I don’t want to get too excited yet, but we are a little bit giddy over here about tiny living. Someone asked me last week if we feel like we are living an idealized life in Thailand that we’ll abandon when we go back to the US or Canada. I do feel like we have an amazing set up and it’s easy to thrive here, but in many ways I feel like this is practice for whatever our next phase of life holds. Rather than abandon everything we’ve learned, I feel like we’ll finally get a chance to put it into practice. Right now we live in two studio bungalows joined together by a center deck and a tiny kitchen. When we first moved in this past spring, we wanted to see what we could handle and it definitely felt too small – the use of space felt so poorly planned as well. We thought we made a big mistake – it felt too close to nature with fly and ant and mayfly seasons, too close to the elements with rain thrashing our living space, and too close to each other with not enough private space. We’re still not a fan of the layout but after 6 months of adjusting, we’re comfortable and we’re thinking we could definitely go smaller if it was well designed!
When we visit Thai friends who have returned to their village or hilltribe friends and see how simply they live, it seems funny to me how much adjustment it’s taken just to get ourselves comfortable with a comparatively luxurious setup.
It’s neat though that we can simplify and adjust if we decide to. Of course in different climates, the needs are different and you can’t live with as much of a flow between indoor and outdoor space year round, you need heat and a way to dry clothes etc. I know it’s not for everyone and other people have different priorities, but we’ve genuinely enjoyed the simplicity after each initial transition period and are curious to see how we can translate this back to a culture where it’s not so easy or accepted. There are a ton of movements towards things like minimalism and truly tiny houses all over North America though so although we’re not totally sold on either, it’s fun to see that there are lots of people making alternative choices that we can be inspired by.
Here’s a glimpse into my inspirations:
The more we look at things and talk about our hopes for a future living space, the more we realize that although they are usually bland or tacky, the 5th wheel RV set up really suits us well. They are technically designed to maximize space, storage, and comfort and they come pretty big. So our current dream is to remodel an RV into a small home. Some of them are really large! I think we’d be very comfortable in one of these hefty trailers and just completely restyle it, replace some things with normal furniture, and make the outside much more appealing so friends will be interested in hosting us in our cute “tiny home” as opposed to having an ugly trailer around. An RV is a non-glamourous tiny home, it turns out. So while we technically have more space than these right now, these inspirations are totally maximized and cleverly plotted, making them potentially more comfortable and practical than the place we’re renting right now.
Things we already love about smaller spaces:
– We only need one of everything. When Jujube was born until she was three months old, we lived in a 4 storey townhouse (also, SO MANY STAIRS!) so we needed diaper changing stuff on the third floor and on the first floor, a comfortable place to nurse in her room and the living room, and the porch. Now she’s a toddler, and it’s been great to have everything within a few yards.
– Fewer stairs. Being careful with a newborn is on your mind all the time. Having to navigate stairs is not a fun addition. Then you’re blocking stairs for a mobile baby within a few months. We love having only one tiny set of stairs.
– It’s easy to keep an eye on our active girl. There are only a few places she could be and they’re all within a short distance of one another. I can cook while she’s on the little playground right next to the kitchen, or poke my head out to see her on the deck, or run up and peek in the window of the bedroom all within a few steps.
– Less storage = Less stuff. We have one large wardrobe and one chest high shelf in our bedroom/baby room and another set in our office/living room. Our clothes go in the bedroom wardrobe and Jujubes clothes and toys go on the shelf. All of our extra storage for craft supplies, tools, unused suitcases, video gear for work, and climbing gear is in the wardrobe and shelf in the office. Then we have one under the sink cabinet in each of our bathrooms, and one cabinet in our kitchen. It’s tight because we somehow manage to fill all the storage space we have in each living situation. The more storage we have the more stuff we seem to acquire.
– We spend more time outside. This is a warm weather advantage, which will take some adjustment if we move to a colder climate but I am much more comfortable outside than I have ever been in the past and that makes me happy.
– It reduces our footprint. Every family has their goals and missions that they support and are passionate about – for us the main thing that keeps persistently calling us is our mutual passion for the environment. We’ve found it so difficult to find ways to reduce our impact while living in a system, like a traditional house, that doesn’t really expect of support those kind of efforts. Getting smaller with our living space gives us an opportunity to live into our values in a more tangible way.
So who knows what the next big move for us entails and what complications, choices or changes might come our way between now and then. Right now we are in the dreaming phase and I thought I would share it. I mean…. that just looks amazing.