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Why This Celebrity Went from Mansion to Tiny House

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Well, almost a tiny house. And to him, it probably felt pretty tiny at first because he went from a 17-bedroom home to a 2-bedroom double wide mobile home.

I ran into this story thanks to one of our readers, Tracy, who sent this over to me on our Facebook Page. (Thanks Tracy!)

It’s the story of a millionaire movie director named Tom Shadyac who has gone from a 17,000 sq. ft. mansion with multiple full-time employees to a luxurious 1000 sq. ft. double wide mobile home.


Photo by Kathclick

That might not be a tiny house to many of us who are considering living in 800 sq. ft. or less but for him, I think it’s quite admirable. He went from 17 bedrooms to just 2. From 13 bathrooms to just 2. And he uncluttered and simplified his life in a big way during the process.


Photo Credit Oprah

I encourage you to enjoy the rest of this story below and share your thoughts about it in the comments as we ask, “Do you think this trend will continue? Will more millionaires realize that less really is more and end up downsizing?”

…that stuff doesn’t equal happiness. Even if you can hire people to take care of this stuff for you.

Personally I think it’s already happening. Except wealthy folks will most likely not be downsizing to the extent that we might be considering but they’re still realizing the basic principle that more doesn’t mean better… Or happier.

In the story on Oprah he explains why he did it, what inspired him, and how he’s actually much happier now. I encourage you to head on over to Oprah to watch the full video and interview with Tom along with the entire article you can read here.

=> Watch the video and read the original article right here

Also- don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below on whether or not you think more of “the 1%” will realize that less really is more and that more doesn’t really make you happier and most importantly WHY?

In case you’re curious like me, Tom’s movies include Liar Liar, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Nutty Professor, Bruce Almighty, and more.

If you enjoyed this story on how a millionaire decided to downsize quite dramatically you’ll really like our free daily tiny house newsletter!

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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!
{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    September 29, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Wow. When your photo credit says, “Oprah”, you KNOW you’re someone!!!

    I applaud him. I know that a small fringe sect will say “He didn’t go far enough” but Life’s Journey is traveled, one.step.at.a.time. With Power Friend’s like Oprah, he can get his message across to millions of future down-sizers, whichever square footage smaller they find appealing. πŸ™‚

    Actually, when I saw the photo of the combined kitchen/family room, I teared up a bit. πŸ™ It’s a virtual clone of what our main floor looked like in the townhome we raised our three children in.

    Gone, but NOT forgotten. ~sniff-sniff~

    Fare Thee Well, Old House, we loved you well and good.
    And farewell for a while.
    I’m going away, but I’ll be back
    If I go ten thousand miles.

  • Sandra Cieklinski
    September 29, 2013, 1:00 pm

    he is one smart cookie.some of these homes millionaires have are so stupid.I say a hearse doesn’t carry a luggae rack.why BUY all thee things? you cannot take it with you.smaller is better.

  • RockyMissouri
    September 29, 2013, 1:04 pm

    I tried to watch the video and kept getting ads for panty liners, or the Susan G. Komen foundation… But no video of the downsized mobile home…. I’ll give it another half-hour later on.

    • Cahow
      September 29, 2013, 1:27 pm

      Be patient, my young friend, Rocky. Most sites now have “bloater ads” that you can NOT fast-forward past. There is a countdown clock for the .15 second ads; the video began immediately after that.

      From what I saw on the video, Tom owns TWO trailers: the one that is talked about in this blog and an additional one. One trailer is his office and from what I saw, he lives THERE. He states that he “…hasn’t bought clothes in 10 years” and that he’s “…a t-shirt kinda guy” so his walk-in closet at his office has loads of room to spare.

      The second unit, the one pictured in this blog, is where “…friends are staying.” He’s not very clear on their relationship to him nor their length of “stay”. The way he describes the Uber-List of Manager’s describes my client’s lives, which they appear to be happy living.

      What DID impress me the MOST about Tom’s talking is that he gave an automatic “out” to people who DID/DO like stuff or his former lifestyle. That was gracious and accomodating of him. He chose to change but isn’t bashing anyone else who doesn’t want to nor is he vilifying any one. THAT is how you gain acceptance for the downsizing movement: don’t bash, lead by example. But, that’s true for BOTH sides! People that don’t want to give up what they have shouldn’t be slammed for their choices, either.

      • Alex
        September 29, 2013, 3:30 pm

        Right on!

