The time has come....

TinyHouse43 is 4Sale. $55,000.00, serious inquires only, please e-mail is at tinyhouse43@gmail.com for showings.

We built our tiny house to become financially independent, and we still will be… as soon as we sell it. As much as we utterly ADORE our home, we’ve reached a point where owning it is actually holding us back instead of paving the way forward. So, here she is… ready for her new owners to derive as much pleasure from her as we have!

Everything you need to know about our house is on this blog, and make sure you check the WordPress Building Blog link as well for further details. We’re happy to answer basic questions if you can’t find the answer on the blogs, but please remember this is a VERY emotional decision for us… we’d appreciate avoiding the Spanish Inquisition if possible (after all… no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!). We are still doing some finish touch work on the inside (you can see some of that documented on instagram), but the house is completely liveable and has been since 2015. It’s strictly cosmetics at this point.

We no longer have our dually to tow this to you, so you would be responsible for moving it yourself once the deal is complete and money has changed hands/cleared the bank. The house weighs approximately 12,000lbs with belongings included, so please plan accordingly. It requires a Class V hitch, and we recommend at 3500/350 type full size truck.

Recap: $55,000.00 – you’re saving over $20k from the actual build cost, including the $16,000.00 Tumbleweed Barn Raiser she started as! Many thanks for following us all these years, and we look forward to hearing from you!! PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED!!

💜🏡💙 – Meg, Brand, and R.A.D

#tinyhouse #tumbleweed #tumbleweedtinyhouse #tumbleweedbarnraiser #barnraiser #tinyhouseonwheels #thow #tinyhome #microhome #tinyhouserv #tinyhousetogo #diytinyhouse #tinyhousebuild #tinyhousefamily #tinyhousekids #tinyhouseforsale #tinyhouse4sale #tinyhouses4sale #tinyhousesforsale

Say AHHHHH.... It's Time For A Check-Up!

Happy Earth Day 2017, everyone!

I figured today was as good a day as any to drop you all a line and update you on what the TH43 crew has been up to over the previous months. In a word: nothing. lol

As I mentioned back in December, we've been trying to get land (or a home with land) purchased in Washington state for many months now, and it seems like one roadblock after another after another has been tossed in our path. A couple problems we faced included improper listing of traditional financing options by the listing agent/Realtors, and my personal favorite, not actually talking to the homeowners before spouting off owner financing options to our Realtor, causing him to waste his time and ours (again and again) with contracts that the owners don't end up agreeing to. Incidentally, it was the same guy for two different properties in this case, and I was already wary seeing his name on the 2nd property anyway. All I can say is I'm glad he's not my agent! We also lost a great place in a bidding war (foreclosures are tricky like that), and another finally fell through on our end when we tried a "lot" loan and, for once, our credit scores fell just short of their higher-than-typical standards.

Buying across state lines has proven to be a massive undertaking, one complicated by my desire to buy while we're still here in Texas and I have two steady sources of income vs. rushing out there with just any old job to eliminate the "second home" status we're being forced to use since I'm not a current WA resident or employee/employee transfer. Call me crazy, but it seems more logical, at least in my mind, to lend to someone with a 4/6yr job history vs. a brand new job regardless of what state they're buying in/from. But hey... who said life or real estate transactions were ever logical?! While I still look at properties regularly, I've concluded I'm not willing to spend close to $300k on a mobile home with acreage simply because we can get traditional or even FHA financing on it, and I adamantly refuse to spend $2k+ per month just to rent in our target areas and have nothing but the "resident" box checked on our loan application to show for it. Besides... we're going to have some crazy scheduling needs once both the kiddo and the husband are in school 5 days a week in opposite directions. For us, it makes significantly more sense to purchase now so we have a place to go after I find the BEST job(s) possible to meet both our financial and scheduling/logistical needs. Apparently that's asking entirely too much. Silly me.

We've also discovered we can either have a decent sized 20-30% down payment OR we can pay off some more bills to bolster our scores, but we can't do both. I cannot work more than 7 days in a week (I know, I've tried! Ha!), and having the husband work over the summer actually set us back $5k for the year AND caused us to owe taxes for the first time in three years (i.e. having him start working again, which adds a whole host of other unnecessary complications to our lives, isn't worth it). Clearly we cannot milk any more blood from this turnip, and so we find ourselves at another crossroads in our journey to Washington state. Blessedly we still have one more year before, as far as I'm concerned anyway, we MUST be there to get the kiddo in school (in Waldorf, teachers stay with their classes from first grade through the end of their primary education, and 2018 is that first year for R.A.D), but that means we have to decide what to do for the coming 12-ish months.

One option is to go back to Colorado, specifically back to Riverview RV Park where they now have a dedicated tiny house section, but have me take a job closer to Loveland. The travel costs to/from my current employer's locations there are the primary factor that caused us to leave Colorado in the first place. The only way to make CO work again would be to hire on closer to Loveland, which is totally possible. We both admit we loved Northern Colorado a great deal, and the kiddo misses that awesome park to play in. It's certainly high on the list of possibilities. The tiny house just needs a few modifications based on our cold-weather experience in 2015-2016 to be ready for another bout of NoCo winter, but it wouldn't take long to be shipshape and ready to roll.

Alternatively, and something we'd really planned to do for 2016 or 2017 anyway, is for me to hire on with a travel nurse agency and take 12wk positions across the country so we can actually travel with our tiny house on wheels. Our "rent" would be covered by the stipends offered when you don't use the included housing provided for in contract nursing, but the added complexity of finding places for the tiny house near places I can actually work is a bit of a deterrent, I admit. We'd even contemplated selling the tiny in favor of an Airstream just to lessen the travel complications for such a scenario, but we just can't bring ourselves to part with our house we've poured so much blood, sweat, tears, and love into simply for a 1yr-ish jaunt around the country. Besides... we're still planning to live in it once we finally do get to Washington. Duh! lol

Other ideas include sucking it up and staying put in Dallas (whether or not we'd still be in my dad's house remains to be seen), pulling a 180 and buying a condo just off the San Antonio Riverwalk in a booming area of town (another place I can transfer with my current employers, both of whom have multiple locations there, and a way to satisfy the urge to live in a walkable city at least once in my life AND keep us closer to family for the time being), or angling to have a full-time "travel nurse" position created for me with one of my two employers to help them open their new facilities across the country. That last one has appeal because, after 6 years of me hoping and wishing, they are FINALLY going to be opening locations in Washington state in a couple more years. It's not the target area we want, but hey... I love that company and have always said I'd follow them state-to-state if its somewhere we wanted to be. Once we figure our plans for the year, we can kick back a bit while we figure out our next move for Washington. Yeah right... like it's gonna be all relaxing and easy breezy... ha! :-P

We've got lots to think about and decisions galore to make, but like every other batch of plans we make and then break along the way, the end game hasn't changed. Washington state is still the goal, and unless something drastic happens, which with us is ALWAYS a possibility, we'll make that dream a reality come Hades or high water. <3

 

What We've Been Up To: Fall-Winter 2016

Season's Greetings all!

Today marks exactly three years to the day that we started our tiny house blogging adventure, and boy has so much happened along the way!

First, I apologize for the long absence. Many, many things have been going on in the background for us these past months, and I have been working 6-7 nights per week for the past couple months in anticipation of some rather exciting news I had hoped to share with everyone by now on several different fronts. Alas, none of those plans have come to fruition as of now for various and rather complex reasons, but the background work continues despite the repeated setbacks.

I am on shift 23 of a 31-night stretch that was supposed to produce the remaining funds necessary for a 10% down payment on a 20 acre parcel of land in Washington state that we had been under contract on since mid November. I found it in late October and started watching it closely, drooling over the fact that it already has septic, power, a 1br/1ba cabin, greenhouse, shop with power, 2-car and 1-car carports, gazebo, 2 sheds, and a mountain spring creek traversing the heavily treed parcel. We'd have a place to live in the tiny house immediately and plenty of room to eventually build a slightly larger permanent home, plus we could start homesteading immediately with all the existing infrastructure already in place. When the price dropped to a range I knew we could afford, I jumped on it immediately and was set to buy our forever property via an FHA loan since that was listed as an option for purchase. While there were many communications between us and the Realtors, lender, inspector, and appraisers from the time we submitted the contract on 11/21/16 (technically it was the 2nd contract) until we ultimately had to cancel it on 12/15/16, the final nail in the deal's coffin was that it was determined the property only qualified for a "cash out" purchase or some kind of land loan, which so far has been impossible to find in that area.

In a matter of just one month, we went through all of this (take notes... it may be useful to you if you're looking for land yourself):

  • Approved for FHA financing with $8500 (3.5%) down and 3.875% APR on our dream property (the first contract 11/16/16) that we'd likely never leave since it had everything we were planning to add on to raw land already in place!
  • Re-approved for a conventional mortgage and $12,600 (5%) down at 4.75% APR when the house didn't qualify for FHA (house too small compared to lot size; uses spring water vs. well or PUD, which is considered a "non-permanent" water source)
  • Terms for the conventional mortgage changed to  $24,600 down (10%, the 2nd contract on 11/21/16, and the reason I'm working so much right now) because we don't already live in the state/have jobs there and would be buying it as a "second home" despite not owning a first
  • Paid $425 for an inspection on the cabin (that we would eventually salvage out anyway), which revealed it needs a new roof that the owners must fix before an appraiser would pass it
  • Informed by our lender that seven different appraisers refused to even visit the property stating per their research the "Highest and Best Use" of the property is timberland and the little cabin was valued too low (about $40K) to make the property qualify as residential; we'd have to find a land loan
  • Given 3 different land loan lenders to contact: 1 never responded, the 2nd only deals with completely raw land, and the 3rd initially accepted at 20% down ($47,800) and 7% interest until discovering they don't do business in the county of the property
  • Again researched agricultural lenders and farm loans (also listed as an option for financing) despite having had no luck during my initial searches, and again found that only 50+ acres or those sold at $300K or more would qualify for ag loans (plus some require you to have a business plan in place for near-immediate profitability, of which we would not be able to meet for many years if at all)
  • Asked for owner financing and a lower price since the property is only valued as "land" now, but they must have their own mortgage paid in full to move forward with the house they were under contract on as well. They offered to cover a partial amount of the total price $239,000 if we could get the other $200K covered on a land loan (the was still under the assumption the 3rd land lender would approve it as we hadn't yet been told they would not), and they would move the closing date back to 2/15/17 from 1/20/17 to give us more time to gather funds. 
  • 12/15/16 we canceled the contract due to inability to find land loan financing in the time frame they required, and 12/16/16 they dropped the price to $225,000 in hopes someone else will buy it quickly. 

