbors. He will only be staying there with this lifestyle as long as the neighbors LET him. He seems happy, and that’s a level a lot of US haven’t achieved. That said:
    He is camping…and not even doing that as well as some.
    He is not “tiny house living” and I have to believe a lot of tiny house dwellers who have put a lot of money and effort into their bona-fide tiny home wouldn’t want anyone getting their first impressions of tiny houses from this.
    Alex, I LOVE your newsletter, but, maybe some sort of line should be drawn, over which it is no longer a tiny house, or tiny house living? Maybe, its own category?

  • Artemis
    July 2, 2017, 1:18 pm

    I follow robs blog and he is doing very inspiring things. He went from working all the time and participating in alchol culture to chooseing a simpler life and raising awareness on social and environmental issues. He has rode a bike acros the U.S. he has dumpster dived to sjow the food waste in our country. He got rid of his credit cards and bank account and donates the money he makes working on various projects. He is an educated man who has a message. I appreciate it.

    • Sunny Johansen
      July 3, 2017, 9:36 pm

      I’m sorry, but he did not dumpster dive “to slow the food waste in our country.” He dumpster dove to eat. To survive.
      Ask 1,000 OTHER people who prefer eating from a dumpster over getting a job and buying food, and not a single one will say they are “trying to slow the food waste in our country.”

  • Jojo
    July 5, 2017, 1:27 pm

    His THOW is very creative and looks cozy. The “homestead” looks a bit thrown together and not very comfortable. The “outdoor bathroom” imo is cheap and flimsy. I am a THOW owner and am working on building a urban homestead. I live in San Diego on family property and work hard to maintain comfort but above all respect for my family and neighbors/neighborhood using the restroom outdoors behind a straw mat seems very temporary and gross. I believe in the tiny movement but this seems like a joke calling this a homestead.

  • Susanne
    July 8, 2017, 1:36 am

    If he’s happy great but I would need a bathroom and at least a kitchenette instead of living in a refugee-type environment.

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