Corianne Holmes cover

Corianne Holmes is here to tell us her amazing story about moving to New Zealand with her boyfriend, using their life savings to build a tiny house, almost losing the tiny house due to a legal hiccup with their trailer, and ultimately building a slightly larger home and converting their tiny into an Airbnb. Stick around to hear me mispronounce the name of Corianne's town…. and for a delightful conversation and story about living tiny in New Zealand.

In This Episode:

  • Why New Zealand? How 1 year turned into 6 and counting
  • Making a plan: the numbers, the location, and the materials
  • New Zealand makes tiny living easy
  • The trailer hiccup that almost cost them their home
  • What Corianne misses about the tiny house may surprise you
  • How “batches” have influenced New Zealanders toward tiny homes
  • Where to find inspiration for your tiny house

Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

Corianne Holmes

Corianne Holmes

Corianne Holmes is a black millennial woman living in Dunedin, New Zealand. After graduating from Wellesley College, she met her then-boyfriend in Boston and after a few months of dating she popped the question, “Will you move to New Zealand with me?” They moved in 2014 and decided to use their life savings to build a tiny house. They lived in it for 5 years. The tiny house allowed them to save enough to build a larger home mortgage-free and more recently they both quit their jobs to run multiple businesses together. Cori has just released her first book about their journey, called South Island Tiny House.





Instagram for Airbnb


More Photos:

Corianne and Patrick designed their layout to be as open as a tiny home can be

The comfy bench provides seating

New Zealand's “batches” means that tiny dwellings are already part of the culture


The wood stove makes the home cozy, even when it's chilly

Corianne and Patrick used to rearrange the kitchen just for fun

They decided to skip the loft and opted for a pull-out bed, instead


The tiny house is mostly off-grid, with electricity available for backup

The house is about 80% salvaged materials

The trailer was a great find – with one small hiccup


Corianne had no building experience prior to building her house

They have an outdoor bathroom, as well as an indoor one!


Corianne Holmes 0:00

Now there's tiny house expos up and down the country, there are hundreds of people living in tiny homes. I'd say in most most major cities, you'll find people and they tend to be most common in cities that are the most expensive to live in.

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 189 with Corianne Holmes. This week, Corianne Holmes is here to tell us her amazing story about moving to New Zealand with her boyfriend, using their life savings to build a tiny house, almost losing the tiny house due to a legal hiccup with their trailer, and ultimately building a slightly larger home and converting their tiny into an Airbnb. Stick around to hear me mispronounce the name of Corianne's town and for a delightful conversation and story about living tiny in New Zealand.

But before we get to that, I have one quick ask for you. As the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast approaches 200 episodes, I just wanted to say thank you to all my listeners. I love to hear from you. I love doing this show and all the great conversations that I get to share with you each week. So if you like Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, my advice to you is, please share the show with someone who you think will like it, take their phone, show them how to subscribe to a podcast, or just show them that they can go over to and listen to the shows right there on the page. I'm also experimenting with adding the shows to YouTube so you can watch/listen in the background. So again, my ask is just please share an episode or the show with someone that you think will like it or post it on social media however you like to do it. It's always great to find new listeners and I really appreciate your support. Again, please share the show with someone you think like it. Alright, on to the show.

Alright, I am here with Corianne Holmes. Corianne is a black millennial woman living in Dunedin, New Zealand - I should have asked you how to pronounce that. How do you say that?

Corianne Holmes 2:23

It's Dunedin

Ethan Waldman 2:24

Dunedin. There you go. Dunedin, New Zealand. After graduating from Wellesley College, she met her then boyfriend in Boston, and after a few months of dating, she popped the question, "Will you move to New Zealand with me?" They moved in 2014 and decided to use their life savings to build a tiny house. They lived in it for five years, the tiny house allowed them to save enough to build a larger home mortgage-free and more recently, they both quit their jobs to run multiple businesses together. Coianne has just released her first book about their journey called South Island Tiny House. Coriane Holmes, welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

Corianne Holmes 3:00

Well, thank you so much, Ethan. I'm so happy to be here.

Ethan Waldman 3:03

I'm happy to have you here. And apologies to Dunedin and whoever is listening there. I completely butchered the name of your town.

Corianne Holmes 3:11

It's very common mistake to make. Don't worry about it.

Ethan Waldman 3:14

Yes, yes. Shows you how prepared I am. So this is such a such a great story. And I'm trying to figure out where to start. But I was hoping just maybe. Had you been thinking about moving to New Zealand? Why New Zealand?

Corianne Holmes 3:33

So it's actually kind of a long story. It was just, it always been on my dad's bucket list. He was here on a stopover. He was going to Australia. And they landed in Auckland. And he's like, "This is such a beautiful country, I have to come back, put it on my bucket list."

So about 20 years later, he brought us all as a family trip, family vacation, and they fell in love with it. They decided to think about retiring here. So in order to retire here, you have to have the right visa. So they started that process. I think they must have been in their 40s or something. And since I was my sister and I were underage, we both got permanent residency in the process as well. So I received permanent residency when I was still in college and kind of put it in the back of my thought I was like, "Yeah, my parents will retire in New Zealand, but I probably won't move there."