My head is still spinning from rehashing all that let alone experiencing it, and I'm frankly too tired from working so many days in a row to properly process it all. The biggest frustration of the whole matter is the fact that had the listing not said FHA as an option for purchase, I would have simply saved the listing to my favorites and watched it. The ONLY reason I jumped on it was because I knew we'd qualify for FHA (and conventional if need be) financing, and I thought it couldn't be more perfect to already have all the infrastructure in place. It was like one of those "plug-and-play" games that bypass the need for a console or computer; just plug in the A/V cables to your TV and you're ready to play Pac-Mac in no time! We'd have the required permanent septic or sewer connection the county required to make our tiny house legal to live in, and we'd add a well to meet the permanent water source requirement as soon as we got there. In the meantime, though, we'd have this little old 700sqft cabin as our legal residence while we modified the tiny house to meet any other requirements the county might ask for. Then once the THOW was approved, we'd deconstruct/salvage the cabin or maybe sell it off to a house flipper and be all set for 100% legal tiny house living. We'd be homesteading (fiber goats, honey bees, organic garden, chickens for eggs) in no time with a few modifications to the existing outbuildings, and then we'd have all the time in the world to save up enough to eventually build the larger permanent home deep in the forest below the creek.

It would be very, very easy to be completely woe-R-us over this whole ordeal, and I do feel I'm entitled to at least one small mental/emotional breakdown every time my hopes are dashed about a project of this scope, particularly when the failure had nothing to do with us not meeting XYZ requirements. At the end of the day, however, the experience did provide many lessons on real estate transactions across state lines and a sharper focus on what my job priorities will be once we do finally relocate. For example, we had also been under contract on a 2.2 acre parcel in Washington back in October that we ultimately canceled (and in many ways I wish I hadn't) once our kind, hard working (and still unpaid because the contracts keep falling through - bless you, Karl!) Realtor visited the parcel and sent us video of how not flat it actually was. The only areas we could put our tiny house happened to be easement "driveways" to the parcels on either side of it, which meant even the cash price of $10,000 was too much in our eyes. Add to that the fact it was really, truly raw land - no power, no water, no septic, no nothing other than dirt, trees, and rocks - and even that low price wasn't affordable when considering the added expense of making it suitable to park on let alone actually live on. Still, that would have been an easy-peasy purchase, and at the very least we'd have a place to camp until we found a permanent home.

The beauty of the 20 acre parcel, despite the fact it would lock us into another mortgage vs. being paid-in-full had we bought the little 2 acres,  was that very little extra work would have to be done. That alone made it worth the purchase price and the "death pact" it would come with, but as the deal devolved it became gradually more complex and less affordable. Even with the five years of private mortgage insurance (PMI) that comes from FHA or Fanny/Freddie Mac backed loans (about $240/mo according to both our financing offers), the mortgage for the 20 acre property and all the included infrastructure was almost $500/mo less than we paid for our 3200sqft house on a 7500sqft lot in Texas ($2199 @ 6.5% in 2009, $1850 @ 4.25% when we refinanced in 2011). When it switched to a land loan, however, that interest rate of 7% would bring the payments dangerously close to $2000/mo despite not having PMI attached. When we owned our big house, we had two full-time incomes from two different people, and we felt house poor the whole time. I don't want to HAVE to work 2 full-time jobs to afford our dream property  (since Brand is still in school for a couple more years and a full-time SAHD) and not be home to enjoy it. That's stupid! That's a huge part of why we built our tiny house in the first place - to reduce our overhead so we could pay off our existing debt completely - and the amount of work I'd have to do to come up with the $47,800 20% down payment in a short time is... well... not going to happen. lol I value my sanity, thank you very much!

So, now we are back to square one except with less debt (we spent the $10K we didn't use on the 2 acres on bills instead) and quite a bit more money saved in the bank. We have found another potential source of financing options, but we are looking at less costly land options that, while not being as perfect as the 20 acre property would have been for the long term, will suit our needs for the immediate at the very least. The plan is to keep paying off bills, save as much as we can in my high interest account, and keep looking for properties that have at least some infrastructure in place that we can either buy outright or work out owner financing. We had hoped to make our move to Washington a "one and done" deal where we buy what will be our permanent home site, but considering all that we have learned from the last month's attempts at doing just that, we are now open to interim possibilities as well. We are still trying very hard to avoid buying an existing house there as an alternative, but the idea of paying rent that is as much or more than a mortgage is equally displeasing. I have a few places in mind that would actually make excellent holiday rentals in the future (I've always wanted to own a B&B after all), so we're keeping an open mind.

In the meantime, we wish you all a joyous and fruitful new year. To steal and alter a line from the Brits circa WW2, Keep Calm and Tiny On!

Tiny: It Isn't For Everyone Or Even Necessarily Forever

I feel like I've done a rather thorough job of being very forthcoming about why we built our tiny house, what we intend to use it for, why we aren't currently living in it full-time, and when we do plan to be living tiny in it yet again. I also know I've mentioned many times that our tiny house on wheels has never been planned as our last home forever and ever til death do us part. 😜 One of the reasons I had no trouble convincing Brand to join me on the crazy adventure of building our own house with our own hands (beyond the fact that he'd always wanted to do just that) was the fact I promised him it didn't have to be forever. He knew I have always wanted to roadtrip across the country, so it wasn't a difficult sell to combine both dreams into one little tiny house on wheels.

 

Even though we did build our house and are looking forward to being back in it full-time sooner rather than later, we have always said we want a permanent house on some acreage in Washington state. That dream has never changed, and we still have every intention of moving there by the summer of 2018 before the kiddo starts first grade. We knew as soon as our son was born that we no longer wanted to own a massive 3200sqft house, especially since we were really only using about half the space. When we moved into my dad's place we condensed further into just 2 large bedrooms with shared kitchen and living room use. Only once did our tiny house ever feel too small during our 6 months in Colorado, and it was because we had just arrived, were still setting up, and simply got overwhelmed at all we had done and still needed to do to settle into our new tiny life in a new state with a new job. Just lots of new stuff in a very short time to be sure! That feeling passed quickly, and then everything people have said about how freeing having less stuff and less space to care for kicked into high gear for us, making the whole experience in the house itself pretty darn close to magical. Well, except for the frequently overflowing pee jug, but that's a story from another blog post all together. 😫

 

Anyway, my rambling point is that I know some folks out there likely think we're just another "casualty" of the tiny house "fad" because we aren't living in the house at this exact moment. While WE know that isn't the case at all and have plans progressing nicely that will put us back into our house much sooner than we had actually hoped for, we do know there are still Negative Nellys out there that likely shake their heads at us and anyone else who might have moved into and out of their tiny house in a hurry no matter what the reasoning may be. We can even admit to being surprised by they number of folks, particularly the ones on TV, that have moved on from their tiny houses, too, but we know first hand that sometimes life just doesn't go as planned and adjustments have to be made on the fly. We experienced some of that with the Colorado sticker shock we felt after thinking we could afford to live tiny AND pay off all our debt there, but the cost of living compared to Texas and the distance I had to travel to work (55mi each way) simply to have a legal place to park our tiny house made that as impractical as living in a mostly empty 3200sqft house with a $2000/mo mortgage. It didn't make financial sense to stay there just to stay in the tiny house, so we made the decision to come back to Texas to get the rest of our finances in order instead. The last thing we want to have happen is us getting out to where we really plan to settle down and struggle financially to stay put. We haven't always made the best financial decisions in our lifetime together or even before that, but we'll be damned if we set a poor example for our son by not shaping up and doing right by him. After all, we chose our target area of Washington specifically to put us near an amazing Waldorf farm school for him, and we want to provide for him something neither of us had growing up: a single house to call home all the way through high school.

 

Any way, the ever-amazing Macy Miller wrote her own blog post about the question on many people's minds when they hear of folks moving into and on from their tiny house life in a seeming hurry. As always her post is poignant and introspective, and it touches on the many sides to the stories of why some folks don't live tiny for long. She is in many ways an exception to what seems to be the "rule" about length of time living in a tiny house, but she's got a great answer to that suggestion as well. Enjoy!

 

http://minimotives.com/2016/09/12/whats-hard-living-tiny-whyd-move/

Bon Voyage

Just an FYI that we have opted not to attend the Tiny House Jamboree this year. Between busy, busy schedules and the need for a genuine break from all that, we decided to take our approved time off and go someplace(s) new instead. Now we're looking forward to a low cost, low stress adventure with the munchkin for a week.

⛱🐠🌴👙🌊🕶🍹⛵️🏖

 

You'll also notice a dialing-down of our online presence for a while as we continue to focus on our debt elimination and self-care vs. making headway on the remaining tiny house projects. Summertime in Texas doesn't lend itself to the desire to work outdoors in the daytime, so instead we are focusing inward on more personal goals. While we do love sharing our tiny house story with you all, it doesn't provide the life essentials (namely income) we need to meet our other long and short term goals. We aren't saying goodbye - just see you later! ☺️

 

Enjoy your day, and have fun at the Jam!!

💙🏡💜

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Our Funky, Colorful Roof

The folks who make our primary roofing material (and the ONLY thing on our tiny house that we never changed during our entire design process) have done a nice little write up on their site about our house and their products. We couldn't be happier with our DaVinci Roofscapes Bellaforte Shake roof! To our knowledge we were the very first tiny house to ever use DaVinci - ours was ordered long before the first Tiny House Nation season was even filmed (we know, because THN contacted us to film that first year) - but I'm glad others have found out first hand how amazing this product really is. It's definitely my favorite part of our exterior and constantly a topic of conversation wherever we go!

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For those wondering, we chose to have each of the four colors we used - light violet, light green, light purple, and dark grey - run in individual batches instead of using the Variblend technique so that each of our 4 colors would really stand out from one another. We felt that was both more true to our design ideas and allowed the colors to really stand out since a tiny house roof by design is significantly smaller than a traditional house. If you want to make your colors pop, that's really the best option just FYI.

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The folks we spoke with back in 2014 were super nice and helpful with our unique requests, and they made ordering simple. We did have to make some on-site alterations to the tiles (specifically the rake tiles) to get them to fit our roofline, and we chose to create a metal ridge piece (the top cap that's solid dark blue on our house) because we couldn't figure out a better way to make the DaVinci ridge pieces look right with our roof. Regardless, they were easy to install with just Brand doing the work by himself, and they turned out great!!

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So, here's the little article they recently wrote, and feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding our specific installation. We're happy to share what we know! 💙🏡💜

 

http://blog.davinciroofscapes.com/blog/davinci-roofscapes-2/davinci-roofscapes-goes-on-the-road

A GLAMOURous Tiny House Life

I am so pleased to have been included with two of my tiny house heroes in an article about maximizing and customizing a tiny house to suit the needs of a growing family written by Maggie Burch of GLAMOUR magazine's website, GLAMOUR.com! The article is in slide show format and shares beautiful photos from two very inspirational tiny houses owned by Macy Miller (MiniMotives) and Hari Berzins (Tiny House Family) and their respective families. Their photos are beautiful (ours are okay, too, however unfinished the space may still be), and it's so great reading about the different ways we each incorporated our must-haves into our highly personalized tiny spaces.

The author adds in some commentary with each slide that helps bridge the gaps between tiny house design and useful tips for traditionally sized homes as well, and it's refreshing to see such a positive spin on families living tiny. It's not always easy, but it is definitely fun and rewarding. And now I'm more motivated than ever to get back to living in it full-time as soon as possible!

Click the image below to go to the first page of the slideshow, and there's also a direct link below as a backup. Enjoy! <3

-Meg



Here's a screen shot of our first photo in the series, which starts at number 12 of 18 pages. Now you know why I was staging the house a bit the other day! ;)

Here's a screen shot of our first photo in the series, which starts at number 12 of 18 pages. Now you know why I was staging the house a bit the other day! ;)

Happy 2nd Building Anniversary, TinyHouse43!

