“One of the best things in life is to find out that you are perfectly happy without the things you thought you needed the most!”
Susan says that’s her favorite saying, and it couldn’t be more relevant to tiny house living! As a retiree (“who isn’t getting any younger”), Susan chose to go tiny even though she still owns her 800 square foot home (which she lived in for 50 years!) outright. Owning that land allows her to classify her tiny as an RV, and keeps her from paying a mortgage or lot rent. She uses a room in the “big” house for her sewing and her treadmill, and for guests when family comes to town. Otherwise, she enjoys the minimalism of her 180 square foot abode with her adorable dog, Moxie.
She was kind enough to reach out to us and answer some questions about her tiny life — be sure to read the Q&A after touring her lovely home!
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After 40 Years of Crafting & Raising Boys, She Went Tiny!
Here’s Susan and her fur baby, Moxie.
The view from her kitchen to the front door.
Moxie enjoying the cozy lounge chair.
Her writing desk, decorated with lovely sunflowers.
A perfect window over the sink.
Her industrial dry goods shelving is amazing.
As are the multi-colored butcher block countertops.
Her stovetop cover adds more counter-space when she’s not cooking.
Love the frosted glass in the bathroom!
Great bathroom storage over the toilet.
All these little details make a house a home!
The ladder to her cozy loft bedroom.
And here’s her cozy bedroom.
What do you think of her lovely home?
Interview with Susan: Retired Tiny Life
What are your names?
Susan Harter and Moxie Molly.
How many people (and animals) are living in your tiny house?
Just me and my fur child and companion Moxie
Where do you live?
I live in Florida where they are not very tolerant of tiny houses but there’s hope! I am currently parked on my own property behind my bigger house.
How long have you lived there?
I’ve been blessed to live in “My Robin’s Nest” for a year and a half now.
What do you do for work?
After my husband passed in 2013, I retired from 40 years of doing craft shows and a full time job of raising 3 boys. I guess you never really retire from that though.
Do you travel full time?
I travel several times a year but I do it in my RV. I’ve been out west to Utah and up north to Maine and places in between. To travel with my tiny I would need a big truck and a lot of courage and I have neither. I have a dream of moving by a pond or lake someday but who knows what the future holds and I’m not getting any younger my family keeps telling me!
Why did I decide to go tiny?
After almost 50 years of living in the same house, I felt like I needed a change so I stepped out and went for my dream.
What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
I’d like to start focusing on things that are more important like relationships, camping, sewing for girls in Africa, and my faith. I’ve started on a journey towards a more simple, more minimalistic style of life even though the pictures of my tiny don’t look minimalistic. Believe me, compared to my bigger house, it is!
How did you first learn about tiny house life?
Back in 2013 my son (who was very against my getting a tiny house) introduced me to a BBC show called “George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces”. I saw an episode that featured tiny houses which I had never even heard of before and I fell in love! This was even before all the cable shows came on which of course I watched every one repeatedly. In 2017, my family booked an house on AB&B near Gainesville Florida and on the property was a real tiny house! It was exactly what I wanted and I got to stay in it. It was for sale and I tried to buy it but finances didn’t work out. In 2019, I claimed it was the year of the tiny house! I started doing research calling several builders in several states. Then one day my son (the same one that didn’t want me to get one) told me there was one on Facebook Market Place. It was only 10 minutes away from my house and had free delivery! It was perfect at 20’ long and 180 sq.ft. and had all the features I wanted. I’ve still never seen one I liked better!
Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost?
It was originally $65,000. It was a one of a kind and traveled to many tiny house shows. It was then reduced to $45,000 which was more in my price range.
What are bills/utilities like compared to before?
My bills and utilities are the same except electric might be $10 more a month. This is because I am hooked up to my house.
How did you find a place to park and live in your tiny house?
I put off buying a tiny house for a few years because of thinking I couldn’t put it on my property. Then I found out that it’s considered an RV so I went for it. So far so good! It’s convenient to be able to use a room or two in the big house for sewing and my treadmill. It’s nice to still have a place for family to stay when visiting.
Before going tiny, what was life like?
I was not focused. I was always looking for the next thing to buy to decorate. You tend to want to fill the space you have. I was bored!
Is there anything from your old life you miss?
Not at all! But then again my old house is 12’ away from my tiny. I could easily manage without it though. My house is paid for and if I moved, I’d have to pay lot rent even if I could find a place to rent. It’s been easier for me than some to make the transition because my “big” house is only 800 sq.ft. I just pretend I’m on a lake with a mountain view.
What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
It keeps me out of stores and I’m living much more intentionally. One in and one out is definitely the rule! Since I’m a “bit” older, I’ve done a “Swedish Death Cleaning” (look it up). My family is happy about that and it’s so much more peaceful living with and being responsible for less.
What about some challenges?
I haven’t had too many. Mostly people treating you like you’re crazy! For one thing, you can’t get insurance in Florida because all of the storms. I had a little trouble keeping mini- split AC fan clean. Also, bugs in Florida are a real problem. If you see one in a big house, it’s “oh well”, but if you see one in a tiny house, it feels like a small dog!
What makes your tiny home special?
Like many others, I have down-sized my many collections ( I am-was a big collector) bringing in only things that are very special and bring back good memories. You can see and enjoy your things more if you’re not over cluttered and I was! I am now surrounded by only things I love!
What is your favorite part of your tiny home?
I think my favorite part of my “Robin’s Nest” is my loft at nap time in the afternoon. Moxie and I go up to read and rest. It’s like a cozy nest and I’m old enough that I’m allowed to take a nap!
What helpful advice would you give to others interested In going tiny?
The first thing is to find out where you can park. It’s no good having the most wonderful tiny house in the world if you can’t park it anywhere. Do research on what you want and then decide what you really need. The more storage space you plan for, the more you will try to cram into it. Then down-size before you try to move because you will have to do it again and again!
Anything I didn’t ask about that we should know?
There are all ages of people trying tiny house living and I am so glad I didn’t let my age stop me! I have given my viewpoint of tiny house living from an older perspective. Everyone’s experience will be different. Enjoy the journey!
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Our big thanks to Susan for sharing! 🙏
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