I have found through trial and error, really, and lots of self-reflection that I am happiest without a lot of stuff. I have been living in smaller spaces for about the last 10 years, for a variety of reasons. Not all of them planned, necessarily.
But it has given me a chance to reflect and discover, I am happiest with more freedom than debt and with more time than obligations.
I have done the big house with the big yard and had the big salary along with it. And after I had it, I felt the weight of it all. Instead of being able to go camping, I had the lawn to mow and rooms to clean. Instead of being free to choose a different career, I had a mortgage to pay. And none of that was necessarily bad, I didn’t know there was any other way at that point.
And then I bought a small house in New Jersey, with a small yard and a big garage. My boyfriend at the time, was very skeptical of the neighborhood, the house, the whole decision. I told him, it isn’t the house, it is what happens inside. You make the place you live in by your attitude and I was happy. I had two big golden retrievers and I really bought the place for them. I was able to buy a house for $1,000 less than I would have paid for rent with the dogs, without a yard. The dogs were happy. And it was my house and I could fix it up. So I did. I was able to afford refinishing the old hardwood floors (because the square footage was small). I was able to repaint and update the wiring. The lawn took 20 minutes to mow. The house took 20 minutes to clean. It was still New Jersey so the mortgage was not cheap. It was less than 1,000 square feet but that was never an issue. The size did not even make the issue list. My boyfriend was convinced. We both remember the time in that house fondly.
I came back to Montana; to come home to my family and the mountains. I decided that I needed to go back to school. Architecture seemed like a good fit.
Over the last few years, I have watched the ‘tiny house movement’ grow. But I was still searching for a house here, albeit a small house. And that was not working. One roadblock or obstacle after another. One day, I just had enough and decided, out of spite, actually,that I was just going to build myself a Tiny House.
I sleep on what felt like a radical, renegade idea and woke up the next morning really excited. I did some checking and found that I could cash in my retirement, almost without penalty to build a house.
Since then, I have moved smoothly forward towards building my Tiny House. I am enjoying the research, the creativity of designing. I enjoy the community of tiny house people that I am interacting with. I am very much looking forward to not having a house payment that would not be paid off until I was 75 years old. The biggest obstacle is finding a place to live in it but I am not overly worried about that right now. I am trusting, that like the other things that have needed to fall into place and have, that will fall also into place, once I know where I will be landing.
So for me, it took me awhile to realize there was a different option available to me now. But now that I have seen the answer that was under my nose the whole time, 296 square feet doesn’t feel small – it feels like a world of freedom, instead.