For the past two weeks we’ve been house-sitting a tiny house (and dog) for a good friend. This experience has taught us a lot about tiny homes in general, but more importantly, taught us a few important life-lessons as well.

Living in a tiny house helps you focus on what matters.
I can see now why tiny living is so attractive to people. Tiny living is a way to simplify your life and focus on the decisions and things that really matter. For example, if you are wondering whether or not you should buy something while living in a tiny home, you just ask yourself a few simple questions, “will it fit inside the house?” “Is it functional?” “Is it necessary?”

These are questions that many people forget or don’t ever think about when making any purchase. This process helps you focus on what you really need.  What i’ve discovered after living in a tiny home is that we probably don’t need as many things (or space) as I thought I would to be happy and comfortable.

Tiny homes make you actually use the stuff you have.
If you decide to live in a tiny house you have make some tough choices because you can’t fit everything and anything you want. You have to be selective and strategic. Hopefully you would bring things that you need, things that you would actually use on daily basis. Tiny homes force you to think this way. Most things – if not everything – in the tiny home has a place and purpose. If it doesn’t, then it’s not worth having. Problem solved.

Tiny homes make you clean/deal with your stuff.
Well, you don’t have to clean up after yourself. However, imagine you need to make lunch but you don’t have any space because you forgot about dishes from breakfast (and there’s no dishwasher to hide or wash dishes later). Plus, if you don’t wash those dishes, you may not have many extra dishes to use in your small cupboards. Living in a tiny house, you do realize the importance of doing things sooner rather than later.

Your stuff has no space to hide and so you either deal with it or deal with the consequences of it. I learned this the hard way.

valuable counter space would not exist unless you clean up after yourself often
valuable counter space does not exist unless you clean up after yourself

Tiny homes make you aware of how much water you use daily.
The tiny house we are staying in gets water from a hose. Waste water from the sink and the shower collect in a plastic bin that needs to be dumped out whenever it gets full. This is an excellent system to measure how much water you use on a daily basis.

Knowing that the plastic bin we are using to collect water is about the size of a file cabinet drawer, I have cut down my shower time to prevent water from overflowing. Even though I already tried to make a change in my showering habits, I overfilled the container the first couple of times. I also overflowed the container the first couple of times I tried washing the dishes. In other words, I didn’t even realize how much water I was using. Now, I’m not using more water than I actually need.

Because we use environmentally safe soap for our showers and dishes, we can dump the container of water into the yard to dispose of it. I estimate that we typically do this 3-5 times a day. Again, this is being conscious of our water usage and without having a flushing toilet. Imagine how much water we’d be using if we were in a regular house.

Speaking of toilets….

Tiny homes make you deal with your sh!t! What?
Unless your tiny home is connected to sewage, there is a good chance that you will have to manage your own human waste. For many of us living in a developed country, we never think about our waste. We literally flush it down some magical pipe and never think about where it goes or what happens to it.

In this tiny home, we use a bucket, plastic bags, and wood chips. Additionally there is a wooden box, toilet seat, and seat cover – but that’s it. No flushing water. No heated toilet seat like we had in Japan. Once the bags are full, we tie it up and throw it out with the rest of the trash.

The rap group Outkast said it best, “I know you like to think your sh!t don’t stink, but lean a little bit closer and see the roses really smell like poo, poo, poo.” Yup. And that’s a good thing to be aware of and to learn how to deal with it. Let’s face it: everyone poops. So why do we get so freaked out about it?

(Note: The pine wood chips and air fresheners really help so that your tiny home does not smell, in case you were wondering.)

Tiny homes force people to become better communicators *Bonus for living with another person in a tiny home*
If you want to grow in being better at relationships, live in a tight space with someone. Hopefully if you live in a tiny home with someone it was by choice and that you wanted to grow and learn with that person. Hopefully you like that person. There’s nowhere to hide in a tiny house. Amazingly, you can achieve somewhat of a separation of space (i.e. be in the loft while someone works at the desk below) and some sense of privacy, but compared to a typical-sized home there’s obviously no comparison.

You are forced to learn how to communicate better. “Can you pass me this?” “Excuse me.” “Hi. I guess we are talking because we see a lot of each other.”

Simply-Itentional- Tiny-House-Living-Experience-04
living and working in closer quarters = relationship building

I think tiny house living is a great option. It’s another perspective. A different way to live life.

You might think that tiny homes are for single people or couples without children but there are families living in tiny homes with young and older children. I was reminded by Michelle’s mom that Michelle’s aunt and uncle raised their two boys in an apartment that was around 500 sq. ft.. And of course, many people in Europe and around the world live in smaller homes.

You might read some of the things above and think, “it sounds challenging.” and it is,  but in a good way. It’s also a lot of fun and satisfying.

Let’s not forget that tiny houses are not just the ones on wheels. The average sq. footage for an average American home is 2600 sq. ft.!! We are currently living in 112 sq. ft. and our dream house is about 900 sq. ft. or less.

I know it’s not the right fit for everyone, but it does make wonder why we don’t challenge how we live. In our troubled world we need to find ways of living that is more sustainable and less wasteful.

Homes don’t have to be so big.

Living in a smaller space has helped us develop an awareness and skills that can help us have a more fulfilled life. It forces you to declutter and let go of things you don’t need and start to focus and hone in on the things that really matter. You live with more intentionality and appreciation, which are two things that conventional living is great at devaluing.  You start to appreciate that life isn’t about what is easy, but about what makes you more alive.

Tiny homes help people relearn what it means to live.

Could you live in a tiny home? Have you thought about downsizing? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.