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.
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!
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!)
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!
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!