Why Don’t More People Live Tiny?

We are proponents of the Tiny House movement. Fans of living small as the foundation of a large life.

For us, our goals, that means an RV. For others, probably for many, that means a fixed residence. Either way, Ashley and I frequently find ourselves amazed at our life and wondering why more people don’t utilize “alternative” housing to more intentionally build their lives.

Fourteen months into our adventure and we love it more as we go. It suits us perfectly. Maybe one day we won’t. Perhaps our needs will outgrow the RV, or we’ll need something with thicker walls. Or the RV will prove to be too large for us and we’ll want something smaller. But for now, we couldn’t ask for anything better.

One size definitely doesn’t fit all.

Technically speaking, I believe a Tiny House is defined as less than 1,000 sq ft. We are living in less than 240. The popular shows on TV seem to focus on very small, 250 or less (from the handful of episodes I’ve seen).

I don’t wonder why everyone doesn’t live in a 220 sq ft house. A couple with young children need more space. A couple with children at all need private spaces. That takes more room.

RV’s aren’t well insulated (at least ours isn’t). They aren’t built for 4 seasons. So those in cold or hot climates wouldn’t be super comfortable, at least not without high utility bills to offset the lack of insulation.

It isn’t traditional

This, I believe, is the real reason people don’t pursue alternative housing. Financial institutions aren’t equipped to deal with non-traditional housing situations. Living in an RV doesn’t fit into their spreadsheets of security. Nor does living out of a converted van. At first glance wheels don’t provide a permanent mailing address.

Tiny houses fit into a gray legal area that have to be dealt with or worked around. Utilities have to be searched out and found. Traditional houses fit in designated situations and utility companies will gladly allow you to pay them for the privilege of letting them provide you with their services.

Nontraditional means you have to do a lot of the work

You have to find a mailing address for yourself and search out your own utilities. It might mean you don’t have unlimited water and electricity like you’re accustomed to. Perhaps you’ll have some extra paperwork to do that others won’t.

The benefits are great

A smaller abode can mean smaller expenses. Less to heat and cool means lower utilities. Fewer square feet require less lights to see and less furniture to fill. It can mean a smaller purchase price and thus fewer payments.

Though it doesn’t have to be, your home can be portable. You can live right next to work when you need to. Vacations could be more relaxing because you simply move to an area, taking everything you own with you (including the kitchen sink!) You could move as often as you like, with far less trouble – and none of those pesky leases or utility hook-up fees.

Live a Rich Life

In Ramit Sethi’s book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, he talks about the meaning of being rich. Rich doesn’t always equal great amounts of money. It is personal. Perhaps to you being rich means being able to eat out every single meal and taking flying lessons. Maybe it means that you can travel every month. Perhaps it means that you don’t have to work at jobs you don’t enjoy.

Ashley and I love to travel, to explore, to be out in nature. We are homebodies with wanderlust in our hearts. Our RV affords us this opportunity. It costs less to live in than our previous apartment so we can afford to travel. We get to take our home with us everywhere we go so we can comfortably experience new locations. And it is self-contained so we can spend a week or so out in nature without the convenience of utility hook-ups.

A traditional life is expensive. Keeping up with the Joneses can take all of your income. But it’s easy. Others understand it. Our culture guides you to that lifestyle.

But if it doesn’t provide you with a rich life, the cost might be too high.

A couple of examples

Whenever Ashley and I wonder why more people don’t live a non-traditional life we always think of people who we think would be happier with a few changes.

A single person (likely with college debt and maybe owing on some credit cards) who spends most of their time working, hanging out with friends, and perhaps engaged in some sort of hobby or second job to help pay the bills.

They could live in a conversion van that could be parked anywhere, provides a places to sleep and store clothes and food. A camping stove or little microwave could heat up meals. Wifi could be shared with a neighbor. A gym membership provides showers and exercise equipment.

This would allow them to live close to whatever job they have at the time, save most of their income (or use it to pay off the monies owed) and still functionally live their current life with no interruptions. They could go to work, pursue their hobbies, and hang out with friends.

If they have been moving regularly (new job, room-mate leaves, etc) this would allow them that opportunity without the annoyance of deposits and leases.

Too unconventional? Buy a travel trailer, pay for a long-term parking spot and live the same way, except with full utility hook-ups and a direct internet connection.