I just lost over 2hrs of writing and a really cool slideshow I was putting together of highlights from the tiny house being built since May 14th makes two years to the date since we picked up our Barn Raiser and started our tangible tiny house journey. Curse your lack of functional auto save, Squarespace! 😫 I do not have the mental bandwidth to even come close to rewriting it all (#emopost), but here are the highlights:

 

• Chose a Barn Raiser because we don't have a cadre of local friends/family to help with framing and wanted the peace of mind that came with professional tiny house builders doing the heavy lifting - a perfect solution for two busy parents 🛠

 

• Picked it up 5/14/14 in CO, brought it to TX to build, moved in 10/9/15 in CO, and are presently back in TX doing the finishing work and changing some things as well; end game for Washington state has never changed despite setbacks 💸

 

• Started blogging as a way to journal our experiences and deal with the death of my mother a few months prior; don't make a living with our tiny house (have earned a gallon of Penofin and $0.27 from it - #caniretirenow), so we share our story because we enjoy doing so and hope others learn from us; almost always a positive experience, and for that we are most thankful to our readers 📝

 

• Still feel a bit like outsiders in the #tinyhousetribe because we aren't super self-promoters and can't be as visible in the community as we would really like to be, but so grateful to have met/talked to such a wide variety of people from all over the world all bound by our crazy love of all things tiny house 💜

 

• Thankful for everyone who has followed along our journey no matter when you caught up to us; drop us a line if you're ever in the Dallas area for a possible tour 📸

 

• Celebrating our tiny house's 2nd anniversary since building began with some website housekeeping, including new photos and a vow to finally integrate our Wordpress blog fully for easier use 🍾

 

Truly, THANK YOU for all your support, kind words, suggestions, comments, and general awesomeness!!! We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our tiny life, and we hope you'll share your own progress as well!!

 

All the best,

 

Meg, Brand, and R.A.D

💙🏡💜

On The Road Again

We've started the 2-3 day drive back to Texas from Loveland, Colorado, and we're snapping a few pics along the way. This post will be updated throughout the trip, so check back for more photos as we travel. Unfortunately we won't be making any formal tour stops this time around, but if you happen to see us on the road be sure to send is a photo at tinyhouse43@gmail.com! 

I couldn't find our usual travel sign (still planning to build a permanent one at some point as well), so I made this one. Hard to see from the glare, but it'll have to do for now. 💙🏡💜

I couldn't find our usual travel sign (still planning to build a permanent one at some point as well), so I made this one. Hard to see from the glare, but it'll have to do for now. 💙🏡💜

 

Head 'em up, move 'em out...  4/3/16

Head 'em up, move 'em out...  4/3/16

Thanks for an amazing first winter in our tiny house, Riverview! 💙  4/3/16

Thanks for an amazing first winter in our tiny house, Riverview! 💙  4/3/16

Rocky Mountian view from I-25 heading south.  4/3/16

Rocky Mountian view from I-25 heading south.  4/3/16

So long, Denver!  4/3/16

So long, Denver!  4/3/16

Eastern Colorado's "Great Grass Sea" with a train to nowhere in the foreground. 4/3/16 @ 1454 MST

Eastern Colorado's "Great Grass Sea" with a train to nowhere in the foreground. 4/3/16 @ 1454 MST

Pit stop in Stratton, CO with an impromptu tour by a couple on a sweet Harley. 4/3/16 @ 1645 MST

Pit stop in Stratton, CO with an impromptu tour by a couple on a sweet Harley. 4/3/16 @ 1645 MST

C-ya later, Colorado! 4/3/16

C-ya later, Colorado! 4/3/16

Someone spotted us on the road near Colby, KS 4/3/16

Someone spotted us on the road near Colby, KS 4/3/16

I took a similar photo crossing eastern CO out of Colorado Springs 5/14 when we picked up the Barn Raiser. This time it's Kansas in the background. 4/3/16

I took a similar photo crossing eastern CO out of Colorado Springs 5/14 when we picked up the Barn Raiser. This time it's Kansas in the background. 4/3/16

Another pit stop, this time in Hays, KS, hometown of Mr. Chrysler (aka Dodge) himself. 4/3/16

Another pit stop, this time in Hays, KS, hometown of Mr. Chrysler (aka Dodge) himself. 4/3/16

Calling it a night and cheating in favor of hot showers in the morning. lol 4/3/16 @ 2352 CST

Calling it a night and cheating in favor of hot showers in the morning. lol 4/3/16 @ 2352 CST

Munchkin man "helping" us do our checks before we pull out on the road again. 4/4/16 @ 1200

Munchkin man "helping" us do our checks before we pull out on the road again. 4/4/16 @ 1200

So long, Salina, Kansas... Onward toward Oklahoma! 4/4/16

So long, Salina, Kansas... Onward toward Oklahoma! 4/4/16

We surprised the munchkin with a stop in Wichita, KS to see The Keeper of the Plains and the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Arkansas rivers in honor of his late NaNa, a Hope, Arkansas native.  ❤️ 4/4/16

We surprised the munchkin with a stop in Wichita, KS to see The Keeper of the Plains and the confluence of the Little Arkansas and Arkansas rivers in honor of his late NaNa, a Hope, Arkansas native.  ❤️ 4/4/16

Can you spot the tiny house in this pic? How's that for some size perspective? 4/4/16

Can you spot the tiny house in this pic? How's that for some size perspective? 4/4/16

A nice lady in Wichita let us know that we had a brake light out, and Brand is back there giving tiny house interviews to passerby while removing the old bulb. 4/4/16

A nice lady in Wichita let us know that we had a brake light out, and Brand is back there giving tiny house interviews to passerby while removing the old bulb. 4/4/16

Another diesel stop turned into an impromptu tour stop, this time in Darby, KS. 4/4/16

Another diesel stop turned into an impromptu tour stop, this time in Darby, KS. 4/4/16

The second of three surprises for the boy, here's Bumblebee chilling in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 4/4/16

The second of three surprises for the boy, here's Bumblebee chilling in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 4/4/16

And holding down the fort across town was Optimus Prime, who towers over the tiny house at 22' tall. 4/4/16

And holding down the fort across town was Optimus Prime, who towers over the tiny house at 22' tall. 4/4/16

Caused a little rubbernecking in Gutherie, OK as we crept by slowly.  4/5/16

Caused a little rubbernecking in Gutherie, OK as we crept by slowly.  4/5/16

Passing through the Arbuckles. 4/5/16

Passing through the Arbuckles. 4/5/16

I'm never more grateful for a patient, talented hubby than when I accidentally put the tiny house in peril. lol Here he got us out the of the labyrinthine storage facility I pulled into just to turn around in... and promptly got stuck in... 😫  4/5/16

I'm never more grateful for a patient, talented hubby than when I accidentally put the tiny house in peril. lol Here he got us out the of the labyrinthine storage facility I pulled into just to turn around in... and promptly got stuck in... 😫  4/5/16

Made it into Texas but missed a great shot of the Red River and settled for this one instead. Maybe next time! 4/5/16

Made it into Texas but missed a great shot of the Red River and settled for this one instead. Maybe next time! 4/5/16

I wonder if we can drag race the tiny house here? 4/5/16

I wonder if we can drag race the tiny house here? 4/5/16

Pausing out front while we finalize the new parking spot out back. 4/5/16 @ 1545

Pausing out front while we finalize the new parking spot out back. 4/5/16 @ 1545

Deja vu in reverse: coming vs. going.  4/5/16

Deja vu in reverse: coming vs. going.  4/5/16

The new spot puts us under the ash tree instead of the oak tree and closer to the garden as well.  4/5/16

The new spot puts us under the ash tree instead of the oak tree and closer to the garden as well.  4/5/16

Dad wanted the house here so he could see that pond better from the living room. We're just glad to be back in the shade. 4/5/16

Dad wanted the house here so he could see that pond better from the living room. We're just glad to be back in the shade. 4/5/16

It's a shame we can't live in n the tiny house here, even if we do hate Texas summers. Sure is lovely! 4/5/16

It's a shame we can't live in n the tiny house here, even if we do hate Texas summers. Sure is lovely! 4/5/16

And lastly, here's the view from the kitchen windows now. The pond is visible off to the left, and the tiny house is well shaded even from the setting western sun. Not bad! 4/5/16 @ 1845

And lastly, here's the view from the kitchen windows now. The pond is visible off to the left, and the tiny house is well shaded even from the setting western sun. Not bad! 4/5/16 @ 1845

And this concludes our move from Northern Colorado to the North Texas area. We've got loads of finishing projects ahead of us, as well as some improvements to make to avoid future mold issues. We will continue to blog our progress and share photos on our accounts, and we invite you to follow along. Once we're settled into our routines a bit here we'll likely invite folks over for an open house again, so if you're local keep a lookout for that invite. In the meantime, have a lovely week and we post again soon!!

💙🏡💜 

~Meg, Brand, and R.A.D

TH43 v1.0 Video Tour

Greetings! I have posted a pair of heavily detailed video tours of our tiny house to our own YouTube channel called TINY HOUSE FOR THREEI've also embedded them at the bottom of this post for sake of ease.

I want to again remind folks that our house is not 100% completed, and therefore you're going to see plenty of projects left to complete. I also intentionally didn't do a thorough clean on the house before filming, because let's face it - how often have you seen a house with kids and pets be immaculate other than on magazine covers and heavily staged TV shows?! Yup, that's what I thought! The only thing that would have made this video more accurate to our real, day-to-day tiny house living would be to have had R.A.D playing with his cars in his room and Brand sitting in the nook studying or playing video games with more dirty dishes on the counter and me sprawled out on the couch reading a magazine. You may wrinkle your nose at some of our unfinished work or the dishes in the sink because it's not aesthetically pleasing, and we've already had some folks give unsolicited snipes about our design choices and layout ("Only thing better would be tiny house with a better design than a hallway... 😬"). Regardless of your own preferences for what you think a tiny house should look like, including your own if you go that route, you need to keep one highly important fact in mind:

 THIS IS OUR TINY HOME, NOT YOURS! 💖

We built OUR house to OUR standards for OUR needs and to OUR budget and timeframe, and we aren't done yet!! We chose to go on and share both photos and a video tour of our work-in-progress house now because 1) it's going to be a while before we really have it ALL done to our satisfaction and 2) because we want to encourage others, especially those who have little to no help for their build who are trudging along fretting about whether or not they'll ever finish it, that IT'S OKAY FOR YOUR HOUSE TO NOT BE PERFECT by the time you are ready to move in! Sure, it's a royal pain in the keester to live in a construction zone, especially a TINY construction zone, but it CAN. BE. DONE.

Your house doesn't have to be HGTV ready to be loved, to be lived in, and to be proud of. The haters and trolls will be there no matter how pristine your floors are, how white your walls are, or how sparkling your expensive hammered copper sink that you simply couldn't resist is, so just keep on keeping on! 😉 Be proud of what you've accomplished so far, what you'll continue to complete in the future, and of the very fact you had the cajones to start in the first place!! I've found some of the most vocal critics of our tiny house and of many others don't even live in a tiny house and have no plans to do so. What suddenly makes them the experts on tiny house building, design, and living?! Oh that's right.... not a damn thing! ☺️ So just remember....

