Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
― Lao Tzu
Today I have big news to share with you. Last week, Logan and I rented a small cottage in Yreka, California for the winter. The cottage reminds me of my grandparents’ home—a little abode I wrote about in my book, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap).
We opted to leave our tiny house on my in-laws’ property. It’s roughly 15 miles from Yreka, and we will use our little house on the weekends. However, we won’t be living in the space full-time during winter.
Points of Clarity
Before you continue reading, please keep the following points in mind:
First, I am sharing the challenges we’ve experienced in the tiny house—not to complain, but to be honest about my experience in the space.
Second, there are numerous benefits to tiny house living, but it isn’t picture perfect, romantic, or glamorous. If you decide to buy a tiny house, make sure you understand the rewards and risks.
Finally, I am committed to living simply. In my book and in past articles, I emphasize that living simply isn’t about austerity. In addition, residing in a tiny house on wheels isn’t a prerequisite to living a simple and happy life. However, making mindful choices is important.
The Backstory and Why We Are Moving Into Town
We’ve lived in our tiny house full-time for the last three years, and we’ve moved the house frequently. We lived in Portland, OR, Red Bluff, CA, Chico, CA, and in Siskiyou County, CA.
When we moved into our little home in October of 2011, we knew there would be risks. We knew it would be hard to find a place to park our home because most little houses aren’t classified as RVs or mobile homes. Typically, they fall into a zoning gray area, and in most cities, tiny homes on wheels aren’t technically legal.
Prior to moving into the tiny house, I realized towing the house down the road and settling into new communities would be challenging. Naively, I thought I’d be able to cope with the stress of moving the house multiple times. However, I’ve learned that isn’t true. Moving the house is stressful, and contending with zoning laws isn’t fun. Currently, the house is legally parked, and at this time I don’t want to move it off my in-laws’ property.
Overall we’ve enjoyed living in our wee abode. However, Siskiyou County winters can be challenging in a little house on wheels. For instance, during the winter of 2012/2013 we experienced the following challenges:
- Our water lines froze, so Logan had to carry our water to the house.
- Our gray water plumbing froze.
- Our outdoor compost froze.
- The roads were icy, which made driving and cycling conditions scary.
- I had trouble climbing up and down the loft ladder because of my bad back and hip.
These challenges taught us to be grateful for first-world amenities, like running water and warm showers. I’ve also gained a deep respect for the natural world and the changing seasons. That being said, Logan and I want more ease in our daily lives as the weather gets cold.
The Cottage & New Belongings
The cottage is roughly 700 square-feet and it was built in the 1920s. The house was remodeled recently, which is great for us! The windows are new, the insulation is new, and there are a few skylights, too.
Living in the cottage will be a good change for us. Logan’s office is less than two miles from our new home, so he can easily walk or cycle to work. I’m excited to be close to coffee shops and the local park, and I’m excited that we will be driving less. Plus, I’m looking forward to hosting dinner parties on cold winter nights.
We don’t have much stuff to move because we’ve downsized so dramatically. We will move most of our belongings (like our clothes, books, kitchen gear, and a few pieces of art) from the tiny house to the cottage. However, we are leaving the bed in the tiny house because we will use the space on weekend getaway trips during winter and want a cozy place to sleep. So, we are looking for a new bed and a few pieces of furniture for the cottage.
Other than our bed, we won’t buy new furniture or other belongings for the space; anything we need can be found at Goodwill or the Yreka Trading Post. Also, friends have offered to give us some of their extra stuff. Interestingly, our decision to move has brought up fascinating discussions with friends regarding stuff and why we hold onto belongings that we don’t use regularly.
The Power of Serendipity and Parting Words
At the end of September, we started to talk seriously about moving into town for the winter. On October 5, I told “the moms” (my mom and Logan’s mom) about the idea. I remember the date because my mom was visiting us that weekend. For fun, we drove around Yreka looking at homes for sale. I wasn’t interested in buying a house, but I told my mother-in-law, Joan, to keep her eyes and ears open for cute rentals. A few days later, Joan sent me a text message about the cottage.
I told my sister-in-law, Tina, about these serendipitous connections, and she said, “Isn’t it weird how some things just work out with little effort? I always find those turn out to be the best choices. Good signs for the move ahead!”
I whole-heartedly agree with Tina! I don’t know if we will enjoy living in town or not. However, there is only one way to find out, and that’s by trying it on for size. I see this move as another experiment in living simply, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. And, we can always return to the tiny house if everything falls apart. I look forward to sharing our new adventure with you.
Before you go …
Last year I got together with friends and simplicity authors to create A Simple Year to encourage simplicity in a gentle way all year long. We’ve had fun getting to know course members and creating new material on a variety of different topics — from work to decluttering — to keep simple living approachable.
Join us for the 2015 simple year course and study topics like money, relationships, food, and more! Course details can be found at simpleyear.co.