Once, Tammy Stroebel and her husband Logan were living a normal middle-class lifestyle: driving two cars, commuting long distances, and living well beyond their means. But the last 14 months the couple have been living in a 12 m2/128 ft2 house on wheels with their two cats. The downscaling has resulted in a upgrade in quality of life. Tammy, who’s a full-time writer and photographer, have recently published the book ”You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life andHow You Can Too” in order to inspire others to live a debt-free and more fulfilling life.
We caught op with Tammy to learn more.
What made you interested in the tiny house movement?
About six years ago I took a life changing trip to Mexico. At the time I was volunteering with the Mexico Solidarity Network and was unhappy with my career and huge mound of debt. After visiting Mexico and seeing so much poverty, I realized how trivial my problems were back home with politics at work and feelings of inadequacy in my culture. When I got back, I knew I had to make some serious life changes, but I didn’t know where to start. A few months later, Logan and I happened to watch a You Tube video featuring Dee Williams and her tiny house. Once we saw Dee’s video, we knew tiny house living would be an iconic way for us to pursue a simpler life. So we started taking steps to transform our lives, like paying down our debt, selling our two cars, and giving away a lot of stuff. Seeing the video of Dee and her little house was a big turning point for us. It gave us a whole new perspective on what our lives could be like. I blissfully imagined giving up my two hour work commute and working less with lower expenses. It was empowering to realize I could live life on my own terms.
What have been the biggest challenges living in a tiny house?
Living in a little house works for us 95% of the time. However, there are moments when I want a bigger house. For instance, when my mom visits it gets a little cramped in our tiny dwelling. We always have fun, but part of me wants to offer my mom more space and a private bathroom too. In the past, we’ve put her up at a bed and breakfast and that is a fun option. But I always love having my mom stay with us.
Overall, I love our little house and I don’t envision ourselves upsizing. Sometimes we run into challenges but we also faced challenges when we had a larger home too. Whenever I feel the pull of wanting more, I try to practice gratitude. I’m grateful for what I have in this moment. I might not have an extra guest room, but I do have money and time to be generous in other ways.
What have been the biggest advantages?
I have time, freedom, and energy to spend with the people I love and doing work that excites me. In addition, since the quantity of space was reduced we could afford greater quality materials to use in our home.
You don’t own a refrigerator, how is that working for you?
It’s working out great. We cook 90 percent of our meals in our tiny kitchen and eat whole foods. We recently hosted a small dinner party at our house and it was a lot of fun. We have a cute little stove/oven called an Origo 6000. It’s used predominately on boats, but it works for small homes. It uses alcohol as fuel so its safe to burn indoors with minimal ventilation and its free standing (no pipes or wires it just sits in the counter). I love our little oven and cooking in a small space because it’s easy to clean up and I know where everything is located in the kitchen.
What have surprised you most about tiny house living?
Feeling such a strong connection to nature was a big surprise. I notice so much more now, like the birds chirping in the morning, the sound of rain on our little metal roof, and where the sun rises and sets. However, what I like most about the tiny house is having more time to focus on doing things I love, like writing, talking long walks, and hanging out with friends. I don’t have to clean as much now, so I have more time to do fun things!
Do you expect to be living in a tiny house the rest of your life?
It’s our permanent home and we aren’t planning on moving anytime soon. With that being said, I can’t predict what will happen in the future. Circumstance change. We are happy in our little house.
What would be your advice to somebody who’s considering moving to a tiny house?
I would suggest staying in a variety of different tiny homes. Doing so will help you get a better understanding of the type of design you want in our own little house. Also, I offer more tips in my new book, “You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap).”
To learn more visit Tammy Stroebels very popular blog Rowdy Kittens.