After two years of working in Boston, I was like, "You know what, I think I need to upskill. I need to get my master's degree." And so I asked my then boyfriend at the time, Patrick, and I said, "Would you like to come to New Zealand with me? I'm only going to do a one year program. So we'll be back before you know it." I did my program and we just never went back.

Ethan Waldman 4:48

And how long ago was that?

Corianne Holmes 4:51

That was in 2014. We moved here in April of 2014.

Ethan Waldman 4:55

Nice nice. And I'm guessing you're not missing being In the sometimes dumpster fire that is the United States.

Corianne Holmes 5:04

No, no, absolutely not at all. We go back we well, we used to go back about once a year to visit family. And my parents are planning on still retiring here, but obviously they've been a bit delayed. But otherwise, this is home now.

Ethan Waldman 5:18

Nice. Yeah. And have you and Patrick become citizens?

Corianne Holmes 5:24

So I have become a citizen. Yeah. As soon as I landed in New Zealand, my time started ticking. I think I have to I had to be here for five years, applied for my citizenship ceremony and have a passport. And Patrick as a permanent resident, so I think he's got two and a half years left.

Ethan Waldman 5:43


Corianne Holmes 5:43

Um, before he's a citizen.

Ethan Waldman 5:45


Corianne Holmes 5:46

Thank you.

Ethan Waldman 5:48

So tell me about your tiny house.

Corianne Holmes 5:51

So my tiny house I'm looking at it right out the window that way, is basically like a family member to us. It has been so integral to our relationship, to our cat, to our life here in New Zealand's basically, we when we came, we first moved to Christchurch, which, as you may know, had a really quite horrible earthquake back in 2012. And it had been about two years since the earthquake.

But Christchurch was still reeling from the after effects of that a lot of homes were damaged. There was liquefaction, people were traumatized, this place. And stupid me didn't think that that would affect the rental market as well. So when we first got here to New Zealand, we were paying the same amount that I was paying for my condo in Boston. And I was like, how does that make any sense?

Ethan Waldman 6:50


Corianne Holmes 6:52

So I was like, This is not how we imagined life would be because we knew the exchange rate was good. And we knew New Zealand was a little bit cheaper, better lifestyle, etc. So we're like, we got to fix this housing problem. Otherwise, we'll never get back on our feet, you know, saving for retirement and stuff.

So we, Patrick is a welder. I should mention that too. And he's pretty handy. He grew up building. While he was framing multimillion dollar mansions outside of Manchester, New Hampshire, when he was in high school, there's like, I get the concept I could, we can figure that out if we really want to. And so the tiny house movement was just perfect for us. We didn't know if we want to stay in Christchurch. So being on wheels perfect. And we needed something a little bit cheaper than what we were living in.

Ethan Waldman 7:42

Nice. So you you kind of did the math and figured out that building a tiny house, you know, would cost however many months of rent and just just do it?

Corianne Holmes 7:53

Yeah, basically, we didn't we like we just treated ourselves like our own personal bank. We had to get a plan together, figure out when it would pay, we be able to replace the money pay us pay ourselves back. What was our plan A, B, and C if things were to go wrong? What if we had to leave New Zealand? What if we had to go back to the states?

Ethan Waldman 8:11


Corianne Holmes 8:12

So we thought through all of those big considerations before we decided to go down that road.

Ethan Waldman 8:18

Can you share kind of some of those numbers specifically, like, you know, what the house cost to build? How long you kind of? Yeah, calculated the payback would be versus rent?

Corianne Holmes 8:28

Yeah. So our rent at the time was, I think it was $295 a week. And we were really fortunate we didn't have any flatmates. But that also meant that we didn't have any land to build the tiny house on. And so Patrick, ideally, would have loved to have been able to build our own trailer, because he's a welder, built tons of tiny house trailer since. But in that situation, we weren't able to do that.

So we had to also incorporate renting land, if we could even find any land to build a trailer or to build a tiny house on the trailer cost we knew would be one of the highest. So we were basically looking for anything under $5,000, which was pretty rare. Yeah, so we were lucky enough to secure a trailer for $3,000. But that low price did bite us in the butt a little bit later on. I might be able to talk about it in this, but it's definitely covered in the book. But that was a very, very close moment where we ended up losing our tiny house. S

o the tiny has trailer cost is $3,000. And then the rest of our budget was 20. That was basically our life savings. We spent about $5,000 on the solar system. And everything else we did, or that in between. Yeah, that was quite challenging. But one of the good sides about Christchurch was that they were demolishing so many homes. There were so many lots of places and reused materials that we were able to use salvaged materials. And so about, I'd say about 80% of our house is built out of reused material.

Ethan Waldman 10:08

Wow. That's amazing. And so you and Patrick did all the labor yourselves?

Corianne Holmes 10:14

Yes, yeah. So we were able to find some land on a llama farm, about 15 minutes from where we were living. So we concentrated most, basically, every weekend that we had for nine months straight, was focused on building the house.

Ethan Waldman 10:32

Wow. And what were How big was it? What was the layout? Those kinds of things?

