As I sit here typing this, a calm, gentle energy pervades my body. The “click, click, click” of the keyboard is comforting in a way it hasn’t been in months. In the background, the washing machine cleans another load of laundry; and beyond that, Damon can be heard playing in the fenced yard behind our house. Life is good. And, it feels as if almost overnight, the quality of our living improved 500%. If you’re wondering why let me explain…
7 Months Ago…
In February of 2018, my partner, Aaron, and I learned that we had been scammed out of approximately $13,000 — all of our life’s savings. We learned that we had stupidly put faith in the wrong people (but not the wrong system) and would be paying the consequences for months — if not years — to come.
I can remember standing outside of my parent’s home in South Dakota, a chilliness in the air and 4” of snow on the ground. Aaron and I were visibly freaking out, but more in an “Oh, shit!” sort of way versus, “What do we do, what do we do!?” kind of way. We quickly developed a backup plan, a way to “bounce back,” so to speak. And then, we let ourselves just feel the emotions of the situation. I’m not going to lie, I cried quite a bit.
Personally, it felt as if I had been punched in the gut. The level someone else would stoop to scam others finally sank in and it was like the reality of the world was finally recognized. At that moment, I became someone else. Curiously, this was visible in the way I presented myself (I dyed my hair black/blue — was my ego bruised, perhaps?). I recognized that action needed to be taken and that we all would need to sacrifice.
In present-day, I’m glad I had that awareness. The past seven months have been quite intense but they’ve also been extraordinary, as well. Before we learned we were scammed from an October 2017 investment, Aaron and I were renovating a 1995 Damon Challenger camper that was gifted to us by my parents. Our goal was to take some of our hard-earned cash and tour the US for a bit. When we fell (and we fell hard), we decided to continue renovating the camper, move to Colorado as we planned to do after the US road trip), and jump into building our business, My Stoned Kitchen.
We knew that living the “tiny life” would save us money and help us be more mobile before deciding on a permanent location to move to. The thing was, we couldn’t foresee many of the hurdles that would present themselves. Flat tires, broken jacks, broken water heaters, broken heaters, broken… The list went on, and on, and on. But, we knew that the camper was almost as old as us, so we persevered. (Also, we didn’t really have a choice)
The last couple of months in Myrtle were probably some of the best. She stopped breaking down every week so we could enjoy our time in her. Furthermore, as summer tapered into fall, we were able to enjoy the last traces of warmth mixed with autumn breeze before the cold set in. That’s truly magical to experience while living in nature. All in all, I am so appreciative of having the camper at all, for we were very, very close to ending up homeless. But thanks to all of the wonderful people who have supported us emotionally and, in some instances, financially, we were granted the opportunity to choose to continue living small or to move into a larger space.
Why We Stopped Living the Tiny Life
Let’s be clear — I’m the type of person who, for most of my life, boasted that I could live in a mud hut in Africa and be perfectly fine. That is probably no longer true. As a digital entrepreneur, I really, really like having access to things like my computer, electricity, a functional kitchen and other comforts, such as a hot, sudsy shower. Comfort is a priority because I am creating all of the time. If I’m not assisting a client with the creation of better health, I am creatingrecipes, writing articles, editing photographs, managing social media, etc… The list goes on and on and on. After a while, you just decide that if you’re going to be the best version of you (and that includes optimal productivity), some comforts are necessary.
As for Aaron, he needs space for himself and to grow marijuana, which is a central focus of My Stoned Kitchen. Finally, while we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, we were gifted a beautiful husky dog named Damon. He is now approximately one-year-old and needs a yard to run in. When we lived in the camper, we had a very tough time finding a place that would allow us to park and allow our dog to run. So, for most of the summer, he lived on a chain. I do not think any animal should have to endure that situation, which is why I am perfectly fine living in a house with a fenced backyard now.
