Monday, January 16, 2012

New year new ideas

Well it's been a while...

I'm still in the USA, and working through it (it's like i need culture rehab). I have a new job that I'm happy in, and I get to make my living helping others, which is pretty amazing (severe understatement). As for the disillusionment/ despondence I feel towards America, I think I may have found something to help (perhaps culture rehab? Nope, even better, sub-culture infusion!)
While wandering aimlessly around the internet I stumbled upon this blog, which introduced me to a new idea for a concept that I already practice in many ways. I'm already a simplist (think minimalist, but not quite down to two pairs of pants and two pairs of shoes), but I'd never heard of the tiny house movement. The more I read about it the more the lightbulbs start going off in my head.

American culture norm conflicts with me:
#1 Long-term contracts (phones, mortgages, etc). Which to me mean long term debt, inability to be mobile, upkeep, dependence on markets, reliance on/indebtedness to big banks or companies.
#2 Focusing on stuff more than people. Loss of relationships because of things or money, and choosing stuff over people. Building relationships solely around 'stuff': what you have, what you don't, what you buy, what you want... this seems to be rampant and openly accepted in the current American society.
#3 Having more than you need, or over-consumption, which I am fully guilty of but would like to rectify.
I could go on but I won't. The problem with spending more time living in foreign countries in the last ten years than you have in your 'home' country is that you no longer fit anywhere fully (and you're always missing people all over the world).

Tiny House sub-culture solutions:
#1 Long-term contracts. With a tiny house the mortgage (if you even need to get one) is 1/10th that of a 'regular' house and can be paid off quickly, thus no long-term mortgage only short-term. Perfect! Also you can build these things on wheels meaning you don't have to worry about selling if you need to move or what the market is doing. For now, I have no kids and I don't need much space. When I do need a bit more space and my parents are getting up in years I can use the tiny house for them, allowing for autonomy but keeping them close. That's one long-term contract I can't get out of.
#s 2 & 3 Focusing on stuff more than people. & Over-consumption. It's hard to have too much stuff when you don't have room to keep it. Less stuff means less focus on stuff and less consumption. Plus the overall footprint of the house will use less materials than most garages, and I'm going to try and use salvage materials to build it as much as possible.

So the tiny house answers my biggest housing qualms with typical America, but is it actually doable for me...
I'm not 100% sure that it is, but I really do want it to be.

Here are the reasons I think I can transition into tiny house living:
1- For four years I lived in about the same amount of space, or less actually, than the tiny houses i'm looking at (i'm looking at between 110 and 150 sq. ft. for my house). Now I only occupy about 100 sq.ft. of my available living space (shared), so spacewise it's a lateral move and one I'm already adjusted to.
2- I hate paying rent and having nothing to show for it. Bye-bye apartments and landlords.
3- I'm handy. Being my father's daughter, I've learned a lot about fixing things, home repairs, and upkeep. I would also like to build this tiny house myself, with help of course. And if you're wondering, yes, I have experience building houses. Now if my dad would only teach me how to build an engine I could make my dream car.
4- I thrive on challenge and wilt when it's easy. Easy bores me, challenge makes me strive to become better and adapt. Maybe it's my age, maybe it's the life I chose early on, but this is one quality that is consistent (that and my horrible spelling, I'm so glad no one sees the first draft of these things).
5- Introvert. I'm not a hermit, nor could I ever be one for long periods of time, but I sure do need short periods of time away from the world. Not only is a tiny house all my own (no roommates, which I will actually miss because I've had some amazing luck so far, but I've also heard some horror stories, the stuff nightmares are made of) but I can take it to the mountains or the beach and "get away from it all" when I'd like to. I wouldn't need a power or water source for a weekend trip, so I could be completely isolated if I wanted/needed to be.

These are some of the issues with a tiny house I've thought up so far (feel free to add to them or dispell them):
1- parking. I'll have to have a place with water and power to sit my home. It can't be too far from my workplace (I hate long commutes) and right now I work and live in a city. The only options I can see are begging for/renting a backyard (hello again landlord, grr), trailer park (not going to happen), or buying a lot (see reason #1 America and I disagree).
2- hosting, which hinges on 1. I love hosting people. If I don't find a space where I can do outdoor hosting then I'll be limited to inviting 2 people over at a time. That's about where I am right now with mymliving situation, but I'd love to have the capacity to host more.
3- hauling it. Am I going to have to buy a truck just to take this thing anywhere, or is it more feasible to rent one when I need it?
4- aren't I already different enough? This might just draw too much attention and make people more curious than I'd like. I love people, but I value privacy and alone time too.

The ideas of simplicity and minimalism are what appealed to me the most and I can start to adopt those without moving. So I have, and I'm starting to pare down. As all who know me come to realize, I change my mind and have a "brilliant, life-changing idea" about once every six months so we'll see if this one takes hold, many of them do (why do you think I lived overseas for five of the last ten years) and some of them don't (I never did go live off the land as a hermit). Let me know what you think about this idea and if you think it's brilliant or that I'm crazy!

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