Are you curious about how to live tiny with children and pets? This week’s guest, Alexis Monkhouse, is a single mom who has been living in her tiny house for four years, along with her “Boss Baby” and their two dogs. She has a strong sense of what works and what doesn’t regarding tiny living and she talks to me about all the things that have gone right and some that haven’t during this fun conversation.
In This Episode:
- Showing the real tiny life on YouTube
- Why the composting toilet didn’t work out
- Thinking of a washer/dryer combo? Listen up!
- When your builder gives you great advice
- The one feature Alexis wishes she had and why
- Popular tiny house cons debunked
Links and Resources:
- RVIA Certification
- NOAH Certified
- Episode 211 with Ashley Monkhouse
- Living Big in a Tiny House
- Tiny House Giant Journey
- Episode 204 with Alaska Wagonner
This Week's Sponsor:
Tiny House Decisions
Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. And it comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. If you're struggling to figure out the systems for your tiny house, how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, what you're going to build it out, then tiny house decisions will take you through the process systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for podcast listeners. Head over to https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thd and use the coupon code tiny at checkout!
Alexis moved her tiny house from a horse farm to a tiny home community
The copper sink makes the kitchen look warm and inviting
Alexis didn't need a large kitchen
But she did want plenty of room to dance and lots of space for books
The main loft has her queen bed and toddler bed, while the second loft holds a full-sized bed
Alexis Monkhouse 0:00
And that was actually one of the reasons why, originally, that I got that toilet was because while I was looking for parking, a lot would say, "Electricity and water provided. No sewage." Now I was like, "I'll be damned if I find a perfect parking spot and I can't park there because of sewage problems."
Ethan Waldman 0:16
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 226 with Alexis Monkhouse. My guest today Alexis Monkhouse is actually the sister of a former guest, Ashley Monkhouse. They live next door to one another, but their tiny houses and their lifestyles could not be more different. In this episode, I will ask Alexis about why she chose to leave her first parking spot, about things that have gone right and gone wrong in her tiny house as she's been living tiny for four years so she really has a strong sense of what has worked about it and what hasn't, and also what it's like to live tiny with a child and two dogs. It's a really fun conversation and Alexis is a great guest, a great interview. So I hope you stick around and give it a listen.
I want to tell you about something that I think will be super helpful as you plan, design and build your tiny house. Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It comes in three different packages to help you on your unique Tiny House journey. And if you're struggling to just figure out the systems for your tiny house, you know, like how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, you know what construction technique are you going to use like SIPs or stick framing or steel framing, Tiny House Decisions will take you through all these processes systematically, and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions. For listeners of the show, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD to learn more, and use the coupon code tiny at checkout for 20% off any package. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off.
All right, I'm here with Alexis Monkhouse. Alexis is a single mom living in a tiny house finishing up her Master’s in Anthropology while trying to get into tech. She refers to herself as a confused millennial trying to figure it out and having fun doing it. Alexis Monkhouse, welcome to the show.
Alexis Monkhouse 2:44
Hello, I forgot about that.
Ethan Waldman 2:46
Are you still confused?
Alexis Monkhouse 2:48
Every day of my life.
Ethan Waldman 2:51
I'm sorry to hear that.
Alexis Monkhouse 2:53
You know life is like, it's a journey and I'll figure it out by the end of the day. I learn something new and then the next day there's more to learn and then you know you just go and you have fun.
Ethan Waldman 3:01
Yeah, that's that's a good mentality for living tiny actually. And how long have you been living tiny?
Alexis Monkhouse 3:07
Four years actually last week.
Ethan Waldman 3:08
Nice. That's like that's a long time. That's enough time for the sparkle to wear off and for you to really experience it.
Alexis Monkhouse 3:21
Oh, that wore off a long time ago. I still love it but it ain't magical.
Ethan Waldman 3:26
No, no the magical - that was the word that I was looking for.
Alexis Monkhouse 3:29
That was, that was gone like a couple months in.
Ethan Waldman 3:31
Yeah, what was like, if you can think back to that time, like what was one of the first things, first challenges that made you say, "This isn't so magical. This is actually kind of difficult."
Alexis Monkhouse 3:44
Yeah, so for me it was a bit different because I got pregnant almost immediately after moving into the tiny house. It was, "I'm getting bigger, my space if not." And so I guess it was like living with another person. I applaud anyone who can do it because, bro, that's miserable. Like I was like, "There's nowhere to go. We're right on top of each other all the time."
Ethan Waldman 4:07
Alexis Monkhouse 4:10
Not for everybody.
Ethan Waldman 4:10
No, no. And was your your tiny house..? I'm guessing you kind of designed it for just you in mind?
Alexis Monkhouse 4:17
For just me, only me, not me and another person or a child or dog, forthat matter.
Ethan Waldman 4:22
Right. And so who lives in the house now?
Alexis Monkhouse 4:25
Now it's me and my three year old boss baby, and I have two dogs. One is a toy poodle. He's not really a dog. He's like a stuffed animal. And then the other one is like a medium sized doggie.
Ethan Waldman 4:36
And so is your tiny house..? Can you describe it? Like, where's the sleeping area? How big is it? Yeah, give me the like, give me the spiel on your tiny house.
