In 2018, when my marriage of 18 years ended, I moved out of my 3,000 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home and began looking for a new home.
The places I saw were out of my budget, so I had to get creative. When I saw a tiny house trend on social media, I realized it could be a great way to get that luxurious space I’ve always wanted at an affordable price.
Today I live in a tiny 520 square foot house on wheels that I built for $175,000. I pay $725 a month in housing costs, which covers my parking space (in someone’s backyard), internet, water, and electricity.
At first, my biggest concern was that I would have to give up a large part of my belongings, as they would not fit in the new space. But that worry quickly faded, and it’s actually the number one reason I’m happier than ever.
Limited space makes me appreciate what I already have
After my now-ex-husband and I sold our home in April 2019, I had to start debugging my belongings. I had a closet full of clothes and shoes, but I quickly realized that I only wore about 30% of them.
So I went through my wardrobe, filled eight large garbage bags, and handed them over to Goodwill. To my surprise, I immediately felt a sense of relief. And to this day, I couldn’t even tell you what I donated.
When I lived in the biggest house, I was constantly buying things that I never ended up using. I would hold on to some of them for years, in case I might need them one day. They seized spare drawers and cabinets. Our basement looked like a junkyard.
Now that I have less space, I no longer compulsively throw things in the shopping cart. If I know I don’t have a place to put it, I just won’t buy it.
This change in mindset has not only saved me money, but it has helped me feel more gratitude and take even better care of my things.
I have become more thoughtful about where I buy things that do need. I love shopping on Amazon, but every little item arrives in a package, which is in bubble wrap, which is in a box. All these things take up space in my house and in the dumpsters.
I used to haul a trash can the size of a dumpster to the curb once a week. I now have a 13 gallon kitchen trash can and a 13 gallon recycling bin. That’s all.
I try to buy small items locally, even if they sometimes cost more, to reduce packaging. It feels good to support small businesses and eliminate packaging waste.
If what I need is only on Amazon, I will wait until I have a few items in my cart before ordering.
I loved entertaining in my 3,000 square foot home, which had a great open floor plan. But it also meant endless hours of scrubbing, vacuuming, and putting things back.
In my small house, less space means less cleaning and less things to organize and maintain. I designed my kitchen to be the largest part of the house, so I can still comfortably host up to five guests at a time. Cleanup is easy and takes no more than an hour.
As I started my little journey home, I wrestled with the idea of having to downsize. But little by little, I became less attached to material things, which in turn gave me a feeling of freedom that I never expected.
I have learned to truly appreciate the significant things in life: time with my children, space to breathe and meditate, and a home that is uniquely mine.
Jen Gressett is a graphic designer, copywriter, photo stylist, and content creator based in Colorado. During his spare time, he enjoys trail running, hiking, and training for races. find it in instagramwhere he shares his life in a tiny house experience.
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