Corianne Holmes 10:39

Yeah, so our tiny house is 14 square meters. I don't have the square foot at the top of my head. But it's pretty small. And it was 100% based on the size of the trailer.

Ethan Waldman 10:52


Corianne Holmes 10:52

So once we bought the trailer, that's when we really started honing down on our design. Patrick absolutely refused to have a loft. So that was his his line in the sand.

Ethan Waldman 11:05

I would say that's wise. I'm not a big loft fan myself.

Corianne Holmes 11:10


Ethan Waldman 11:11

For sleeping.

Corianne Holmes 11:11

So yeah. It's not for everybody. Yeah. So don't think that you have to have a loft if you're building a tiny house. So we decided to do the pullout bed under the floor. And other than that, we were pretty flexible with the idea of, you know, design and layout things, but we wanted to maximize the floor space.

So we didn't want to just have like, all of our things along both sides and have a quite narrow hallway ish kind of design. So it's a bit more open plan - as open plan as you can be if it's only you know, 2.4 meters wide.

Ethan Waldman 11:45


Corianne Holmes 11:46

So we've got, you know, a bench, a kind of U-shaped kitchen on one end, and then the bathroom's on the other end. And, yeah, it's pretty simple. Pretty basic. Definitely on the small side of tiny.

Ethan Waldman 11:59

Yeah. So I, I did a little, little Google research here while you're talking. It sounds like 14 square meters is about 150 square feet. Yeah. Yeah. 2.4 meters wide, is about 7.9 feet. So just just under eight feet wide. And then I can do some public math, which I never liked to do. 14.4. I'm guessing that your tiny house is about 5.83 meters long, which is 19 feet. There you go. So about eight by 20.

Corianne Holmes 12:35


Ethan Waldman 12:36

Which Yes, I agree is is actually very similar size to my tiny house and is on the small side. These days for tiny houses, for sure.

Corianne Holmes 12:45

Hmm, definitely. Yeah, pretty much all the trailers Patrick has built now have been triple axel. This, maxing it out, maxing it out. Yeah,

Ethan Waldman 12:55

Yeah. So so he's kind of been building tiny house trailers for other other tiny housers in New Zealand.

Corianne Holmes 13:02

Yeah, yeah. The first, the first one he built, I think he just wanted to prove to himself that he could. And then after that, we were just, we just were so cognizant of how lucky we were to get a $3,000 trailer, because without that, we wouldn't have been able to build our tiny house.

Ethan Waldman 13:20


Corianne Holmes 13:20

And so he was like, you know, I'm gonna make it affordable for other people to get the tiny house movement. So all of our trailers have been under $10,000. And, you know, locally built, we paint them ourselves. He imports everything. So, yeah, it's been really nice being able to help people get get into their own tiny homes.

Ethan Waldman 13:38

Yeah, that's awesome. So what is the what's the legality of tiny houses in New Zealand, like, specifically tiny houses on wheels?

Corianne Holmes 13:47

Yeah, so that's a pretty interesting difference between I mean, in the States you have, every state is a little bit different, every county is a little bit different. In New Zealand, pretty much all you have to do is satisfy the requirements for the region, and also for the national building code.

And so that building code, I go into more detail in my book about it. For people who are interested, is basically you have to satisfy two requirements, your tiny house can't be permanent, and it has to be movable.

Ethan Waldman 14:20


Corianne Holmes 14:20

So both of those things are, as you know, probably, you know, up to interpretation, like how permanent is permanent? And how often do you have to move it for it to be considered movable?

Ethan Waldman 14:31


Corianne Holmes 14:32

So in both of those cases, you're kind of in a gray area. And if you're okay, living in a gray area, then I'd say the tiny house movement is for you in New Zealand. Otherwise, there have been some people who've gotten caught out. But luckily, a lot of the court cases have tended to go in the direction of as long as you're on wheels, and as long as it's still movable. There's really not much they can do.

Ethan Waldman 14:58

Wow, that's that That's refreshing.

Corianne Holmes 15:01


Ethan Waldman 15:02

It sounds like it's not fully legal. But it also sounds like you are pretty much okay to live in a tiny house.

Corianne Holmes 15:10

Yeah. And there's not a lot of incentive for city councils to go after you. Especially if you're planning on, for example, building a house. That's quite common people living in mobile homes or, you know, RVs for a year while they're building their house. So they don't, the council won't bother you while you're doing that. So really, what's the difference between the tiny house and that?

Ethan Waldman 15:35

Sure. So that's the legality piece. What about the the tiny house movement in New Zealand?

Corianne Holmes 15:44

Yeah, so when we were in Christchurch, when we first started looking into it, we were building it about 2015. Almost every, like, warehouse, or hardware kind of store that I went to, to buy materials, nobody had heard of the tiny house movement. Tiny House show, Tiny House Nation, had just come on TV, even though it had been out for a few years in the States. So people were starting to understand it then. And we knew a handful of people who are building tiny houses. And Bryce from Living Big in a Tiny House had, you know, I think you'd had like, maybe a year or two worth of YouTube videos.