Alexis Monkhouse 4:46
Yeah, I can talk about this for days. So it's 26 feet long, eight and a half wide. And I've got two lofts, which was probably the smartest thing I ever did my whole life. And my main loft is like massive. I think it's like 12 feet long. So I have a queen bed up there, and a toddler bed, they could probably fit a king. So lucky me. And then like, I've got the bathroom, the kitchen, and my living room is a bit big for me at least cuz I like to dance. And then I've got this massive bookshelf because I have a book addiction.
Ethan Waldman 4:46
Nice. And that's kind of nice. And so you have a second loft, what do you what do you keep in the other loft?
Alexis Monkhouse 5:27
Crap. I mean, it's just stuff I don't need any more, and then I had a full bed that Boss and I were sleeping on for a bit, I moved that over there, because I'm cheap, and I don't wanna get rid of it.
Ethan Waldman 5:40
I mean, it's amazing to consider a tiny house having like storage space, and actually having enough room to accumulate stuff that you don't need, even in a tiny house.
Alexis Monkhouse 5:51
I know. I need to get rid of it. But I'm so lazy. I don't want to.
Ethan Waldman 5:57
Oh, sounds like you don't have to until you need that space for something else. So have you moved your tiny house at all in that in those four years?
Alexis Monkhouse 6:10
Yeah. So it went from the builder. Originally, I was living on a horse farm with my sister, which was so fun. It was beautiful. But then I was like, "This grass is - what's that thing called - this flooding. It ain't for me, the farm life." Your girl wasn't about it. It was so pretty. And so then we move to the community, I guess has moved like twice, if you count that one too. Yeah. That was an experience.
Ethan Waldman 6:36
Yeah. How long have you been in the community?
Alexis Monkhouse 6:39
Three years. We've only lived on the horse farm for about six months. I guess three years.
Ethan Waldman 6:43
Okay. So you you kind of realized that the horse farm the farm life wasn't wasn't for you. And you moved as sisters to a new community?
Alexis Monkhouse 6:52
Yeah, we had a deposit down on this place. And she was like, it's ready. Now you can move if you want to. And I was like fat. So I told my sister. We're moving.
Ethan Waldman 7:02
Nice. Yeah. And that's like, I would say that's like the dream for many people trying to find a tiny house community where there's the infrastructure to park your tiny house to plug it in. Have some neighbors even how many people live there.
Alexis Monkhouse 7:19
I can't do that kind of math, man. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. There are eight houses here right now. But one of them they're selling. So seven people.
Ethan Waldman 7:32
Nice. Seven tiny houses?
Alexis Monkhouse 7:35
Yes. Oh, 8 - no, 9. 9. We had a new a new person moved in a couple months ago. Sorry.
Ethan Waldman 7:41
All right. Well, they won't. They won't know that. You forgot them. We haven't named any names. So it could be it could be any of the of the nine.
Alexis Monkhouse 7:52
Yeah, I forgot myself.
Ethan Waldman 7:54
Oh, yeah. There you go. 10.
Alexis Monkhouse 7:57
So it's a little bit of us.
Ethan Waldman 7:59
Nice. So you also have an awesome YouTube channel where you share the the inside scoop, the real life tiny living with with a kid. Can you ... I guess how would you describe your YouTube channel?
Alexis Monkhouse 8:21
Yeah, that poor thing. I should post a lot more.
When I was going tiny, I realized - but this was like four years ago - there weren't a lot of videos that showed like how to go tiny, or what it was actually like living tiny. Because I would Google like, 'what's it like living tiny' and you don't really, nobody really likes to show that. You just see like, really awesome Instagram pictures. So when I first lived here with boss and my house was a complete mess all day, I was like, "I must be doing something wrong. Because how can my house doesn't look like those people's houses? What am I doing?" And I realized I'm not doing anything wrong. And they liked it. So I ended up with like, my Instagram and my YouTube was like, I want to show people that hey, it's totally okay if your house looks like absolute trash, just because you're tiny doesn't make you like Martha Stewart Amazing. Goddess.
Ethan Waldman 9:12
Yeah, that's that's a great point. I mean, I always found that like, it was easy to just completely explode the inside of the tiny house and it would be a mess. But also, like, it didn't take nearly as long to like, clean it up as it would in a bigger space. Because like in the tiny house, like everything has its own place where it needs to go. And so you just kind of have to put the puzzle back together.
Alexis Monkhouse 9:36
Exactly. And it's a smaller space. There's only so much mess you can make before you have to clean it up. Which is, which is good.
Ethan Waldman 9:43
Yeah, I think it's actually as of recording. It's your most recent Instagram post and the caption is just like holy toys and it just like there's like a little table for a kid like there's a puzzle. There's stuffed animals. It's just like, it does look like a bomb went off inside your tiny house.
Alexis Monkhouse 10:01
It took off. He took out everything and I don't like, I didn't even know she had that much toys child.
Ethan Waldman 10:05
Alexis Monkhouse 10:06
It took less than three minutes to clean up.
Ethan Waldman 10:08
Nice. Do you think that there are any unique challenges to parenting a young child while while living tiny?
Alexis Monkhouse 10:17
I don't think so. Because she knows nothing else. Like, this is her life and like her grandparents, she goes there half the week. Um, they have a normal size house, but she's lived in here for most of it. So it's normal to her. I think at her age so young, like there's really not much she needs - some toys, some markers, put her outside. She's great. She's living her best life.
Ethan Waldman 10:39
Alexis Monkhouse 10:39
I'm lucky. When they get older, though. I think that starts to get a bit more...
