Try out the Tiny House Lifestyle, No Tiny Home Required
It’s Alaska, your Tiny House Concierge! I meet many people who are fascinated by the tiny home lifestyle but who haven’t yet taken the plunge into the tiny-house-world. If you fall into that category, then this article is for you! Today, I will be talking about what the tiny house lifestyle entails. Moreover, I will tell you how you can adapt some tiny house practices into your life in a regular-sized home.
It will be like a trial run with no actual ‘going tiny’ needed! (At least not until you’re ready!)
The Tiny House Lifestyle
The tiny house lifestyle means different things to different people. I would argue, however, that a common theme is living on less, so we can have more of what matters; this is a lifestyle based on well-being.
To that end, I'm going to suggest that you examine your lifestyle from three perspectives:
- The things you value
- The stuff you buy
- The waste you create
We'll start with the things you value.
The Things You Value
If a tiny house lifestyle is centered around well-being, it makes sense to begin by looking at what we value. After all, we can't have and do everything, so we must understand what is most important!
It was three years ago that I first sat down to ask myself what I truly valued. I immediately thought of friends, family, and my chihuahua nephew, Bart. This is where most people begin. And while I don't want to discredit the importance of friends, family, and pets, what I'm going to tell you now is what I tell all of my tiny house consulting clients:
Cross them off the list. Friends, family, and pets don't count.
This is the part where my clients laugh- either hysterically or uncomfortably- and it's understandable as to why! We've been taught (especially us women) that our lives exist to be in service of others. While that's a beautiful sentiment, it overlooks one critical component: a person cannot serve another IF THERE IS NO ORIGINAL PERSON.
Living the Tiny Lifestyle No Matter the Size of Your Home
So. The first step to living a tiny house lifestyle is to give yourself wild permission to become yourself. Get out a pen and paper (or, if you want to go all 21st century, a Google Doc) and start writing down everything that lights your soul on fire. Maybe it's skiing; maybe it's knitting; maybe you have a deeply rooted desire to live in an honest-to-god gingerbread house.
Whatever it is, it's of utmost importance that you do not judge yourself during this activity.
These things don't have to be possible, financially feasible, or even things that you're physically able to do. This is because you're not looking for the things you write down per se; you're looking for the similarities between them. It's an exercise to help you identify the themes of your life.
When I did this exercise several years ago, I included all kinds of categories. For example, I wrote down activities I wanted to do, how my ideal day would be structured, and things I wanted to own. I wrote that I wanted to travel and ski. I listed organic eating food and exercise as priorities. I mentioned a desire to control my schedule and live at my own pace. Oh, and I wanted to write about all of it!
From this document, I concluded that my life would be built on three things: health, writing, and adventure.
Whatever you put on your list will inevitably require that you own things. Very few people walk around completely naked, owning nothing, and living their best lives. That being said, the tiny house lifestyle insists that you become a conscious consumer- there literally isn't room to do otherwise! So now, whatever size house you live in, I encourage you to examine The Stuff You Buy.
The Stuff You Buy
Living a tiny house lifestyle means getting a handle on the things you own. Of course, this will take a bit more effort in a bigger house, but I believe in you!
Remember that list of values you made? This is the part where you hold everything you own- or want to buy going forward- up to that list. Let me give you an example.
I told you my own list revealed that I value health, writing, and adventure.
- This means that in pursuit of health, I own things like cookware to cook from scratch, a sauna, a set of weights, a yoga mat, and exactly ONE sports bra.*
- My love of writing has led me to own a laptop, a kindle, and a manifestation journal. It also means that I pay for Grammarly editing software.
- Adventure could mean so many things, but for right now, I've defined it as skiing- and skiing means gear!
The "stuff" is a tricky thing to tackle, but whether you intend to go tiny or not, I think it's well worth considering. I watched a documentary recently that claimed the average American household contains THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND items. This is insane. How could anyone possibly enjoy the passions supported by three hundred thousand items?
What's even crazier is the amount of time we spend preparing for, commuting to, and at work to buy all those things we'll never have the time or emotional bandwidth to use!
Tiny housers are not perfect people who nail this practice of conscious consumerism every time. We are, however, people who consistently refer back to our list of values. If you don't live tiny, you'll want to be gentle with yourself when you start examining the things you own. It will be a process.
But, if it helps, here is a common tiny house guideline to help you on your journey: own only what you use and what brings you joy.
This brings us to our third and final tiny house lifestyle category: The Waste You Create.
The Waste You Create
Many different kinds of waste need to be addressed when you start living a tiny house lifestyle. Human waste is where most peoples' minds tend to go first, but that is far from where it ends! Trash waste, recycling waste, food waste, time waste, energy waste, money waste, and the waste that comes from inefficiently using your emotional bandwidth also need to be considered! In fact, the amount I could say on waste could probably fill a thesis paper.
Let's keep it simple, though, and stick to examining how garbage is handled when living a tiny house lifestyle.
If you've been following my journey for a while, you might know the story about how on my third day living tiny, I brought home take-out, and it nearly killed me. One meal meant throwing away a take out container, a pair of chopsticks, several sauce packets, two rubber bands, a stack of napkins, staples, a paper bag, two plastic bags, some fake-grass-parsley decor, a fortune cookie I didn't want, oh, and a menu for next time!
This nightmare situation caused my tiny house trash can to immediately overflow and eject itself from its drawer (tiny housers keep their trash cans in drawers) and vomit the garbage all over my living room floor.
Your consumption habits must change if you want to live a tiny house lifestyle.
If you want to experiment with this while living in your regular-sized house, get yourself some big-ish-but-bathroom-sized trash and recycling bins. See if you can make that work without taking out the trash more often.
Tiny House Hack:
Get a third (slightly smaller bin) and line it with a compostable bag before popping it in the freezer. Any compostable trash (paper towels, coffee grounds, eggshells, food scraps, etc.) will go in there. I call this my compostable freezer cube, and I love it! It gives me more room in my trash cans, keeps the house from smelling bad, and makes taking out the actual trash 1000x less gross.
When it becomes a giant frozen ice cube, you just throw the entire brick into the compost trash bin outside- that's the one where you put grass clippings and leaves.
One note about this experiment: keep in mind that as you are in a bigger house, you will be buying more things to maintain it. Buying more things naturally leads to more trash, so this experiment will be more painful for you than for the average tiny houser!
Embracing Tiny Living in Whatever Home You're In Now
Well, Friends, I'm going to leave you here for now. Those should be some sufficient steps to get you started living a tiny house lifestyle! Maybe you will go tiny one day; maybe you won't. Either way, living a tiny house lifestyle can massively improve the quality of your life and the lives of all who share our planet.
So, as a constituent of planet Earth, I would like to personally thank anyone who gives the above suggestions a whirl.
As always, much love to Tiny House Expedition for graciously sharing their platform. Life is a ride, and it takes a village. We couldn't have a better team at the helm than Alexis & Christian!
OK, that's all for now! Much love to all of you on your quest to live bigger by thinking smaller.
Let's talk soon?
*Don't ask- I make it work!
Alaska is a writer, realtor, and tiny homeowner living in the great state of Colorado. She is the founder of The Tiny House Concierge, a company that offers consultation and copywriting services for people looking to rethink their housing and rewrite their lives. In addition to her website, she can be found on Instagram and YouTube.
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