      • Jenifer
        September 29, 2013, 4:02 pm

        Indeed that is true, no matter what weird thing you are doing. πŸ™‚

        Weird diet, tell people it’s not for everyone and doesn’t matter. Strange work outs, tell people it’s not for everyone and doesn’t matter. Odd parenting choices, tell people it’s not for everyone and doesn’t matter.

        Then, no fights. Works out well.

      • September 29, 2013, 5:33 pm

        Big AMEN on the above comment. I have a tiny house and I fill it with “STUFF” that I love. There are no rules for living big or living tiny. I like to point out in my blog, that just because you choose to live in a tiny home – it does not mean you have to get rid of “stuff” that you like to have around. For many, living tiny may mean purging tons of stuff and for others it may be a reason to go shopping to buy new things to fill your tiny home with. So what, to each is own. I just love what you said Cahow.

        • Cahow
          September 29, 2013, 7:10 pm

          Thanks, Alex, Jenifer, and Tonita for your comments. And AMEN back at you, Tonita! I laugh when my husband and I weekly sit down to watch “Antique Roadshow”; my joke is that the show is anathema to many tiny house people. Not all, such as you and I, but a great many. πŸ˜€

      • RockyMissouri
        September 29, 2013, 7:23 pm

        Thank you for that…. A great reply..!! I got it to work…. Not a Tiny House, but I’m sure to HIM it is…. I enjoy the videos thoroughly!

  • LaMar
    September 29, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Being a millionaire these days is hardly anything when an average home in Beverly hills or NY goes for over a million. It makes sense if you make some money you want to keep it and use it for something besides a huge house payment and utility bills and property taxes.

    The good news is you can live in a a nice modest house paid off with no utility bills and then your average income feels like much more and goes a lot farther. I have had no house payments and no utility bills for over 15 years and as a result I have secured my retirement, paid for my sons college and taken many vacations. I am not wealthy but my money now goes much farther and I don’t have the stress of monthly bills or losing my house if my income were to go away.


    • Alex
      September 29, 2013, 3:31 pm

      So true.. Thanks, LaMar!

  • jerryd
    September 29, 2013, 1:22 pm

    I think you’ll find far more millionaires that live simply that how he did.

    Those who waste wealth in mansions rarely keep it long.

    Those who want to become millionaires should live simply as that much more can be invested early when the gain of compounding interests is best.

    Or as I like, needing little money to live in a modest home means more money, time for fun, playing, helping others, building cool stuff ;^))

    What is life worth if you don’t live it?

    • Alex
      September 29, 2013, 3:33 pm

      Right on Jerry!!

  • MotherLodeBeth
    September 29, 2013, 5:02 pm

    The last few years the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury have done articles on the new wealthy high tech folks who have chosen to live small and drive small. Maybe its simply where one lives re: bay area, Boston, Seattle etc where young wealthy folks realize stuff doesn’t make you happy, but using your money to help others does.

  • Cahow
    September 29, 2013, 7:03 pm

    I had no idea who this man was so I wiki’d him and found the latter part of his bio interesting enough to share. I’ve never seen his comedy’s; they aren’t my cuppa, but I do admire his evolution. With no malice toward him at all, I’m wondering if the severe head injuries he suffered made him realize how short our lives truly are?

    “In 2007 Shadyac suffered post-concussion syndrome after a bicycle accident in Virginia, experiencing months of acute headaches and hyper-sensitivity to light and noise. The injury followed the cumulative effects of previous mild head injuries Shadyac had suffered surfing, mountain biking and playing basketball. He subsequently gave away his excess fortune (e.g., opening a homeless shelter in Charlottesville, Virginia and making a key donation to Telluride, Colorado’s effort to set aside a natural area at the town’s entrance), reoriented and simplified his life, sold his 17,000-square-foot (1,600 m2) Los Angeles mansion and moved into a trailer park – albeit the exclusive Paradise Cove park in Malibu.

    He later began work on the documentary “I Am” – which explores his personal journey, “the nature of humanity” and “world’s ever-growing addiction to materialism.” In 2013 he published a book entitled “Life’s Operating Manual” and began promoting the book such as by appearing on HBO’s live broadcast show Real Time with Bill Maher.He tweeted using @TomShadyac and posted to his facebook page live during the broadcast.”

  • Peggy Brown
    September 30, 2013, 12:38 am

    My husband and I recently decided to sale our Bob Timberlake custom built dream home to one of our sons, and downsize to our daughter’s first home, which is a small modular. Although we aren’t that old, our health is not good at this time. We believe in simplyfing our lives and responibilities, we will have more peace about our daily living.