Ethan Waldman 10:44
Yeah, yeah. Do you have you kind of have an idea of what your what you'll do then? Are you going to try to keep going in the tiny house?
Alexis Monkhouse 10:53
Absolutely not. I'm moving out. I love tiny living. I think around, I don't know, I'm not like a child psychologist, around like eight or nine, they start to like, you know, they want privacy. They want to develop their own identity. And I want to give her space where she could do that where like, we're not just like, they are nice to each other. So I want her to have her own room where she can if she wants it to be a mess. If she wants to paint it. neon green or something ridiculous, she can.
Ethan Waldman 11:16
Yeah, yeah, I like that. Kind of giving her the space to kind of make make some of her own choices.
Alexis Monkhouse 11:24
Exactly. Yeah. And I don't think you can really do that in a tiny house where it's kind of like, I let her do a lot like I'm very, very free of what she can do. But there's only so much that she has control over.
Ethan Waldman 11:36
Well, one of the you know, I think one of the stereotypes or just one of the things that people think that you have to get rid of when you go tiny is books. And as you already mentioned, you're sitting in front of a wall of books. Did you have to get rid of books to move tiny?
Alexis Monkhouse 11:52
Not a single one. That's actually one of the first things I told my builder was that I love books. I have a lot and I won't get rid of any of them. And so the whole house was built around this idea of me loving books, I have this and they actually built me like little nook under the stairs that can be in and there's more storage there.
Ethan Waldman 12:10
Nice. So kind of like a reading nook.
Alexis Monkhouse 12:13
Yeah, I don't get to use it because boss always destroys it. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 12:18
Well, there you go. Yeah, one day, you'll get to use your reading nook for reading.
Alexis Monkhouse 12:24
Ethan Waldman 12:25
Well, there were a couple of things that I was I was written down to that I really wanted to ask you about which is and the first one is I believe you switched out your compost toilet for a conventional toilet.
Alexis Monkhouse 12:40
Ethan Waldman 12:42
Can we have storytime?
Alexis Monkhouse 12:48
Okay, so I, if anybody ever wants to get a compost toilet, I highly recommend it. I loved mine. I had the Separette one.
Ethan Waldman 12:54
Alexis Monkhouse 12:55
They say it doesn't get flies. But I think that's only true for places that aren't as humid as Florida. I still got flies, even when I changed all the time. But I was cloth diapering and boss was like a walking moving toddler.
Ethan Waldman 13:08
Alexis Monkhouse 13:09
And she wanted to touch the toilet. And that was just a no go for me. And with cloth diapering, you know, you have to separate solids and you can't really separate the solids with a cloth diaper. So I was like, "This has to go." I made her her grandfather come and switch it out. I still have the compost toilet. It's in storage.
Ethan Waldman 13:28
Alexis Monkhouse 13:29
But we had to go to conventional because my daughter wasn't gonna put her hand crap. It's not gonna happen.
Ethan Waldman 13:35
So that was your house kind of built? Like did they put the pipe in the floor for a conventional flush toilet like it just in case or did you have to like cut a big hole in the floor?
Alexis Monkhouse 13:47
Yeah, no, they there was a hole before. They already had it. Just in case.
Ethan Waldman 13:52
Alexis Monkhouse 13:53
I never thought I was gonna use it. But my builders were smarter than me.
Ethan Waldman 13:56
Yeah, that's, you know, I thought about doing that in my build. And I didn't end up doing it. So far. It's been okay, but I certainly would rather have the hole be there already. And the plumbing run to it. Because in a tiny house, it's just so hard, especially with the plumbing to do that after after the fact.
Alexis Monkhouse 14:16
And I wasn't gonna do it and I wasn't gonna pay anybody to do it.
Ethan Waldman 14:19
Do you think you'll ever switch it back? Or do you just like, just kind of stick with a flush toilet?
Alexis Monkhouse 14:25
I'm definitely going through the compost toilet again. It just makes so much more sense. And they're so easy to take care of. Yeah, when I have my master bath.
Ethan Waldman 14:34
I love it. Then a master bath with a compost toilet. Perfect.
Alexis Monkhouse 14:39
Yes. I love my Separette toilet which is there was nothing It was the best thing I ever did.
Ethan Waldman 14:45
Yeah, and it is, I would say somewhat unique. Find a tiny house parking spot where you can have a flush toilet like when you're just just parking in someone's backyard. The likelihood that they're going to have the infrastructure for you there is low.
Alexis Monkhouse 15:07
And that was actually one of the reasons why originally that I got that toilet was because while I was looking for parking, a lot would say, "electricity and water provided no sewer". And I was like, "I'll be damned if I find a perfect parking spot and I can't park there because of sewage problems." Yeah. So, but I knew I was going to be at the community for a while. So I was like, "Just switch it out. Alexis, you're not going anywhere."
Ethan Waldman 15:30
I've definitely heard, I've heard stories of both ways, like switching flush toilet to compost, or switching compost and flush toilet. But but your reasoning surprised me because I feel like a lot of times you hear people say, "Oh, I switched it because it was gross." Or, "I switched it because I didn't like dealing with it." But it just sounds like it didn't it didn't work for your boss baby. And but you want to go back to it.
Alexis Monkhouse 15:59
I love it. I mean, like I use the bathroom properly. You take it out and then boom, you're done.
Ethan Waldman 16:10
Another, another thing that I've actually I've pointed people to your videos about your washer dryer combo. Can you talk? Yeah, tell us about like, what what's going on there?