Who the Tiny Life is Perfect For
Living in a small space alone, with pets, or with a partner (or both!) is a very personal choice. Anyone you live in such a small proximity with will be your greatest teacher because they will be your closest mirror. Based on this, I would say the tiny life is perfect for anyone who is looking to know themselves better, is humble, is okay with basic necessities, is willing to learn anything (thanks to the internet, this can be easy) and isn’t afraid to ask for help. The tiny life is also perfect for those who are on a budget, don’t need much, like to save money, enjoy spending time with themselves, and have a love for nature.
5 Things We Loved and Loathed About Tiny Home Living
Now that you have a proper background on why we moved into a fifth wheel camper and why we decided to stop living the tiny life, it’s time to dive into the 5 things we loved and disliked about tiny home living.
5 Things We Loved:
- The Way it Brought Us Together Losing everything isn’t easy. Sometimes, you just want to lick your wounds and curl up into a ball. Because Aaron and I were dealing with this together, we couldn’t do that. We had to consider each others’ feelings and face the roadblock together. Furthermore, we had to do it in a tiny, tiny space. This brought up a lot, as you might imagine. But, our relationship is so much better as a result. Have you heard the saying, “If you and your partner can survive living in a tiny home, you can survive everything!”? After this past year, I think it may be true.
- Cheap Rent (Yay for Saving Money!) Money doesn’t buy happiness but it does make life a lot easier. We knew that to get on our feet in a short period of time, it would be better to pay $800 rent to park on someone’s property versus nearly $1,800 for an apartment in or near Boulder, CO (where I first secured a job) which we would probably hate in 6 months. We were SO fortunate to find Valerie (psychologist, beekeeper, goat herder) and Jesse Solheim (amazing sculpter) who own a goat farm in the mountains near Boulder. In exchange for some labor, we paid $600/month on rent, allowing us to save enough for a security deposit and first month’s rent on a house we adore.
- Meeting our Hosts Yes, meeting Jesse and Valerie was one of the best outcomes of this experience. We’ve made friends with whom we will stay in touch hopefully for years. Plus, both Aaron and I learned a lot about keeping goats and beekeeping, skills we hoped to acquire someday in life.
- Life in the Mountains There’s something so peaceful about waking up and being surrounded by forest. That’s how I grew up and I have to say, it’s magical. Trail running, walks, and even just sitting outside brought so much hope and joy to our situation.
- The Comfort of Knowing We’d Never be Homeless To have a tiny home is an achievement in itself. There is a comfort knowing that if life goes to shit (in the era of Donald Trump, you never know!), you’ll never be homeless. You’ll always have a roof over your head, as well as the basic necessities and comforts to survive.
- Having Minimal Creative Space for Our Projects As I mentioned above, Aaron and I are both creative individuals who need space for our projects. That was not possible in Myrtle.
- Pet Hair EVERYWHERE Ugh, it’s so much harder to keep things clean (especially when you have pets!) living in a tiny home. Our new home has no carpet and includes a fenced yard for Damon to run and play outside. That’s where the majority of his brushing and baths take place.
- Tiny, Minimal Kitchen This part nearly broke my heart. As a chef, it’s been hard to sacrifice a standard kitchen for a gas stove-top and an oven that takes forever to cook something (that’s just camper life). Needless to say, I didn’t do a lot of cooking while living in Myrtle… and that will soon change.
- Never-Ending Maintenance *Older Tiny Home This is a big one for Aaron who is the “fix it” man in our home (I acquire materials and hold things when asked). Myrtle broke down every week when we first moved to Colorado and getting her in running shape was a monumental task. We will admit that she is an older trailer… but it was still annoying to both of us.
- Laundry Becomes a Task When we lived at the farm, we were fortunate enough to use our hosts’ washing machine. Because they live in a rural area, however, they dry their clothes on the line. This is beautiful, eco-friendly and I love it. However, lugging laundry from the camper to the house then hanging it out on the line was a lot more work than I anticipated. All I’m saying is that it’s nice to use energy-conserving washing and drying units and take advantage of the line method now and again.
So, there you have it! Those are the top 5 things we loved and loathed about tiny home living. Please leave a comment below and share this article! Thank you.
Until next time,