Today we delve into the story of a listener turned tiny home owner, Maegan Bell. Maegan is an active duty Army logistics officer who's going to share with us how she exchanged the blueprints of a traditional house for the compact efficiency of a custom-built tiny home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. We'll explore the challenges of setting up utilities, the joys of bringing family closer together, and how tiny homes can offer a unique solution for military families on the move. Maegan's journey is filled with insights and practical advice for anyone considering this lifestyle. So if you're curious about the tiny house movement or looking for tips on how to make it work for your family, stay tuned for this fascinating conversation.

In This Episode:

  • 🏑 Embracing Tiny House Living: Maegan and her husband discovered the comfort and functionality of a tiny house.
  • πŸ’΅ Military Financial Strategy: How living in an RV or a tiny house can be a clever financial decision for military families due to housing allowances.
  • 🏞️ Wildlife and Remote Habitats: Maegan shares stories of wildlife encounters and her expertise in making remote locations livable from her military logistics background.
  • πŸ”¨ Smart Contractor Selection: The need to carefully vet contractors by checking credentials and reviews for building or developing a tiny house.
  • πŸ•’ Land Development Patience: She advises taking time to understand the land before rushing into development.
  • πŸŒ„ Vacation Home to Tiny House: Faced with high building costs, Maegan chose to build a custom tiny house on her Virginia property as a nature-connected family retreat.
  • πŸ› οΈ Design Choices and Regrets: Maegan discusses aspects that worked out really well, but also shared certain regrets.
  • πŸ›– Multi-Use Property Planning: With the flexibility tiny houses offer, her family enjoys a stable vacation home that could also be rented out or moved if needed.
  • 🌞 Off-Grid Living Exploration: Due to the high cost of setting up grid electricity, she considered off-grid solutions, such as solar panels, for their tiny house.


Links and Resources:

Guest Bio:

Maegan Bell

Maegan Bell

Maegan is an active-duty military officer who sought to have a vacation home where her family could get out of the hustle and bustle of the Washington DC area and reconnect with nature. She bought 4.5 acres of land nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the pandemic. Skyrocketed building costs made her initial plan to build a traditional house on the property not feasible. Maegan pivoted from that plan and instead had a custom tiny house built where she and her family now enjoy and make beautiful lifetime memories.


More Photos:

Maegan Bell's Tiny House Landscaping

The lot for Maegan's Tiny House

Finished Tiny House with a view!


More Photos:

Inside Maegan's Tiny House Kitchen

Tour of Maegan's Tiny House

Hidden table in Maegan's Kitchen


More Photos:

Living area in Maegan's Home

Laundry space


Ethan Waldman 0:01

All right, I am here with Maegan Bell. Maegan is an active duty military officer who sought to have a vacation home where her family could get out of the hustle and bustle of the Washington DC area and reconnect with nature. She bought four and a half acres of land nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the pandemic, skyrocketed building costs made her initial plan to build a traditional house on the property not feasible. Maegan pivoted from that plan and instead had a custom tiny house built where she and her family now enjoy and make beautiful lifetime memories. Maegan Bell, welcome to the show.

Maegan Bell 0:35

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Ethan Waldman 0:37

Yeah, I'm excited to have you and I, I love when a listener of the show emails me with their story. I said, I you know, I told you this in the pre interview, you be careful if you email your your podcast host, you might get invited on the show.

Maegan Bell 0:52

I did not expect that. I just wanted to share how much the show meant to me. So but I appreciate the opportunity to share my journey.

Ethan Waldman 0:59

Well, yeah, I appreciate that, too. And sharing, you know, sharing your journey is what the show is all about. So I'm really glad you reached out. And, you know, I was hoping you could, you know, your bio kind of gives the outline, but you know, how did you go from, you know, building a traditional house to a tiny house? Can you talk about that? That thought process?