Alexis Monkhouse 16:23
I hate it. I mean right now it's actually on right now, it's kind of working but I hate it.
Ethan Waldman 16:27
Okay, so you have a washer dryer combo meaning like it's it's one it's one tub is one thing and your clothes get washed and then dried in that same area. Same thing?
Alexis Monkhouse 16:38
Yep. All in one.
Ethan Waldman 16:41
What are like what issues have you had with it?
Alexis Monkhouse 16:43
Well, it's smaller tech, which I know we live in tiny house to have like small stuff. Okay, I have a lot of clothes a lot clothes. And I got space for clothes so I keep them But it doesn't do much and then like the dry time, which is something they warned me about but I didn't listen. It takes so long. And then it just stops working randomly. It just dry just just Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 17:07
Well so what have you had to do to fix it?
Alexis Monkhouse 17:12
Cleaning like the tube between the dryer and the the wall thing I do that and then I wait days between like dry time.
Ethan Waldman 17:21
Alexis Monkhouse 17:22
So we dry today, I'm not going to dry things again for like another couple of days. I find that that helps.
Ethan Waldman 17:26
Alexis Monkhouse 17:27
I don't know what I do. I don't know what's working. But I usually just try to dry clothes outside. It's okay.
Ethan Waldman 17:34
Okay, well, yeah, that is way quicker. And also, yes, environmentally friendly, too.
Alexis Monkhouse 17:41
Okay, I tell people just get a stackable.
Ethan Waldman 17:43
Alexis Monkhouse 17:44
Just get a stackable.
Ethan Waldman 17:45
Yeah, it seems to me that the washer dryer combo. It's almost too good to be true, like stackable does take up a lot of space, but it seems like the washing and the drying are just too like they're just so different. Those two, the two things that he needs to do are just so different that like how could it possibly do both of them well? It sounds like they can't.
Alexis Monkhouse 18:09
It doesn't. And if you don't dry then you're like it doesn't drain properly. So it's through washing and like it's still wet.
Ethan Waldman 18:19
No fun. Have you like gone back to your builder and kind of said like, "Hey, these, this this washer that you put in like kind of stinks."
Alexis Monkhouse 18:28
I haven't because it's not their fault. You know? They just gave me what I asked for.
Ethan Waldman 18:32
Okay. What What brand do you have just so that people can maybe avoid that one?
Alexis Monkhouse 18:39
I feel so bad. I have Splendide. Lke I mean some people love it.
Ethan Waldman 18:43
Alexis Monkhouse 18:43
I'm not the biggest fan. I know that like, because I've been to Korea and in Korea they use them fine and they're bigger. So I know that likee of the bigger name ones like LG, they've created some.
Ethan Waldman 18:54
Alexis Monkhouse 18:54
I don't know how those work.
Ethan Waldman 18:56
So it sounds like kind of buyer beware, like maybe do do research read reviews for and make sure it's installed properly too.
Alexis Monkhouse 19:05
Exactly. That's what I tell people before going tiny. Do a bunch of research. Because Pinterest and Instagram will make you think that your life is just going to be happy Dory, go lucky. And it ain't. It ain't. And it's not.
Ethan Waldman 19:18
So you worked with a tiny house builder and it sounds like things worked out pretty well. Like you're happy with your house. I've certainly interviewed people who like not have that experience. You know what? How did you go about picking your builder?
Alexis Monkhouse 19:35
Yeah, I love my builders. They're just they were the best. So I wanted a builder in my state. That was like one of my biggest things cuz I'm nosy and I want to be able to drive down. So between two builders and one of them I'm very millennial in this way. Like one of them. I emailed them, they emailed me back. I emailed them and they didn't email me back. And I was like, "How dare you?" So I didn't go with them and there was only one left. So I went to tour, they showed me all the stuff. And then I sat down for like a design meeting. And I was like, This is great. And one of the things I loved about them was that if I had an idea, like I wanted to have propane everything, and they were like, "Alexis, that's a very bad idea. We're not going to put that into your house." And I liked that they they weren't just like giving me whatever I wanted. They told me like, when something didn't make any sense, and why didn't make sense.
Ethan Waldman 20:25
Alexis Monkhouse 20:25
Which I'm glad because could you imagine my whole house was propane? Oh, I would lose my mind. So I think that's really important.
Ethan Waldman 20:31
And so do you have any propane in your house,
Alexis Monkhouse 20:36
Only the like hot water. Everything else is electric
Ethan Waldman 20:40
I guess I didn't have your builder because I was my own builder. And I started off with everything propane, fridge, range, heater, hot water. Also, I agree. Terrible. I've slowly been replacing propane appliances with electric ones like the fridge is electric. Now my hot water is a small electric tank. The range and the heat - so I'm in Vermont. We need you need a lot of heat. So the propane makes sense for that.
Alexis Monkhouse 21:14
Yeah, I'm in Florida, the propane made no sense.
Ethan Waldman 21:16
No, but you've got to you've got to, you know, cool the place down.
Alexis Monkhouse 21:19
Yeah, that AC, it be running.
Ethan Waldman 21:25
So you have like a mini split?
Alexis Monkhouse 21:27
Yeah, yeah, the poor thing.
Ethan Waldman 21:29
mean, it's meant it's meant to be running. I'm sure. It's I'm sure it's happy.
