I used to think I had it all. A nice four-bedroom house in a great neighborhood, a pool (with jacuzzi), some really awesome parks nearby, neighborhood block parties, what more could I ask for? Then my wife shook up my world by introducing me to the concept of tiny-house living.
Although I resisted the concept at first, I made sure to do my homework anyway — spending the next few days indulging in a full YouTube binge on the topic.
Coming out of that I realized this is more than a basic decision on where to live, its an entire philosophy on how to live. Its called minimalism and it is really starting to become a thing. There are entire communities of people who have rejected the traditional way of doing things and decided to live by the motto “less is more” instead.
Colin Wright, a leading voice on minimalism, describes it this way:
What Minimalism is really all about is a reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life.
Minimalists are not anti-consumption, they are just intentional about what they consume. They want their time, energy, and resources (including money) to be spent on things that genuinely add value to their lives.
I can’t argue with that. I think all of us want this deep down anyway. The problem is all the extra stuff keeps most of us from ever getting there. It is too hard for us to let go of our material possessions because we feel a sense of satisfaction in having them.
But do material possessions really make us happier? Research says no. When surveyed, peopled recorded greater levels of happiness when they purchased experiences (particularly experiences with other people) rather than material possessions.
One of my favorite tiny-house living, awesome Minimalist families are the Keep Your Daydream family. They sold it all in 2016, bought an R/V, and after living in it full-time for two years (as a family of five), they reflected on the experience.
Marc (the dad) says with profound clarity:
Experiences appreciate in value over time and things depreciate in value over time. Think of the things you bought five years ago and compare them to the things you did five years ago, which of those are more valuable to you now?
At the end of your life, you will absolutely value what you did more than what you had. I used to know someone who volunteered at a retirement home and got lots of advice from the elderly people living there. They said the one thing that stuck with them the most was this:
You will seldom regret the things you do in life, but you will always regret the things you don’t.
It was the accumulation of these things that convinced me to make the decision to sell everything and go tiny. It really came down to the way I want to raise my kids. I want their childhood to be filled with quality family time and shared experiences. I know every family unit is different, but for me and my family, I know this is the right way forward.
Sure, there are lots of practical things I still need to work through, like: Where are we going to park it? How are we going to maintain our sanity as a family of five in such a small space? How the heck am I going to be confident enough to tow a 40-foot trailer? The list goes on… but no matter where you live there are challenges.
Shoot, my A/C unit went out last year in my four-bedroom home and it cost me $10,000 to replace. How is that for an unplanned expense? But, like everything else, I was able to work through it and came up with a solution. Working through practicals is not unique to tiny-house living, its just part of life.
Except overcoming them in a tiny house sounds a lot more satisfying (at least to me) because I am doing it while pursuing the things that I value.
This is why my family and I are listing our four-bedroom house in the New Year and starting our tiny-house journey (stay tuned and I will let you know how it turns out).