Maegan Bell 1:18

Yeah, so I always joke with my husband about like, what came first, you know, in tiny house communities like is it the tiny house or the land? Well, for us, it definitely was the land. And so I found myself spring of 2021 Watching these like Home Improvement home and garden shows, as people did. And I saw this one show of like, when they're looking for a house or you know, searching for something, and this particular couple was looking for land, so they could create a vineyard, but just that whole process, I was like, Oh my gosh, that would be so cool to have acreage. We were I was stationed in central Virginia teaching ROTC, but we were about to have a military move to DC and a few leg later on in that year, so and we loved our time being in central Virginia. And so I was like, Oh, we could get land and sea land size all the time in our areas. So I looked at a bunch of places, and finally found this four and a half acre property that was on the side of literally a side of a mountain it was it was completely undeveloped. And my husband was like, no, no, no, no, we went back a couple of times. But it's like neat. It's like eight minutes from the ski slopes there near the fingers. And I was like, the location is awesome. And if I can see the potential of having a Mountain View and everything. And so my husband ended up seeing some clients in the area where they had did something similar on a larger scale, obviously. So he finally saw the vision.

So we put in the offer, we got the house, I mean, got the house, we got the land. And I was super excited. And so I was going through the whole never did this before my entire life. I bought a house one time, you know. So the house we were living at the time was so that was a very novice homebuyer and let alone buying raw land and trying to make it habitable. And so I was walking through with my realtor who was like, Oh, you can build a traditional house construction to perm. And so that was the way I was gonna go and fall of 2021. I was like, let's go with the designs. And when I did those designs, and way at the time, the housing market was insane. With everything skyrocketed, and so did the building costs.

And so my budget for this vacation home, it's not even our house house ended up being more than double what we had intended. And it's like, I'm not going to have a 30 year mortgage for something that isn't even my house house. Right and yeah, we were planning on doing Airbnb and stuff with that, but it just so I looked like the, the land that I had now owned was like a money pit. And so I started you know, trying to get different designs, like how can we get cost lower and it came down to square footage. So I went from like 2000 to 1800, 1800 to 1500, 1800 to 1200, and down to 1000 then he gave up on me he's like I can't do this lower to that. So then I started searching anything lower than like 1000 square foot and I guess the AI of the search and came up with tiny houses.

I never knew anything about tiny houses before that. Okay, never I didn't look for I literally a found me like I didn't find a tiny house, the tiny house movement found me and so when I started looking at that, and I was like, Well wait, this is just, you know, it's a vacation. Vacation Home is a place for our family to connect. I'm still in the army. And so I go away for a long period of time. Are we just just just a whole retreat? Right? Yeah, to be regenerized as a family as a whole and also personal. So it was like Oh, Hey, this dead hope finally got a spark of like life in it. And so I went into a deep dive of looking for custom home builders because we couldn't do a DIY where you have two young kids working full time working in the government in DC is very, can be very stressful. So yeah, we wanted to enjoy it as soon as possible. So we found a great, tiny house builder and went through that journey. And so it was so exciting. So we signed the paper. I think it was like March of 2022. And our tiny house was delivered late April of 2023. So we've had for a year now Yeah,

Ethan Waldman 5:41

well the house is is really gorgeous. It's it's a it's a movable tiny house, I see that it's on a trailer, but it just looks so spacious. There's, there's a picture of I'm guessing one of your kids kind of doing work on a on an iPad, like at the kitchen table. And it just the house looks so wide. Is it is it wider than standards?

Maegan Bell 6:01

it is it is. So it is 26 feet long and 10 feet wide. And that extra square footage and what we knew we weren't, we knew it was going to be on the mountain. So we decided to make that investment and I'm so glad we did obviously. Now we have like an RV because we love tiny living in who've been so we've had an RV, because we're used to small space and we're gonna hit the road. But yeah, so it's it is wider. And we're actually able because we have that extra two feet in length and width of what standard. We're also able to do a lot with it, but also include like a washer and dryer, like a regular home side by side washer and dryer. We haven't used it because we ran out of money. And we're all creating in our tiny house when we stay in it. Okay, what would we do? It would be nice.

Ethan Waldman 6:55

Yeah, getting power brought to a lot is like shockingly expensive.