  • Patricia
    September 30, 2013, 10:24 am

    Wow, he is living in 1/17th of the space from before! Let’s see I’m in 2000sf so I would have to go to less than 118 sf. The man made the same kind of change that folks here have made to tiny houses. In his business he would have to have a second home for his guests, that’s standard procedure, and they would be downsized also! Very proud of him and anyone who can do this.

  • David Ridge
    September 30, 2013, 12:56 pm

    There maybe others but because of two things there is always the one result. When corporations either merge or downsize, people are put out of work. So, when Mr. Shadyac simplified his life people became unemployed.

    • Cahow
      September 30, 2013, 6:16 pm

      David: I instantly thought the same thing you did, as I’d be the contractor and my husband would have been the landscaper that got kicked to the curb. The UP SIDE is that, hopefully, the next person who bought the house rehired everyone back! That’s happened to me on several properties; some homes I work on, I’ve been with them for over 20 years through four different owners. πŸ˜€

      • David Ridge
        September 30, 2013, 6:59 pm

        Thank you all for your reply, and I was thinking also of the kitchen staff, the gardeners, the managers of all this plus all of their managers up the line. Additionally there would be all of the maids and butlers. Uh, there was no mention of a chauffeur but I “bet” there was one. I would also like to allege that and what with all of the money Oprah is making, maybe not earning, she is hypocritical for having this guy on and interviewing him. If even we read between the lines thus could at least be implied, a smidgen of guilt maybe.

  • dawn
    January 22, 2014, 9:37 pm

    i think that makes him the smartest million dollar man i know!

  • vstanley
    March 4, 2014, 7:27 am

    Ostentatious display is a hall mark of the nouveau riche and bad taste. The Cottages in Newport Rhode Island are typical.
    Nobody forces you to live in a castle ,or a garden shed.Personal choice and affordability determines it.All this philosophical finger wagging is kind of funny.You want to live in a garden shed? Fine.
    Composting toilets and houses on trailers are just another way to live .Not better,just another.

    • Kelly Libert
      March 4, 2016, 6:01 pm

      I agree, particularly about the nouveau riche not understanding that more is not necessarily more. I just cleaned out my closets ridding myself of many clothes. What has continued to remain are a pair of Topsiders that I bought 32 years ago and still look decent, my grandfather’s old Lacoste golf shirts that I lounge about in on weekends, and a black cashmere overcoat I inherited from my mother. Those and other things like them drive home the point always made to me that quality is what matters, not quantity. I embrace that whether we are speaking of clothes or square footage.

  • March 4, 2014, 1:45 pm

    A fine thing. To have this person with the ability, money and connections and no way to get the Idea in front of him after he has seen the wisdom of life uses. Just obtaining Park Model RV Shells at a package price(around $12K ea. a dozen) To build a Frugal Decor Show around would be a good Idea. Each unit complete wiring and plumbing. Take the unit and finish for $25K with celebrity teams doing two a week on film (but the actual time may take three weeks each). A team of craftsmen with some in the business consulting(HGTV) to work for each team. Donated to homeless or even auctioned off for funds for homeless causes. The teams Direct. The Craftsmen build with such help as the Team has time or desire for.

  • March 6, 2014, 6:07 pm

    I can’t tell you how happy I was to read this! That man is one of the nicest and most down to earth people I have ever encountered. My sister and I used to work in an ice cream store and Tom is one of the handful of folks that I remember from food service because he was such a cool, funky guy that took time to actually talk to us. Of course it would be him, a one in a million millionaire!

  • Kate
    March 4, 2016, 4:27 pm

    This past year, I was staying with a pretty lively 83 yr. old in her 5,000+ sq. ft. house. She has spent months working towards its sale. Originally, she purchased it to encourage long visits from family members. 6 bedrooms 4 1/2 baths, swimming pool on a small lake and dead end location. Bigger is not always better. A right design or floorplan is just plain smarter!

  • Dave
    March 4, 2016, 6:19 pm

    Most will say that “manufactured” homes aren’t a good investment, that they lose value instead of gaining equity. To that, I say, the house I live in is worth about $150K, and we have about $80K in equity. But, that equity, even at 4% interest and rising home values, has cost us more than $80K. I recently saw a doublewide on a brick foundation and an acre of land listed nearby for $37K . Granted, the home needed work, but still, it’s $37K for an established home on land. If someone could pay cash for the property I mentioned, and then invested the house payments they’re not making, I’d argue that in 20-30yrs, the “manufactured” homeowner would be way ahead in actual profit and it would be totally liquid. This is the true beauty of shedding the peer pressure and downsizing. Owning a “right sized” property outright is every bit as stress relieving and financially responsible as getting rid of all that “stuff.”

