Moving Day – (sort of) Tiny House

Tiny House

Looking back, I’ve liked tiny spaces for a lot longer than I initially thought. When I was a kid I turned my closet into a little reading nook. (Actually, I did that as an adult too!) In the military I lived with only the basics, so even the smallest things would make me happy. One of my favorite homes was my tiny studio apartment. I didn’t realize these things at the time though. At the time I had the typical brainwashed mindset that I need more and bigger. But looking back, those were the places I was most happy.

I came across a tiny house blog years ago and have followed along in fascination. But now, in recent years, tiny living has become a “thing” and many more people are aware of it. I get absorbed in the tiny house shows and blogs. I love the concept of having only what you need and I love how the space is used smartly and efficiently. But it was more a daydream than a reality…one of those “Wouldn’t that be cool?” kind of thoughts.

As I’ve ventured into minimalism, something strange started to happen: my house started to get oddly empty and feel too big. I realized that the only reason that I had a good chunk of my furniture was just to fill up empty spaces in my house. And then when you have a shelf or a table you need stuff to put on it. At least that’s the mainstream belief. So as my surfaces and home became more empty, it all just seemed too big. It’s been a nagging feeling for awhile now.

What if I just downsized to a small house? Click To Tweet

The Sort of Tiny House Search

Like I mentioned last week, I was researching tiny house laws and realized that it just wasn’t for me at this point in my life. It’s tough to do legally and logistically and if my goal is to simplify then it defeats the purpose. I always thought the minimum size dwelling laws in Minnesota were around 700 square feet, so I was surprised to learn that it’s actually 500 square feet! It got me thinking…what if I just downsized to a small house?

It happened fast. I remember it was May 5th because my coworkers and I went out for Cinco de Mayo lunch and I was telling them about the cute little houses I saw online. I had made a huge search area of homes 700 square feet and below that would keep my commute to no more than 30 minutes without traffic. There weren’t many! I found 2 houses and my realtor talked me into looking at a third. The third one hadn’t popped up in my search because it was 720 square feet, but it was a few blocks from work, so I agreed to check it out. My realtor probably doesn’t have many clients saying, “Well that’s a little big…” about a 720 sq. foot house!

The first house was just over 500 square feet and was adorable! It had a little lofted bedroom, a wood burning stove, and lake access. And a garage that was literally bigger than the house. But like most of these small houses, it was old and needed way more work and upkeep than I was interested in. The next house was just over 600 sq. feet with an enormous garage! But the space was used so poorly that there’s no way it would have worked. It was completely illogical.

The third house was the “big” one. And this is the one I bought. My house went on the market the next week; I had over 15 showings in the first 2 days and 2 offers right away. Sold. The past month has been a whirlwind of decluttering, inspections, minor repairs, packing, paperwork, and anxious waiting! I went from “someday maybe” to closing on a house in about 6 weeks! It might sound crazy, but I really think this was a good choice for me.

New House

The Sort of Tiny House

Ok, so the house! Like the other small houses, it’s old, built in 1938. But the biggest difference and appeal is that it was just flipped. Everything is new! Stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, beautiful cabinets, fresh paint. That will give me so much peace of mind and save me time and money. It also has some features that I wanted to put into my first house, like white trim and nicer doors.

Another big appeal was that it is literally 2 blocks from work. I wasn’t planning to move close to work, but getting an extra hour and a half back in my day was pretty tempting. I can walk to work! Saving more time and money! I can still access the major highways to get to the city, it’s still a decent-sized town with amenities (except that the Target is not a Super Target) and yet I am glad to be a little bit away from the cities now. All the recent violence and stuff in the news just makes me uncomfortable. There is a dog park and an Aldi (my new obsession) and this is near where I grew up! Oh and no more living along a major highway…hello peace and quiet!

The Size

At 720 sq. feet it’s the biggest house I looked at. It’s really not terribly small, but it is still downsizing for me. My current house is 1,000 square feet, but what I didn’t realize until I prepared to downsize, is that I use the garage and basement to store more than I thought, plus my washer, dryer, furnace, and water heater were in the basement. So really, I’ve been living in closer to 1,500 square feet.