Maegan Bell 7:01

It Yeah, but for me. See, and this is the area so I'm a logistics officer by trade. So I've been doing military logistics for over 10 years. And that's why I felt like I wasn't shy away from taking on this venture because I'm like, I've done this I've made habitable spaces and in austere environments, and so there's a lot of areas where that help but there was also a lot of areas that I did not know anything about and utilities for undeveloped land was one of them. I didn't even take an account electricity. We have a generator, very strong generator that like we like I said, we're very comfortable off griding there and dry camping there. But I I factored in the what was funny was the suit, the getting the sewer setup. So I had estimated called all these people, I even bugged this poor guy that was retired and like, hey, how do we do and so I was right on the nail with the estimation for installing a sewer system. The problem was, I didn't take into account that I had my tiny house on the mountain. So what should have been one amount was almost double it. And so that blew our budget that was already dwindling. away. So yeah, so I if I had to. And I was so quick, like I want it to have the in there and enjoy the land. And so I would do, I don't think I would do anything different. Because if we had waited to put in utilities, we wouldn't be able to enjoy it like we have. But if someone was trying to do this, like full time you get the land first, like make sure you just put in the put in the utilities or figure out the utilities early on. Don't wait to the back end because or if you do, you're, you know, understanding what you're getting yourself into.

Ethan Waldman 8:53

So what are you doing in terms of, you know, water and electricity. You mentioned you have the generator for electricity. And then are you like carrying in water or how are you doing that?

Maegan Bell 9:05

Yeah, so we have water jugs back to the military days. Yeah, that's where jugs are they so we have like a couple of six gallon water water jugs we did invest in a like a shed that's next to the tiny house. So that keeps all our like extra supplies of gardening stuff the lawnmower and where we keep the water jugs. I also have a water barrel. I don't collect rain. But it was just another storage of water solution. So we have plenty of water up there. I haven't we haven't even touched the water barrel which we're going to have to use it soon or do a filtration system into it. But that's what we use to cook and shower. And then the shower. I got like your typical. There's like Amazon, Amazon is so awesome. You could just think of every crazy thing someone created and they have it. So I how I've come across, I just write the function of what I need and something pops up. So there's this, like you a camping shower system where you have it in like a bucket with the water. And then you hook it. And it's such great, it has its battery. It's USB powered. So we charge it, it has such Yeah, I think I have it in my YouTube channel, I have like the link to it, I did a little bit a little small, like three minute video of how we do it. Okay, so I had this gorgeous shower that I can't use. So I wrote this thing up to the showerhead, and it's great water pressure, and we the whole family, we showered it and then we had these like five gallon thing of water. So we we bring in our water, it's like half of it, we boil to school, and the other half is cold and it ends up giving the right my husband has like got this to a tee how much water cold, which is boiling water and it's very comfortable. Funnily enough, we wouldn't be able to do that full time. But for us stay in a couple of weekends or even a one time we stay there for a full week. And we were very comfortable. And that's all for the sewer part, we do have a flush toilet, which we can use. So I couldn't do anything composting wise. And once again, this would work for us doing short stays. But it would be very costly for someone if they were trying to do this full time. But we got these, it's kind of like human kitty litter, right. So there's like you could do a regular trash bag. But we also did these particular camping bags that go around the round the inside of the toilet. And then we just it's like the one scoop and it turns human liquid into solids and it's biodegradable, so we can then throw it out the rest of our trash. And that's how we do it.

Ethan Waldman 11:46

Wow. That's I love that, that you kind of didn't let the utilities and and all that kind of stop you from enjoying the space has that has that actually become a benefit or something that you look forward to. Like being off grid.

Maegan Bell 12:03

I would love actually I've looked into that a lot because we've looked into the grid. And the amount for just like you said, it can be expensive just to setup the grid. And so depending on who's which of our neighbors. Guess poles that we can bounce off of it could be as low as like 3500. Because here's the thing, and I hadn't until zoning, like zoning, zoning, zoning, do your research. If it was a traditional house, it wouldn't cost that much they identified it as a traditional house, you get a certain amount of square, you get a certain amount of footage, that from the nearest like, I guess, tower a poll to get your electricity from, and like we're, we're on a mountain but it's not that it's like the perfect blend of being near town but not being completely like off the beaten path.