YOU ROCK, AND SO DO WE!! 

Now that I've dismounted the soap box and without any further ado, may I proudly present our unfinished, unkempt TinyHouse43 v1.0 in all its video tour glory! 

💙🏡💜 

P. S. I should also point out this isn't a, " and here's the kitchen, and over there is the bathroom," type tour. I actually share useful information about our house that anyone building or living in a tiny house might find useful. That's why combined the tour is 30 minutes long! 😜

Tiny House (43) Swoon

Even though our house is still a work in progress and we are having to take a break from full-time living for a while (see why Reality Bites), I finally decided it really is TinyHouseSwoon-worthy and sent them some photos. They agreed, and we are the new post for today! Sure, there are vast swaths of unpainted plywood visible and some areas completely missing doors or other coverings, but you know what?? It's still beautiful!

 

Credit to Megan Carthel of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle for the first photo. 

Credit to Megan Carthel of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle for the first photo. 

Our tiny house journey is still a work in progress as well - bumps, detours, and construction delays included - but that doesn't make our efforts thus far any less amazing. It's sooo easy for me to be exceptionally hard on myself when things don't work out the way I envisioned they would, especially when so much planning and hard work has gone into it all. I admit it's sometimes difficult to see all the gorgeous tiny houses on TinyHouseSwoon.com and all around the web and not feel just a bit inadequate as our house is nowhere near the finished quality of those displayed, and I know there's some psychological mumbojumbo that can explain those feelings. Still, we are very proud of what we were able to accomplish with virtually no outside help for the physical labor while building paycheck to paycheck with a full-time work or school schedule and a rambunctious toddler to chase around the whole time. It's not perfect or finished, but what in life ever truly is?!

So, without further ado, I invite you to check out our house on Tiny House Swoon. The photos of our house will be familiar, but once you're done looking at our post, be sure to swoon over some of the other beauties - some of which are also works in progress! - shared by their loving owners, proud builders, and other admirers. 

 💙🏡💜

Reality Bites

This should probably be two posts, but that's just not how I roll. Grab some coffee and a snack. This'll take a minute... 

I don't want to write this post at all. In fact, little pieces of my heart and soul are dying as I type these words, but then my brain tells me to STFU because it's not as bad as it seems on the surface. In reality and in the long run, it'll probably the very best thing that could happen to us on our tiny life journey. 

We are moving back to Texas and into my dad's house in the next few months.

Now, before you think, "Oh look, another tiny houser who couldn't hack living tiny is going back to their big house life," allow me to make one thing absolutely, positively, crystal. frigging. clear...

THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TINY HOUSE ITSELF OR EVEN THE ACT OF LIVING IN THE TINY HOUSE. 

In fact, were we NOT living in the tiny house here in Colorado and instead renting one of the very expensive apartments in the area, we'd be much worse off than we are now. We'd be paying at least double the rent for just a one bedroom, likely triple the electric, and also be paying for water in an apartment. Really, the only advantage an apartment would have over our THOW is that I could potentially be walking distance from my job instead of 54 miles one way or a two hour round trip away.

We had a very specific list of reasons for choosing Colorado for our first stop in our tiny house adventure, which in no particular order consists of:

  • Ability to live in our THOW full-time
  • Ability to transfer within the company I've worked at for almost 5 years
  • Having a stable source of income & legal parking = freedom to focus on debt elimination
  • Remaining close enough to Texas to regularly visit family
  • The Mountains! The Weather! The Everything-That's-Different-From-Texas! ;)

See the emphasis on the third line?? That's because that was THE reason we were okay with leaving Texas with debt left to pay off. We had some debt already, accrued a good deal more building the tiny house, and have no intention of traveling or moving to Washington until we have that debt totally paid off. We thought the security of having the same job and a safe, legal place to park and live in the THOW would be all we needed to really hunker down and start chipping away at the balances. We've had loads of credit card debt before and managed to pay it all off a bit at a time, albeit with two incomes instead of one, and we expected this time to be no different. Instead, though, we started a slow roll down the mountain that has surpassed snowball status and progressed to full on avalanche. We haven't been this broke since I was in nursing school and we were surviving off Brand's $7.50/hr maintenance job.

On paper, our overhead should be less than when we had our Big House. The cost of our truck payment, truck insurance, RV lot rent, electric bill, and our Texas cell bill (more on that in a moment) totals as much as our $2000/mo mortgage. Our electricity has averaged about $50-60/mo at the $1/kW rate the RV park charges, but because of the lack of reliable wifi (a must since Brand takes college classes online), our cell bill has more than doubled. We really weren't expecting a LOT of the pricing differences up here, and we blame that on being more focused on finishing the house and finding a place to park. Food costs more. Fuel costs more. There are state taxes here. We knew about the taxes, actually, but our entire grocery budget ($300/mo) is what that equates to every two paychecks. When your usual grocery budget is being usurped by the State with every check, it doesn't take long for your bank balance to start dwindling and you to start whipping out the plastic to pay for necessities. That, my friends, is a highly unsustainable way to live. 

Really, that's not the whole problem, and really there aren't even just one or two issues I could point my finger at and say, "THIS is the reason we're broke." We knew it was a risk coming here with debt to pay off because yes, we did know the cost of living would be higher. What we couldn't have planned for was the hospital being delayed an additional two months, requiring me to drive those 54 miles ten times a week for 8 weeks in order to be paid full-time hours. Normally as a nurse we work three 12-hour shifts, which would have meant 324 miles of travel from Loveland to Westminster each week. Instead, I was driving 540 miles at $2.50/gal in a truck that was now getting 14mpg instead of the 18mpg it averaged in flat, 17-mile-one-way-commute-Texas where diesel was nearly $0.20/gal cheaper. Worse, on Thursdays and Fridays we all carpool to my work and R.A.D's school, which actually totals 164 miles in ONE day. Go ahead, do the math. I'll wait. 

When we started realizing just how serious the financial situation was becoming, I began keeping a little list of cost comparisons in Texas vs. Colorado. Granted these aren't 100% apples to apples comparisons for various reasons, but I actually notated the differences for my own sake as much as for sharing it here. You'll notice that travel costs are a big part of the equation as made obvious in previous paragraphs, but what this chart doesn't show are the differences in things like food and laundry costs. Here we pay $3/load, which includes one cycle each of washing and drying. While not a big expense (we average 2 loads per week), it is still something we didn't account for. With groceries, for example, I found about an $0.80 difference between the FairLife milk I drink between our Target in TX and the one in Loveland, which, incidentally, isn't a Super Target. We have to drive another 36mi round trip to Fort Collins for food because that's still the cheapest place to go for us. Even the pizza we occasionally treat ourselves to costs more - $6.99 in Texas and $7.99 in Colorado.  It all adds up quick!

***I'll add that those are the CHEAPEST fuel prices I found in both areas recently. It's actually higher all around town in both TX and CO.

***I'll add that those are the CHEAPEST fuel prices I found in both areas recently. It's actually higher all around town in both TX and CO.

If you're feeling like all the comparisons I'm sharing are just nickels and dimes on the grand scheme of things, let me tell you that I agree completely! As I said, there isn't any one or two or even three BIG, obvious reasons why we've been bleeding cash since we got here. Instead, the realization of just how maxed out and drained down our accounts have become hit me when I spent Friday morning 2/12 paying bills online. After paying the bare minimum payments on everything due between then and the next pay day, we have $104.00 to buy food and fuel for the next two weeks. ONE HUNDRED AND FOUR DOLLARS. For three people. And a cat. And a work period that totals 836 miles of driving in a truck that gets 14mpg. Needless to say, that was the final straw, the last nail in the Colorado coffin.

Can you see now why those nickels and dimes are more like thieves and black holes vanishing any and every cent we have or I earn?

Good thing they abolished Debtor's Prisons!

Good thing they abolished Debtor's Prisons!

I'm sure by now you're asking yourself perfectly valid questions like...

"Why doesn't she just get a second job or he start working, too?"
"Why don't they just find a cheaper, closer place to park their tiny house?"
"Why doesn't she just use mass transit or get a car with better gas mileage?"
"Have they even bothered to try to reduce their expenses further?"

...to which I dutifully reply:

  • I actually DID secure a 2nd job here that wouldn't start until the middle of March (which means I won't get paid until April), but in order to keep living here AND being able to not just pay our bills but actually start paying them off, I would have to work six 12-hr shifts per week AT LEAST. We need cash now, and seventy-two hours a week is brutal. Granted I wouldn't have to work that much fooorrr-eeeev-errrr, but it would be a longer period of time than I'm willing to commit to. Colorado was supposed to be a working vacation of sorts for me. At this point in my career I feel I've earned a little work-life balance for the sake of my kid if nothing else, and this would definitely NOT be that.

  • As for parking, go to the Denver Craigslist site and search "tiny house" under the "Housing" tab. You'll immediately see there a dozens of posts by people with tiny houses looking for a place to park. Colorado is a popular place to live for a ton of reasons, and sadly the State - for all its progressiveness with marijuana legalization AND as the home of the most professional tiny house building companies in the country - isn't exactly tiny house friendly. I sent a form letter with the specifics of our needs to every single RV site that shows up on Google maps over the spring and summer of 2015, and if I even got a reply the answers were, "We don't take tiny houses," or, "We don't have any long term parking available." In my desperation at one point, we were even looking at buying a mining claim in Florissant just to have a place to park, though since the BLM actually owns the physical land we'd still just be "camping." Think my drive to work is rediculous now?! Florissant is 113 miles ONE WAY from Westminster. More recently I had a few nibbles in Lyons, but none of those panned out for various reasons including the land being too steep, the land not being zoned to allow occupancy in the THOW (a very common problem), or us needing to be totally off-grid right now. We can handle everything except power right now, and solar systems ain't cheap. Just ask the great and varied folks of the Denver Tiny House Enthusiast group how easy it is to find ANY kind of tiny house parking that's not out in the boonies and/or totally off-grid, and you'll see we were super fortunate to even find Riverview in Loveland at all. 

  •  There's a transit route called "Bustang" that runs from Fort Collins down to Denver proper with a stop in Loveland where I could board, but the earliest it arrives at the Denver bus transfer center at 0700. I have to be at work at 0645, and I'd still have to take an additional bus to work that would make me quite late. Plus, the bus only runs Monday through Friday, and I work all kinds of random weekends. As for a cheaper car, during the time the hospital was delayed I actually did rent a car for three weeks because it was cheaper to pay the $125/wk fee plus about $20 in gas (it got 37mpg) than pay for diesel. With the lower gas and diesel prices now, however, that wouldn't be nearly as cost effective. We contemplated buying a cheap car in Texas to bring here (Colorado car registration fees are outrageously expensive: $600-800 vs. $63/yr in Texas), but that requires a lump sum of cash and a few prayers that it doesn't break down in the winter conditions. It's not really an investment worth making in the long run, especially since we'd eventually have to get rid of it.