Ethan Waldman 16:25


Corianne Holmes 16:25

So it was still very much in the beginning phase. Not many people had known about it. And so we didn't really feel like there was much of a community. Now, there's tiny house expos up and down the country. There are, I'd say hundreds of people living in tiny homes. And I'd say in most most major cities, you'll find people and they tend to be most common in cities that are the most expensive to live in. So it just makes sense.

Ethan Waldman 16:56

Yeah. Man, so New Zealand is just like, way out in the in the forefront in a lot of ways because it doesn't sound like they're stopping people.

Corianne Holmes 17:06

No, no. And that's the best part about it to the I mean, all you have to do is just go on TradeMe or Facebook. TradeMe is like, like a Craigslist kind of version in New Zealand. And you'll see lots of homes, lots of tiny houses for sale. So the resale market too is quite, quite vigorous. And there's a lot of choices out there.

Ethan Waldman 17:26

Yeah. And now the climate in New Zealand is is pretty friendly for tiny houses as well, right?

Corianne Holmes 17:32

It varies.

Ethan Waldman 17:33


Corianne Holmes 17:33

In the North Island, I'd say that's definitely the ideal place to have a tiny house. Where we are. It's, it doesn't snow, it's not nearly as cold as it was when we were living in Boston in New Hampshire. But when you get into the Central Otago kind of area, like, you know, you picture like the the snow capped mountain vistas that you're imagining New Zealand is I mean, there's some people who do live there. And so I think that probably may be one of the more difficult places to live.

Ethan Waldman 18:01

Yeah. But Dunedin is is like coastal, right?

Corianne Holmes 18:05

Yeah. Yeah. And it's pretty perfect. Yeah, yeah, that's ideal.

Ethan Waldman 18:09

And, and is your tiny house fully off-grid there?

Corianne Holmes 18:13

Yeah. So it was fully off-grid, basically up until we moved to Dunedin. So we built it in Christchurch, we drove it down to Dunedin, we made one stop for about six months, and then we came further south to Dunedin. And then because my husband's a welder, welders use a lot of electricity, and that would have easily drained our battery. So when we got the property that we're on now, we made sure that we had electricity set up. So the tiny house does have the electricity as a backup. But for the most part, it is it's off the grid.

Ethan Waldman 18:46

Nice. Okay.

So I feel like you just brought up the move. And now I feel like I want to ask you about the story that you mentioned with your trailer issues.

Corianne Holmes 18:58

Well, it was really harrowing, and I'm glad I can laugh about it now, because at the time I did not - I was very, very shaken. So we bought the trailer when we had first moved to New Zealand. And the key point about this story is that for most Americans, it would seem very obvious that when you sell a trailer that means that you own the trailer.

Ethan Waldman 19:20


Corianne Holmes 19:20


Ethan Waldman 19:20


Corianne Holmes 19:21

Yeah, right. Just like a car. If you're selling a car that means you are in possession of the car. So that concept is what we'd grown up with, what we had been operating with that concept.

Ethan Waldman 19:32


Corianne Holmes 19:33

We bought the trailer $3,000 The gentleman was going to build a trailer tiny house on it. His girlfriend and him broke up so we needed to get rid of the trailer. Fair enough. Well the trailer moved twice the whole time. We had this trailer and the tiny house it was on private land.

Ethan Waldman 19:50


Corianne Holmes 19:50

it wasn't on the road.

Ethan Waldman 19:51


Corianne Holmes 19:52

Except for you know, for three or four hours. So we were living in Waimati, which is a very small very farming town in the South Island. And one day, I'm just at home reading casually as you do in your tiny house, I get a knock on the door. And a gentleman says, "Hi, I'm here to repossess your trailer." I'm like, "Excuse me?" He's like, "Yes, you're going to need to remove your tiny house off this - off your trailer. And we're going to take it today." And I'm like, "The tiny house doesn't come off the trailer, first of all."

Ethan Waldman 20:27


Corianne Holmes 20:27

Second of all, I look out the door. He's in like this tiny little white SUV. I'm like, "There's no way that you're taking my trailer with you. So how much do you want for this to go away?" Because I know that most of those repo guys, they,

Ethan Waldman 20:40


Corianne Holmes 20:40

There's a certain amount of money that needs to be paid off, right? So I finally get it out. And he's like, "Oh, it's gonna cost you $10,000. That's how much - there's a loan on this trailer." We're like, "But we bought this trailer in faith, that the person who sold it owned it." It turns out that he had had a loan, he was using that trailer as collateral for a personal loan. And with the $3,000, we gave him he chose not to pay off that loan. Instead, he took it and had a grand old time, I'm sure.

Ethan Waldman 21:12


Corianne Holmes 21:14

Yeah. So the key concept, like I mentioned before, is in New Zealand, your debt does not follow you. Your debt is connected to the item that is your collateral.

Ethan Waldman 21:24


Corianne Holmes 21:26

So that was a big wake up call for us. We were terrified. So we're like, this guy's gonna repossess our tiny house, we have to move it right away. Right. So I think that evening, I called a friend, I was like, "Can we bring our tiny house to your driveway, so he doesn't come back to our house and take it?" So we hide it at her driveway, we had been preparing the land where we were planning on moving. We were planning on moving anyway, in a couple months. But we were like, "We just need to move it right away. I don't care if it's ready or not."

