To some, tiny house life sounds romantic; to others it sounds awful. I can tell you it’s neither. And it’s both.
Actually, it’s so much more.
Our year living in our little renovated vintage caravan (our tiny house on wheels) was the result of one of the best decisions we ever made: to utilize our season of transition and necessary work travel in a way that worked for our family. This meant moving into the tiniest space we’ve ever lived in. Yup, we’re talking about 95 square feet. That’s a matchbox when you add in a pregnant woman, a 6’3” man, and two energetic boys under five.
But we loved it. (Except for when we didn’t.)
Here are some of the things we loved most about living in our beautiful little vintage caravan:
1. Tiny house = less STUFF
Since there is such limited space, you have to be intentional with everything you put in it (or exclude). You’re forced to learn how little “stuff” you actually need. (I was amazed at how, even in that tiny space, I still had to have rounds of purging every few months.) I love, love, loved living with less stuff cluttering up my space and my mind.
2. Tiny house = tidy house
When you live in a tiny area you have to keep things neat and tidy or else you will literally go mad. A small mess looks like a GIANT mess when the space is small. A few dirty dishes look like a MOUNTAIN of dirty dishes when the counter top is only two feet long. I loved that everything in our caravan had a specific place and even the members of my family that aren’t as naturally ordered as I am—ahem—learned quickly that things needed to be used and then put back immediately. I’ve never lived in such a clean and tidy space as when we were living in the caravan. I seriously loved it.
3. Tiny house = increased outside living
Our kids were ages 3½ and 5 while living in the caravan. We set up bunk beds for them with toy storage and book racks so they could have their own little spaces to themselves, but still, it’s hard to play on your bed, the shared kitchen table (which doubled as our office), or two square feet of floor space for long periods. This meant we were always exhorting our kids to “go play outside, boys!” and they did. Being outside is good for a thousand reasons (developmentally, creatively, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc.) and we will always remember our stint in our tiny house as one in which we all enjoyed the outdoors more than ever before.
4. Tiny house = flexibility
Obviously this wouldn’t count for a stationary tiny house, but since ours was on wheels we loved that we could take our home wherever we went. Our year was crazy-full of travel for us (more than 15 different locations, almost all work-related) and having our tiny house on wheels meant we could travel as a family wherever we went and not sacrifice the sense of “home” we needed and wanted for our kids. It was far easier for us than organizing a zillion airfares, booking hotels, and rental cars. In between our stints on the road, we did have come time living in houses (our parents or friends), but I found this far more challenging since it wasn’t truly our own space and it was living out of suitcases rather than our own little caravan drawers and closet and cupboards. Perhaps I should mention here that Ryan and I both work from home and share homeschooling the kids. Our work and lifestyle choices mean that this level of flexibility really suits our family needs.
5. Tiny house = money saving
Because it was a year of uncanny work travel around various parts of Australia, we saved truck loads of money by having our own car and house, rather than what we would have spent on airfares, rental cars, and hotel costs (all while continuing to pay rent somewhere). We saved a lot of money over the year, which we desperately needed as we planned for moving into the fourth most expensive city in the world (Sydney).
6. Tiny house = family bonding
Nothing will bring a family together (or drive them apart) like living in 95 square feet. For much of the world, sharing a space that size is the norm, but for our ‘Ausmerican’ family, it certainly isn’t. We had no place to hide or avoid each other, no place to isolate ourselves, and no place to pretend our own pesky issues didn’t exist. Living in close quarters meant we had to practice good communication and be intentional with how we had fun (i.e. playing a game together rather than going our separate ways to TV or devices). We made a ton of memories as we travelled and, although we were still working as we went, we also got to make time for lots of adventuring along the way.
There are many other things we enjoyed about life in the caravan, but these six are our top contenders (in no particular order). Have you lived in a tiny space before? What did you enjoy most? If not, would you consider it?
If you want to hear the flip side (trust me, there are also downsides to tiny house life!), look out for my next post: The 8 worst things about our life in a tiny house. And, if you’d like to see more of the day-to-day of what our life in the caravan looked like, check out the hashtag #livingsmalltolivebig on instagram.
Note: The lovely family photos above were taken by our friend Pez. I highly recommend her if you’re looking for a lifestyle photographer in New South Wales, Australia.
Living Small To Live Big: A series on tiny house living with kids
Ever wondered what it would be like to move into a tiny house on wheels… with a family? Join the boys and I as we spend a year #livingsmalltolivebig and travel around Australia in our renovated vintage caravan. (This series is still in process—I’ll add the links below as the posts go live.)
- Home is where you park it: Why we’ve moved into a tiny house on wheels
- Wings and roots: Of mixed metaphor and the search for home
- Tiny house, big love: A photo essay
- 6 awesome things about tiny house life
- The 8 worst things about tiny house life Part 1 & Part 2
- Vinnie, the vintage caravan: A tiny tour of our tiny house (including before and after renovation pics)
- Tiny house organizational hacks
- Trip highlights from traveling Australia in our tiny house
- Why every Aussie family should plan a trip around Australia
- Finding a new normal: Transition, chaos, and intentional living
Do you have other questions about our time living in 95 square feet or about tiny house life in general? Please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer your questions or add to this collection of posts.