How I downsized for tiny house life

So you want to live tiny but you have a house full of stuff? That was me too before I bought my tiny house. Downsizing is one of the most important things you have to do before going tiny. I mean theoretically you could totally live tiny without having to downsize, but that may be a tad bit difficult. Picture it, you now live in a 26 X 8.5 ft. rectangle with ALL your belongings?? Yeah that doesn’t sound all that fun to me either. BUT then again, if you are seriously looking into going tiny you most likely have already married the fact that you will have to get rid of your things. So how do you do it? How you do know what to keep and what not to keep? First thing to note, is that you will NOT do this all in one sitting. Shocker I know. You will probably do at least 3 declutters BEFORE going tiny and then you may do a couple AFTER you’ve moved in. You may think you know what you need now, but you won’t really until you’re living the life.

Photo by Burgess Milner on Unsplash

Now there are a plethora of ways to go about downsizing. Most people start with the basic: throw out everything you haven’t used in the last year or what not. I think that’s a great place to start. Personally, I started there too. If you start with ‘things I think I need’ you’ll find that its harder to get rid of things. Reason being half of the things you’ve bought is because you THOUGHT you needed it. If you however ONLY keep the items you have used within the past year or 6 months, regardless of whether or not you think you need it, you will have way more success getting rid of you items. Trust me I am speaking from many experiences.

After that first initial purge, you will find that while you have gotten rid of A LOT, you still have WAYY too much for a tiny house. Now is where you can have a declutter party and let loose. I made a whole day of it even going so far as to completely empty my closet and dressers. At this point you need to be more critical. You’ve already gotten rid of the things you don’t use, so now it is getting rid of things you don’t really need. Those 5 bottles of perfume you have but don’t want to get rid of because they were gifts? Throw them out. Those 10 blankets and pillows you have? Donate them. Those jeans you wear once a year, but they were expensive, so you keep them… hand those down to a cousin. Seriously. The goal here is to live with less. You can’t hoard things that you may or may not eventually get too JUST because you already have them. I’m telling you (because I did it) you will end up wasting time and packing space, moving with those 5 perfumes only to donate them later anyways when you realize you really don’t have the space for them.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

So round two is knocked out (YES!) now is where things get a tad bit trickier. Because now we’re left with things we really think we need (even if we don’t), and most likely sentimental things we don’t want to get rid of. I promise you even though you think after step 2 you’re done because it looks like you have nothing, you are NOT done. This is the stage where people usually pack up their belongings and live out of boxes. The idea is that you will truly see what you NEED by doing this activity. I so wish I had done this, because it would have saved me A TON and I mean A TON of boxes and time. If living out of boxes does not seem ideal to you, I would honestly turn to the internet. Google what do I actually need to live or tiny house living essentials.  I know that these are largely personal and 100% subjective, but it can give you a good guiding point to help slim down your belongings a bit more.

Now this is going to sound mean, but it must be said: items don’t hold memory, our brain does. Items may help us remember certain things, but digital pictures work just as well. Get rid of some of the sentimental stuff. Now I’m not talking about your great- great- great grandmothers ring. I’m talking about all 1,000 physical pictures you have in a box in the back of your closet. Scan those suckers and toss the physical copy. Still have clothes from when your kids were babies? Take a picture of it, upload it to the cloud, and donate the clothes. I threw out a host of sentimental things after I took pictures of them, because it was not the object I treasured, it was the memory and the feeling attached to that object. Both of which reside inside me, space free, and would continue too with or without the object. Again, I’m not saying to get rid of ALL sentimental things, but some can be done away with. If that just sound completely outrageous and you are mentally cursing me out, then make sure you have a storage plan for these items, and you incorporate them into your build.

Photo by KS KYUNG on Unsplash

Okay so now we’ve really slimed down our belongings and we have moved everything into our new tiny house (whoop whoop). In a few months or a year so 6-12 months, you will do ANOTHER downsizing. Yes that’s right I said ANOTHER. Now that you have experience living tiny, you know exactly what you need and what you don’t. No use hanging onto things you THOUGHT you would need. I did this while I was pregnant and in my emotional state ended up downsizing too much, but it is still a great idea. Even now that I’m almost two years living in the tiny house, I still find that I need to declutter some more. But that has more to do with getting rid of baby stuff, but still its downsizing.

Downsizing will perpetually be a part of the tiny house lifestyle

Downsizing will perpetually be a part of the tiny house lifestyle. Things will always be coming into your home as your needs and lifestyle changes, so naturally things will also always be leaving your home. When I started this journey, I had no idea I would want to switch to a minimal waste lifestyle, and yet here we are. With this switch, I’ve had to swap out many things, like a coffee maker for a French press, or store-bought milk for cheese cloths and a tub of oats. Once you accept that it’s just part of the lifestyle, it stops being a chore, and just becomes something you do. Now that I’ve written this article, I think I’m up for some much-needed decluttering.

Tiny house reality: A morning in our tiny house

Tiny house living can look so amazing on the internet. No really, all the glorious clean pictures, the adventures, the laughing families it looks amazing! And it really is, I absolutely love my home. But in reality y’all my day to day is pretty mundane. Don’t believe me? Check out the video below of a morning in our home. People often tell me how amazing my life looks and how much they wish they could live in a tiny house. So I wanted to show a glimpse of the reality. Our mornings are typically spent with me cooking and cleaning, and Nalini, well Nalini doing whatever Nalini wants. Do I love my life? Absolutely, I wouldn’t change any of it. BUT not because its glorious or exciting. I love my life because I work hard to craft the one I love. I get rid of things that do not serve me, and I go searching for opportunities I desire. So please enjoy a glimpse into our morning routine.