Ethan Waldman 21:52


Corianne Holmes 21:53

So a few days later, we hooked the tiny house up. We drive it in the middle of the night to Dunedin. We park it up, it's it's hidden, you can't see it from the road. So like, it's gonna be fine. He'll never find it, He'll never find that tiny house. You know that saying? Possession is like three fifths of the law or whatever the say goes over, like, as long as we have it.

Ethan Waldman 22:14


Corianne Holmes 22:15

So we had the trailer, we've had the tiny house. I mean, and then we take the guy to court, because that's all we could do. We don't have $10,000.

Ethan Waldman 22:23

Okay, so you took the guy youbought it from to court?

Corianne Holmes 22:27


Ethan Waldman 22:27


Corianne Holmes 22:28

Yes. And we're like, "Just pay us the money, or take the tiny house off as your collateral for your loan." And that's what he ended up doing. He changed the collateral from our tiny house to his personal vehicle. And that was it.

Ethan Waldman 22:43

Ah, wow. That's an easy solution.

Corianne Holmes 22:48

I know, it only took six months in small claims court and

Ethan Waldman 22:51

oh my gosh,

Corianne Holmes 22:52

we had to hire a private investigator to find him and yada, yada, yada. But

Ethan Waldman 22:56

oh, boy.

Corianne Holmes 22:57

Long story short, we got it. And we sorted it out. But it was very stressful.

Ethan Waldman 23:03

There's a lesson lesson to the kids out there and contracts and titles.

Corianne Holmes 23:09

Yeah. Do your research. Every country is a little bit different. Just because they speak the same language doesn't mean they have the same law.

Ethan Waldman 23:15

Yes. Very good point. Very good point. So you moved the tiny house to Dunedin onto this land that you had bought? And then were you planning always to kind of live in the tiny house for a period of time and then build something bigger?

Corianne Holmes 23:36

Yeah, so it was, it was, it was home for so long. And it just seemed so natural. It was like we were able to travel, we were able to save so much. So the original $20,000 that we spent on the tiny house, we were able to save that back in less than a year just by not paying rent. And while also because I was in school while we were building in the tiny house, so I started working. So double the income minus rent. That's pretty good.

Ethan Waldman 24:02


Corianne Holmes 24:02

So it also was pretty handy too, because after we moved to Dunedin, I didn't have a job right away. So living in a tiny house was just really nice for me not to feel stressed about being unemployed. And so we were able to coast a lot longer than we would have otherwise.

Ethan Waldman 24:20


Corianne Holmes 24:21

So that security is what made us feel comfortable staying in a tiny house for a little bit longer than you know, your average, your average person. I mean, everybody's situation is different. But we definitely have not met a lot of people who live in tiny house for as long as we have, especially in Dunedin or New Zealand in general. So we had been kind of thinking about what our next steps would be. We were looking at our savings how much we had, what the housing market was doing, how much it would cost to build. Our first idea was just build a bigger tiny house or extend our tiny house like maybe use our first tiny houses as our living room/kitchen and then build a bedroom perhaps to have, you know, like the L shaped Tiny House designs you see sometimes.

We were thinking about that. And we're thinking about how we can improve and increase the value of the property. And we always just came back to a house is probably the best way to improve the value of a property. So we started doing the numbers, and we figured we could if we kept it really small, and we did all the interior ourselves, we could do it for about $400,000. And so yeah, we hit the button. Right, right in the nick of time,. We went back home to the States to visit family. We went to Mexico, we went to Australia, right before COVID-19 hit in 2020.

Ethan Waldman 25:50


Corianne Holmes 25:51

And then we had locked down in New Zealand around March. And our house started getting built right after we got out of lockdown. And it was finished in December. So now building costs are just through the roof. But we were able to get our beautiful house done. And yeah, so we're very, very happy. And the timing worked out.

Ethan Waldman 26:12

Congratulations. That'sreally lucky. So you for the for the larger house, you opted to have it professionally built?

Corianne Holmes 26:22

Yes, yeah. It was just a matter of convenience, ease dealing with city councils and all the regulations and things. And yeah, so building the house that outside, we had a nice, great local builder. He actually specializes in small homes, too. So he totally understood where we were coming from. It's only a two bedroom. It's mostly open plan.

Ethan Waldman 26:44


Corianne Holmes 26:45

And so so many things that we learned from the tiny house, we've been able to put into motion here. So for example, our big house is off the grid, well, as close as we could be. We're kind of still figuring that out. This first year, we've spent, I think about $200 in electric bills, which has been great. For whole house. Patrick installed the air conditioning himself, we designed the kitchen ourselves, he welded the whole kitchen himself. So we did everything on the interior ourselves.

Ethan Waldman 27:14


Corianne Holmes 27:15

And without having built the tiny house, we would never have the skills. So it saved us a lot of money.

Ethan Waldman 27:20

Yeah. And it's awesome, too. Because now the tiny house you have on your property, and you've turned that into an Airbnb business.