  • I should also point out that while we have definitely not done as good a job with general expense reduction as we should have (did I mention we ate out too much when we first got here?!), we did get rid of several services we've used for years just to cut costs where we could. What good are Netflix, Hulu, Pandora One, and HBO Now when you have no wifi and streaming would burn through your meager data plan in mere days? Yes, I like having my gym membership since the weather isn't stable enough for me to run outdoors here, but I've only gone twice since I've been here. Buh-bye. I no longer subscribe to my numerous digital magazines (fare thee well, Tiny House Magazine), I've ended our Monster Muscle shake deliveries from Amazon (this is brutal, because that's my breakfast and I don't like coffee), and I've been tracking down other subscriptions I may have forgotten about (unused website addresses, phone apps, credit score managers, etc) as fast as I can to avoid surprise charges. They don't cost much individually - $3.99 here, $8.99 there - but they do start adding up fast.  

I feel that I have done my due diligence and have exhausted all the avenues I can think of to find a way to make this work that would improve our present situation and not be so demanding as to be unsustainable for even a short period of time. As my dear, sweet husband told me recently, I have to be the one to make the decision to stay or go because I'd be the one having to work all those extra days and continue to drive all those crazy miles. It's not cost effective for him to get a job, as some have suggested, because my pay rate would be at least double anything he could earn right now. Plus, we'd potentially have to pay for childcare if our work days overlapped, which is yet another expense we can't afford. Nope, folks, it's all on me. I WANT to stay, I really, really do, but I also don't want to go insane trying to work 72 hours a week just to make ends meet when we can go back to Texas and immediately eliminate about $2500 of our monthly expenditures just by not being in Colorado. It makes me feel like I'm giving up too easily, it really does, but in the name of sanity and bankruptcy avoidance, "I'm out, Jerry."

Not!

Not!

Now, lest anyone think me ungrateful for the opportunities we have, the support of our family, and the fact that I'm even employed at all when so many aren't, let me be clear that I know dang well everything mentioned above is a First World Problem. I'll also give you my canned response to that observation, which is that admitting that doesn't make the situation suck any less. We are well aware that we are lucky to be able to choose to live the tiny life when many don't have the luxury of choice, so please don't mistake me providing a blow-by-blow of our personal situation as whining, lamenting, or otherwise seeking sympathy for our troubles. I share such specific, personal details because I want each and every person who thinks that just because you build a tiny house you will magically become debt free to know that is simply not the case. 

Can we and will we eventually be debt free? Yes. Will we get to that point while living in Colorado? Doubtful.

We certainly weren't expecting to suddenly be swimming in cash, but some of the posts I see online espousing the financial freedom that CAN come with living in a tiny house border on unrealistic optimism at best and are sometimes outright lies. Yes, you CAN live a lower cost lifestyle in a tiny house, but it doesn't just happen overnight. Just like gastric bypass surgery doesn't instantly make you skinny or healthy, building a tiny house doesn't instantly make you debt free or better at managing your money. You have to change your lifestyle and spending habits to create and maintain financial health the same way you have to adjust your intake of and attitude toward food in order to become physically healthier. Our situation is essentially equal parts unexpected expenses, an inadequate safety net, underestimating the real differences in the cost of living, and not reining in our old spending habits enough. We could likely weather three of those four issues without too much strife, but the combination is overwhelming our resources. Hindsight being 20/20, we'd have been better off staying in Texas to pay off the debt and then coming to Colorado, but there's no point playing the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" game now.

That lifeline I mentioned my dad threw us the other day? It was a check to help us float through until we leave. Without it we wouldn't have had groceries for the rest of the month. It really is that bad. 😔 

That lifeline I mentioned my dad threw us the other day? It was a check to help us float through until we leave. Without it we wouldn't have had groceries for the rest of the month. It really is that bad. 😔 

I equate the situation we are presently in to being nearly identical to when we were cash strapped living in our 3200sqft house except in a house the size of our old master bathroom. Why would we want to stay here and just be making it when we could suck it up, go back to Texas, and really, truly pay off our remaining debt in a less stressful situation? Yes, this means another dreaded Texas summer (Whhhhhhhhyyyyyyyy???!?!?!), but it beats having to parking lot hop with our tiny house in tow and survive off ramen noodles because we have to cut costs so dramatically. We owe ourselves and, more importantly, our son more than that.

This guy right here is our reason for everything we do! He deserves parents who aren't stressed out about money all the time, which was a primary reason we went tiny in the first place. Now we must make good on that plan for reals this time! <3

This guy right here is our reason for everything we do! He deserves parents who aren't stressed out about money all the time, which was a primary reason we went tiny in the first place. Now we must make good on that plan for reals this time! <3

This was not a failure, friends. It was a trial run. 

If you've followed our blog for a while now - which started on tinyhouse43.wordpress.com in December 2013 - then you know we've never set a specific plan for our tiny house life beyond wanting to eventually move to Washington state hopefully by the summer of 2018 for R.A.D to start first grade at the Waldorf school we've chosen for him. That flexibility was intentional, because we most definitely know how quickly life can throw you a curveball, and we want to be better prepared for them next time. I certainly couldn't have predicted my mom's cancer diagnosis just a few short months after our son was born, and I definitely wasn't expecting to only have another 17 months with her!  Our initial thought for Colorado was only to be here six months anyway, and while returning to Texas wasn't on the radar at all, the reality is that we need to be debt-free AND have a large nest egg saved up so that we can be selective about where we live and also not have to take as many student loans out for Brand to finally finish his degree. See, even now we know we aren't really, truly done with debt.  Life changes happen, for better or worse, and we simply have to roll with it. That's why I look at this winter in Colorado in our tiny house as a learning experience that will better prepare us for our future life in it.

In addition to now knowing Colorado is a gorgeous but expensive place to live, we learned of several quirks and kinks in the tiny house we need to fix before we finally travel with it. We can now come up with even better solutions to combat the mold issues we've encountered, including replacing all the loft walls with more resistant materials. We can now finalize the storage additions in the kitchen and nook areas after having spent six months using those spaces day to day. Our Kimberly wood stove is "breaking in" well, and we'll have the funds to get the cobb oven attachment for more off-grid cooking options. Really, though, the best part of all this is that back in Texas we'll actually have the time, space, and funds to really, truly FINISH the tiny house for reals. What could be better than that?!

We've also made some amazing new tiny life friends along the way, and we've witnessed the beginnings of a little tiny house community being created within the RV park we've had the pleasure of living at this winter. This really has been an unforgettable winter filled with many adventures and promising plan-making for the future. Riverview RV Park couldn't have been a better place for us to break in the tiny house, and we are so grateful they see the value in THOWs as homes. They're definitely worth considering if you need a place to park your tiny house for a spell!

The quality of life in Colorado is definitely what we'll miss most, especially when we got to spend tiny with our new tiny life friends from Alaska!

The quality of life in Colorado is definitely what we'll miss most, especially when we got to spend tiny with our new tiny life friends from Alaska!

Remember when I said the decision to move back to Texas has nothing to do with the tiny house itself or even the act of living in the tiny house? All still true! It hasn't always been sunshine and roses (schlepping to the bath house at 0-dark-30 in 2F weather because the water line froze despite being heated, what?!), but on the whole we've had a blast in our little abode. Our son adores his room and all his built-in play areas, we've been getting better and better at cooking in the smaller space (nothing will change our disdain for doing dishes though... ugh), and we've each carved out little areas of our own to spend quiet time reading, studying, or playing games. We enjoy our family movie nights just as much as we did in the Big House, and while we still aren't as successful with our Nature's Head composting toilet as we'd like, practice makes perfect! ;)

If we could live in the tiny house on my dad's acre we'd do it in a heartbeat, and if we could find a really cheap place to park it close to my Texas workplace, we'd do that, too. Right now, though, we're okay with only being able to "recreate" in the house while we finish the last of the build projects where we know the house is safe to be temporarily parked. Brand gets the wifi he needs to take his classes with ease, and he'll handle the remodeling projects my dad would otherwise have to sideline because of his new job's travel requirement. R.A.D will have our Pugs and the big boys across the street to play with, and I know my dad and in-laws are looking forward to seeing him more often. I'm glad to have more time with my dad when he's in town and to work with the awesome folks at my Texas hospital again. Looking forward to the Texas summer, however?? Not so much. Enduring one hundred degree days is, however, a small (sweaty? scorching?) price to pay to get back on track financially so we can really, truly get back to living our tiny life.

 So, this is NOT goodbye to the tiny life, our tiny house, or any of our future plans.

It's merely a pause to regroup and refocus so we can get back to the life we've made for ourselves in our beautiful tiny house on wheels but on much, much better terms. We will still blog and share photos of the finishing process, and if we can swing it we'd like to make a couple open house stops on our way back to Dallas. The move timing is definitely still a work in progress right now - lots of pieces in play that must be dealt with first - but we expect to be back in TX by the end of March or early April at the latest. We'll give ourselves another year-ish to finish the house and get our debt paid off (except the truck payment) before we head out on our travel across the country. We may even work a summer in Alaska into our plans now, which is something we would have never even considered were it not for our time in Colorado and meeting three different tiny house dwelling families/couples from Alaska. It's opportunities like those that make the tiny house life and traveling so amazing, so now we want to take advantage of the opportunity to return to Texas to get our financial ducks in a row so we CAN enjoy the freedom having your house on wheels can bring!

We've got a ton of planning to do again, but we'll keep you posted about the move plans and any open houses we manage to work out. Thank you to ALL our readers for your continued support and encouragement. We don't have any kind of tiny house related business and have no paying sponsors of any sort, so we truly share our story because we enjoy our adventures and hope in some small way to help others thinking of going tiny to weigh all the pros and cons thoroughly. The TV shows on tiny houses show the glamorous side of the lifestyle, but owning and living in a tiny house (especially if you built it yourself) is as much or more work than a traditional house. This life is definitely not for everyone, but we know it is still for us and can't wait to get back on track so we can enjoy it to the fullest!!

💜🏡💙 With Tiny House Love 💜🏡💙 

Meg, Brand, and R.A.D

One of our first days in Loveland, Colorado in October 2015. The wait to return to full-time THOW living will be hard, but we'll be doing it with our financial ducks in a row and a fresh perspective. Viva la tiny house life!

One of our first days in Loveland, Colorado in October 2015. The wait to return to full-time THOW living will be hard, but we'll be doing it with our financial ducks in a row and a fresh perspective. Viva la tiny house life!


 

Mold

We all know it. We all hate it. And if you live in a tiny house, you likely have all seen it lurking somewhere in your home.

 

Mold is a four-letter word that can mean anything from a minor annoyance or a legit illness-maker for those who are sensitive. Thankfully, there are multiple methods of reducing the added moisture in your tiny living space that can help reduce the likelihood mold even forms, and there are some good mold killer products out there that we've recently used with success that we'll discuss below.