So there's other houses at the bottom of our lower than our houses. So we have but if we had a traditional house, we would have a certain I think it was like 1000 like feet, yeah, to like plug into so it would have been like maybe 1500 to tap into our nearest neighbor to get it that that they give to you automatically for having a house because it's not considered a traditional house, you have to it's you have to just yeah, they charge you by the foot. And so for us it's like one I think if it one neighbor, if one neighbor is gracious for us to do it, we're ready to do it, it could be anywhere between seven and $10,000 to even just set up electricity on the grid.

So I really did look into because I do love the off grid life I love the power you know that you get from that and controlling and owning and so I looked into doing solar panels when that day comes and I'm going back and forth if it was just if it's just us I would totally do solar but because it even I didn't realize there's like solar like for your wells and the pumping system I don't even know about that. So I didn't hold deep dive into that and but if it was just us I would want to do that but originally we were going to have this like as an airbnb when we don't use it I have fell in love with I was so I was like the one thing you you're not supposed to get personally invested in your investments. And I and I really don't want to share my place with someone that might not love it like I do. So I've actually put that off. Number one we don't have utility so we can't legally do it. But number two, I don't think I want to share so it really comes down to and my husband's like he he's he's good either way. So it really comes down to if we decide to if we decide to make it like an investment years down the road that maybe we will just have to do the grid. Or but if it's just something that we are just enjoying ourselves Have, or if we just get more comfortable with being off grid than making an investment with solar? It's a, I think it'll end up being the same amount of money either way, the only differences Yeah, after you do that for a cost, you don't have a bell? Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 15:14

So it sounds like you know, the time that you spend at the tiny house with your family is like, very much the opposite. You live in Washington, the Washington DC area in a normal sized house, how has you know, spending time at the tiny house affected your your family dynamic?

Maegan Bell 15:30

Ah, amazingly. So we have a huge house. And everybody, I have my my nine year old, I have a three year old nine year old, my nine year old is a gamer. And so he just goes into his little room. And so we're all in our own little spaces. And when we get to the tiny house, you can't do that. And so we joke, the only time we actually have family dinner is around when we're at the tiny house. Because we have a cool little table that comes out the way I had, I saw it on Pinterest, and I just did with my with my designer, my tiny house building designer, but we love it. And it comes out of like, it's part of the kitchen, I guess countertop and it comes underneath it and comes out. And that's where we have our family dinners. And we just interact more we we joke. Right now we have like the T Mobile. It's like the home internet. But you can take anything anywhere. We've taken that on road trips is pretty reliable. So my, my nine year old has been able to get set because there's no signal. So we were able to get put like three bars, sometimes four. So we get to watch TV gaming, but sometimes it gets spotty we can't and then we have to like talk to each other or, or do board games or go outside and explore outside because we do have four and a half acres, and checking out the wildlife. So it's been really amazing. It's been more the tiny house has provided more than what I had envisioned for the land. And that if we had done a transitional house, we would have just been if I was even able to afford it and want it to just go broken in to give into the crazy costs. It would have been built and we would have just been in this pretty area not interacting. And it really would have been any different than what we do here. So I'm actually grateful that that obstacle went in my way. And so I was able to pivot to something I never would have even explored if if it wasn't for the fact that I had to.

Ethan Waldman 17:38

Wow. Yeah, that's that's so cool to hear. I mean, I've you know, you hear you hear about how tiny houses help to connect people to each other and to their communities. And I just love love stories like that.

I like and you mentioned that that table and they'll definitely be you know, pictures on the show notes page for the episode. And I encourage listeners to go and check out the photos. It's, it's a really unique design of the house. It's got, you know, it's kind of like, it's almost like three sections. There's like, the entry section has a shed roof and then the middle section has a gabled roof. And then the back section has a shed roof. Can you talk about the design and, and I see a roof deck up there too, which is pretty awesome.