Corianne Holmes 27:29


Ethan Waldman 27:30

Yeah, it's just such a cool path that, you know, rather than plunking down your life savings on your first home, and then you know, paying a bunch of money for a mortgage that is mostly interest and then selling it and getting a bigger home.

Corianne Holmes 27:45


Ethan Waldman 27:45

You you did the tiny house you recoup the cost in a year because because of rent. And then now you get to keep that tiny house and turn it into a source of income.

Corianne Holmes 27:56

Absolutely. I mean, it's not a great source of income because there are no tourists right now.

Ethan Waldman 28:03

That's that's a good point.

Corianne Holmes 28:04

Yeah, but it is still really nice. And honestly, if it the way I think about it as if that tiny house was empty right now, which it would be, it would cost us more if we will have to go back up there and like, fix all the stuff that is leaking or empty or whatever. A house needs to be occupied. You know, and we're giving people an opportunity to test that tiny house living because we had never stepped foot in a tiny house before we built ours.

Ethan Waldman 28:28


Corianne Holmes 28:29

So we really have no concept of what it would be like.

Ethan Waldman 28:33


Corianne Holmes 28:33

We were like drawing our tiny house design on our driveway. At our flat Yeah, to like walk around and get like a 3D, you know, experience of it. But yeah, staying in a tiny house is definitely the first step.

Ethan Waldman 28:48

That's a really good way to do it to do it in life-size. You know, yeah, one to one scale.

Corianne Holmes 28:55

Hmm, highly suggest that. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 28:58

And the tourists will be back. I mean, it's only a matter of time. If not, has New Zealand are they not letting in international visitors yet?

Corianne Holmes 29:11

No, not yet. They're still trying to figure out how to, you know, pack vaccines and do quarantine and all that stuff.

Ethan Waldman 29:18


Corianne Holmes 29:19

That's definitely one of the downsides of being closed for so long is that other countries have just progressed these systems so much faster. And so New Zealand's kind of playing catch up right now, but I'm sure though, they'll get it together.

Ethan Waldman 29:30

I'm sure they'll figure it out. Is there anything that you miss about living in the tiny house? Now that you're in a larger house?

Corianne Holmes 29:37

I'm actually I feel like I'm just so much lazier. So we filmed this YouTube video when we moved from the tiny house to our big house. And we were able to move in like maybe I think it took about three hours. And we brought everything down from the tiny house. So this is literally a brand new house. Nothing in it. We bought everything from the tiny house down to the brand new house. And it filled the entire brand new house. This is like a 14 square meter house down to I think our house is 80 square meters. And it was full. The kitchen was full. The bedroom was full, all my clothes fit in like two dressers and a closet. I was like, how did I get all that stuff in my tiny house?

Ethan Waldman 30:24


Corianne Holmes 30:25

And it was because we had to think so smart, about every inch of space. And it was just like, and we would, on the weekends in the evenings, we would just like you know, have a few drinks, and then just completely rearrange our kitchen. That's the kind of people we are. It was like, "Oh, I think this could be more efficient." We're all about optimizing space.

Ethan Waldman 30:45

Love it.

Corianne Holmes 30:45

And so moving into this house, I just find myself just like plonking things because you don't have to think about it.

Ethan Waldman 30:51


Corianne Holmes 30:51

So I definitely just like that challenge. And just the limit, like being limited actually makes you more creative in some ways. And so that's what I really missed. Miss about the tiny house. Yeah, yeah. How it made me think differently.

Ethan Waldman 31:08

Those constraints kind of make you think about things differently. A

Corianne Holmes 31:12

bsolutely. Yeah. Well,

Ethan Waldman 31:14

I also want to ask you about about the book that you just published. South Island Tiny House?

Corianne Holmes 31:20


Ethan Waldman 31:21

Tell me about it.

Corianne Holmes 31:22

So it kind of came about from our blog. So like many people, when you're doing a big new project, you want to keep track of it, because it's good for posterity's sake to be able to look back at those old photos. And so I started the blog, and then we kind of gave up on the blog near the end of the house, because we were just so overwhelmed with how much work we had to do.

So I always had that kind of in the background of my head, like, I'd really like to be able to get this all in one place. So basically, my my dream was so that I could have a book about my tiny house inside my tiny house. That was my ultimate goal. Even if I like if even if nobody read it, as long as the book was inside of the house, I would be happy.

So we also started a YouTube channel too, before we knew we were moving out. I was like, "I really want to do like, you know, a good snapshot of what our life was like in the tiny house before we left." Because now that it's on Airbnb, it doesn't look like our house anymore. You know, you decorate things differently.

Ethan Waldman 32:23


Corianne Holmes 32:24

So between the YouTube video, the YouTube channel and the blog, meshed together, became this book. And yeah, I mean, it's, it's really just for me, it's just a passion project. Just encapsulating everything that we learned. And that moment in our history, and that's, that's, you know, basically given us our future. Oh, yeah. It's just my love letter to my tiny house.

Ethan Waldman 32:49

That's awesome. That's awesome. How has the reception been?