The new house has 2 bedrooms and one bath. There’s one smallish closet other than the bedroom closets and a laundry room. There is no basement and I need to have a garage built. There is a shed for me to store my lawnmower and snow blower for now. Without the basement, it really does feel like a good, small size! I don’t really need the second bedroom but it will be nice to have. This time around I’m going to make it more of a reading room than a guest bedroom, since I rarely have overnight guests.

The bathroom has zero storage. None. The sink is a pedestal sink with no real counter. So I get to be creative! This excites me as this is closer to the tiny living I’ve been dreaming of. The kitchen has a little peninsula that I can put stools at but that is the only dining space. Tons of counter space though.

So now you can see why I’ve been selling so much stuff lately! (Over $1,000 earned since I started looking at houses!)

Tiny House Kitchen

Livingroom, entry way, kitchen, and dining area

The Finances

I bought and sold my first house at a good time. I only lived there for just under 4 years, so even though I was aggressively paying down my mortgage, I didn’t have a ton of equity in it. However, I’m still walking away with a nice profit. The new house is cheaper, even after I build a garage. It will also cost less to heat and cool and I’ll be saving on gas and car maintenance.

Fortunately the house doesn’t need a ton of work. Since it was flipped it’s missing small things like a house number, mailbox, and kitchen hardware. A few bigger needs are the garage, gutters, and a fence. After those projects are done I will be adding a bit more to savings and then making a massive giant mortgage payment.

I am still planning to get rid of my mortgage as soon as possible and with this house, it won’t take too long.

Speaking of finances, I’ve followed the blog The Simple Dollar for years and they put together a really great guide of top mortgage lenders. I already had my funding lined up before I came across this article, but if you’re moving or refinancing, check it out!

Tiny House Bathroom

Simplifying

It may sound lazy to some, but I’ve really come to value a simple life. I want to be able to dedicate my time to the things that are most important to me. This house makes that possible. It may seem backwards because I’m giving up some features that most would consider “nice” like granite counter tops and a tile shower and bathroom floor with tile. No more dealing with grout. No more special cleaner just for the granite. I can have a few cleaning products that take care of everything. Smaller area to keep clean, smaller driveway to plow. I can manage all these things just fine, but I’d prefer to spend my time on other things.

It may seem backwards or against the norm to some, but this really is the right move for me. Literally. Ha! More to come once I settle in!

Tiny House

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41 Comments

  1. This is adorable. I’m from MN as well and I wasn’t actually aware that they had a law on a minimum living space area. I’m right there with you on the “Oh this is really happening” sort of deal. On a whim we looked at some houses and we ended up purchasing and closing in 4 weeks!! I agree with smaller houses, we have a larger old house (1906) that we are slowly updating but I’d rather have a one story house one day to make living more simple and streamlined.

    • Most states have laws about dwelling sizes to prevent landlords from charging people a ton to live in a small box. 🙂

  2. I’m so happy for you! I honestly don’t know why, but I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I just want a ton of space, which probably is a bad attitude to have from a financial and lifestyle perspective. Our current house is a rambler with ~1,000 square feet on the main level and another 1,000 below. Half of the basement is a studio apartment with a separate entry. We store a TON in the basement and it’s been nice just having that storage.

    The biggest issue for us is the small closets in the three bedrooms on the main level. Sharing one isn’t an option, so I have one in the office which is totally fine. But it would be nice to have more of a master suite. But reading about stuff like this makes me take minute to stop and reflect. Do we REALLY need more? What if we just put money into renovations here and tried to simplify/minimize our stuff? So much to think about.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…Top 5 Places to Open an IRAMy Profile

    • Minimalism isn’t for everyone, but living with less has really brought so many good things to my life. It’s impacted my happiness, career, finances, health, etc. But that studio apartment downstairs sounds like great rental income potential!!

  3. Two things —

    1. Totes jealous!
    2. CONGRATS! This is awesome! I’m not really into the SMALL house movement, but for my hubs and I, I feel no need for more than 1000 sq ft. All these 2500 sq ft houses are for the birds. I don’t want all that to clean!

    Congrats so many times over on this, enjoy your new little house!