 

First, however, please take a minute to read Andrew Morrison's post on mechanical moisture eliminators plus some additional moisture-reducing building tips below. Andrew and his wife, Gabriella, are the originators of the hOMe tiny house that is now being produced by EcoCabins, the primary sponsor of the Tiny House Jamboree. Andrew definitely knows a thing or two about making quality tiny houses and how to deal with excess moisture build up in cold climates in particular, and the suggestions he makes in his post are particularly good if you want to actively remove moisture from your house. The biggest difference between Andrew's post and ours is that he focuses primarily on prevention methods, where as we have actually experienced some pretty nasty mold and cover things to use to get rid of it when it does happen in addition to our dehumidification tools. I've been meaning to update everyone on our issues anyway, and the Morrisons' great post reminded me! ☺️

 

Here's his great post:

HOW TO SAVE YOUR TINY HOUSE FROM MOLD AND MOISTURE ISSUES 

 

For those of you who want to know about some additional methods of moisture reduction, here's a list of what we are currently using based on type (passive, hybrid, or active) and one extra thing we plan to try. You'll see the two electric appliances we picked up listed here, too, because we felt we needed a more immediate and noticeable reduction in humidity than our passive methods provided. We hope once we get the humidity % down we can stop the active dehumidification and rely on fresh air on good weather days and the passive options to reduce our electric pull.

 

PASSIVE DEHUMIDIFICATION

  • We started using DampRid disposable products to suck up extra moisture without any power needs (popular on boats and RVs and found at Walmart or similar stores), which use calcium chloride in bags you hang or jars you set in open areas. They are inexpensive and require nothing other than airflow (which, incidentally, you should provide regularly to mold-prone areas anyway), and we have hung them in our three trouble spots: the loft, the front nook, and the kitchen. So far the bags are about  1/3rd full with the nook one being a bit closer to half full than the others. We are also going to pick up a jar version to tuck into the furthest corner under our son's room as I discovered mold had formed where a basket of extra linens had become wedged behind the clothes cube and the back corner. I've already killed the mold with a spray we've found to work well (more on that shortly), and in addition to the DampRid we'll be making sure we regularly move the cubes under his bed to promote airflow.
Our DampRid hanging bags are scented, which might bother some folks. These are made to hang in a closet, though, so if you want nice smelling, dry clothes in your tiny house closet, these might be a great fit! They come in 3-packs. 

Our DampRid hanging bags are scented, which might bother some folks. These are made to hang in a closet, though, so if you want nice smelling, dry clothes in your tiny house closet, these might be a great fit! They come in 3-packs. 

  • The this next passive method may or may not work, but it does have some other benefits to it. While I'm not expecting much immediate relief of our current humidity levels, I won't deny I think this would make a great, natural addition to our long-term moisture control methods: air plants. Granted I've read some conflicting info on just how much additional watering air plants need beyond what they suck out of their environment, but since they're low maintenance and don't need to take up counter space, I'm thinking I'll create a little installation of them in a couple different areas of the house. Besides, who doesn't love a little live greenery in their tiny house?! ☺️

HYBRID DEHUMIDIFICATION

  • The first dehumidifier product I picked up is the EvaDry silica gel hybrid dehumidifier that can be placed anywhere you want, but when they're full (the gel changes from blue to pink when capacity is reached) you take them outside and plug them in to release the moisture into a well ventilated area. I bought two of these on Amazon for $20 each, and they can be laid flat or hung with the included hook. The ones we have say they can absorb up to 6oz of liquid, and so far ours are still deep blue. One is hanging by the front nook window, which has continued to be a bit of a problem child, and the other is wedged at the head of our bed near the tongue-end window. I'll update this post once they are finally full so we have an idea of how long it takes to fill them up.
Since the big blue window in our front nook has been a particular problem, it has both a DampRid and this EvaDry model hanging nearby to catch as much moisture as possible. 

Since the big blue window in our front nook has been a particular problem, it has both a DampRid and this EvaDry model hanging nearby to catch as much moisture as possible. 

  •  I want to mention here that our Kimberly gasifier wood stove by Unforgettable Fire LLC is another hybrid method of dehumidification. No, it doesn't require electricity, but you do have to burn fuel (wood) in order to heat up and dry out the air. As much as we adore our Kimberly, it has simply been too warm to use her daily and reap the reduction in humidity benefit that comes with use. 

 

ACTIVE DEHUMIDIFICATION

  • We also broke down and bought a small EvaDry mini electric dehumidifier that, unfortunately, has to run all. the. time. and is definitely louder than I'd like. That said, it has sucked several cups of water out of the air already (I've emptied it once just before the "full" light would have been triggered), and we keep it on the edge of the loft directly above the kitchen to catch any extra moisture that doesn't escape out the window when we cook. This is also from Amazon and cost $54
The white storage cube is roughly 15x15", so you can see the EvaDry is pretty small. I emptied the container 2 days ago, and it's already about 1/4 full again. Sucker works! Literally! 😉 

The white storage cube is roughly 15x15", so you can see the EvaDry is pretty small. I emptied the container 2 days ago, and it's already about 1/4 full again. Sucker works! Literally! 😉 

  • We didn't install a kitchen vent like the Morrison's have mostly because we have a much smaller kitchen with a double hung window smack dab in the center of the wall above the countertop. We have been opening the top window sash in the kitchen and a bottom sash on the other side of the house to create a cross breeze that forces the steam out while cooking, but it wasn't always working as well as we'd like. Instead of boring out a giant hole above the window for a permanent vent, we opted to pick up a small, portable O2Cool 8" square fan that can be run on either batteries or AC power, and we instead pull the top window sash down enough to wedge the fan in (facing out, not in of course) and cover the remaining open space with a piece of cardboard while opening an opposite-side window just a little bit. It's not pretty, but it's portable, storable, functional, and cost effective. Can't beat that!
It's not pretty, but it works!! 

It's not pretty, but it works!! 

  •  We also have a Vetus Marine 12V vent fan to install in the wet shower side that was a recommendation of Art Cormier, a Tumbleweed workshop presenter and dweller of the Tiny SIP House. That's something we bought early on in the build but just never got installed, and thankfully not having hasn't been an issue since we've almost exclusively been showering at the bathhouse, gym, or Rec Center depending on what we've got going on at the time. Once we start using our full-time, however, we will definitely need to use that vent. It's low voltage - as is all the wiring in both our wet and dry bath sides - to prevent shock, and as the name suggests, they were designed for the boating industry. Art has a great demo video with all the part numbers on his YouTube channel that's worth checking out.

 

DEALING WITH EXISTING MOLD

This stuff rocks, and it's non-toxic to boot! 

This stuff rocks, and it's non-toxic to boot! 

Now, if you DO develop mold despite your best efforts, there's a spray we can recommend after using it on 7 different wood windows where we've had problems. Bear in mind that we actually performed a series of steps to actually remove the existing mold in addition to mitigating its return (more on that below), but so far we've been quite pleased with the Concrobium Mold Control spray we spent $9 on at either Lowe's or Home Depot - can't recall which. This stuff is recommended by Mike Holmes, the HGTV star of Holmes Inspection and a few other building-related titles, though that's not why we bought it. This one gets sprayed directly onto the mold, and as it dries it actually kills it. It's non-toxic and had no noticeable smell I could detect,  which is helpful in such a small space. So far, none of the windows we treated with this stuff have had regrowth, though let me provide you the actual steps I used to removed the mold:

  • Scrubbed the mold with undiluted bleach and an old toothbrush. Let soak for 30min with all 5 loft windows open. 
  • Took a heat gun to the remaining wet areas very carefully to make sure the wood was truly dry.
  • Sprayed Concrobium liberally over all the exposed wood that had had mold on it plus a few spots I thought might be prone to it later. Let soak until dry, which was around 5hrs in this case.
  • Dried remaining moisture with heat gun again. 
  • Applied Rustoleum oil-based stain to one window, but the other 4 haven't been stained yet and are STILL mold-free despite repeated exposure to wetness/ice/inside moisture buildup. 

The smell is pretty harsh, so be sure you ventilate the area well! 

The smell is pretty harsh, so be sure you ventilate the area well! 

I didn't have as much luck with the Concrobium on the big nook window I painted with milk paint, but I also just realized I never tried the straight bleach technique. Whoops! Needless to say, not remembering that fact, I decided to try to other mold spray, Mold Armor, to see if it would kill the stuff. It's actually marketed more to remove mold stains than kill the mold itself, and I found out the hard way you MUST ventilate the area you're using it in. I dumbly thought it was like the virtually odor-free Concrobium and sprayed it liberally on the window, but even though I didn't actually notice the smell initially, Brand walked in from outside and had his eyes start watering immediately. Whoops!! Open went the windows post haste, and I haven't used it again. Now, that said, it worked!! We haven't had any new mold growth on the big blue milk paint window since then, and I did nothing else to it at all. No scrubbing, drying, or bleach. Sadly, I think I'm going to have to remove all the milk paint and start from scratch to make it look pretty again, but that's a small price to pay to not have mold again. 

You can still see the "shadows" of mold on the milk paint window, especially in the corners like this one. Unfortunately, you can also tell the anti-mold treatments have damaged the paint job. Looks like I'll be stripping it off and starting over... Oi! 

You can still see the "shadows" of mold on the milk paint window, especially in the corners like this one. Unfortunately, you can also tell the anti-mold treatments have damaged the paint job. Looks like I'll be stripping it off and starting over... Oi! 

 

Speaking of of keeping the windows from molding up, here's an observation I made during the removal process:

Mold only appeared on the windows either with no stain of any kind OR with water-based stains like the milk paint big window or the metallic acrylic paint used on the two bathroom awning windows.  None of the ones where I used an oil-based Rustoleum stain or white paint developed mold, which included all 5 of the double hung windows on the main level excluded the largest one. 

Now I'm staining the remaining 4 loft windows with oil-based black paint, and I'll seal the acrylic painted ones with polyurethane. I will add, though, that the milk paint window DID get a coat of poly on it, yet the mold kept on chowing down on it. After I strip it off I'm going to seal the wood with poly first before reapplying the milk paint and sealing a final time with poly. Hopefully that'll deal the final blow to any molds trying to eat that pretty blue-green paint!

 

I'll be researching a few of the products the Morrisons mention in their post, because we sure don't want to keep dealing with this fuzzy, nasty stuff! We do have a gauge that tells us what our indoor humidity is, but I'm starting to wonder if it's accurate. Some days it says 37%, and others it says 50%, even if there haven't been big indoor or outdoor temperature changes. Hmm. My understanding is that at anything above about 40% humidity, mold will have the chance to grow. We'll just have to keep chipping away at the overall moisture volume with all three types of dehumidification as best we can until the weather warms up enough to keep the windows open all the time. 

 

💙🏡💜 

Our THOW Interior: January 2016

We are most definitely NOT done with the inside of our tiny house - loads of finish work left to do, including painting a zillion different things - but since we had to do a deep clean for a visitor today who needed to take photos, I took advantage of the time to snap some photos. Granted I didn't drag the DSLR out from under the storage sofa for higher quality shots, but as I keep saying, you'll get the gist. Captions will come later, but I think these are pretty self-explanatory. Without further ado, I give you our still-in-progress TinyHouse43 interior! 💙🏡💜

 

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Riverview RV Park and Tiny Houses: A Community Within A Community?

