Tiny

Things I’ve learned from living tiny (or very small)

Alright! It’s been a long time since we moved to Nelson, BC and updated the blog but it struck me that I’ve learned some important facts about myself, my wife and my Tiny journey that may be worth documenting.

As I sit on my small couch (exactly 69″ in length) with my Jotul 602 crackling away and some heavy snow coming down I felt I should share some lessons I’ve learned about starting to live Tiny…for me it’s been a journey of years in the practice…and I’m still planning one more downsize that would bring me into a moveable, owned by me “Tiny Home on Wheels”, right now I am living in a sub-400sqft place renting on the side of a mountain.

So the wife and I sat down and made a quick list of things we’ve found easy, things we’ve found difficult…and things we would change/incorporate into our own custom THOW.

  1. Lighting is important, the more natural light or UV lights you can cram into your place the better. Our place has a couple of  huge 5x5ft windows and without them I think the place would feel much more claustrophobic. Sunroofs would be an absolute must though.
  2. Bathtub is important, I’ll admit this is more for Janelle than myself but after a couple of years with no bathtub…I do miss them on occasion…even if it was just a small tub to soak in once a week that would be great. This might be one of those things we could not incorporate if we had a shared communal space.
  3. Closet’s and storage are important, our place has ample bookshelves but lacks in a simple closet…I still work an office job and honestly a closet would just be so great to maximize storage or hide appliances, etc.
  4. Underskirt and Insulation are important, Without an underskirt to the house there is a noticeable temperature difference, I always remember when I was young people in my town piling up strawbales or bags of leaves, I’m not sure why that fell out of fashion…also…even though sprayfoam is more costly…I think I’d have to splurge on it..
  5. Composting Toilets are totally fine, this was a bit of a scare…what would people think? Is it going to smell? Do we need to spend thousands on some kind of futuristic combustible toilet? Nope…it’s been pretty easy…straightforward…tmi…but I generally pee out in the woods which I really thinks us help with the sheer amount of sawdust and the amount of times we have to haul this stuff out. We’re lucky enough to live in a wooded area with lots of space but I would probably create a THOW with plans for all kinds of options.. We just have greywater in our current place that drains outside
  6. No deep frying, is this something I learned? I dunno…but yeah…absolutely zero deep frying is allowed in the house or it just reeks, the few times I have deep fried something I ran an extension cord from the inside of the house to outside to fry something up.
  7. Plan for a small offsite storage, when you are living in a small place it’s important to have a feeling of openness and cleanliness. While we have some storage under the bed it can be tough to get to and if I just stuff things under the house we have to worry about mold and animals. A small 8ft trailer or even offsite storage facility might be able to offer you
  8. 30AMP is perfectly fine, we have no sewage and only a natural water cistern but we do have some electricity and have found our 30 amp service is totally fine.I still want to really experiment with solar capacity though.
  9. Loft ladders suck, and I think we probably have the best ladder I’ve ever seen…but honestly…you can use stairs for storage space…so much better….
  10. Wood stove heat is required, I think in a small space like this you really need to worry about hygge and I can’t find any better source than wood heat. I always just like the self sufficiency of wood heat…
  11. Appliance Size, we definitely love our large sink, I would never suggest going with a bar sink. Adapting to the small fridge was really no issue at all, more than enough space, we would still go with a fullsize fridge in our THOW, something with about half freezer space would be idea. Our small toaster oven…totally fine…and our two induction plates…also good…not sure if I would go with a built in oven or stick with having everything moveable.

That’s it! Not the most polished of articles and I might be missing stuff but wanted to share and make sure I remember what’s I’ve learned here.

 

Tiny House Stuff

I realized that I have actually neglected updating this personal blog about the Tiny House activities I have been involved in here in Edmonton, last year a couple of us enthusiasts noticed that a few people in the area were starting up websites and started to get really interested in Tiny Homes. Rather than competing against each other for attention we opted to join forces, such as it were, and launched http://yegtinyhome.com. We also have our Meetup Group as well which I suggest anyone check out if they want to know and for those of us that are more “social media minded” you an check out our facebook group.

It’s actually been an exciting ride the last year or so, our group went from a handful of people at a pub to pretty much taking over entire coffeeshops and seeing such a wide range of different people who are interested in this “movement” for a huge amount of different reasons.