More than one

Of course, this isn’t limited to single individuals. Two people can be more than happy in a smaller house. Just look at us!

But you don’t have to travel to appreciate it. We were looking at a tiny house even if we hadn’t decided to hit the road. Less to clean, to decorate, and less room to fill with items.

By my rough estimates, we could have built a tiny house, paid it off with our then-incomes in about a year. Then, with some careful managment we could have continued saving and been almost financially independent (ie: retired) in around 10 years.

What about the children?

While I can’t speak personally, I have read about a number of families who are traveling even while having young children. One family of four set off to sail about the world with two boys who are not yet teenagers. Another family began a bicycling adventure, aiming to ride all the way across the continent, down to the tip of South America. Yet another, with three children, have flown around the world, visiting many countries with their family. The Tougas family have lived in five places in two countries, plus hiked the Appalachian Trail – including all three kids!

Children seem to be far more resiliant and flexible than adults. Especially if you can keep their routines/schedules the same. It will be an adventure for them as well. And just imagine how much they will learn! Geography will have meaning. Historic sites will help provide rich memories of the past instead of just being dates and names.

Of course, one doesn’t have to travel. There is something to be said about having a stable community. So maybe you don’t live in a tiny, mobile structure. But at least you don’t have to stretch your mortgage to buy the biggest thing you can. Purchase a modest house, work to make it yours, and revel in the joys of life instead of the joys of home-ownership.

No longer a spring chicken?

Travel and RV living runs in my family. My mom does it, who learned it from her parents. For at least 20 years they spent part of every year living in their RV. They traveled, visiting friends and family around the country. Eventually, they parked their travel trailer in a single location and lived half of the year there and half at their house.

If G-mom had gotten her way, however, they would have just lived in the travel trailer. She liked the town it was in so much more than where her house was. While I don’t remember her mentioning them specifically, there are additional perks to living in a smaller space – ones that might be of particular interest to someone who is older, or is living on a fixed income.

Everything is within easy reach. Forget something in the bedroom? It’s only 20′ away. Your favorite coffee mug is just across the aisle from the table. You can still clean every day, if that’s your habit, and finish the entire house with time and energy to spare. Not so steady on your feet? There is always something near-by to provide support if it is needed (a counter, wall, or piece of furniture) without requiring a walker or hand-rails inside your own home.

While my grandparents were able to keep their home and still travel, others might not be so fortunate. They could rent out or sell their home. Even if the sale results with them breaking even, their other retirement income (fixed amounts, I expect) would allow them to travel around. Even if the mortgage has been paid off this still saves on other recurring costs – taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance expenses. When funds run low, you slow down or stop traveling. If you need special medical equipment, it can be incorporated in your home.

Tiny isn’t for everyone

While we think that living tiny is a great way to build a foundation for a large life we know that it’s not for everyone. But we do think it’s for far more people than are currently doing it.

Incredible lives don’t just happen. They are intentionally designed and built.

The Beauty of Two Wheels

While planning for our adventure we debated what vehicle to bring with us. The motorcycle gets better gas mileage and is easier to tow. The car is better for long trips and we could carry more groceries but it gets worse gas mileage and will take expensive accessories to bring with us.

Ultimately, after lots of research and many changed minds, we decided to bring the motorcycle. And we couldn’t be happier with our decision.

A Money Saver

The trailer that hauls it, complete with home-made bicycle rack also carries a propane bottle and extra water jug while costing about half of what a car dolly would have. We can resell it for the same price that we bought it for if we ever decide to. While the RV gets a whopping 8.3 mpg on average, the motorcycle helps to even that out at about 48 mpg – much better than our car’s 23 mpg. A tank of gas doesn’t go very far in the motorcycle but, at a 2-gallon fill-up, stops are quick and affordable.

Though we knew it, we have still been surprised to realize how much the motorcycle saves us when shopping. On the one hand, you can fit a surprising amount into our tiny saddle bags and laps on the ride home. On the other hand, we are severely limited in what we can buy due to space constraints. This not only saves us money and forces us to be intentional in our shopping, but it also works well with the small space of the RV. No value packages of paper towels for us – not only can we not easily get them home but we couldn’t store them even if we did!