Alexis Monkhouse 21:34
The guy that comes out and cleans it. And he was like, You need to get this thing cleaned, like, twice a year because it's always running and I live kind of like on gravel and near a concrete plant. So just gets all mucky. The poor baby is working too hard. But yeah.
Ethan Waldman 21:50
I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Tiny House Decisions, my signature guide, and the resource that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It starts with the big decisions, which is, you know, should you build a tiny house yourself or with help? Is a is a prebuilt shell, a good idea? Is a house on wheels better than on the ground and what works better for you? Deciding on the overall size, deciding on whether you should use custom plans or pre made plans, different types of trailers and more. Then in in Part 2, we get into the system, so heat, water, showers, hot water, toilets, electrical, refrigeration, ventilation, and we're only two thirds of the way through the book at this point. From systems we go into construction decisions, talking about nails versus screws, SIPs versus stick framed versus advanced framing versus metal framing. We talk about how to construct a subfloor, sheathing, roofing materials, insulation, windows, flooring kitchen... I know I'm just reading off the table of contents. But I just want to give you a sense of how comprehensive Tiny House Decisions is. It's a total of 170 pages. It contains tons of full color drawings, diagrams and resources. And it really is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions using the coupon code tiny, when you head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD. That's THD for Tiny House Decisions. Again, that's coupon code tiny when you check out at thetinyhouse.net/THD.
How long was it - going back to kind of your builder - how long did it take from like putting a deposit down and committing to actually taking delivery?
Alexis Monkhouse 23:48
Yeah, so let's see. I didn't know anything about tiny houses or anything. So at the design meeting, I was like they were I was like, "How much is this gonna cost? I'm ready to put down the money today!" Because I didn't think to shop around. You're girl ain't too smart. So that day I left my deposit down. That was January something something and then I got the house in July I want to say yeah, July because their roofer quit. They had to get a new roofer and so it kind of pushed it back, which was fine for me. I was doing your thing. And that was me and my sister's house.
Ethan Waldman 24:21
Well, I don't I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit for being smart because buying a tiny house four years ago was smart.
Alexis Monkhouse 24:29
It was, 'cause them prices jumped!
Ethan Waldman 24:34
The prices have gone up quite a bit.
Alexis Monkhouse 24:36
And rent prices? If I was renting today y'all I'd be crying. Yeah. Crying.
Ethan Waldman 24:41
Speaking of rent, like what do you mind sharing like what it costs? You know, like, what does it cost you to live in this house? Like, what's your kind of monthly budget?
Alexis Monkhouse 24:50
So I pay $500 for the lot rental. It just went up which is fine with me. It's still cheap. And that's for electric water sewage. What's the thing called mowing the grass? Lawn service. And then yeah, that's really all we get. Oh, yeah. And then like maybe at most $40 ish for propane, depending on how often I feel like taking a shower. I take a shower three times a day it's gonna go faster.
Does that get delivered? Or do you have to like go pick it up?
Now I didn't even know they did that til my neighbor did it. No, I was hauling my stupid self to Walgreens and then putting it in the cart. And then you know, moving it by myself. I'm an independent woman or whatever. That's about it. That's all that's my housing expenses. Not include like Wi Fi or extra funsies.
Ethan Waldman 25:39
Alexis Monkhouse 25:40
It's very cheap for me to live in. I'm very, very blessed.
Ethan Waldman 25:43
It's amazing. Amazing. And I'm sure that it, it gives you essentially more time to be with your kid.
Alexis Monkhouse 25:52
Very much. So yeah, like I quit. I don't want to say that I felt like a bad person. But like, I quit jobs a lot, like sooner than other people because I have that privilege to be able to quit if like, I don't like it anymore. I shouldn't. I do. I don't like to work.
Ethan Waldman 26:09
Yeah, I mean, that's, that's really the dream. I mean, like people, people work for 40 years so that they can finally retire. But you know, I kind of have opted out of that model myself. And it sounds like you have to and I think that that like the tiny house movement in general is really, it's not just about houses. It's really about changing that model.
Alexis Monkhouse 26:34
Exactly like I admit, I do want to go back to like working 40 hours and all that stuff because I'm bored being a house mom. Oh my God. It's just so boring, y'all? But working until I'm like 65 on the road. Oh my golly. I'm not doing that. I'm gonna live my life. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 26:53
And what's the like legality of your of your tiny house where you live? And what's that situation like?
Alexis Monkhouse 27:00
So I'm legal. Our landlady, she built this specifically for tiny houses. So she went to the county and all the fun stuff so that we could be here. I wasn't legal before but technicalities. And then I also got it RVIA certified just in case I had to move to like a or something.
Ethan Waldman 27:21
Yeah. Yeah. So are you are you required to be RVIA certified to park where you are now in the community?
Alexis Monkhouse 27:32
I think either RVIA certified or NOAH.
Ethan Waldman 27:36
Alexis Monkhouse 27:38
I believe so.
Ethan Waldman 27:41
Alexis Monkhouse 27:42
I don't question those things.
Ethan Waldman 27:43
Just happy you're just there and you're happy to be there.
Alexis Monkhouse 27:46
Just savor it.
Ethan Waldman 27:48
Just savor it and be happy to be there.
Alexis Monkhouse 27:52
Exactly. I don't know. But I am I made sure I was like, "I'll do it just in case I'd rather have it then like not have it." It wasn't like I was building it myself.