Before I write anything else, let me preface this post by saying that I have no affiliation with the staff or owner of Riverview RV Park, nor do I have any say in what or to whom the owner rents parking spaces to. I'm simply the owner of the very first tiny-house-on-wheels that has had the pleasure of parking here since October 2015 and hopefully not the last.  Riverview has been a perfect place for us to spend our first winter in our tiny house, and because the park owner and staff have been so wonderful to us and are open to having more tiny houses in their park, I wanted to share our experiences with other THOW dwellers, as well as plant the seeds for the possibility of a tiny house community within the existing RV park should the owner be amenable. The decision to pursue or not any of my ideas and suggestions are solely the decision of the owner of Riverview, but I will make myself available to him or to any potential tiny house residents should he choose to consider the possibility of hosting a group of tiny houses, particularly if that involves grouping them together in a community setup. I have already expressed my interest in helping gather support and residents for such a community to him and his staff, and while this was a simple conversation in the office one afternoon, there appeared to be genuine interest at the very least in having more tiny houses here period. We will continue to be positive examples of tiny house residents during our stay here in hopes that we might set the tone for such a community, and either way we encourage you to visit the park and try out one of their cabins or bring your own RV or THOW for a short stay. We don't think you'll be disappointed! -Meg

_____________________________________

 

Now, with that out of the way, I'm going to post some photos I just took of the eastern edge of the park right along the Big Thompson River where there's a grouping of partial hookup spaces that I feel could be utilized as a semi or permanent tiny house community within the confines of Riverview. There are other areas of the park that the owner, should he choose to pursue such an idea, might prefer over this one, but I picked them because I have yet to see them used since we've been here and they're near a bath/laundry house on the property as a simple starting point. These sites do not presently have sewer connections, but the walk to the on-site dump station is short and the office staff stated that there may be connections added in the near future. They have water and electric hookups present, as well as their own fire rings for outside cooking. They also have an amazing view of the river right behind them!

Some adorable little rental cabins are on the other side of the street from them, so I felt like the aesthetic of grouping the tiny houses with the cabins was also a great fit. The area is somewhat secluded from the rest of the park, which also lends to the community-within-a-community feel. Near that area are also more partial hookup sites, tent camping sites, and the RV storage area at the very back of the property (you'll see it in a photo or two). During the winter you have wide open views around the park, and in the fall when we arrived the trees were still thick with colorful leaves aplenty. Quite a beautiful area if I do say so myself!

The rest of the park has some great amenities, including a second bath/laundry house, a gated off-leash dog park (you're responsible for picking up after your own pets no matter where they do their business FYI), a large central park with playground equipment, and a large covered picnic area that includes a stage and outdoor fireplace. There are trails and ponds around the property we've yet to check out, and you can fish in the Big Thompson River as well. There's a convenience store inside the office, and they have two rentable spaces for large gatherings. There are regular potlucks particularly around the holidays, and so far we've loved all the folks we've met who live here year round. Most if not all of the office and maintenance staff live on-site, so if hiccups do occur someone is available to help.

I could go on and on about how much we've enjoyed our stay here at Riverview and in the town of Loveland, CO, but I know our readers are more interested in seeing photos of the property and my suggested area for a tiny house community within Riverview RV Park and Campground. So, without further ado, here they are! 

 

 

 

Here's a panorama of the partial hookup area as seen from the big central park. That's the bath/laundry house in the foreground, and the spaces I'm thinking of are behind and slightly left of it. 

Here's a panorama of the partial hookup area as seen from the big central park. That's the bath/laundry house in the foreground, and the spaces I'm thinking of are behind and slightly left of it. 

This is the bath/laundry house at the back of the park, but there is another near the office. Where we are presently parked with our THOW puts both bath houses equidistant to us, but this one has private baths and showers vs. the dorm-like setup of the house near the office. There are additional showers on the back side of this building as well.

This is the bath/laundry house at the back of the park, but there is another near the office. Where we are presently parked with our THOW puts both bath houses equidistant to us, but this one has private baths and showers vs. the dorm-like setup of the house near the office. There are additional showers on the back side of this building as well.

This is a view to the southeast of the gated dog park. Here dogs are allowed off-leash, but everywhere else in the park requires them to be leashed. No pets are allowed in the central park playground area at all, and owners are always responsible for cleaning up after their pets. 

This is a view to the southeast of the gated dog park. Here dogs are allowed off-leash, but everywhere else in the park requires them to be leashed. No pets are allowed in the central park playground area at all, and owners are always responsible for cleaning up after their pets. 

These cute little cabins are part of what drew me to that area I think would work for a tiny house community. Their aesthetic would go great with THOWs, and they'd be your view across the street. 

These cute little cabins are part of what drew me to that area I think would work for a tiny house community. Their aesthetic would go great with THOWs, and they'd be your view across the street. 

This is a view of the Big Thompson River behind the parking spaces in question. What a lovely view! 

This is a view of the Big Thompson River behind the parking spaces in question. What a lovely view! 

This is a view looking east of some of the partial hookup spaces directly across from the little park cabins where I think tiny houses on wheels would fit well together. These sites have water and electric, but presently you'd have to haul your gray water (or black if you went that route) a short walk to the dump station. The office staff did tell me that sewer hookups may be added in the near future.

This is a view looking east of some of the partial hookup spaces directly across from the little park cabins where I think tiny houses on wheels would fit well together. These sites have water and electric, but presently you'd have to haul your gray water (or black if you went that route) a short walk to the dump station. The office staff did tell me that sewer hookups may be added in the near future.

This is looking northwest at the end of the row of partial hookup sites along the river. Those trees on the left create a little mini park area that divides these spaces from the full hookup spots closer to the front of the RV park. This division would also help create more of a micro community feel for the THOWs from the rest of the park I believe.

This is looking northwest at the end of the row of partial hookup sites along the river. Those trees on the left create a little mini park area that divides these spaces from the full hookup spots closer to the front of the RV park. This division would also help create more of a micro community feel for the THOWs from the rest of the park I believe.

This is the back of one of the partial hookup spaces where you can see the electrical hookup with the water spigot just below. There's a fire ring at each site, and there are picnic tables for each site currently being stored for the winter. You'd be able to roast marshmallows while watching the river from this spot. 💜 

This is the back of one of the partial hookup spaces where you can see the electrical hookup with the water spigot just below. There's a fire ring at each site, and there are picnic tables for each site currently being stored for the winter. You'd be able to roast marshmallows while watching the river from this spot. 💜 

This is a view from that same spot #157 looking over a couple of neighboring spots and through the tree grove toward the front of the RV park. That's one of the rentable cabins on the left, and in the distance you can see the covered picnic and stage area. 

This is a view from that same spot #157 looking over a couple of neighboring spots and through the tree grove toward the front of the RV park. That's one of the rentable cabins on the left, and in the distance you can see the covered picnic and stage area. 

Here's another view of the neighboring cabins from the back of space #157. To the left and behind of the cabins are additional partial hookup spaces and tent camping sites. 

Here's another view of the neighboring cabins from the back of space #157. To the left and behind of the cabins are additional partial hookup spaces and tent camping sites. 

Behind those trees are the tent camping sites and the RV storage area. The river bends around behind that storage area, and there are trails that meander off to the right of that area as well. 

Behind those trees are the tent camping sites and the RV storage area. The river bends around behind that storage area, and there are trails that meander off to the right of that area as well. 

Here's an easterly view from space #157 that shows more of the river and the neighboring spaces that direction. Beautiful! 

Here's an easterly view from space #157 that shows more of the river and the neighboring spaces that direction. Beautiful! 

If you squint, you can just make out our tiny house dead center in the image sticking out to the left of the playground equipment. This was taken on the walk back and looks across the big central park area.

If you squint, you can just make out our tiny house dead center in the image sticking out to the left of the playground equipment. This was taken on the walk back and looks across the big central park area.

This is the road toward the front of the RV park, and I was passing the grove of trees on my right that act as a divider between the full hookup sites ahead and the partial hookup sites just behind and to the right of me as I walked. Here you can see a view of the mountain that is directly across the street from the turn into Riverview. 

This is the road toward the front of the RV park, and I was passing the grove of trees on my right that act as a divider between the full hookup sites ahead and the partial hookup sites just behind and to the right of me as I walked. Here you can see a view of the mountain that is directly across the street from the turn into Riverview. 

Here's a look to the southwest where you can see the other little mountain flanking the park. 

Here's a look to the southwest where you can see the other little mountain flanking the park. 

These are full hookup sites that border the grove of trees I've mentioned. They're within that same area surrounding the bath/laundry house and could potentially house tiny houses, too. All of those decisions are solely that of the park owner, but since they are in close proximity to the partial hookup sites I wanted to show them as well. 

These are full hookup sites that border the grove of trees I've mentioned. They're within that same area surrounding the bath/laundry house and could potentially house tiny houses, too. All of those decisions are solely that of the park owner, but since they are in close proximity to the partial hookup sites I wanted to show them as well. 

Lastly, this photo was taken from the dump station next to the central park looking back toward the partial hookup sites where I believe a tiny house community within the RV park could be established. So long as those spaces have no sewer hookups you'd make this short walk to dump your waste, but the staff did say there was a possibility of them being converted to full hookup. 

Lastly, this photo was taken from the dump station next to the central park looking back toward the partial hookup sites where I believe a tiny house community within the RV park could be established. So long as those spaces have no sewer hookups you'd make this short walk to dump your waste, but the staff did say there was a possibility of them being converted to full hookup. 

As I talk more with the owner about my ideas, I will share what I find out with his permission. I did tell the staff the day I spoke with them about this possibility that the number one thing the park would need to work on in order to court more THOWs is to have more reliable WiFi service since so many folks who live in tiny houses work from home remotely via Internet. They advised me they were already working on improving the connections here, and in the meantime I've been doing some research of my own.

What I can tell you today with certainty is that no devices that run on the Sprint network will work here, which sadly leaves the otherwise awesome Karma Go concept out. Verizon and AT&T have strong signals all over this area, but unless you have a grandfathered unlimited plan they aren't exactly affordable options for heavy users. I will be buying and testing a T-Mobile device for our use in addition to our Verizon devices to see if that will work as an option for unlimited internet, even if they do throttle speeds after 16GB or thereabouts. According to their coverage map, Riverview is in their lowest signal range BUT there have been user confirmed connections within the park itself. I'll post our findings once I've had a chance to try out T-Mobile, and hopefully the improvements of the park will help bridge any remaining service gaps.

That's it for now! I do know you can bring your THOW for short stays already, so hopefully the idea of creating a more permanent community of them isn't out of the question for the owner. He and his staff are wonderful in our humble opinions, and even with a few hiccups here and there with water pressure and winter weather woes (all of which were quickly attended to by the staff I might add) we've been very pleased with our stay. Our son has loved being by the playground, and there are enough kiddos that cycle through to keep him out playing as often as we let him. The place is a great mix of ages and stages, and we highly recommend it!!

For more information, contact Riverview via their website or call - just know you might get someone different each time, and email replies are much slower than phone calls:

www.RiverviewRV.com or 970-667-9910

They are presently closed on Sundays and Mondays through the winter, and I don't suggest using their online reservation system if you plan to bring your THOW. Call them first so they can accommodate you properly, and let them know Maighen in the tiny house sent you!

Through 2016... AND BEYOND!!