Some of the top reasons in my opinion:

  • Lower costs
  • Better Community Support
  • Solve Homelessness
  • Retirement Options
  • Sense of home ownership with mobility options

I’ve had the pleasure of being in a few Tiny homes and am actually visiting a professionally built one tonight. It’s also allowed me to expand my social circle in unexpected ways. Recently I was interviewed by a local radio station:

Click here to listen!

and the Edmonton journal spoke to us recently as well:

edm_journal

Edmonton Journal Article

So I’m very excited to see where this movement goes, whether or not most people will end up living in a Tiny House I think is secondary to us building a strong like minded community.

 

I’m also going to get more involved in a meaningful way with our local minimalism group here in Edmonton. A video I watched once mentioned that “editing” is going to be one of the most important skills for the new century and I’ve ponder that for a long time. Humanity has fought tooth and nail for centuries to get to a point of abundance and now we’ve (at least in Western culture) have largely hit that point and moved past it to excess. This excess is turning out to be just as dangerous and hunger in many ways.  Learning how to ‘right-size’ your life and make it fit is a brand new skill for us humans and one we are going to need to pick up if we want to be around in another century.

Peace out! Well wishes to all!

Optimism + disposition + outlook

I’ve managed to chisel out just about all the people who I have identified as just down right negative…I realize that sometimes we all go through negative streaks and that our friends or family have to put up with that and help bring us out of  our funks…but I’ve also come to realize that some people are just negative and what I am going to call energy vampires (not the new age style)…people who consistently surround themselves and perpetuate negativity…..

You might be one of those people if “everyone is always out to get you” if every single boss you’ve ever had “was always an idiot” or if you are constantly having “its just bad luck” type circumstances….

The world is a pretty amazing place and I got to say that most of us here in Canada are playing life at the “easy setting”. I know two people who are reasonably close to me who have spent time in two different refugee camps and who also happen to be two of the most optimist go lucky people ever. It’s actually kind of shocking sometimes as you forget just how much adversity they have had to go through but sometimes I think it actually has helped them truly decide to live a more intentional and deliberate life full of good and meaning.

I know sometimes I get down and depressed if I don’t feel like I’m paying off debt fast enough or if I can’t afford to go on a vacation or do something I know I would really enjoy.

Today I was taking a first aid class and the teacher was talking about how we never quite now how we would all react in the circumstance of a real emergency were there might be blood or burns or people stressing out and she kind of poked my buddy a bit and he calmly stated “no, there is nothing that I could see today that would throw me for much of a loop” and she kind kept pressing him before he simply stated that he had grown up on “BiDong” island as a Vietnam war refugee and had seen most of his family raped, tortured and literally set on fire by the time he was 10.

It puts things into a real perspective when you bump into a story like this and you realize that true human misery isn’t always just a movie on TV or some abstract concept. People you likely interact with everyday have went through some horrendous things and come out on the other side being beautiful intentional people.

Don’t spend too long feeling sad for yourself, get up and do some good if you have the ability. Suffering has the ability to make you bitter or enlightened in so many ways, you ultimately are responsible for choosing.

 

 

 

Do you know how much utilities cost?

So as a few of you may now I’m a pretty big fan off offgrid and solar solutions. I know quite a few people in the solar industry or who have lived via solar and one thing they pretty much all had in common was that solar was great…but that being ongrid still offered huge benefits in reliability. This is even coming from people who were using solar back in the 60’s up to today…

One thing that came up during the solar class I was taking at Nait was a guy (who worked for the utilities) that the delivery/admin charges were so high that even being 100% solar (but still grid tied) wouldn’t actually realize much savings…this prompted me to check my latest bills…

On my last natural gas bill I paid $112.60, that was $44.44 for actual gas….and $68.16 in admin/misc charges….

On my last electrical bill I paid  $85.86, that was $43.04 for electricity and $42.84 in admin/misc charges.

Even though he warned me I was pretty shocked, most people just kind of pay their bills without looking to closely into it. Definitely makes “utilitiy sharing” ie: tiny community or roomates or group of people type thing a tempting offer….

 

Solar_Energy_Saves_Money_at_Home

 

 

Tiny house land scoping

Got to hang out with three great people, two new tiny haus enthusiasts and my lovely wife. Was nice to get outside the city and day dream about living in a true community.

This land we visited was offgrid and had been used by a large family as a sort of unofficial campground, you could feel the positive energy floating around and it was a beautiful winter day. If it’s still on the market this summer I’d love to check it out.