Ethan Waldman 28:01
Yeah. Well, actually, I already had your sister Ashley on the podcast a few months ago at this point, and she said that her house is much different than yours. So I want to get your side of the story. Like what are what are the differences between your two houses?
Alexis Monkhouse 28:26
Oh, first of all, her house is sterile. Okay, that girl does not like color.
Ethan Waldman 28:29
So she is Martha Stewart?
Alexis Monkhouse 28:31
Yes, she's like she don't like no color. Everything is grays and blacks. We do not have the same style at all. But my house is warm. Okay, it's more like the woods in here. She has a stainless steel sink like we're in some sort of kitchen. Maybe a factory kitchen. Mine's copper and it's more warmer. She only has one loft. I've got two.
Ethan Waldman 28:52
Alexis Monkhouse 28:53
Hers is just very much built for like a single person. And I didn't build mine for anybody else. But I anticipated that I wanted to like add another person in here maybe have a child or two but that was me naivete not knowing about kids. But she was just like, "No, this is just gonna be my house in my 20s." And then she wants to go back to like traditional housing is what I call it. I have no plans to But yeah, she, I don't like her house. I don't like it.
Ethan Waldman 29:23
You don't like it.
Alexis Monkhouse 29:25
And there's no color. I love her bathtub though. She was smart. Her bathroom is wonderful.
Ethan Waldman 29:32
That's like it's a major space consume you know to put a bathtub in a tiny house, so you really have to be committed to that.
Alexis Monkhouse 29:39
Yeah, and I don't like baths, but now that I have a kid I wish I had one. But she's a bath person. She loves baths what she likes. She exercises. I don't.
Ethan Waldman 29:47
Did you do the like bath in the kitchen sink thing?
Alexis Monkhouse 29:52
We did that for a while and oddly enough I was in like a YouTube video thingy and I said that I had no place to like bathe her and that the amount of people that was just like, "You're dumb. There's a bath. There's like a kitchen sink." I'm like, "Y'all she's two. Water gets everywhere when I try to bathe her in the kitchen sink."
Ethan Waldman 30:07
They obviously have never tried to bathe a two year old.
Alexis Monkhouse 30:14
Thank you. I was like, "We did that when she was younger, but like now it's just water everywhere. It's awful." So I got like, a, like, you know, like the college moving bins at Walmart. And I just fill that up. She bathes in that.
Ethan Waldman 30:26
Oh, yeah, that's perfect.
Alexis Monkhouse 30:29
I want a tub so bad.
Ethan Waldman 30:31
Do you think it's something that could be added in or probably not.
Alexis Monkhouse 30:36
No, that the amount it would cost to add it, it would just be ridiculous. I might as well just bathe her outside with a hose at that point.
Ethan Waldman 30:43
I'm sure she would appreciate that.
Alexis Monkhouse 30:46
She wouln't care.
Ethan Waldman 30:50
Are there are there any other features that you wish you had other than the tub?
Alexis Monkhouse 30:54
I wish that I... not that I wish that I had, but I wish that I had just done like a, like a stove with like an oven built in instead of like the whole one. It just takes up so much space that I don't even like to cook. I don't know what I was thinking. But that's really about ya know, everything else was like, perfect. I got everything that I wanted. I had the money to do it so I did it.
Ethan Waldman 31:17
Yeah. That's so cool. I mean, like, who..? How many people get to say like, they got to build their like dream house with all the features that they wanted, like for their first house? Or I'm assuming it was your first house.
Alexis Monkhouse 31:29
Yeah, this was my first home. So like, I'll always have it. It's not going to go anywhere. Unless it gets blown up or something. But that's not likely.
Ethan Waldman 31:40
So what about pets? You've got two dogs. Have you created like..? Where do they like live in the house? Where does their stuff live?
Alexis Monkhouse 31:50
They live everywhere. There's dog hair everywhere. I didn't even know dogs made so much hair. The only place they don't go is upstairs, up in the lofts, because I'm not trying to get dog hair up there too. But yeah, there's... They don't really have like a space. They just...
Ethan Waldman 32:08
They just exist.
Alexis Monkhouse 32:10
They're just wherever they want to go. And then I have like bins for their food, but that's about it.
Ethan Waldman 32:16
And did they come before the child or did the child come first and then the dogs?
Alexis Monkhouse 32:23
So Artemus came first because... Okay, so I got Artemis right after my mom died because the internet that helped with grief. And then I got knocked up after that. So not the smartest thing I ever did. But you know, life. And then the second dog was my little sister's dog. And she went to college a few years ago so I took him, and now he's with me.
Ethan Waldman 32:42
You're not giving him back?
Alexis Monkhouse 32:44
Unfortunately not. He's super cute. So, poodles pee everywhere. Everywhere. Yeah. It's not the business. But he's so darn cute.
Ethan Waldman 32:54
Yeah. Dogs. Why? Like, why do we put up with them? They do so many gross things to our houses.
Alexis Monkhouse 33:01
Right? I don't know why he does this to me. So...
Ethan Waldman 33:05
Any additional pet, like additions, like maybe a cat or a turtle or anything else?
Alexis Monkhouse 33:13
So funnily enough, when I was pregnant, and you know, pregnancy hormones and stuff, I went to the pet store to get like dog food. And I came home with a cat. My boyfriend was not amused. So I did have, we had his dog, my dog, and we had a cat. We did have three people, three cats. And then I got my sister's cat one point if I did have four animals in here one point.