Corianne Holmes 32:53

Oh, it's been pretty good. I mean, there's not a lot of books written by women about tiny houses, let alone African American women. Probably the first one in New Zealand black woman in New Zealand, build a tiny house, but I didn't see a lot of people like myself in the movement.

Ethan Waldman 33:11


Corianne Holmes 33:12

You still don't at the expos, it's really just one kind of person, you know, true. So I wanted to make that book just so people know that you don't you can be different and live in a tiny house, and that there are other people living living tiny.

Ethan Waldman 33:28

Yeah, that's awesome. Well, thank you for for do it for writing the book and for sharing what you're doing online. Because I do think it's really important for for people who don't look like the majority of people who are in the tiny house movement to like, be present and represented.

Corianne Holmes 33:45

Absolutely, absolutely. And I did have a lot of I mean, like, I started from zero from absolute scratch. And my husband, obviously, I was like his glorified helper when it came to building, but he was still even really dependent on just having an outside perspective on building things. Because when you're in the building world, when you're in construction, there's like a certain way of doing things. But when it comes to tiny houses, there really is no rulebook. So thinking creatively, thinking outside the box, can save you a lot of money can save you time can help problem solve, too. So having that, that diversity of thought really can actually be a benefit in the end. And you don't need to have like all the superduper handy dandy building skills. You know, you can learn on the job, too.

Ethan Waldman 34:36

Yeah, it's all great. It's all very learnable you know, over the course of the year or two that it takes to build the house, you really can skill up quite a bit.

Corianne Holmes 34:48

Absolutely. And anybody can do it. So don't let anybody tell you you can't.

Ethan Waldman 34:53


Corianne Holmes 34:53

Anybody can do it.

Ethan Waldman 34:54

Now. I remember at some point I heard that News. Zealand was like incentivizing people to move there. Is that? Is that still a thing?

Corianne Holmes 35:08

There was there was a few small towns, I think that were incentivizing people like giving away free land or

Ethan Waldman 35:16


Corianne Holmes 35:16

land for cheap, or something like that. So it's kind of gone like about face, I'm kind of getting whiplash, honestly, as an immigrant in this country, because at times you're hearing positive policies and trying to encourage people to move here. But basically, I think all they really want are rich people moving.

Ethan Waldman 35:38


Corianne Holmes 35:39

unfortunately, um, I guess every country has their visa classifications. And if you're a bazillionaire, you know, like Peter Thiel, everything's pretty easy for you.

Ethan Waldman 35:49


Corianne Holmes 35:49

But, but yeah, so my husband came in on a working holiday visa,

Ethan Waldman 35:55


Corianne Holmes 35:55

And I highly suggest everybody, once the world opens up again, there's a lot of countries that have those. So you can come to a country for a year, as long as you're under the age of 30. And work, you can work full time, you can work part time, you can travel, you can work in a vineyard, whatever. So Japan, Australia, New Zealand, I think there's a few other countries that do that. So that's the visa he came in, under. And that I think, is a really great eye opening experience. And a great way to come to New Zealand for the first time, even if you don't know if you want to stay. But that is probably one of the easiest visas you can get.

Ethan Waldman 36:30

Nice, good to know, and how long? How long of a trip is it to get from like the East Coast of the United States to New Zealand?

Corianne Holmes 36:39

So when we first left, they really only had flights from LA and San Francisco. And so you know, however long it takes you to get to that point first.

Ethan Waldman 36:49


Corianne Holmes 36:50

I think it's about is it like a nine or 10 hour flight? I forget. I haven't done it in like two years

Ethan Waldman 36:55

From from like, New York to LA is like five hours.

Corianne Holmes 36:59

Yeah. Okay. So five hours plus your layover? Yeah, the flights only leave after like nine or 10pm. So you're there all day. And then you get on your flight. And honestly, it's it's probably one of the easiest international flights because you get on the plane at nine o'clock.

Ethan Waldman 37:17


Corianne Holmes 37:18

They give you dinner. You go to sleep. You wake up, you're in New Zealand or Australia.

Ethan Waldman 37:23

Oh, so it's a nine hour flight from Los Angeles.

Corianne Holmes 37:26

It's a little bit longer than that, I think. But yeah, it's really it's really not that bad. Because for your time change. It's natural, right? Coming back the other way. It's weird. So you only really get jetlag when you're coming back to the States but going there pretty breezy.

Ethan Waldman 37:44

Yeah. jetlag is worse. Yes, New Zealand is on my bucket list of places to see and visit. It seems like and it seems like with the popularity of tiny houses there. One could go on vacation in New Zealand and stay in many tiny houses while while they're there, including yours.

Corianne Holmes 38:03

Absolutely, absolutely. There's a bunch on Airbnb, VRBO. And even New Zealand has has this really colorful and diverse history of batches, which is a term that I'd never heard of. I think I this is my far out guests that it might like, like kind of have some similarity wording history to a bachelorette pad, like a bachelor pad.