Just park wherever

While riding a motorcycle in a city can be a bit of an adrenaline rush, there are certain perks that come with driving something smaller than a Smart Car. Quick responses and small size make it easy to maneuver in traffic (leading me to actually feel safer than in a car, generally). Parking is normally easier to find on a motorcycle – tucking two wheels into a sliver of a parking space is a simple matter, making parallel parking jobs a delight.

See what you can see

We love the motorcycle for its expansive views. With no roof, dashbord, or door-frames to block our view the world is wide-open to us as we ride through it. Which is more than perfect as we are touring about locations filled with natural beauty. Our rides through the Badlands were some of the most beautiful rides we’ve been on since we’ve been riding.

Experience the weather

Unfortunately, without those doors, windows, or roof we ride out in the open, experiencing the weather up close and personal. On the chilly mornings we have to bundle up to make it into town. Hot days out in the sun have us rueing our safety gear (who wears black leather jackets in the middle of summer!) Climbing mountains involves a stop half-way to add or remove layers – on the way up you freeze and coming back down you melt.

This is actually one of the perks, though. If we had gone with the car, there would have been numerous days when we would have just “gone for a drive” as a way to pass time – wasting fuel and causing us to miss the area immediately around us.

A good decision

Yes, there have been times that our car would have made for a more comfortable day. Or when we would have been able to combine multiple errands into a single trip. And Ashley would run errands on her own from time to time.

Ultimately, though, we are happy with our decision and the results it has had on our adventure. We love motorcycling and this gives us a chance to ride, to experience the world around us more fully, wherever we may be.

It might not be the most convenient option for living a traditional life and just running to the store. But we aren’t aiming for a traditional life, are we? 🙂

Weekly Newsletter – Mashley’s Adventures – Exploring Glacier National Park

(See even more photos in our FaceBook album.)

Current Location: Glacier National Park, Montana

Perhaps we all need time to be free, time to be alone in nature, supported and encouraged to discover our own wild selves, to reconnect with who we are and what we want from life.
~ Jennifer Hanson


This week, Adventure-Some is in a different state for the first time since May! We’re currently exploring Glacier National Park in western Montana, with Jackie joining us. To make the trip easier we’ve actually left Lady Galapagos (our RV) back in Bremerton and are gallivanting about in the truck this week, which allows us to explore Glacier in more depth.

Because our plan is to be out hiking just about every day this week, we assumed that internet connections would be few and far between, if available at all. As such, we actually wrote and scheduled this email a few days ago. (So we’re speaking to you from the past – Huzzah for time travel!) Fear not! The juicy details of the trip will be passed along in next week’s email.

If you’re looking for more reading – check out the most recent post on Adventure-Some.

Lessons Learned (or relearned):

  • Nature is stunning! (glow in the dark water?!)
  • People make the place
  • Homemade pizza cooked on a grill is the bomb

Last week was low on adventure as we wrapped up projects at work and prepared for this excursion and our upcoming move. Thursday we drove out to the Hood Canal after dark and stood in the water, swishing it around to agitate the phytoplankton. Once disturbed, they lit up like tiny green sparks – it was like the stars in the sky were reflected as shooting stars in the water around us. Like we’ve said before, Washington is a pretty cool place.

Bremerton Mugs!

Friday we held a grilled pizza party for friends as a thank you for such an amazing time while in Bremerton (and to let them check out the RV if they hadn’t already seen it.) We are truly thankful and amazed by the friends we’ve made! We definitely are blessed.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – Want to see pictures from our adventures? Check out the Adventure-Some instagram page for regular updates.

Ride Your Own Ride

This time last year, Ashley and I were half-way across the state of Iowa, participating in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, along with somewhere between 17,000-25,000 others. How many different riding styles do you think there were?

We had a great time! It was our first trip across the state and we picked up a few tips along the way. Most notably, in our mind, is the fact that you can ride the route in many different ways, each of which is well within the recommended safe guidelines. Here are a few:

Wake early and stay ahead of the crowd
This is what we ended up doing as the week went on. The course officially opens at 6 (sunrise) and by leaving then you can stay ahead of the huge throngs of people and skip the worst of the lines. We arrived in the final towns early enough to have a good array of campsite choices.

