Rebecca Dooley
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Tiny House Living

What They Don't Tell You On TV

This is the farmhouse that we left to live in a twenty-seven foot RV for three months.

I love watching shows that center on making a home. Whether it's HGTV, DIY Network, Home and Garden, etc., I love to see people transform a structure into their dream home, and the more unique the home, the better I like it. 

A recent trend has emerged: tossing out the traditional large family home for the more economical "tiny house living." I'll admit, the idea has merits; lower mortgage, lower utilities, closer quarters to ensure the family can't isolate themselves from each other, and for many of these homes, mobility. Is there be a downside? Yes.

Don't get me wrong, if this is something that works for you, then that's wonderful and I am not criticizing anyone that wants to live this way. I'm just saying that it won't work for everyone.

I'm not a fussy woman. I'm not "high maintenance." I can, and do, "make do" with whatever life throws at me. I always have, but that is how my parents raised me. No matter what you do or don't have, you make the best of it and improvise when you have to, and I have—though not always happily, I'll admit. I'm human. I get tired of "making do" and "just getting by." 

My husband and I made the decision to relocate our family and live in a twenty-seven foot RV for three months until we could purchase a permanent home. Four people, a sixty-pound dog, and three cats. We had been renting a comfortably large two-story farmhouse with a five-foot-tall hot water heater, large eat-in kitchen, four bedrooms, den, and living room. The hall stretched the length of the house and was probably eight feet wide, and I was able to use it as my office. You'll understand why I mentioned the water heater shortly.

So from my journey into the temporary world of tiny house living, RV living, downsizing, whatever you want to call it, I'll share my experience.

Tiny house living is not for everyone. It will work best for tidy, organized people that do not like long, hot showers. Messy, disorganized, and dysfunctional does not work well in small spaces. Trust me on this. 

Storage space is limited. If you like clothes and shoes, this is not for you. You will need to be creative with mixing and matching your handful of tops and bottoms and a couple of pairs of shoes (probably a pair of old and a good pair for work or going out, but no more). 

"Make your bed" takes on a whole new meaning. Beds pull double duty; sitting and eating areas during the day and sleeping at night, and they are not fluffy and inviting. Extra storage can be found beneath these, but it's a bit more of a hassle to get to than opening a cabinet or closet in a traditional house.

Laundry. I hope you like wasting a day at the laundromat, unless you have some creative washing machine that can be tucked away when not in use. I've looked at those foot pedal machines. Hmm...I have my doubts. If you've used them, I'd love to know if they're worth the investment. 

Lastly, here is the reason that I addressed the size of the hot water heater in our previous house. My biggest indulgence, other than coffee and books, is long, hot showers, and the occasional bath. I now bathe in stages. The hot water heater for this RV is equivalent to a five-gallon bucket. Let that sink in...a five-gallon-bucket. Washing my hair, shaving, and bathing all at once is impossible. This is how I now bathe:

1) Cut on water

2) Wet hair

3) Cut off water and lather hair 

4) Cut on water and rinse hair

5) Strip and get in the tub

6) Rinse body and quickly bathe before the water turns cold 

The one and only time that I shaved my legs, I sat on the toilet in my underwear, rinsed and lathered my legs, cut the water off to shave, and then got in the tub and finished bathing according to the chart above. I now bathe in about five minutes or less. To add insult to injury, you have to flip a switch to turn the water heater on and off and it is heated by propane. 

I'll make it work for the short term. Long term, I want a house. A real house on a foundation with bedrooms and counter space and closets and a normal bath and shower with a huge hot water heater and a washer and dryer. 

If you've considered downsizing, think about your current living situation and who you will be sharing the space with. If you can do it, go for it. You only get one life and it's short. 

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