Ethan Waldman 38:29


Corianne Holmes 38:29

Okay, so it's basically like the cabin or the you know, vacation home that people imagine in the States. And so usually it's family or extended family that come and stay at a very off the grid, low key isolated kind of cabin, okay, or vacation. And so that history is what has probably made the tiny house with is so popular here because it's already in people's realm of understanding for like a getaway a small getaway place.

Ethan Waldman 39:03

Nice. Alright, so there's there's already the cultural like idea, like you're gonna have a cabin a little rustic thing, and people are gonna stay there and visit you.

Corianne Holmes 39:12

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And you enjoy it. When it's summertime, you go fishing, go to the beach. It's just, it's just a fun, cool, hip, tiny, tiny little spot for you to because it's not about the stuff that you have there. It's about the time that you spend with your family and the relationships and your lifestyle.

Ethan Waldman 39:30

Yeah. So you there's a tour of your tiny house that I'll totally put on the show notes page. But just like having looked through photos, one thing that really caught my eye was the briefcase sink vanity.

Corianne Holmes 39:46


Ethan Waldman 39:47

Can you describe that? I mean, for those I encourage people to come to the show notes page and see a photo of it, but can you describe it?

Corianne Holmes 39:55

Yeah, so so that was actually a funny day when we were building so I had this idea. I'm definitely the ideas person in our family. And Patrick is the one that makes it happen. So I had this idea, I bought these old suitcases. I bought like four or five of them. And I came in, I was like, this is going to be my medicine cabinet.

Ethan Waldman 40:14


Corianne Holmes 40:14

Patrick, medicine cabinet? Got it? And so we come in to the bathroom. And our bathroom is tiny. It's basically the same dimension just duplicated of like a shower pan, more or less that's as small as we could go, which is common in a tiny house. And there's absolutely no room for a suitcase. medicine cabinet. There's no room at all. So that obviously didn't factor into my my chalkboard drawing very well, did it? So I was holding up the suitcase, I couldn't figure out what we were going to do with that Patrick had just installed the sink, and I had that ugly, you know, white pipe, PVC pipe in the trap. So I was like, Oh, why don't we just put it underneath the sink? And I'll just hide all that plastic. And he's like, that's a great idea. So we cut the back off of it. Put some wood framing so it wouldn't fall apart. Quite flimsy. Very old.

Ethan Waldman 41:08


Corianne Holmes 41:09

Put that against the wall. And then the opening, you know, the opening part. It's like a briefcase kind of suitcase. Yeah. And that I just like stash all my essential oils in there. And yeah, it's it's it worked out great. We didn't really have a plan. We knew we needed a sink. We knew we needed some storage. So the two came together. And yeah, it worked out pretty good.

Ethan Waldman 41:33

And I see the there's another there's like a record player shelf. That is also a suitcase.

Corianne Holmes 41:38

It just broke! Whatever tiny house guests just broke it the other day.

Ethan Waldman 41:43

Oh, no!

Corianne Holmes 41:43

We had to go up there. So the zipper broke. So I was like, oh, Pat, just just, we'll just cut one of your belts in half. And so now it's belted. So when you put it up, instead of zipping it up, you just belt it.

Ethan Waldman 41:59

Very resourceful.

Corianne Holmes 42:01

You get to think creatively. Because I love my record player. I really miss it. So sometimes we go up there and have dates in our own tiny house.

Ethan Waldman 42:08

To listen to records?

Corianne Holmes 42:10


Ethan Waldman 42:10

That's awesome. That's awesome. Yeah. Well, one thing that I like to ask all my guests is, you know, what are two or three resources that inspired you while you were designing and building your tiny house that that you can share with our listeners?

Corianne Holmes 42:24

Sure. So I really like coffee table architectural books.

Ethan Waldman 42:30


Corianne Holmes 42:31

Those are super fun. And if you can't afford them, you know, just just be annoying to staying and, like stand in a bookshop, you know, for a couple hours. Just looking through those photos really just helped to like, open your mind to different ideas and concepts. And just like lighting and space use and, you know, interesting shapes and things. Because a lot of people I mean, a lot of tiny houses that I see now are starting to kind of all conform to the same kind of look almost.

Ethan Waldman 43:00


Corianne Holmes 43:01

And it really is, it's quite limiting to build a tiny house, but it also was very freeing to think outside the box. So that's one, one first place, I'd say the second place is don't look at other tiny houses look at like, house boats, or container homes or cabins or tree houses, you know, those are also really great resources. So there's a lot of information online, YouTube, Facebook, etc, etc. And lastly, I don't know maybe just like this antique shop. I mean, that's a really also a great resource too, is a lot of the things we bought and put in the tiny house were just just from us, you know, poking around and like antique places on the side of the road. And yeah, I think it's just, it's just having an openness and an inquisitive, almost nature into building and then you'll find all the inspiration you need.

Ethan Waldman 43:57

Awesome. Well, Corianne Holmes, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Corianne Holmes 44:02

Yeah, it's really great. Thank you so much, Ethan.

Ethan Waldman 44:06

Thank you so much to Corianne Holmes for being guest on the show this week. You can find lots of photos of Corianne's tiny house, along with a full transcript and links to Koreans website and Airbnb at Again, that's Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman. And I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

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