Friday, December 10, 2010

Downsizing. Serious downsizing.

The Tiny House movement is an option to consider if you are looking for a new way to live cheaply.  Personally, I  have long loved the idea of very compact living, and am hoping to sell my house this year and live in a cute vintage trailer or homebuilt gypsy wagon.

The main obstacle (aside from actually selling a house in this very down market) is finding a place to park your home on a semi-permanent basis, so you can enjoy the benefits of, for example, planting a garden, composting, being part of a community.

Many, many communities have restrictions on the size of a house you can build and live in full time — you may build a cabin, but you can't live in it year round. You may not have a trailer on a property for more than 30 days, etc. This is an example of the cultural bias against the poor, as well as those who choose frugality and an anti-consumerist lifestyle. Many trailer parks also have restrictions about the type of trailer you can bring in — some of them won't rent space to "different", vintage, funky, or creative looking trailers.

I think the solution is to find a small group of like minded individuals and buy unrestricted property to build on. Unrestricted land can be a challenge to find, but it is out there. I actually own some myself, and am starting to think that I might just build a small community on it instead of moving. Resources can be shared during the building stage (earth moving equipment, tools), and this scenario is open to the possibility of a large communal garden/orchard, a private dairy, livestock, solar power, wind power and other projects that would be too big and expensive for one family to take on.

Interestingly enough, I've recently read a few accounts of serious bias against full-time job seekers and employees who live in mobile shelter; how individuals were fired when it was found that they lived in trailers. This is just anecdotal right now, but it might be interesting to explore the legal issues.


Tumbleweed Tiny House
Tiny House Forum
PBS video on one tiny house


  1. I am truly sorry to hear of your struggles. I am not struggling like you right now, but who knows about tomorrow? 20 years ago, I found myself homeless. I had just been hired for a job and was out of money totally, waiting for the green light (security check) to be done so I could begin work. I lived in a homeless shelter and was moved from shelter to shelter as beds became available. At one point, I was told I was going to have to stay on skid-row. I stood in line for a cot, hoping something would come through, which it did at the last minute. Another shelter bed opened up. Very scary. We ate rancid meat and spoiled food in the shelter because there was nothing else. One of the workers, bless her soul, bought us some fresh hamburger meat from her own money. I went to work every day from that horrible shelter, which seemed like prison to me. There were 20-30 women crammed in one room to sleep. It was horrible. We were locked in at night in a scary neighborhood. I remember pretending that I was "normal" like my co-workers, going home to a "regular" home instead of a shelter. I never let on. I gritted my teeth and went through hell. 20 years later, I work at the same place. Nobody knows what I went through. My life is normal now. But, who knows about tomorrow?

  2. Wow, pretty amazing story. Thanks, it just helps to know that others have been through this and made it to the "other side".