Tiny house parking: Where to park tiny houses and how to find them

The biggest obstacle by far preventing people from going tiny, is parking. Let’s face it, the laws surrounding tiny houses and specifically tiny houses on wheels, hav not yet caught up with the demand in some locations. Assuming you are already well versed on the zoning laws in your area, I’m going to dive right in to how to find parking for your tiny home

*NOTE: if you are not well versed or even vaguely familiar with your city and counties zoning law, do yourself a favor and get caught up! Zoning laws are extremely important when deciding where one should park their tiny home. Parked in the wrong zoning area, your home is subject to eviction YES eviction! So, read up on all those laws and bylaws BEFORE proceeding to save yourself some headaches down the road.

Before I talk about tiny house parking, I want to brush up on certification. According to the DMV, your tiny house is an RV, not a house, an RV. This means that if built to the right specifications, your house can receive RVIA certification. If your home is built by a reputable tiny house builder, RVIA certification will most likely be included in your price. If you are doing a self-build you would have to do the research and figure out how to build your house to those satisfaction. Your home DOES NOT need to be RVIA certified at all. Like all certifications, it can help you in certain places when trying to park your tiny, but it is not a necessity. Plenty of DIY tiny home builds find parking just fine without the unnecessary classification. Since my home was built by a builder, it is RVIA certified.

RVIA certification tag on purple tiny house door.

In general, there are three types of parking spots: Tiny house community, RV or campgrounds, and private land.

Tiny home community

four tiny houses in a tiny house community around a pond
The community I live in

Tiny home communities are perfect for the individuals who want to be surrounded by like minded people, and still have that sense of community. I live in a tiny house community and I can attest that it is in fact wonderful! Unfortunately, they are hard to find. Not all states have them and some of them have long wait list. One community in Orlando has a waitlist of 3 months! But, if you are fortunate enough to have one in your state, they are a great place to park a tiny. I found my tiny house community by doing a google search. I googled tiny house communities Florida. Tiny house communities near (insert city here I’m not telling y’all where I live). Tiny house communities in the United States so on and so forth, you get the picture. I googled every possible rendition of tiny house community until I found the one I’m parked in now. If there are no tiny house communities in your state, and you’re not willing to move out of state, then this option may not be for you at this moment, but fear not, there are plenty of other options out there for you!

RV park or campgrounds

Another popular parking location for tiny houses on wheels, is RV parks and campgrounds. Now, remember above when I went on that mini lesson on RVIA certification? This is where that would come in handy. Some RV parks will not allow you to park your tiny home on their property if you do not have RVIA certification. I have never lived in an RV park before, but I have searched for parking in one and if they knew what a tiny house was, I was asked about RVIA certification. In reality, most people did not know what a tiny house was, and once I sent them pictures of my home, they were all too eager to have me park on their space (except for one guy who just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that it was literally just like an RV!). So, if you still want that community feel and aren’t quite ready to go out into the wilderness, RV park or campgrounds may be your best bet. Campgrounds usually have more space than RV parks, but they can also have a bit more restrictions when it comes to plugging in, like only running off 30 AMP plugs instead of 50 AMPs. So before to check all that BEFORE towing your house all the way there

Private Land

The holy grail of tiny house living! Finding parking either on your own land or someone else’s is the ideal route of most tiny housers. There’s usually more space, more flexibility to really utilize the land, and probably cheaper as well. I lived on a horse farm for a few months before moving to the tiny house community and I had a wonderful time! If not for the awful neighbors and the fact that the grass would flood every time it rained, I probably would’ve stayed there longer. Getting your own land can be very difficult especially if you want to remain in a THOW. Few zoning laws allow people to live full time in an RV (which remember is what tiny houses are classified as) so getting approved would be difficult. Not only that, some counties even have square footage restrictions! That’s right in some places your home must be a certain square footage to be able to be built (I know it’s ridiculous). Your best bet for finding land that you can park your THOW on or build a THOF (Tiny house on foundation), is to look for land zoned agricultural, unrestricted, and DEFINETLEY outside of city lines. These areas tend to have less restrictions when it comes to what you can and can’t do with your land.

blue tiny house on wheels on farm. blue skies and green grass
Tiny house parked on the farm

If you can’t afford your own land, or simply have no desire to have one, you can always live on someone else’s land. There is a plethora of people all across the United States that have acres on acres of land that they aren’t using and would love to host a tiny house! Whether for extra cash or just extra help around their property (which is typical for many of these situations). I’d say the best way to find these, is to utilize google search, craigslist, and social media! When I was looking for parking before I made it to the community, I googled the heck out of tiny house parking near me and every variation of it! I found that I would get a TON of information, and 98% of it would be absolutely useless. I found using craigslist to be the best route to finding parking. I searched on craigslist

  • Tiny house parking
  • Land for tiny house parking
  • RV parking
  • RV lots for rent
  • Long-term RV parking

This ended up giving me way more useable information. I would check daily and sure enough one day the farm popped up! Another great tool to utilize is social media! I have seen numerous posts from people in my tiny house groups on Facebook who have land and would love to host a tiny. I even saw one post where a man was giving away an acre for free to anyone who wanted it and could help around the farm! People are interested in tiny houses and the lifestyle so capitalize off of it! Make a cute infographic about you and your home and share it! You’d be surprised at the amount of interest you might generate.

While finding a parking spot for your tiny home can be a challenge, it is not impossible. It can take some time, months even, and you may have to live a few towns over from your target city (I do!) but it is so worth it to get to live your tiny dream!

Having trouble finding parking? Shoot me an email and let’s see if I can help 😊 After all 2 heads are better than 1.

Live Laugh, Love,