Maegan Bell 18:26

Yeah. Yeah, it's so funny, because we actually have once we pay off all the stuff that we had to pay to save up because we want to do things with cash and not rely on personal loans. But we have actually enough space to add a second tiny house to our acreage. Wow are the zoning. Yeah. And we because we weren't living in a full time we didn't have to go through a lot like a special use permit, but they just because of the acreage. And so we actually looked into like, Okay, well when we're ready to get another one. And it's crazy how expensive in just 18 months prices have gone so I'm I'm also glad that we got our tiny house when we did but so we were able to get a rooftop deck. It was part of the models. One of the things that that I found my design because I was I really wanted a rooftop deck. I don't know I think I found a solid on one of the tiny house shows I was like really thought that that's a normal thing. And so I found the builder that I had, which happens they were a state one state away. Unfortunately, they're no longer in business. They got the they were bought out. Great for them. Not great for us. But they Yeah, it was one of their models. And so I was able to just get to gable roofs and then how they have it with the rooftop deck. It's really interesting how they put it into it. And so you can access that from the master loft and we have a little ladder that you can put away and then you can attach it when you need it and my three year old loves going up there. Yeah, and it's just beautiful. Like especially The spring like Spring, Summer and Fall is so cool being up there, I do yoga up there. And then that also creates another zone. So having a tiny houses you have to have your different zones. And so that was one of those things in the tiny house that we're able to enjoy.

Ethan Waldman 20:16

Very cool. Very cool. Yeah. It's it's beautiful. And the landscape is just gorgeous. I mean, the the ridge line that you can see from that deck. And I can see in one of the photos, just how you know green everything is it's beautiful.

Maegan Bell 20:31


we love it. We don't have a bad view. Whether you're down at the at at just the lower level, you know, at the ground level. Or if you're on the rooftop deck, the wintertime we did a winter and it was just you, you all the greenery and flowers are gone. But you had this gorgeous, gorgeous unobstructed views of our mountain. So we appreciate that, especially when it one time it snowed. And so that was just a lot of fun to see. It's super beautiful. But then even during I can't wait now that the springs coming and like the flowers because I it's like this lush greenery and you're just in midst of it feels like an enchanted forest that we're part of. So it's super gorgeous. And then that's another great thing. With us being at the tiny house, not only are we able to connect with each other, but we're able to connect with nature. And so that's super cool. We, we've seen a wildlife is we're on a mountain. Yeah, and so wildlife is, uh, you know, I we have been as far as we are, we actually have off grid solar surveillance failures. So it's a solar powered, but we have surveillance videos throughout our property. And so and it gives us an alerts and stuff like that. And we've seen video in real time. So we've had the deer are just they they don't care, they don't care that we're here. They're just living their life. But then there's a bobcat they had came through, there was a fox, I kept running around and setting off the alarm. And then we've had a couple bear visitors. We haven't seen them in person at one more here. I think the generator scares them off. We're know what this what the season will come up. But we've had a couple, the bears have gotten very close, curious about our tiny house. Wow.

Ethan Waldman 22:18

So you mentioned that, you know, as a logistics officer, you've had a bit of experience turning remote locations and making them habitable. I'm curious if there are any kind of principles or, or techniques or just parts of your training that you applied to creating this this tiny space? And, and I feel like we all have something to learn from you. I'm just curious, oh, you can share about that.

