Ryan, whose website TheTinyLife provides information on living in small homes and connection with likeminded others, believes that “people are realizing that homes aren’t a safe bet anymore, and many people have been fooled into thinking a home is a major milestone, but it simply is a debtor’s prison.” For that reason, he’s taking the time to save up and go mortgage-free.
Ryan’s 130-square-foot home will have four “rooms” but no space will be wasted on hallways, the nemesis of small home builders. He will salvage most of the materials and has budgeted for responsibly sourced materials when he’s not able to scrounge. LED bulbs, faucet aerators and a low-flow showerhead, windows designed to create cross drafts and solar panels are all in the plans. Because the house will be on wheels, Ryan will be able to place it in the shade during the summer and move it to a place where it can take in lots of sun in winter. The house will be heated with propane until Ryan sets up a tiny wood stove that he can feed with wood harvested from his property. The air conditioner—a necessary evil for a New Hampshire native living in hot, humid North Carolina—will be solar-powered.
Living in a smaller home “brings your life into perspective and reduces the clutter that clouds your mind of what is important,” Ryan says. “You live in a home that meets all your needs, but you aren’t a slave to it because of debt. Time, money and peace of mind are all things that become available because of living in a tiny home.”
The hardest part, he adds, is bucking the consumer culture. “From birth, we are socialized to buy, buy, buy,” Ryan says. “Even today, though I have made great strides, I find myself trying to rationalize why I need to buy something and I have to catch myself. The social pressures that occur from wanting to live this way can be difficult from friends, family—and especially dating.”
Ryan is seeking perspective, clarity—and a date who gets it.
Ryan started his blog as a way to catalogue design ideas, keep up his motivation and document his journey. If you’re interested in taking the leap—tomorrow or 10 years from now—TheTinyLife is an excellent place to get started. Check out Ryan’s “10 Tips for Living in a Small Space.”
“Tiny houses don’t come in one size, one shape, one design,” Ryan adds. “They can take any form so long as it matches the needs of those individuals. It is important to note, a tiny house for a family might be 1,000 square feet. The key is the square footage per resident.”
Ryan Mitchell, founder of TheTinyLife.com, is saving up to build a 130-square-foot Tumbleweed home on wheels like this one. That’s his Smart Car in front.