Ethan Waldman 33:32
Alexis Monkhouse 33:33
Which was interesting. Yeah, I don't know, pregnancy just does weird things to your brain. But then when we split he was like, "I'll take the cat." And I was like, "Sure." I still get to see them because he only lives 40 minutes away.
Ethan Waldman 33:44
Alexis Monkhouse 33:45
We just don't live in the house anymore, which they're fine with. They have more space tojump and
Ethan Waldman 33:49
Do cat things. Stretch out.
Alexis Monkhouse 33:53
And jump on everything. Everything. They jump on everything. I don't know if it's the best.
Ethan Waldman 33:59
So are you still pursuing a master's in anthropology?
Alexis Monkhouse 34:03
Yeah, I can't let that go. I spent too much money on this thing. Yeah, I should be graduating in December. I literally just have to write the paper.
Ethan Waldman 34:09
Alexis Monkhouse 34:10
I don't want to work in anthropology.
Ethan Waldman 34:12
But Anthro is really interesting. I actually, I'm an anthro minor, believe it or not.
Alexis Monkhouse 34:17
Got you. I love that.
Ethan Waldman 34:20
It is. It's really interesting. And I know you said you don't want to work in Anthro. But I feel like everyone, anybody who study anthropology kind of finds a way to see like the world through that lens. Do you do you ever think about tiny house living or tiny house community through the lens of an anthropologist?
Alexis Monkhouse 34:42
Personally, I had like haven't because cultural anthropology was not, like that's my specialty. I'm more of a biological anthropologist.
Ethan Waldman 34:52
Alexis Monkhouse 34:53
And I'm sure if I live in a tiny house community that was like more community oriented, then it would just like, I would naturally be like, "Oh, I can see why we'd be making these efficients because of the culture that we've created here." But me and my neighbors we just mind our business. So I don't really, that lens doesn't turn on in that part of my life.
Ethan Waldman 35:16
Okay. And then in terms of getting into tech, like what, what aspect of tech? Are you like? What are you pursuing?
Alexis Monkhouse 35:25
Yeah, data analysis. I love, like, understanding people through data. I find it to be so interesting, because people lie on surveys. They lie. But data, data could lie if it wanted to but it doesn't really lie. And so that's what I want to I want to go in.
Ethan Waldman 35:45
That's fascinating. And I feel like there's there's some anthropological kind of study in there.
Alexis Monkhouse 35:53
There definitely, yeah, I could see that. And I also feel like, this is not data related. but I did work on a paper, looking at anthropology and cybersecurity, which was just super fascinating, because they have like a very interesting, like, culture within their. What do you call those? Like their space, they like, don't even realize?
Ethan Waldman 36:17
Well, one thing that I like to ask all of my guests for book recommendations, they could be related to tiny houses or not. You know, I usually ask for two or three books or resources that that helped inspire you while you were planning or building your tiny house?
Alexis Monkhouse 36:36
Okay. Oh, my golly, that was so long ago. You're gonna have to give me one second.
Ethan Waldman 36:41
It doesn't have to be from then, like things that inspire you now that you think that you want to pass along to our listeners?
Alexis Monkhouse 36:49
For a tiny house related. Okay. Um, yeah. Living Big in a Tiny House. Yeah. And then I was just on Jenna...
Ethan Waldman 37:05
Tiny House Giant Journey?
Alexis Monkhouse 37:06
living. Yes, that was it. Tiny House Giant Journey. I definitely recommend. I watched thousands of hours of other people's tiny houses. Totally recommend that for design details. Don't just try to do it after noggin because, yeah, you'll do all kinds of stuff. That's what I tried doing in the beginning. It was awful. Books. In don't read tiny house stuff. No offense, to any tiny house authors. I read. I read fantasy stuff and that book ain't fantasy. That's just my life. Um, Tiny House Concierge on Instagram?
Ethan Waldman 37:39
Alexis Monkhouse 37:39
She just posted the funniest cutest things that I totally recommend. And she she had like a different route than I did, which I just find very interesting. So yep, I recommend that.
Ethan Waldman 37:51
Well, and I will add that Tiny House Concierge aka Alaska Waggoner, she was a guest on the show. That's episode 204 for anyone listening, so you can find episode 204. And then Ashley Monkhouse your sister was episode 211. Those are those are two. You want to hear from both of those people there. They have been on the show.
Alexis Monkhouse 38:20
Yeah, my sister is lame, though.
Ethan Waldman 38:22
She's gonna be like, "Now I have to go back on the show to like, defend my honor."
Alexis Monkhouse 38:27
Her honor. No, I'm just kidding. She's great. She can't post for crap though. I don't know if I have any more. I kind of just winged it. Which was not a smartest thing to do.
Ethan Waldman 38:41
Well, no. I mean, I don't think you winged it. You sound like you. You found a builder. They worked with you. You told them what you wanted. And they built you a great house. So that's, that's pretty good.
Alexis Monkhouse 38:53
Yeah, but I got lucky. Like, I've read some stories on Facebook.
Ethan Waldman 38:56
Yeah, there have definitely. There are horror stories out there. And I'm glad that one didn't happen to you. What? So yeah, like, what, then what advice would you give to someone who's kind of like, going to work with a builder looking around? Like, what would you what would you do differently?
