I am starting a new Interview Series here on the blog because I am perpetually curious and love asking questions to get to know people better. Throughout the series I will be featuring friends, fellow bloggers, and hopefully a familiar face or two. I am lucky enough to know a lot of very interesting and well traveled friends and I would love to share their stories on my blog. Some upcoming interviews will be about a friend of mine who lived in Australia for a year, another who moved to Spain and later volunteered in South America, a friend who biked across America, and another who took off for a year mostly in South America.
For my first interview I wanted to feature one of my good friends from high school who I played on the tennis team with, Kathleen and her awesome boyfriend, Greg. After much consideration they decided that they wanted to give up their apartment to take a year and live in 140 square foot camper
to reduce their footprint, while they simultaneously built their tiny house in Colorado. They were recently featured in the Huffington Post
and were kind enough to grant me an interview as well!
A culmination of things led to us deciding to live differently. We wanted a place with a yard, but didn’t need an entire house. Greg lived in a minivan in New Zealand with his friend, Scott, in 2007 and it was easier than either of them could imagine. As a couple, the two of us thought that living tiny could free us up to spend more time together outdoors and that it was certainly worth trying! I was a little hesitant at first, but after living in a two-bedroom apartment with Greg, our dog Blaize and my former roommate, Stacey, I thought it might be worth a shot. We also care about reducing our environmental footprint, and because we’re reducing our square footage, we would be doing that automatically. When you’re in a small space, you’re conscious of how much water and electricity you use on a daily basis.
We took a good month to go over the pros and cons of living tiny. I was worried about showering and getting ready for work in the mornings. I also thought it might be too small. Ultimately for me, knowing that we had the backup option to rent an apartment or a house at any time made it much easier.
I told all of my friends first, but was nervous to tell my family. Eventually I did tell them and they were more supportive than I anticipated. Some of the people that I didn’t think would be interested in the project, are the ones that offer to help and want to hear updates every time we see them. I’m pleasantly surprised in the positive feedback. Some people are definitely skeptical and believe that we will be too cold in the winters. Only time will tell!
So far our extra money has gone toward fixing up the camper trailer. We have been improving the existing insulation and purchasing materials to make our space feel more comfortable. Going forward, we will be saving our money for a tiny house that we will try to build ourselves.
The number one thing, patience! Things might not always go as planned, but in a way, that makes life more exciting! You have to be able to think on your toes or have a backup option in mind. Downsizing my things made me appreciate the items I use on a daily basis. Most people don’t realize that when they travel, they are using less and are still just as happy, if not more. If we are able to do that for a few weeks or months, why can’t we do it for longer periods of time? It’s easier to pack for trips when everything we could possibly need on a daily basis is in our camper.
We took out the existing toilet in the camper trailer and replaced it with a composting toilet. So far, it’s been great to have! It’s not a biohazard because the liquids and the solids are kept separate. It has no smell and it’s super easy to use! We do have a shower, and enough water for two showers a day. We have to refill our water cistern when we go through too much water. Since we are conscious of the water we use, we have been showering at the gym to save our water supply.
We are connected to a hose and an electrical extension cord that we can plug into. Currently we haven’t used much of either. We charge our phones in coffee shops or at work. We try to use water that we carry into the camper trailer to wash our hands and the food we eat.
We’re doing the best we can so far! It’s only been tough when we both want to use the kitchen at the same time. We are finding that we’re spending more time outdoors. Blaize appreciates having a backyard of open space.
Hardest: Showering at the gym isn’t ideal and means planning what you want to wear ahead of time. We are more selective of the food we eat because our storage space is more limited. That means we are more careful not to waste any of the food we have.
Easiest: It feels comfortable to sleep there and hang out in the space. It’s been easy finding storage space for clothes and outdoor gear. We have much more than I could have anticipated! We have had friends over for drinks and one guest has stayed the night. So far, our friends have been comfortable sharing the small space with us.
We knew from the start that we wanted to build a tiny house. That will be an adjustment from a 1,000-square-foot apartment. Knowing that we’d have to downsize to make it work, we figured we’d start in one of the more inexpensive mobile housing options. We also thought that down the road, it would be great to have a camper trailer for trips and could leave our tiny house wherever we end up parking it.
It’s going to be around 270 square feet and will include two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a sun room/living room. We will have household amenities such as a stacked washer/dryer and a dishwasher. We will try to build these items around cabinets or our kitchen so that it will be part of the existing space. We would like to have a green roof and are exploring ways that we can use recycled materials for some of our furniture.
Right now it feels like camping and it’s actually kind of fun! We’re working on some interior decorating, such as adding some photographs and curtains to make the space feel more like a house.
I think it’s important to remember that you can always try it out and if it’s not for you, you can go back to living how you were before. I think we’ve been trained as a society to want more space and showcase our houses for our friends and family. We feel that relationships are more important than the items you own or how much money you have. Downsizing can feel liberating.
I am so inspired by their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint in such a big way. But they’re right there are so many things you can do to consume less and not accumulate so many unnecessary things. We could all learn a thing of two from them! I think it will be fun to check in with them periodically and their progress of their tiny house and their adventures. Please leave any further questions you may have.