Mortgage: $0; Utilities: $5

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh - and 100 or so square feet of living space.

Could you do it?

Lets consider this an exercise in values clarification. What if, like the main character in my novel, The Feast of Saint Bertie, you decided to live small?

Imagine the decision is made. Your house is sold or your landlord notified. Your tiny house is built. It's time to move.

It's a cute little place. You can't tell by the picture, but it has wheels and a trailer hitch. You can set up housekeeping anywhere you want. (Hmmm... where would you put yours?)

Just two things left on your to do list:

1. Pack
2. Hold a yard sale

With so little space, packing should be easy, right? Bertie took a sleeping bag, a Bible plus a few other books, some basic items of clothing, a cup, a bowl, a plate, a knife, a fork, a spoon, a can opener, and some canned goods.

But your house will be nicer than Bertie's old gardener's shed. You'll have amenities like furniture, a kitchen and a bathroom.

You will, however, have to ask yourself what really matters to you. You're moving into a non-conformist living space, so I really mean, what matters to you? You don't have room to own things only because they are expected.

This actually wasn't so hard for me, at least not up to a point. I am a writer, and a reader. To be happy, I need:

My laptop. I know, you can write with pencil and paper, but... sigh! No. A laptop.

A comfortable chair.

A coffee maker and a mug.

My cat.

Books. This presents a problem, because I have too many books to fit in a tiny home. But perhaps I could get around this by donating most of them to the library. I could still check them out, right? I just hope my late fees wouldn't end up equaling the cost of a mortgage...

A uniform. With perhaps two feet of closet space, I'd have to decide what I'd be comfortable wearing, if I had to wear pretty much the same thing all the time. Jeans come to mind. A black pair and a blue pair (for variety). Two cotton shirts. A sweater. A pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. A dress for church.

My friends and family. This presents another problem, because, for instance, twice a month I host a Ladies' Tea and Bible Study in my home. But if I didn't have a mortgage I could probably afford some creative solutions. Ms. Lynn's Tea is just down the road, and Ms. Lynn is a better cook than I am.

My husband. This is why I said "up to a point." Because he restores vintage race cars and builds flying model airplanes. So what does he need to be happy? A garage. A big garage. What a surprise to realize he needs more space than I do.

I do plan to keep my husband.

What would you keep? What do you need to be happy? What could you do without? What would be your uniform? Oh, and where would you put your house?

Photo by Jack Journey. Copyright Tumbleweed Tiny House Company 2008.


Nichole Osborn said...

Ok,I have two teen/preteen sons, so this would have to be after they left home. I would take my laptop, my rocking chair, hubby, Bible, and some of my books. I too have too many to fit in such a small space. My clothes would be no probem, I don't have many clothes, but this would pose a problem for hubby he has more clothes and shoes than I. (Doesn't make sense to me.) Where would I park it; we wouldn't have a mortgage, so it would be Uganda, Africa.

Kathleen Popa said...

Nichole, Uganda! Fascinating. What would you do there? I think it's interesting to consider what choices such a radical downsizing would make possible.

Also, I think I'll blog soon about what a community of tiny houses might make possible. Would love any reader-thoughts.

Fade to Black said...

Sensible suggestions. Glad you're keeping George. Dunno about the books dealie, though... they are like good friends. Just looking at them in nearly every room brings such satisfaction. But, you're right... the whole downsizing is the real deal. It's that Murphy's Law: "Junk will accumulate according the space allowed for it." The best housekeeper I've ever been is when I lived in 900 sq. ft. I've been toss and gifting here and there. Are you friends with Donna Partow? She had an idea about a country-wide give-away/yard sale. Unfortunately, I come from a rat-pack family with a Mom who was a string saver. Let's see now, is this the Irish part of us, or do I blame my German ancestors? LOL! Let me know if you move into one. I think I'd need one to live in and one to store stuff in.

Bonnie Grove said...

That would be enough space for my kid's toys. Umm...can I have an extra 100 sq ft?

Oh, and it gets cold here. -50C sometimes at night in the winter...



Janet said...

I just couldn't downsize that far. I already live in a smaller than average house, but I'm not prepared to sacrifice the space necessary for small-scale hospitality, for bunking offspring who are boomeranging back or passing through, a little "me" space where I can write and surf, and there is NO WAY I would live without a shower.

And for people like Bonnie and me in our northern climates, a house that small would pretty well have to be a log cabin, for the insulation value. Solar energy is less of an option too.

Still the whole idea is intriguing. I've seen other mini-houses that managed to squeeze in a few things she's missing.

For the time being, I think I'll just start with some serious decluttering.

Nichole Osborn said...

Uganda, because we as a family wants to move there and start an orphanage and work with street kids. I think if a whole community were to go small, alot could be accomplished for God's kingdom.