    • Comet
      March 5, 2016, 10:09 pm

      I bought an old farm house; with a mortgage but not one with high interest–this was back in the early 80’s=–fixed it up and sold it as the sign was being put on the front lawn. With the money I took out of that I was able to pay off the mortgage—which we had only had for 10 years—-and buy for cash a “manufactured home”—ie it was built in a factory and delivered on a truck; not a “double wide” per se but not that much different; a very basic ranch rectangle. However it was set on a full poured foundation; with most of it finished so the place has 5 total “bedrooms,” three upstairs on the main level and two good sized ones in the basement; storage room; full bath with shower in the basement; laundry; workshop; and a large main room with our wood stove and a Monitor Heater. Upstairs has the three bedrooms; full bath; kitchen/dining and living room. We have an acre of land surrounded by a now non working farm and a spectacular view over the Green Mountains of Vermont.

      NOT having to pay a mortgage thru the last 26 years—when jobs here were HARD to find; the commute which was fine when we first moved here turned brutal when gas was $4 a gallon; taxes of course go up and up -kids need–everything including college money—–if we HAD a mortgage; it would have been a close call on having to sell. We have been putting re-hab work into the house as it ages; new flooring; new fixtures; new large front window when a wind storm smashed thru it! We have a dozen chickens in a fairly large coop; no one cares if they wander around; we have had many people pull over to take their pictures!

      These houses are some what different in their construction and some of the fittings were not the best. Some things need to be replaced that we have not gotten to. But–they are solid; you can add on or re-do what you wan to and really=-==you do what you want because YOU LIVE THERE-=not some mythical person who might buy the place someday.

      Now we could sell the place for many times what we paid –we bought it as a foreclosure from a local bank==and we will presumably make a “Profit”–we will in any case get the entire sum in cash. Have we actually MADE money on this one like we did the last one? Well I am not sure! Count up all the money we have spent in taxes here in Taxopolis NY and–maybe. We WILL however now have the freedom to sell and move to someplace warmer; or to buy an RV and load up our motorcycle and drive off.

      There ARE still bargains out there—in the next town over from me is a beautiful side hall Colonial–and I DO mean COLONIAL–built in about 1840 with additions–available for $49k as an asking price; and a beautiful small house of about the same vintage here that was used a part of a museum is on the block for I believe $30k. You might have to seek them out; but they are out there. And you do sleep easier when there is not sword of a mortgage hanging over your head. Or a minimal one if you have to go that route.

  • Victoria McCormick
    March 4, 2016, 7:04 pm

    Dear friends:
    I have lived in a smaller abode and save much $. The excuses I see the most is that,”I don’t have the money and I don’t have the land. quest what! You actually do. Online raw land searches, lease to own lots are the answer. Most people don’t want to do the work to make a positive change. They just want it given to them on a silver platter.
    So please stop posting these lame excuses on this site. Many successful people that do have small homes on land started out living in a van or tent. Renting an overpriced apartment. Even when someone buys a small newer camping type vehicle and pays lot rent will fare better than someone stratified by landlord.

  • Jonnie
    March 4, 2016, 7:30 pm

    To each his own. At least he realized, things did not make him happy. Bigger, and better, out doing the neighbors, etc… is never-ending, for some and they are generally never happy. I myself, was happier in the early eighties, when I lived in a studio apt. with my three kids, and a friend, and her four kids moved in. We lived like that for close to two years befoe she and her kids moved to another studio apt., when one became available. Yet as I moved into a larger resident, I always wished I had stayed in the studio. It was one of my happiest times.

  • kristina nadreau
    March 4, 2016, 8:02 pm

    Please do not bad mouth the affluent.. plz do not make assumptions about their morals and beliefs. I suggest the same cautions for the poverty stricken. Poverty does not guarantee integrity and clever use of resources. Poverty is not admirable. Neither is wealth. Neither financial status corellates with the quality of a persons life or belief system.

  • Kelly Libert
    March 4, 2016, 8:22 pm

    I didn’t see anyone here bad mouthing the poor or the wealthy.

  • Stacey Niederhofer
    March 11, 2016, 6:36 pm

    Any recommendations on companies building upgraded tiny houses?

  • Matt
    June 17, 2017, 1:42 pm

    The difference for him is that as soon as he’s had enough . He can go right back to Hollywood with open arms and make a film . Choices . Ones he has and others don’t .

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 19, 2017, 12:14 pm

      True! But it’s interesting to see that even people with money and fame realize less can be more πŸ™‚

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