And yes,  you're supposed to read that in Buzz Lightyear's voice. :)
 
So, 2015 has come and gone, and man are we POOPED! The year passed like a whirlwind, and the dust is most definitely still settling around us both on the tiny home front and with my work schedule. Even though our routines are normalizing here in Colorado and we're barely 2 days into the new year, we're still looking forward to our tiny house travel in a year or so. I know, I know. Focus on the now. Admittedly I've always been the type who likes to daydream about the future, and while I know I need to rein it back a bit to deal with current affairs, this post is about the "and beyond," too. I'll save the harsh(ish) realities for the end and share the cooler bits now.

Having now been exposed to three different groups of awesome THOW/RV families from Alaska (Tiny Tall House, Tiny House Growing Family, and  The Play Forest) and hearing about their adventures in their home state, we've been discussing changing our tiny house travel plans to include some interesting seasonal jobs - including a possible stint in AK vs. just visiting by cruise ship - rather than just sticking with travel nursing assignments. Also, it'd be great if the workload could be shared by us both and yet still allow plenty of time for Brand to work on school and us to explore as a family. I'd be a liar if I said I enjoy being the sole source of income all the time, but it's a burden I'm 100% willing to bear to put our whole family on the path toward what I think is the best goal anyone can ever set: to create a life you don't need a vacation from!

Now don't get me wrong - I love my career - but I'd much rather do something fun while we explore this great continent of ours. There'll be plenty more time for me to work in the clinical setting, and Brand has a long career ahead in a similar setting once he finishes school, too. Why not take advantage of the unique opportunities full-time THOW/RV traveling has to offer while we have the chance? After all, part of what has made our tiny house adventure possible is this brief window of time between both Brand and R.A.D being in school full-time. If ever there was an appropriate time for us to carpe this diem, that time is NOW!

So, here are a few seasonal and travel-friendly ideas I have for us:

Remote tele-transcription while on the East Coast visiting family? Done!
Sugar beet harvesting in Montana in the fall? Why not?!
Greenhorning on an Alaskan salmon boat in the spring or berry picking in the late summer? Heck yes!

The timing for adventures like those would have to align with our primary travel plans, but I can't deny the cool factor of telling people, "We fished on a salmon boat in Alaska," sure does have a lot of sway! Still, as fun as it is to plan for the future, no matter how close that future may really be, we do still have to focus on the here and now. Boring! But necessary, alas.

Of the many reasons we chose to spend a year or so in Colorado before hitting the road - still just a long day's drive from our Texas family; me being able to stay with my same employer; because Colorado, duh! - having the chance to pay off at least the vast majority of our debt (not counting the truck) while in a stable parking location and with stable employment was the numero uno "Pro" on our list. Unfortunately, the higher cost of living in the area, along with some unforeseen and expensive variables, has required me to take up a 2nd job again if we want to make any real headway toward becoming debt-free. It's not what I wanted for myself - I'd much rather be home with my boys or out exploring the beauty of this state - but the ends most definitely justify the means. I'm fortunate to have a career that allows me to work 12-hr days, which means I have 4 days off per week anyway. I'm more than willing to sacrifice an extra one to get the ball rolling on what is the most important piece of our traveling lifestyle puzzle!

We've been through the broke-cycle before, but this time is different because our priorities are different. Before we just wanted to pay cards down so we could buy more stuff. Now we want to pay cards OFF so we can close the accounts completely and really start building up savings. I know, I know. Closing cards will adversely affect our credit ratings, but we obtained most of those cards when we were young and broke (read: sky high interest rates and big annual fees). Unless we can talk the companies out of charging us annually for cards we won't use, we'd rather just keep the best few cards and take the debt-to-income ratio hit that sucks your credit score into the crapper. Yes, that may hurt us a bit when we do go to buy land in Washington - and who knows, maybe we'll suck it up and wait until after we do that - but I'd rather eliminate the temptation all together.

Anyway, no matter how we get from A to B, the end game is still the same: end 2016 without any (or at least very, VERY little) credit card debt remaining, save a yet-to-be-determined amount in our savings account plus an extra buffer amount strictly for travel expenses, and prepare to head out on our travels in early 2017. We've also got to squeeze in the time and squeeze out the funds to finish the remaining work on the tiny house itself. Can't forget that! If we've achieved our financial goals by the departure date, I see no reason we can't travel a bit more leisurely and take more adventurous jobs along the way to continue funding the journey.

We'd of course love it if we had enough saved to not HAVE to work along the way, but I'm a realist and know we'd need more than a year to achieve that unless I worked even more than I plan to now. I consider our time in Colorado to be a working vacation, and I'm not willing to completely sacrifice the vacation portion of the equation! Instead we have to get on the "Budget Train," something we've only used abstractly in the past, so we can buckle down our finances, prioritize the remaining house projects, and maximize my days off to explore our beautiful temporary home state.

I also want to share a link from Technomadia, who have a great post about working while traveling. That's actually where I found the sugar beet harvesting idea, along with a bunch of other really cool options for alternative income means. I've got another link I'll have to add later that gives even more non-office-based job ideas, which is where I found the info on doing mobile transcription. That one, incidentally, potentially pays pretty well. Definitely worth looking at if you've got the skills to listen to audio tapes and accurately type out what you hear. Maybe my medical background will give me an in to the higher paying medical transcription options. Hmm... :)

That's it from us for now. We hope your holidays were merry and bright, and we wish you all the best for a prosperous, adventurous, and productive 2016... AND BEYOND! 

<3

Karma (Don't) Go

Well, as I feared, the Karma Go wifi hotspot will not work for us at Riverview. The Sprint network, which they piggy back off of, is spotty at best anyway, and a look at their coverage map shows it dancing all around us yet skipping over our precise location so completely. I tried repeatedly to move the device all over the house to pick up signal, and I actually briefly did in the munchkin's room. By the time I walked to the iMac in the great room to see if the Karma option populated in the wifi networks drop down list, however, it was disconnected and showed only the green battery power light. C'est la vie - I knew it was a hazard going in.

Here's what comes with your Karma Go wifi hotspot.  

Here's what comes with your Karma Go wifi hotspot.  

We do have a pre-paid month of unlimited wifi, however, so I'll take it and use it with my laptop in town to really test out its capabilities all the same.  I think I will discontinue the Neverstop plan but keep the device and reinstate it once we start traveling. A rep said the plan automatically reverts to the Refuel option at the end of your prepaid month if you cancel the auto-billed subscription, so at least it'll be easy to pause until we head out.

That yellow thumb tack is our precise location. DOH! 

That yellow thumb tack is our precise location. DOH! 

Now, however, I still need to find an alternative and less expensive internet source. I can't sustain a cell bill larger than our truck insurance and more than half our monthly lot rent! I'm thinking a T-Mobile unlimited plan with the cheapest phone they have will be my next try, and if that doesn't work it'll be on to AT&T.

Any other suggestions? 

Nature's Head: 1.... TinyHouse43: -3648272

We have failed as #NaturesHead owners. 🚽

 

Not only have we overflowed our pee jug multiple times despite marking the side with a "do not pass this" line because the naturally occurring discoloration masks the ability to determine the fluid level, but apparently we somehow shoved toilet paper into the urine diverter. Know what that means? Yep, you guessed it: our #1 and #2 mixed, thus defeating the purpose of a urine diverting compost toilet and surpassing the wetness the built in little fan can dry out.

 

So... no dry, earthy-smelling compost for us this time around. All I can say is that I am DAMN GRATEFUL for my husband and his willingness to tackle Mount 💩, and he's damn grateful for the bottle of whiskey he keeps on top of the fridge. I'm also thankful for our collective cold tolerance as we opened all the windows and turned on the ceiling fan to dissipate the nasal onslaught in 30 degree weather.

 

Here are a few lessons we've learned and tips to avoid our mistakes that we're passing on to you, dear (likely a little green around the gills now) readers... 😱

 

1) Spring for the rapid dissolve TP ⌛️, and use it as sparingly as possible. The regular stuff is your enemy. Trust me. If you're the Al Bundy type who likes a mitt for each use, you're going to have to GTFOI quick lest you risk disaster in your immediate voiding future. We thought we could get away with our Charmin Ultra. In the words of Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor...

image.jpg

 

2) Make absolutely, positively certain your trap door is COMPLETELY CLOSED with each #1 use, especially if you have kids! Our little guy is good about opening it, but he doesn't alays remember to close it. On at least two occasions I've found this out the hard way after stumbling down the stairs with a full bladder at 0-dark-30 and not turning on the light. Oops. 💡

 

3) To everything, churn, churn, churn... 🎤 Seiously. Whether it's One or Two, crank that handle a LOT. Every. Single. Time. If the TP piles up, you run the risk of it getting stuck in the urine diverter or wedging itself in the trap door. Either way, your literally pissing away your chance at creating proper compost. 

 

4) And speaking of cranking... always crank your mixing handle counterclockwise as this should help reduce the likelihood you inadvertently shove the aforementioned TP into the urine diverter. If TP does find its way into the diverter, remove it ASAP. Are you finding a pattern to these warnings yet?? ⏰

 

5) Clean your pee jug regularly with vinegar to keep the discoloration at bay. Believe me when I say you WILL cry over repeatedly spilled pee. 😩

 

6) Consider buying a second pee jug just in case you can't keep the first one clean enough to know when to empty it before it overflows. This was sage advice passed on to us, and we are taking it. ✌🏻️

 

If we've learned anything in our first two months of using a compost toilet full time with a little kiddo, it's that Nature's Head takes constant vigilance to avoid an excremental disaster. We've had a very busy, erratic schedule since we moved to Colorado that has led us to be much more distracted than usual, and I'm more than willing to bet that absentmindedness has greatly contributed to this cluster suck as well. That said, the six tips above should help greatly mitigate the likelihood of a similar outcome to our first go round the stinkberry bush. I sure as hell hope so anyway. Brand's liver won't hold up to another Poopocalype Now, and my nose hairs are going to need at least a couple months to regrow.

Wintry Colorado Thanksgiving

Today we had our first real snow with staying power (two previous dustings were melted by mid afternoon), so we had a nice lazy day alternately playing in the snow and warming back up watching movies in front of the heater. Here are a few shots of our tiny and the RV park covered in snow for you to enjoy hopefully while enjoying a nice, warm cup of cocoa or a hot toddy... whatever strikes your fancy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and here's to a wonderful holiday season for us all!

-Meg, Brandy, and R.A.D

 

The view out the big blue window was magical this morning. 

The view out the big blue window was magical this morning. 

Based on the picnic table, I'm guessing 4-6" by 0900. ❄️ 

Based on the picnic table, I'm guessing 4-6" by 0900. ❄️ 

Almost postcard worthy with a little photoshop editing perhaps. 😉 

Almost postcard worthy with a little photoshop editing perhaps. 😉 

The insulation skirt seems to be holding up pretty well even if it's not exactly winning any beauty contests.

The insulation skirt seems to be holding up pretty well even if it's not exactly winning any beauty contests.

I love how big the snowflakes are. It snowed all day long, too! 

I love how big the snowflakes are. It snowed all day long, too! 

Probably the best part of our parking spot is being right across the road from the park. Even covered in snow it's hard to keep the munchkin away! 

Probably the best part of our parking spot is being right across the road from the park. Even covered in snow it's hard to keep the munchkin away! 

A wintry wonderland for certain. ❄️☃🌨 

A wintry wonderland for certain. ❄️☃🌨 

Our handsome little snow angel.  

Our handsome little snow angel.