Alexis Monkhouse 39:15
What would I do differently? I think I would speak up more. Ask more questions. I didn't ask a bunch of questions because I like I was like, "These are the industry experts." So I kind of just... If they were like, "Do this." I was like, "Yeah, sure. Okay." Do your research before you go in like pros and cons and make sure like the cons come from people that have actually lived tiny and not just people that like, just wrote tiny house, like blogs, because some people write the oddest con. I'm like, "What? What?" And I've lost the question. That's what happens when you have nothing up there.
Ethan Waldman 39:50
Yeah. What like advice you give to someone who's starting out like kind of where you were when you were just looking for builders or working with a builder. Yeah.
Alexis Monkhouse 39:59
Know yourself very well, and build a house that fits you and the future you want and not necessarily a house you think you should be building, if that makes sense.
Ethan Waldman 40:12
What do you Yeah? Can you give us an example?
Alexis Monkhouse 40:15
Yeah, so culturally just background I'm Nigerian and Guyanese. And cooking is very, very, very big in our culture. Like, the fact that I have I have an instant pot, y'all have airfryer, I don't cook on the stove. I rarely do that's just like my mother will be rolling in her grave right now. And so I wanted I was gonna plan this like really big kitchen, because my whole life I was taught cooking is something you should be doing thiat's important. If you don't cook, you're not like a real woman. But then my sister was like, "Alexis, you don't even like tocook. Why are you trying to fit all this ridiculousness into your kitchen?" And she loves to cook, which is why her kitchen is a lot bigger than mine. And so I was like, "You know what, Ashley, you're exactly right." So and that's fairly small. But if I had built my house with like, that mindset in mind that I would have this completely useless kitchen. And in a tiny house, real estate and everything, you don't have that much space. So really know yourself and build what you want, and not what you think.
Ethan Waldman 41:13
Yeah, that's, that's really great advice. And that's probably easier said than done. It sounds like you you even needed your sister, you needed someone else to tell you like, "You don't like that. You don't want that. Why are you doing this?"
Alexis Monkhouse 41:25
Exactly, exactly. And because back then, Alexis, I didn't have spine for nothing. And so definitely do that. And then just research just please don't read research, research, your research, the builder that you're going with, like on Facebook, you know, research, I think I spent like a whole day researching Tiny House toilets, and then picking one.
Ethan Waldman 41:48
Alexis Monkhouse 41:49
Yeah, that one was so great. And then when you are looking at tiny house cons because they will come up, think about whether or not that con, like apply for you. And then don't just take it as like a, like a doomsday type thing. Like, "Oh, I can't do that. Because those people said..."
Ethan Waldman 42:08
LLike, what are what are some cons that you see like, you see on these, like blog posts that are like Top 10 Cons of Living in a Tiny House? Like, what are the ones where you're like, "That's BS? Like, that's not real."
Alexis Monkhouse 42:22
Yeah. Okay, so this one is gonna sound a bit dumb, but it's like when they're like, "There's no space to do anything." I'm like, thatt was the point! Right? Like, we want to have minimal space. And I think they make it seem like we're going from, like, the 600 square foot place, or whatever you're coming from to like a shoebox. And although tiny houses are small, they really don't feel that claustrophobic. Like, I haven't had anybody that's been in the tiny house that's like, "Wow, I feel like I'm living in a matchbox." And so I just think it's like, people that go tiny, and like tiny. We're already in that mindset that we're totally fine living in a smaller space. But when other people are looking at it, they're like, "Wow, I can't believe that you guys are doing that. And that just blah, blah, blah." And it just makes no sense to me. Like those are like when they when they warn you about costs. Drives me crazy. But like, tiny houses cost a lot of money. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that I was spending as much as I did in my tiny house. I'd be rich. Okay, your girl would be Jeff Bezos. So like, that's why I don't like don't take tiny advice from people that don't live tiny.
Ethan Waldman 43:29
That one drives me crazy too where they're like, "The cost per square foot for a tiny house is so expensive." It's like well, yeah, they're tiny.
Alexis Monkhouse 43:38
And it's a house like I have a house on a trailer.
Ethan Waldman 43:41
It's got all the stuff.
Alexis Monkhouse 43:42
Right? It's got all the stuff and it moves. You can't say that truth is that or like, this happens to me. And that I think it happens a lot, especially to like skoolies. People will say that like living with a child in a tiny house is like child abuse. Someone else told me that one. Okay. It's not child abuse, guys. Kids, kids thrive perfectly fine in tiny houses or tiny spaces as much as any other spaces. It's just if you haven't lived tiny, if you haven't seen a kid live tiny, then you're just thinking, "They've got nothing to do. This is jail." Things like that. So think of it like, think of these cons as to whether or not they actually apply to you. Or they're just cons that people are just saying because they've never done it or they went tiny and they didn't like it. Which is totally okay. Tiny house living is not for everybody. I tell everybody that. I got a bunch of people that are like, "I would love to live any." And I'm like, "It's not for everybody. And it doesn't have to be for you. This isn't for me forever. It's for me for right now. And if you don't like it, that's totally fine. You tried it and you didn't like it. It's fine.
Ethan Waldman 44:43
Awesome. Alexis Monkhouse, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. I really enjoyed our conversation.
Alexis Monkhouse 44:51
Thank you for having me.
Ethan Waldman 44:53
Thank you so much to Alexis Monkhouse for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including photos of Alexis' tiny house, a complete transcript, and so much more over at thetinyhouse.net/226. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/226. Well, that's all for this week. I am still your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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