Nothing can prepare you for tiny home living like holding up in a travel trailer. Yes, we have moved our travel trailer out to our new property, and this will be home for a while as we build.
I have seen the TV shows about living tiny, and I always giggle to myself. These couples, and in some cases whole families, decide to go from a 3k plus square foot home down to a 400 foot-ish tiny house. With little to no experience living tiny, they jump in head first. A few times, I’ve seen some “where are they now” episodes to see what adjustments these couples have made since their original move in date. Most the time, it’s just a few comments about adding some more storage. What I have never seen though, is a “where are they now” after several years in their tiny house. Especially those that move in with small children that had an “Oh so adorable” little tiny loft as their bedroom but who are now teenagers.
The best part about the way we are proceeding is that it defiantly prepares you to understand what you need and what you don’t when you go to build your permanent structure. We are using this time to understand our true needs. Granted, our house will not be SUPER tiny, but it will be small (About 672 sq. foot). Just right for Jeff and I and without all the unnecessary space to clutter up. Plus, our plan includes a great deal of outdoor living space. Since we spend so much time working with the animals and garden, we don’t need much for indoors. In just the short time of living in the trailer, we have already “tweaked” our home plans to add a bit more counter space. We also changed the layout in one room to make it more pet friendly since our dogs seem to be always underfoot in the trailer. I expect, after about a year of this, we will change a few more things. Again though, this is a fantastic trial period. We do have one major advantage over those TV show families though – We still have our house about 25 minutes away. Yes, we gave it to the kids, but much of our items that we will be putting in our new home are still there – so no storage fees!
I’m not saying this isn’t an adjustment though. The dogs are my biggest concern. I love my fur babies, and they DO NOT like change. Katie though, with her anxiety issues, seems to have actually settled in pretty well finally. Toby though, he is moping around like a sulking teenager. There are so many new smells out on this property, but until we get the perimeter fenced in, he is going to have to stay within eyesight – and he isn’t happy about that. He is an explorer, and we just don’t have the time to walk him around the entire 5 acres every day so he can mark everything. Now, before I start getting nasty comments – yes, we do take them out and walk them often… but for our Toby, this is all he wants to do, every day, 24 hours straight, if he could. So, perimeter fencing will be one of our top priorities.
Apart from the dogs, trailer life isn’t too bad. There are some issues we have discovered though. So, if you are thinking about living in a travel trailer for any reason for any length of time, here are some points I would like to make:
1) It’s small
a. I know, when you buy one, you think to yourself, “Wow, this is quite roomy”… no, it’s not. Not if you plan on staying in it for a while.
2) It’s damp - Consider investing in a dehumidifier.
a. Propane puts off a lot of moisture, so make sure you have some air flow when cooking. Also, you know how your bathroom steams up when you take a shower? Keep in mind, these trailers aren’t that big… so once you open that bathroom door after a shower – EVERYTHING steams up! So, like any container, when the temperature is different between the inside and outside – you get condensation. Trailers aren’t like homes and they don’t have an attic. You’d be surprised how important your attic is (it’s not just for storing Christmas decorations).
3) It’s noisy
a. I am amazed at how low the volume on the TV needs to be for me to hear it clearly. Again, it’s a box, and the sound just bounces around the walls, so you don’t need to make much noise before it is simply too loud. Oh, and when the dog barks – WOW!!
4) Tanks are small
a. We do not have our grey water hooked up to septic yet – and that tank must be super tiny because it fills up super quick. We have a switch on our shower that lets us cut the flow of water while we lather up, but still - taking two showers and doing the dishes twice will put us at 2/3 full.
5) Showers are quick
a. For the reason stated above, there is no such thing as a long, relaxing, hot shower. You jump in, get wet, pause the water, lather up, open the water, rinse off – and done. That’s it… don’t even think about trying to enjoy it.
Now, I didn’t put everything on that quick list. Some things I just think are common sense, such as storage, no king size bed with pillow top mattress (not in most anyway), very little freezer space, etc. However, we don’t want you to think this living situation is completely a bad idea. Sure, we want to get our house built, but we are happy to live in this trailer as long as it takes. We want to really take our time and get our home just right since this will be the last house we will have.
There actually are good things to living this way, and we felt it was only fair to let everyone know that it’s not all cramped “doom-and-gloom”.
1) Easy cleaning
a. It now takes me all of about 10 minutes to wash dishes, sweep the floor, make the bed, clean the bathroom, wipe off every surface, and straighten up. With such little space, you tend to make sure you keep things picked up, so cleaning is a breeze.
2) Crazy organization
a. I like staying organized, and living in a trailer opens your mind up to a whole new world of “where can I put stuff”. Trailers actually make this quite nice… they incorporate a lot of nooks and crannies into their design (hmmm… that gives me a new idea for another change to the home plans).
a. Jeff and I have never been closer – not just physically either (going from a queen size bed to a trailer version of a queen size bed (no, they are not always the same) will defiantly put you physically closer). We are actually closer. I don’t mind telling you, after being together 30 years, and married for 27 of them – I get so excited to see him every day when we get home from our regular jobs. We have a little table to eat at, and a little sofa to sit on.... This has been the best thing we have ever done.
4) Little waste
a. As previously stated, there is no such thing as a long shower. We have come to realize just how inefficient we have been, even though we have never considered ourselves to be wasteful. You can actually do quite a bit off of very little water. From brushing your teeth, doing dishes (which I will explain in my next blog), showering, and cleaning. A little takes you quite far. Even though we have a well, this is something we will continue to practice once our house is built (though my showers may be a bit longer).
Now, I know some of you are asking WHY IN THE WORLD would you choose to live in a travel trailer on your property if you have a house 25 minutes away. Well, there are two reasons.
1) We have three adult children (27, 25, & 23), the two oldest moved to the Carolinas with us. Since moving, it has always been our intention to give them the house. We knew we wanted to get some acreage and living together with the kids was temporary. So we raised three, we got three diplomas, and nobody has been to jail – we’re done. This is our time. Of course, we adore our children, but we want to do our own thing now.
2) Being empty nesters isn’t the only reason though. Time is the biggest factor. Jeff and I still both work full time jobs. Plus, we have the business. Plus, we have the homestead. Getting off work, going to the house, taking care of things there, then driving out to the new property to try and get something done – WAS NOT WORKING OUT. The only way we can progress, is to take ourselves away from managing the house, and reduce our drive time. Now, when we get off work, we go straight to the property. Even if I just fell one tree, that’s more than getting nothing done at all.
We are completely loving this new piece of paradise and transforming it is going to be worth every second. Follow along as we continue to share our updates – and feel free to share any great ideas you may have that you think might help us throughout this journey.