Maegan Bell 22:44

So total novice about developing undeveloped land and total novice about tiny houses. But one thing that the military had prepared me to do. Because I've moved people and heavy equipment and planes all in all around the world and field exercises and having to make like an actual kitchen in the middle of a desert, you know, so I've had that experience. So even though I wasn't like an expert in this particular stuff, I knew the thought process, I knew the functionality. I knew the needs. And I think sometimes people they get so excited about having this happen. You may not think about the second order third order effects where that's all I do is like, Okay, we want to go through this approach of this mission or this way of going about it. What are the second order effects? Where are we going to get this? How are we going to resupply that? So the funny thing is when we didn't have utilities, and we had to pivot that was super easy. For me. That was easy for me to pivot because that's kind of like, was easy stuff to find. Because that's what they do in the army. With my experience, so for developing the land, and even landscaping it because it was when they when they cut into it, it was just a pile of dirt. Yeah. But I was able to find my experience in the military finding, you know, there's a lot of stuff we can't do. And so we have contractors, and finding the right people and looking to see their credentials. And so because there's a lot of people out there that say they can do it, but you know, so that's one things of me knowing what to look for, okay, hey, what can you do? Can you do this, and having those people come out, you know, really walk your land and understand what you're trying to do. But I also I am a big supporter, cuz there's a lot of scams and things horror stories about people with tiny houses. Yeah. And the other, whether it's your builder, whether it's the person I mean, there's been people that excavating Oh, you're gonna die that line line and then the person just got ghosted and disappears and doesn't finish the project. In fact, that actually kind of happened to me. They got too busy and the things got delayed, and so they weren't able to be available. So it wasn't like that it was intentional, but I was able to find somebody else to do it. Just because I just that's naturally. But for wanting for people that are trying to do that some things to keep in mind what I like to do when I was looking for contracting work out to get stuff done for my land, even from my tiny house, when finding I would check credentials. So there's better business bureau, go online and a put people's stuff now some stuff, you know, you can read where people are, like complaining for stuff that really isn't the businesses fault, you just as a personality situation. But there's some good stuff, there are reviews on Google or Yelp. I also think that for websites, especially with tiny houses, now, this isn't a standard thing, right? You have to look at it both ways. So you have if the if the tiny house builder has a website, that kind of says to me that they've done it enough times, that they have invested that part in their business. And also they probably have the insurance and other coverage to cover them and cover you. But that but that's only one thing, you can have a website and not touch it. So I also look at their social media. So if you have a website, but you haven't put anything up on builds that you did, there's something going on there. And you don't need a website, you could have a very strong social media platform what you did, and that's good, too, and you do the reviews. But you just have to look into that. Because there's also some things that are not there that you're like, huh, there's a gap, why is there to serve, there's usually something going on. Yeah. And like I said, go in person, like if you're able to go in person, if it's a tiny house build. And if you're not able to do a live video tour, don't have them seeing videos, like have them walk through it. So those are one little tips, I would say about finding the right people for your tiny house. And then also just your subcontractors for developing your land. One, one thing that I do want to make note, if you are developing land, is don't do everything right away. So it got to a point where I was trying to do every single thing and the person who was excavating my land. Yeah, it was the greatest advice that she gave me. She's like, you know what, just do enough that you need, but you don't have to do everything, it's actually probably better for you to spend a good year, knowing your land. Yeah, and knowing what you want. And so we have this one huge boulder that because it was very rocky when they excavated and they were able to get most of the rocks done. In fact, there's at the bottom, I have plans to do something with landscaping with these, these rocks picked up yeah. They're not rocks, they're like huge boulders. But yeah, you can a person, a person or two could try to roll them and move them and do something decorative. But there was this huge, huge boulder that we couldn't do. Like it was too expensive to like, break away. And so I had all these ideas of what to do with it, I was forcing, trying to make some type of use and functionality. But then I ran out of money. So I couldn't and then over the past year, my kids started playing on it, they would like to climb up it and look outside and hang out. And then I was like, You know what, this would be a really cool like, kid play area. And if I can make it so now I'm gonna this summer is one of our projects, we're going to have rock climbing like studs, and a friend of mine, we upcycled her slide. So we're going to turn it into like, so this huge boulder that I didn't know what to do with that I was going to try to do something just to force a decision. Because I took a step and really experienced my land and took my time on finding some use better use for it that actually works for our family.

Ethan Waldman 28:41

Nice. That's awesome. So, you know, looking back over the process of of the build, you know, the house design or even the the land and the landscape is there. Is there anything that you change if you could go back and do it again?

Maegan Bell 28:56

Ah, there is something I'm trying to remember. Okay, so at our other loft or other loft inside the design phase, I'm very happy with how the land came out. So I'm very pleased with that. We're going to do some more like landscaping for it. But inside the house are two things small things, but I wish I had like listened. So one thing about a lot of people use epoxy for their countertop, which we did. That's like a marble, right? It looks like marble is gorgeous. Or you can make it any type of design you want.

