Tiny house nation

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/

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!

image.jpg

 

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.

image.jpg

 

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

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! 😜

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!