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On Tiny Homes & The Question of Forever

Tiny house round-up

Since we moved into our tiny house, I’ve tried to be honest about the benefits and challenges of living in such a wee abode on wheels. However, I become concerned when I receive emails and comments from folks who assume my life is perfect or that buying a tiny house has solved all my problems. Both are false assumptions. My life isn’t perfect and buying a little house didn’t magically make my worries disappear. As I’ve said in my book, and in prior blog posts, our tiny house is an experiment in living simply.

The ability to voluntarily simplify my life and choose what type of home I reside in is a privilege. Most people around the world don’t have that kind of opportunity. Housing is a basic need and it’s extremely important.

However, a house won’t reassure you when you feel alone, a house won’t take care of your injured body or help you heal from grief, and a house certainly won’t protect you from a wildfire. Those needs can be met through your core relationships, your larger community, and the relationship you have with yourself.

If you are thinking of buying a tiny house on wheels, do your research. Contact a respected tiny house designer and builder, talk to your local planning department, discuss your options with trusted friends and family members, and finally don’t purchase a house — of any size — on impulse.

Living in our tiny house has been a wonderful adventure and I’m happy we bought our wee abode. We don’t have immediate plans to upsize, but I don’t know if we will live in the space forever. Life is uncertain and it is never static. Regardless of how my life will change in the future, I will continue to experiment with living simply. I’ve learned that there are many ways to live simply, even without a tiny house on wheels.

Be well,

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cynthia August 7, 2014, 9:55 am

    Wise words. I love your tiny home, but I know that I wouldn’t want one for myself. For my husband and I, renting a small one-bedroom apartment downtown, gives us the freedom, flexibility and access we need; owning a house, of any size, requires upkeep and planning that we’re just not interested in spending time on.

    Simple living is about knowing what your specific needs/wants are, and sticking to those; you don’t have to do what other people are doing.

    I do think it’s great that these tiny houses are becoming more popular and available; they fill a need for many people, and show that you don’t need a giant house to have a fulfilling life.


    • Tammy Strobel August 7, 2014, 10:21 am

      I couldn’t agree more, Cynthia. Your comment is true & wise! Hugs. 🙂

  • Sharle Kinnear August 7, 2014, 10:17 am

    Wise words! Been thinking about you as I follow the fires in Northern California. Hope you and your in laws are okay….. I love your posts, and I have your book propped on my piano…. Hope to take a photo class someday….. Stay safe up there!

    • Tammy Strobel August 7, 2014, 10:23 am

      Thanks Sharle. I appreciate the comment and thank you for buying my book! 🙂

      We are doing okay. Sadly, August is going to be a smoke filled & hot month. I had so many hiking plans, but those aren’t feasible until the fires are out. I’m so grateful for firefighters.


  • Madiantin August 7, 2014, 10:25 am

    I love your realistic wisdom.

  • Linda long August 7, 2014, 11:09 am

    Ditto. Xxo

  • Rebecca August 7, 2014, 11:52 am

    Not too long ago, I re-encountered some of what you wrote about your kitchen inventory and storage in your tiny house back in 2011 and 2012 (which I’ve really appreciated):


    I recently packed up the majority of my kitchen supplies into a moving pod for 2 months, and so got to thinking about what to keep out and the idea of using items that can double as camping supplies (thank you for that!). But it all made me curious to know how well things have gone in your tiny kitchen since these posts (the tie-in being about life changes, as discussed here) – have there been any changes to what you buy, how you cook, and what you eat, across the different places you’ve lived over the past two years? Has your relationship with your tiny kitchen changed much?

    • Tammy Strobel August 7, 2014, 1:27 pm

      Hi Rebecca,

      Everything is the same in the kitchen. We did purchase a small refrigerator, though. Now that we live in a rural area, we need it. 🙂


      • Rebecca August 11, 2014, 1:56 pm

        Interesting to hear, Tammy. I just had a conversation with my new roommates this morning about food storage, as we’re all the kinds of people who try to get stuff when it’s in season and cheap, and then can/freeze/dry things to ensure a year-round supply. But doing that takes time, supplies, and storage space. I’m grateful to be around others with whom I can share the necessary equipment, at least for the time being.