Ethan Waldman 29:35

Oh wow. That's epoxy. Yes, that's

Maegan Bell 29:38

epoxy on top of like, plywood or? I have no idea I think so I'm assuming Oh, wow. Yeah thats epoxy and it's gorgeous from from, you know, but if you're there, epoxy is very susceptible to stains. So there are coffee stains. And I tried baking soda and like it's a little bit it's not that big of a deal. But so if I had to do that differently, I would either have gotten like butcher block, or if I would have done epoxy, I would have done like a darker color. So stained, it wouldn't be so obvious. So that's one thing that really, really like, I'm like, it's beautiful now, but I have kids, and I drink coffee. And my husband is not one to like, clean up right away. But I'm like, as I'm always, you know, that's one of the reasons why I don't want to share my tiny house, because I know that it's gonna get destroyed, it's gonna, right now. So I think in a couple years, we're have to swap that out with something else. And then the other thing is to access our boys loft. It's like a, it's like a ladder. That's kind of like a draw down type of thing. And so it's like a winch on the side of the wall. My builder suggested I get like a automatic, where you press the button. It's like, there's different types. Yeah, and I was so anti that I was coming from my military brain where if things break down, you need to manually do it. Yeah. And so I was all about self sufficiency. And that was where that hurt me to a tee. Because it takes like a good like seven to eight minutes of a lot of like, arm power, just like turning the winch, turning the winch to bring it down, because it takes so it takes, I mean, we're like throwing at it. And I mean, I think it's durable, but it takes a while. And of course, my kids love going up there and being up there. Because once again, that's another zone that they can enjoy. So you know, I get a lot of work out. So we're eventually we're going to have to swap that out and do what my builder told me to do in the first place. So if you have a very, like a builder who's done this for a while, and they make a suggestion, you know, to err on the side of caution that they might know what they're talking about.

Ethan Waldman 31:48

Yeah, it sounds like your builder was was great. I'm sorry to hear they got bought out or I again, good for them. But bummer for other people.

Maegan Bell 31:56

I know. I know.

Ethan Waldman 32:06

So, as a military officer, is there the possibility that you're you'll have to move, you know, far from the tiny house?

Maegan Bell 32:15

Yeah, it could be. And so that was also one of the reasons why I wanted a space for us because we move every few years. Yeah. And then you don't have a house, even the house that we own other people are living in it right now. We're renting it out. So we really wanted something that wherever we were, we could go to it. Yeah. I'm, I'm lucky where I'm on the East Coast. I'm in Virginia. So there's a lot of military bases in Virginia and North Carolina. So I could have I could, well, we always had intended. And we've been out to the Midwest, we used to live in Kansas. But there's a lot of opportunities where we could bounce around a place a place that may not be two hours, like where we are right now in DC. But you'd be like, you know, less than six hours, which still if you're trying to do a long weekend. It's totally doable. So that was the plan.

Ethan Waldman 33:09

Yeah. Well, that's good to hear. I mean, the great thing about a tiny house on a trailer is that if you really had to move like to the west coast or something, you could move it you could probably rent your land to another person with a tiny house since it's all set up. For a tiny house.

Maegan Bell 33:28

That idea. I love that idea. Actually, I never thought about that. My husband did say that. He's like, we could always move it, if we ever want it to as well. That was another investment that we had to think about that. But yeah, it's pretty good idea.

Ethan Waldman 33:41

So you mentioned before that that like at first your husband was like, totally anti and you kind of had to drag him along into it. And now he's like, number one tiny house booster. What do you think, accounted for that change? Like, why do you think, you know what about it

