ROAR: Hey Kathleen & Greg, we love all your pics and the name 'Tiny house Tiny footprint' and want to share your story. What's the background that got you to here?
Tiny House: If you would have asked my 27-year-old self (I’m 29 now) where I would be living in the next year or two, I most likely would have told you that it would be in an apartment in a city somewhere. At the time, I didn’t know of anyone my age that was living small.
Almost two years ago, I met Greg and we felt (like most couples do in the honeymoon phase) that we wanted to spend as much time as possible together. Within a few months of dating, he moved into my two-bedroom apartment in the city. When our lease was coming to an end in the fall, we started to talk what types of homes and where we wanted to live next.
Greg had lived in a van with a friend in New Zealand eight years ago. And even though quite some time had elapsed, he always had exciting stories from his adventures living in 50 square feet. We started to talk about what our life together would be like in a smaller space. I wasn’t so convinced I could adapt to the tiny lifestyle as easily as Greg could. After all, he had done it before and I was used to living in houses and apartments. At the time, I only had a handful of camping trips under my belt and was quite timid to take on new adventures.
As a compromise for not ‘living in a van small,’ Greg and I started to look at camper trailers on Craigslist. When we stepped inside a 1969 Terry camper trailer (140 square feet), we both got excited and made the purchase.
Finding land wasn’t as simple. After encountering dead ends on Craigslist and other similar sites, we got desperate. We started to ask friends and coworkers, but nobody had any leads. We ended up contacting people on Airbnb and asking if they would be open to renting out their land instead of their houses. Quite surprising to us, this worked in our favor. We got a few offers and ended up choosing a family that had a beautiful backyard near open space.
Currently, we have access to their electricity and WiFi, but we use our own gallons of water. I chose the name, “Tiny House, Tiny Footprint” because the camper trailer is acting as our tiny house and we reduced our environmental footprint by downsizing and becoming more conscious of our water supply.
ROAR: We get asked a lot how we fund our adventures and living in a van which we reply work haha. How do you guys do it and what do you do?
Tiny House: Greg and I both work full-time jobs that require us to be in one location 40 hours a week. I am a communications professional and Greg is a landscape architect. We would love to live on the road, but currently our jobs will not support that kind of lifestyle. Instead, we take micro trips on the weekends and explore locally during weeknights. Our goal is to save up enough money to be able to take longer trips and to take our professions on the road.
ROAR: Tell us some funny stories about the challenges of living in tiny spaces as we know from personal experience there is a lot hah!
Oh man! We can’t pretend like the first few months weren’t the hardest in our relationship.
Greg and I went from 1,000 square feet to 140. When we first moved in, we bumped into each other all the time and had to learn when to give the other person space. When we had disagreements, anger would quickly fill our tiny home and it would become a toxic place to live in. We had no choice but to learn how to control our emotions and talk things out right away.
Greg and I have a full-sized fridge that we use, but it is located outside the camper trailer. We use the inside fridge as a storage container instead.
In the beginning, we often got lazy and would skip meals because we didn’t want to go outside. Often times we would go out to eat and bring home leftovers just to have something easy to eat the next day. It took some time to adapt to cooking in a small space and figuring out the best items to purchase at the store.
October in Colorado can be cold at night and the camper trailer wasn’t properly insulated to handle the harsh weather. Greg had to work fast to create insulation blocks covered in radiant barrier to stick into our windows to block out the cold air. Unfortunately, the process took some time and we had to bundle up to sleep at night, enduring a few cold nights and mornings.
Water has been our biggest challenge. Since we are not connected to a hose, we shower at the gym instead. It can be frustrating having to unpack and pack a bag daily with our work clothes, head to the gym to shower and get ready there.
We have to pour soap on our dishes and heat up water in an electric kettle before we can start washing dishes, which in turn can be a slow process. Every 2-3 weeks, we have to take our laundry to a Laundromat or a friend’s house.
ROAR: We have many of those same issues haha. What are the highlights and why do you keep living this lifestyle?
One of my favourite memories was a cold night in November when our electricity went out. We were using an electric heater to stay warm and when that shut off, we got cold really fast. Greg quickly turned on our propane and within minutes, we were toasty again. I turned to Greg and said, “We’re officially living off the grid!” To which he said, “Isn’t it great?” I think it was at that moment that we knew that we could live anywhere together.
We have had some amazing opportunities since living this lifestyle. The people in the tiny house movement are some of the best we have ever met. They are genuine people who enjoy exploring new places and adventuring. They are intoxicating to be around.
During the first few months living in the camper trailer, I saw this project as temporary and looked forward to living somewhere else. Now (after nine months), I can’t imagine living in anything larger. Since we are not tied to our home or possessions, we find it easy to go on more adventures outside. When choosing between staying in a hotel or sleeping in a tent, we always chose the latter.
ROAR: We love the idea of your new blog sharing stories tell us all about it?
Last month, we were featured on one of our favorite blogs, Nurturing Soul: Home is Where You Park It series. That opportunity helped us connect with some amazing people in the tiny house movement and we wanted to highlight some of them. Since I am a journalist in my profession, I would much rather hear others’ stories than talk about myself.
In my Roll with Me blog series, I will feature several types of tiny homes (vans, camper trailers, Airstreams, tiny houses) and give people a snapshot of what it’s like. Everyone has a different story and I’m hoping to share as many as I can.
ROAR: What's next for you guys?
Greg and I have a lot of options, which feels good and daunting at the same time! We would love to either save up our money to buy our own land or hit the road in a smaller vehicle.
Finding land has been difficult as it is almost always more expensive than buying a house. Down payments for raw land can range from 20-50%. We would love to find a tiny house village that we could stay at so that we could avoid high costs.
We are finding that the camper trailer makes a great home, but it is too large for long trips. We could easily live out of a car or a van if we could work on the road.