  • Randy Martinez August 7, 2014, 3:35 pm

    Tammy, your posting is very wise. I remember watching one episode of Tiny Homes where the host measured out a ten foot piece of rope and tied it the couple, telling them that they were never going to be any farther apart when they were in their tiny home. You could both see their faces saying “Wow, that could really suck”.

    Good posting!

  • fletch August 7, 2014, 4:20 pm

    I would love a tiny home, but have one issue that isn’t open to modification…. i’m 6’2 in bare feet.

    most homes with a loft have a ceiling height on the main level under 6 feet. if i’ wearing shoes/boots i’m 6’4 at least.

    how do “giants” go tiny without giving up a loft?

    • Craig August 7, 2014, 11:38 pm

      I have this same problem being 6’5″ in bare feet, which is why the designs I’ve tinkered with are based around step lofts like this or no loft at all and instead dedicating floor space to a bed or use a Murphy bed. Other options include lowering the bed from the ceiling or sliding the bed out from under a raised section of floor, I’ve even seen designs with underfloor beds (which I would never do if you use propane or LPG in the house).

    • Tammy Strobel August 8, 2014, 7:27 am


      My husband is over 6 feet tall and he fits into our house just fine. We also took his height into consideration during the design process. Also, check this out: http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/tall-mans-tiny-house/


    • Gemma Seymour August 10, 2014, 6:00 pm

      I’m not quite that tall, but I am 6′ 1″+, and even more so in heels. I’m planning a lofted tiny house built using 4½” SIPS where the loft height is planned to be 88″ above the main deck. The ceiling height underneath should work out to about 82″ and I should be able to utilize a standard 80″ (6′ 8″) door. I’m trying to stay with the standard 13′ 6″ and 8′ 6″ DOT height and width, and I think I can do it and still have about 4′ of max ceiling height in the lofts.

  • beachmama August 7, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Beautifully, beautifully said Tammy . . . and so poignant for me right now about the fires . . . my son is at the family cabin on the Eel River (across from the Big Bend Lodge in Leggett) and in the heat of the raging fire, literally . . . they are holding up and ready to bolt. But all of the intensity really has me stripped down to the simple things that matter, family. The community up there is tiny but supportive. The camaraderie and effort to save property and lives has been more education for my 18 year-old son (and his girlfriend) than he could receive in any academic course IMO. Pulling together for the good of all and having a direct hand in what appears to be an unstoppable force is huge . . . they’re OK for now, they’re a very capable bunch with heavy equipment to clear and strong spirits. Cal Fire has been truly amazing. The family cabin is their last line of defense and they are putting in heroic effort to save the cabin and to stop the fire going up the canyon. You can live anywhere in anything but community is where you find it, where you create it, and where you put in the effort.

  • Lauren Boucher August 7, 2014, 7:57 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, but I’ve never replied.
    This post is one of your best: simple, straightforward, honest, and I couldn’t agree with you more. So many people are without choice. Your choice is challenging, and from the outside looking in, some people may see you as a celebrity — and to some degree you are. However, that doesn’t mean life is perfect; it never is perfect.
    Thanks for reminding us that you — like all of us — are faced with daily challenges.

  • Samantha August 8, 2014, 1:16 am

    A lovely article Tammy, straight to the point. I think that being in the public eye can make you the subject of scrutiny, and certainly people will tell you what they think. I admire your choice to try “small house living” and it is also your choice to change that if you please. You will always have many supporters due to your kind and honest ways.

    • Tammy Strobel August 8, 2014, 7:29 am

      Thanks Sam! I appreciate your kinds words. 🙂

  • therapyjourney August 8, 2014, 8:24 am

    Such a cute house! All the best

  • Jeremy Beasley August 8, 2014, 8:26 am

    Right on!

    Thanks for sharing Tammy 🙂

  • Annie August 8, 2014, 8:48 am

    Well said! Your words are relevant to so much more than tiny houses and living simply… thank you! I passed it on to my sisters and a friend. I am a new subscriber, love your blog and going to begin your photography course on Monday. I can hardly wait!