  4. Congrats on the new house! It’s awesome that everything moved that quickly. We had a family of 5 living in a house that looked a lot like your new house. We did upgrade, but our “new to us” house now fits a family of 7. We still have just one bathroom. I often dream about expanding our home. But at the same time, I love the simplicity of keeping up with a smaller home.
    Jamie @ Medium Sized Family recently posted…5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week 40My Profile

  5. Congratulations! That sounds awesome, making room for the important thinga in life and simplifying. Well done, if something is a good idea you won’t need more than 6 weeks to make it happen 🙂

    And you’ll love the walk to work, only two blocks! That’s a major life change, believe me.
    Mrs. CTC recently posted…Shocking Discovery: We Are the JonesesMy Profile

  6. Congrats on buying the house and moving in! I’m so excited for you! It sounds like a great fit for you. I’m fascinated by tiny houses. I don’t think I could do it myself because I get claustrophobic and I like to have space to myself away from other people, but I love the idea of not having a mortgage. It’s also really interesting to see how they design the houses to maximize the use of the space. In the past, I always thought I wanted at least an “average” size home, but I’m starting to think more and more that I might be happier with a smaller house. I love the idea of having less to clean and maintain!
    Jen @ Frugal Millennial recently posted…4 Ridiculous Wedding Etiquette Rules that Need to ChangeMy Profile

    • Thanks Jen! I need time by myself too but I guess it’s a bit easier being single, haha. We’ll see what happens when you find someone someday!

  7. That is great that you downsized and will be saving so much money! I constantly wrestle with wanting to downsize and get ride of some of our “stuff”. We have a son under 1, so the amount of stuff has been multiplying! And since we have a huge storage room, we have less motivation to get things under control. We just say “we can store it”. After reading this I am MUCH more motivated to downsize. Now if only I can get my husband on board….
    Rachyl @ On My Fridays Off recently posted…Retirement Accounts BreakdownMy Profile

    • Thanks Rachyl! I’ll admit it’s a lot easier to downsize and declutter when it’s just me! It’d be tough with a significant other and kids especially since everyone wants to buy them tons of stuff!

  8. My husband has four kids (and one who lives with us with a baby on the way -due in 8 days EEK) PLUS I work from home and have to have a home office. We have a lot of land and a large house to fill with love. It’s a simple life, too…just in a different way. That written, when the youngest (who is 10 and don’t forget the half) goes off to college we will most likely get an RV and just go all over the place. A small cabin in Colorado and a small place in my home of the Florida Keys and we’ll be golden.

    Congratulations on the purchase!

  9. Hi, great article. I would love ideas on living out of a tiny kitchen. How many square feet do you have in your kitchen. I have an 10 x 6 kitchen. Tiny. I have literally five cabinets with three levels in each. Everything is so cluttered because I don’t have space. It is like a jigsaw puzzle to give everything a home. 🙂

    • Wow that is tiny! I think mine is a bit bigger…the guy that flipped it used the space really well. There used to be a side door in the kitchen that took up a ton of space but he got rid of that so there is more counter space. There is a peninsula that serves as counter space, the only area to eat, and tons of storage, which really helps! Sadly I can’t reach most of the top shelves!

  10. We have lived in a small home for over 30 years. When we built it our friend were befuddled why we didn’t build something larger. I have never regretted building a small home. I love our little home.

    What’s sad is we are in the process of selling and no one wants small houses. We know who ever buys my beloved home will take it down and put up the typical Mansion

    Love and enjoy your small home..

    • It is sad…there were so few small homes to look at and I know selling it someday will be a challenge. There’s just this crazy “bigger is better” mindset in the world. 🙁

  11. It is very convenient to live right by work. I live a little bit further now, but I used to live around the corner from my job and it was nice to be able to go home for lunch and the commute time was nice. You don’t really realize how much time you spend out of your day/ are losing just to travel back and forth until you move closer and have all that time back to yourself. Congrats on your purchase, it looks lovely!

  12. Awhhh, what an inspiring story. On my side, I have lots of difficulties if I decide to move to another house, because of these reasons, I do not have friends to ask a help, I’m resident of isolated place and too far from city lastly I have lots of stuff heavy stuff. 😀 that’s all my difficulties.
    Thomas O’Connor recently posted…Benefits of Hiring Movers When RelocatingMy Profile

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