Introduction to Tiny House Living

I've been living in my tiny house on wheels for close to two years now, and that means I've lived through a lot. Hot summers, high winds, rain, and two of the coldest winters in recent memory on the East Coast. It wasn't until I spent a few days with my friend Jason (of the fantastic Zero to Travel Podcast) that I realized just how routine my day-to-day life had become to me. To Jason, however, the tiny house and life here in Vermont were full of novelty.

So I thought this would be a good time to share my introduction to tiny house living. In other words…

What's it like living in a tiny house?

7:00am – Wake Up

tiny-house-loft-windows

Since there are no curtains in the loft, I sleep surrounded by windows. At night, this means incredible views of the stars. For sleeping, this means that the sunrise usually blazes through the window at the head of my bed. I rarely wake up to an alarm as the sun usually serves this purpose.

sunrise in the tiny house

7:30am – Coffee and Breakfast

Once I'm awake and a bit more bundled up (it is often much cooler in the “downstairs” of the tiny house than in the loft), I get to work making coffee and breakfast. I prefer using a pour-over style single cup brewer, as I think the taste of the coffee is unmatched (except by maybe the AeroPress)! I really enjoy the ritual of waiting for the water to boil, and then slowly pouring the hot water over the coffee grounds.

tiny-house-pourover-coffee

8:00am 'til Noon –  Get to Work

After some quick dishes (and I mean quick), I usually fire up my laptop and get to work with coffee in tow. I am fortunate to work for myself, which means I do any number of tasks. My biggest task, of course, is maintaining www.thetinyhouse.net, which includes writing posts like this one!

But I also work as a technology coach and I help people with their websites. I've noticed that working at the tiny house leads to much greater focus for me than anywhere else.

I'm not sure if it's the lack of obvious chores, the quiet, or just all the natural light in here. It turns me into a productivity machine!

tiny-house-work-station

12:00PM and On – Afternoon Adventure

If I'm lucky, I can get everything I *have* to get done for the day done in the morning. Living in a tiny house has so reduced my monthly expenses that I find that I don't have to push myself to work long hours every single day. This was one of the biggest draws to the tiny house lifestyle for me. My afternoon adventure could mean any number of things, depending on the season.

It could be a hike or a cross country ski with Ann.

cross country skiing at the tiny house

Or maybe a mountain bike ride with my dad who lives just a few miles away.

Or sometimes I work on a project at the tiny house, since they seem to be never ending. Just this month I have already installed a new propane heater at the tiny house (Williams Direct Vent).

Unfortunately, the new heater required a new hole in the wall:

tiny-house-heater-installation

The final installation looks pretty clean, and it's keeping us toasty warm!

williams-heater-tinyhouse-installation

I also removed my old propane refrigerator and replaced it with an electric model. This allowed me to patch the two vent holes in the wall and insulate them, which should help make the tiny house easier to heat.

And sometimes we just do laundry and hang it all up to dry outside. 😉

tiny-house-laundry

Of course, lunch, other chores, more work, or any number of things can happen in the afternoon. These are just some examples of things that have happened more than once. Tiny house living is always a surprise.

6:00pm-ish: Dinner

Don't let the small size fool you; this tiny house has produced some epic meals! Putting in a decent-sized kitchen was one of my main design goals for the house, since I really enjoy cooking and I think the kitchen is a crucial element that makes a house feel like a home.

tomato-sauce-tiny-house

Sometimes the meals are even cooked outside.

bbq-bonfire-tinyhouseAfter dinner, if I'm lucky, I'll just relax on the couch with a book, or watch something streaming.

relaxing-in-the-tiny-house

Of course, the downside to being self-employed is that the work is always right there, so it's all too easy to jump back in after dinner.

Weekly Tiny House Tasks

There are many more “tiny house chores” that need to get done, but not on a daily basis. I usually fit these in at some point each week, or I just do them as soon as they are needed.

Taking Out the Compost

There are two sources of compost in my tiny house. Kitchen waste is collected in a metal canister that sits on the counter in the kitchen. This includes all kitchen waste, including meats, fats, paper towels, etc. As Joseph Jenkins describes in the Humanure Handbook, all of these items can be composted in a typical backyard composter.

The other source of compost is the composting toilet. We use joiner shavings from a local woodworking collective as our cover material. Again, the book I mentioned above is the “bible” when it comes to this stuff.

composting-toilet-tiny-house-humanure

Anyhow, if I'm lucky, I try to coordinate taking out these two compost sources at the same time. This means I will pour the contents of the kitchen scraps bucket into the humanure toilet (if there's room), and then carry that 5 gallon bucket along with a quart-sized mason jar filled with warm soapy water out to the compost bins.

compost-bins-tinyhouseWe use a two bin system. While one bin is curing, the other one is being actively filled. The actual process is easy. I move the hay (cover material) aside and make a small divot in the pile with my pitchfork. I then dump in the contents of the bucket, pour the soapy water into the empty bucket, and swirl it around with a small brush I keep mounted to the side of the bin (for this purpose only). More hay is added on top of the pile, and the empty compost bucket is filled 1/4 of the way with wood shavings and put back into service in the house.

Checking the Propane Tanks

Since my heat, hot water, and cooking are all fueled by propane, it is important that my tanks stay full. It is especially important that I don't run out of gas in the winter, because the hot water heater (PrecisionTemp RV-550-NSP) automatically prevents itself from freezing in the winter by turning itself on for 10 or 15 seconds when it detects the copper piping inside is getting too cold. All that is to say that I don't like running out of propane.

propane-locker-tinyhouse

The propane locker sits on the tongue of my trailer and holds two 20-pound propane tanks connected to an automatic changeover valve and regulator. The changeover valve automatically switches from the first tank to the second tank when it runs empty, without any interruption in gas flow. When this occurs, the dial turns from green to red, alerting me that one of the tanks is empty.

cavagna propane changeover regulator

There are several businesses nearby that fill propane tanks. I am planning to upgrade to 40 pound tanks for this winter to try and reduce the frequency of emptying and filling.

The Tiny House Lifestyle

Living in a tiny house on a day-to-day basis is different for everyone who chooses to do it. Beyond the obvious differences in climate and location, tiny houses empower you to more specifically choose how you want to live (this is called “lifestyle design”).

Some tiny house dwellers such as Jenna and Guillaume choose to travel around the country with their house, making incredible videos and taking amazing photos!

Other tiny house dwellers choose to live completely off-grid and as simply as possible. Jess and Dan built their tiny house for less than $13k, are powered 100% by solar energy, and have no running water in their tiny house (by choice!).

My tiny house lifestyle does not involve frequent moving, but the best part about a tiny house on wheels is that it is a home that can be moved if needed. I love living in the tiny house!

What will your tiny house lifestyle be like? What's your vision for your “day in the life” at your tiny house? Share it in the comment section below!

Tiny house lifestyle design Introduction to Tiny House Living

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