  • Katie August 9, 2014, 8:21 am

    This is a great message Tammy. Living situations and choices are very personal – what works for one person may not suit another. For me, my tiny van home brings a lot of joy to me for several reasons – my rent is so low it is virtually non-existent; we get to live in a community of fun van-dwelling people; having less makes me appreciate the things I do have and the connections with people around me.

    However, the same reasons could be hell for another person! It’s something I’m pondering about myself – and have future plans to have a small home that is a little larger than 8metres square! X

  • vina lustado August 10, 2014, 12:45 pm

    Hi Tammy- Those are good points that you raise. While I respect everyone’s reasons for living tiny (temporary or not), one aspect I love about tiny houses is that I can afford to build a house that is of high quality (with solar panels, fireplace, skylights, rainscreen, etc). I spent about 40K for high quality materials and to be off the grid. I could never spend that much on a bigger house, nor build one myself any bigger. I plan on living in my Tiny House forever. The wheels allows me the flexibility to move and change as my life changes. For more space, I can add a tiny office, a tiny bedroom, or whatever else I need. For me, this is an environmental issue (for longevity and durability) as well as economic. Here’s more on the subject: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/30218742/list/houzz-tour-going-off-the-grid-in-140-square-feet

    • Gemma Seymour August 10, 2014, 6:16 pm

      That is a lovely article, and she’s living exactly where I ant to end up, in Ojai, CA, surrounded by mandarine, lemon, and avocado trees. 😀

      • vina lustado August 10, 2014, 6:58 pm

        Hi Gemma – My name is Vina and that article was about me and my Tiny House 🙂 Ojai is indeed a magical place to live, with an amazing community and the beauty of nature surrounding us. Speaking of trees: One of my favorite things is to watch a citrus tree flourish as a result of my simple greywater system. I recycle all of my shower and sink water, and now the citrus tree bears grapefruit!

  • Gemma Seymour August 10, 2014, 6:13 pm

    I finally realised, and I don’t know why my brain was stuck on this, that if and when I decide to move into a bigger house, I can either sell my tiny house, or simply park it in the backyard, and utilise it for guests. I wish I’d been thinking clearer about life 15 years ago; I’d already be where I want to be right now. But, the tiny house I am planning is going to be 8′ 6″ wide by 28′ 6″ long by 13′ 6″ high. It will have a total square footage of 322 square feet, and as I simplify my life, I realise that not everything in my life needs to fit in my house. I can have a garden shed, too, or a storage unit, if I want. I’m also planning on having a teardrop trailer for roadtrips and camping, and an outdoor kitchen where I can cook during the summer months.

    My tiny house design is designed to accommodate everything I really need indoors, and nothing else. I’m nearing the later stages of design, and I’ve had to make surprisingly few compromises, so far. I’ll even have a washer/dryer, a full 36″ x 36″ shower with a private dressing area and vanity outside the bathroom, and a woodstove, too. I’ll be able to sleep four, and with the teardrop, six in a pinch during nice weather.

    My daughter is 9 years old. In ten years, she’ll be an adult, and if I’ve decided to trade up to a larger, more permanent home, maybe she’ll appreciate the tiny house for herself. For me, the whole point of living tiny is living less permanently, less fixedly, and more sustainably. I honestly have no idea why I resisted the idea for so long, save for the concerns I have about accessibility for the disabled.

  • Cathy August 12, 2014, 7:52 pm

    This is soo cool!! Thanks for sharing!
    I have seen these ‘tiny houses’ all over pinterest and in magazines but I have never actually heard from anyone who has lived in one. Super cool and again thanks for sharing!

  • terre August 16, 2014, 10:03 am

    I am heeding your cautionary words by trying to live without so much ‘stuff’ first. (did I really need that melon baller or EGG slicer?!) What is also difficult is learning to not be judgmental (or envious) about my friends/neighbors/family who are still ‘acquisitive’, and love having 15 pots and pans, including tiny bundt pans in the shape of Christmas trees and sunflowers! Or 12 sets of glasses.- yet they still serve the kids in plastic ones. I really have issues to work on.

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