Maegan Bell 34:00

there is a couple things. So he was anti the land. I mean, he's one of those people that he complains within lets me do it. I get I'm spoiled. I have. We've been together for 20 years and I am in it. I'm spoiled. But begrudgingly. He's like, Yeah, so he was like that bought the land until he saw another business and saw what they did. undeveloped and how he was like, Oh, that looks like the land Maegan just bought. But on a larger scale, you were able to turn that to it. So so he's him seeing the after thing. And then when we went over to our tiny house builder to check out their stuff. He was really impressed with how gorgeous how nice it was. And he's six one but my stepson who's who's an adult, met up with us and my stepson who's six four was so comfortable walking around these, you know, the houses they were building are about to ship out. And so that's what changed for my husband just I guess, experiencing it like you're not going to you're not going to understand it until you're in it. I had family members who I'm from Jersey Like, I'm a Jersey girl, I have family members who did not get this, they did not understand it, one of which is my father. And he came for a visit. And we were, we actually ended up doing it was a couple of towns. So we were in a hotel, couple towns over, but we're like, hey, let's do a drive. So you can see the tiny house because it's finished. And he got it once he was inside. And he's like, wow. And we've had other people have gone in there and are just blown away of how much space and functionality and how comfortable it can be. And so my father was very, like, this makes no sense. And now like, like he was even toying with the idea of having a tiny house. But when it came to like looking for land, so he's like, Alright, I'm just gonna stick to my condo. And yeah, this beachside town that he's in. But yeah, I think he's just experiencing it. No, you're never going to be able to convince anybody of it from, especially if you're someone who's just so passionate about it. Other people are just not going to get it. They have to experience it themselves. And once they experience it, then it's they have their own amazing interaction with it. And I think that's the case with my husband. He actually sneaks off there from time to time. He's like, I got to check on the tiny, you know, for us. It's been we we did some weekend trips with the RV. Yeah, just testing that out. But we've got to go back. So it's been a month since we've been at the tiny house. So we're gonna go back soon, but he likes to check on it here and there. And sometimes I think he makes excuses just so he can hang out there without us.

Yeah, I'm sure it's a great place to be by yourself, too.


Ethan Waldman 36:36

Do you know other people in the military with with movable tiny homes?

Maegan Bell 36:43

No, RV's have been a big, big thing. So I knew from early on my career, I always saw people full time RV, which is really smart. Because the military gives you like a house aside it from your salary. They give you a house. Yeah, they give you that housing allowance, which depending on your area, like if you're in Hawaii, for instance. Yeah. A very lucrative, very lucrative and place. Yeah, no, it's a lot because it has to do to the, the how the, the areas that so you know, living the cost of living, so they give you this cost of living. So for those listeners that are military out there, and I think I've seen this on Bryce's show as well. But I don't think a lot of military take advantage of it. So if you just happen to be listening, and you're in Hawaii, and they cannot get I realized Hawaii, their tiny house, friendly, can't do an Airbnb with it, whether they're tiny house friendly, so it's just a matter of, you know, and if finding that lat and that land, and then you can bank, a lot of that so a lot of military people, I was familiar with it full time. RVing just to do that. It's like the cost of living and then you're, you're saving money. There have been a couple military people that my builder actually it was a couple that was thinking about doing tiny house because they were full RVing. And they want that. And so they asked me to you know, you know, just talk to them and share about my experience. I think what comes down to it with a lot of people it's financing, financing it, and thats the struggle, but I I would fully support more military people being aware of this option. Because a lot of RV and especially if it's certified as a RV, if you have that type of certification you're not going to have and you're always have a house, wherever you go. One of the hardest thing as a military family is house hunting it I mean, sometimes you can find yourself in a hotel for like, one time for us. It was like two and a half weeks because it was sort of hard to find a place to live given that market. I've known people who've been in a hotel for a month, you know, so. So knowing that you have house that you always have and you can move it Yeah, I would I would do that now. But my husband's like, I have way too much stuff. I love part time tiny living but I can't do that full time. But yeah, I That's something I've really, really entertained because of that. Nice.

Ethan Waldman 39:13

Well, I've really enjoyed talking with you. I one thing that I like to ask all my guests is are there two, one or two or three resources like YouTube channels or books or really anything that you'd recommend to our listeners?

Maegan Bell 39:27

Well,, when I how I found out about your podcasts even it was through Melanie Copeland so I'm part of her. Yeah, I'm part of her Facebook support group is Virginia, Tiny House supporters. And so she's always been a wealth of knowledge. She has a book. So that's super, super helpful. Your podcast has been incredible. And then your typical YouTube I love my favorites are living big in a tiny house and tiny house giant journey. Yeah, to like, favorite, favorite ones.

Ethan Waldman 40:02

Nice. Well, that's awesome. Those are all great resources. And again, I really, you know, appreciate the compliments and I'm so glad that the that this show has helped you in some small way.

Maegan Bell 40:15

Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Well, great to talk with you, Maegan. Thanks. Thanks for having me and sharing my story. It's been awesome.

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