Sleep late and ride leisurely
Some friends did this, since it was their vacation. They slept late-ish and meandered their way from stop to stop, thoroughly exploring and seeing what each town had to offer. They ate supper on the road and upon arriving in the overnight town only had to set up their tent and shower before bed.

Ride fast!
While we were solidly better-than-average riders, there were definitely the “hot dogs” who flew by us on the left. I don’t know if they are professionals, serious amateurs, or just riders from the mountains who were enjoying the relative flatness of Iowa. Either way, there were lines of riders who would handily pass us by. Within this speed, I am sure there are sub categories:

  • those who slept late and rode hard all day long to arrive early at the overnight town
  • others who rode hard from stop to stop, enjoying lots of time at each location

Deviate from the route completely
We spoke to one gentleman who takes daily detours off of the route, visiting towns that have been passed by just a few miles away. They are more than happy to see him, he encounters no lines, and he gets to see something that most others don’t.

Don’t ride the whole week
Many people didn’t ride the whole week, opting for one-day passes, or multiple one-days. This requires less training, allows them to pick and choose their terrain and towns visited, and fits more easily into their schedule.

Only ride part of the day
Some groups, in order to save money on shuttle service each day, traded off riding and driving between members. One person would drive in the morning to a designated meeting spot, trade with one of the riders and ride in the afternoon.

Don’t ride at all
A lot of teams have support drivers who come along for the trip, bringing along luggage, food, drinks, and more. While they travel a different route, the supporters still get to participate in RAGBRAI, without all of the pedaling!

There are a lot of options, and I’m sure that we overlooked a number of them. Some are tailored to the amount of time you have, some are to the energy and riding ability, while others are simply designed around what and how you want to ride, or whether you want to ride at all!

Designing your ride doesn’t apply only to the RAGBRAI, or even other touring bicycle rides. It also applies to life. While it might appear that there is one route, one path to success, there are many ways to get there. Explore all of your options:

  • Maybe you can really rush for a bit and then have time for a mini-retirement.
  • Perhaps slow and steady will get you where you want to be.
  • Or maybe you should just deviate from the course that is presented to you all-together (does traveling around the country in an RV sound familiar?)
  • Step back and play a supporting role of some sort, perhaps taking care of friends and family who, in turn, provide a place for you to live.

Whatever option you decide to take, be sure to get out there and go on an adventure! You never know what you’ll find and who you might meet.

Top 10 Frustrations About Living on the Road in Our RV

In lieu of the previous post listing the things we love about our life on the road, we thought it only right to also share some of the frustrations we’ve encountered along the way.

1) Size limitations on roads and in campgrounds. It doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes we are detoured from our intended route due to size restrictions on the road. Either we won’t fit through a tunnel, a grade is too steep, or the turns are too sharp to accommodate Continue reading

Top 10 Things We Love About Living on the Road in Our RV

1) We’re always home, no matter where we are
It doesn’t matter if we are dispersed camping in the woods away from any sort of amenities, at an RV resort, in a National Park/State Park/Forest campground, in someone’s backyard, on a sidestreet, in a rest area, or in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Although some areas are more preferable than others, we always feel right at home because, well, we are home. Not once since we hit the road have we been homesick for our old lives (besides seeing our friends and families, of course!). We’re also very glad we remodeled; the RV is uniquely our space. A comfortable refuge that we enjoy spending time in. Continue reading

Worst Case Scenario

Well-meaning friends and family members have often asked us “What if…” questions while we were preparing for our trip.

  • What if the RV breaks down?
  • What if the RV breaks down and you can’t afford to fix it?
  • What if you run out of money?
  • What if Ashley gets pregnant? (this one seemed to come up a lot)
  • What if you get sick?
  • What if Ashley gets pregnant and has morning sickness while you’re driving?
  • What if you don’t like RVing?
  • What if you get tired of traveling?

Continue reading

Silver Linings

During yesterday’s hike, it rained on us. Cold rain. Fortunately, we had our rain gear with us, and we knew that the rain was coming – just couldn’t hike fast enough to beat it (and if we had, it would have rained on us as we rode the motorcycle.)

Even taking the rain into account, it was a fabulous hike. We traveled though a variety of environments, ate lunch sitting next to a beautiful alpine lake, and met a delightful gentleman enjoying his vacation.

The rain only lasted for a few minutes Continue reading