A friend of mine (from Boulder) offered this reply to one of our Facebook posts. I started to write a simple reply, but it turned into enough to warrant its own blog post. Strap in. 🙂
You know… the public aversion to tiny homes is partially due to the projected hubris around “how small I can live in”, which always struck me as entirely the wrong design objective.
I love the ingenuity, but always am left feeling that the message should be: “be clever and efficient in whatever size home you can afford or otherwise meets your requirements.
This reply was very enlightening to me. It showed that Heather and I have come a long, long ways since this process started.
I can say with experience that once you start down the path of at least understanding what “less” does from an emotional/stress point of view, it’s a pretty big/quick snowball. The response Michael left is directly related to the fact that most of the people represented in the Tiny Home shows and that are living tiny have been on a long, sometimes painful journey to today. It can be off-putting if you haven’t even taken the first step.
When we moved back to Dallas in 2013, I’d take evening rides through the $20m homes in the area – completely inspired – thinking that “one day” I’d be in a position to acquire one of those gems. It was the goal. Nicer, bigger, and frankly, in excess. Many people I know here and through the years have heard me mention “FUM” (look it up on your own 🙂 as one of life’s goals.
I’ve even said over the years (Heather’s rule actually) that I’d buy my first Lamborghini when its cost is less than 10% of our liquid assets.
Then we moved from the suburbs and 3,400 square feet to 1,700, got rid of the 2 hour per day commute, and met and spent time with our new neighborhood friends. Then rest started to materialize.
We stopped driving once we moved downtown. We started walking, biking, and using public transportation.
I’d crammed my schedule by hosting mentoring sessions, loads of community events, one on one meetings in coffee shops, Dallas Startup Week, DNT, BigDOCC, Ignite, Player’s Lunch… tons and tons… got involved with the City of Dallas, was elected President of our neighborhood association (LOVED that)… in fact, I loved all of it.
I was everywhere, all the time. Except at home. With my family. Don’t get me wrong, I saw them plenty… that’s why we moved downtown – to get rid of the two-hour per day commute. It was now about 5 minutes each way.
It’s taken several years to get here… but the fact is that when we decided to start scaling back – stopped buying new toys (I still have an iPhone 6!), stopped spending so much time out in the community (as much as I LOVE that), and stopped spending time on things other than us, the coolest thing happened.
Heather noticed a marked change in me. In my attitude, and in how “stressed” I was. How often I “barked” when I was concentrating on work, and how much more present I’ve been. When I’m home now, I’m able to be *here* and that’s priceless.
We haven’t had a mortgage payment since we moved to The Cedars, nor a car payment (whether we’ve had a car or not, we’ve not had a car payment since 2007). We haven’t had student loans, etc.
Then we started thinking about how much space we have, and how we use it. Thinking about the things we own and why we own them. Heather has boxes she hasn’t opened in 13 years. Why? She’s not alone… but why do we do this?
That’s how our path to minimalism started. What do we need? The less we have, the less it takes to support/sustain. The less we have to earn, the less time we have to spend doing things we don’t necessarily want to support a lifestyle that we really no longer find value in. We don’t really care what the Jones are doing.
That’s what it’s about for us. Autonomy.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no rule that says we can’t make $1m/yr or more. But even if we were making that kind of money, I don’t see us changing this path. We’re headed toward some amazing life experiences, and additional revenue would only make them even more adventurous!
Heather and I routinely view those same houses, the same cars, and the same things I thought drove me just 4 years ago and wonder how often the cars are driven. Who cleans the houses? How much time is spent in each square foot? And to what end? To work more? To have kids in daycare and after school programs with two working parents and living paycheck to paycheck? No.
I think most people dismiss this lifestyle choice because they can’t begin to comprehend how to get here. There’s the mortgage, and friends, and schools, and work, and responsibility! And they’ve worked so hard to acquire all of the things that make them who they are.
This process starts with a question. What is your life’s most important thing? Time? Then think about how much time the things around you cost. The more things, the less time you’ll likely have to enjoy them.