Thursday, October 15, 2015

That Time We Accidentally Bought a Bungalow

It wasn't a complete surprise, but it hadn't necessarily been on our radar.

Our tiny home, up on the mountain with no road and no running water, wasn't designed particularly for the winter. Not to say we couldn't stay there in the winter but the plan had always been to travel during that time of year. First, we would go see family for the holidays and then we would go somewhere warm. Location independence was as important as building a tiny home. But somewhere along the way our priorities changed.

We fell absolutely, madly in love.

Asheville City Building
Not with each other. I mean, yes with each other. I mean we were already in love with each other. But we fell in love with the city of Asheville. Not in an "I kind of like it here, I think I'll stay" kind of way but in a desperate, soul-wrenching kind of way. I found that I simply couldn't breathe any more if I didn't have mountains in my line of sight. I found that the culture, community, and people were the ones that I had been searching for my entire life.

Asheville is, without a doubt, our home.

It is a city that gets under your skin, but it is also a hard city to live in. The cost of living is high and the jobs are scarce. But we weren't coming at it conventionally in the first place so we believed we could make a go. We decided after living in our tiny house 30 minutes away for almost a  year that we really wanted to put roots down within the city limits.

And that was how we accidentally bought a bungalow.

City House, Halloween 2014
Well, I mean it wasn't an accident as in, "Hey, how did that happen!?" I just mean that it wasn't exactly in the plans. Our first winter after moving into the tiny house was already sort of planned. We decided to go to Michigan for two months to spend time with family and friends. Originally we thought we might go somewhere else after that but the aching feeling of being away from Asheville for too long was hard to ignore. Then we thought maybe we'd rent for a couple of months downtown so we would have a downtown experience and go back up to the tiny house after that. Then we discovered that rents are high in Asheville, and higher still for month to month.

Just for kicks we checked out the local real estate market. And I'll tell you - that's not inexpensive either. But we were patient. So we worked with a local Realtor and started scouring listings in our spare time. When suddenly, a little 700 square foot bungalow in need of a LOT of TLC came on the market.

"There isn't anything in that neigborhood in your price range," our agent said. But we pushed him to look. He quickly changed his tune and said we needed to see it right away. So we did. But in those few minutes the seller had accepted another offer.

We started looking again. And to our surprise the first offer fell through for a variety of reasons so we immediately put in another one. We got the house. For way under market. But it needed a lot of work - which we were now prepared to do because we had just spent 3 years building a house from the foundation up. It's amazing how things work out like that.

As it turns out, part of the reason we could buy this house was because we had reduced our expenses so much. It is all related. Simple living meant more savings which meant more possibilities for the future. 

We just finished the attic in 2015.
So from 2013 to earlier this year we spent a lot of our time fixing up the city house. We're kinda slow that way. It was helpful to have the tiny house to retreat when things got a little messy. But in that time we realized that being walking distance to the downtown we love so much was something we didn't know we were missing.

The division of our time becomes more complicated every day. As we become more involved in social activities and advocacy in Asheville the less time we spend up in the mountains, but we have by no means abandoned the tiny house. In fact, as I continue to share some of other things happening over the coming months you'll see that the tiny house is playing a very large part in our future.

For now we are fortunate to be able to have both in our lives. And we are fortunate that it has given us immeasurable opportunities, and will continue to pay those dividends in the years to come.

I'd love it if you stick around to see what's in store next. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tiny Homes and No Kids

I started writing this post in early August and then shelved it. But tomorrow I leave for the first ever conference for women without children. And, oh yeah, I am the co-administrator of the conference. This is something I have always wanted to do but before quitting my corporate job, and freeing my time and money, I couldn't have attempted it. 

On Saturday, August 1st I woke up to an amazing surprise. It was International Childfree Day, a celebration designed to demonstrate that choosing not to have children is a valid life choice. On that day the annual winners of Childfree Person of the Year are announced.

And I discovered that not only had I been nominated but that I was given the honor of Childfree Woman of the Year.

I don't often talk about my decision not to have children in relation to having our tiny house. And I certainly don't think that being childfree is the only way to live tiny. In fact, many of my favorite people within the tiny house movement are parents. I respect all choices, which is why I expect others to be respectful as well.

But there are ways in which not having children has affected the decisions I've made around my home, my career, and more.

Let's take a closer look.
  1. Smaller space for fewer people. Our tiny house is 120 square feet, which is of course also the name of this blog. Many people suggest that this is too small for even two people. It isn't for us, but it might be for someone else. For us, it is the perfect size but we didn't have to make considerations for additional people so we had more freedom to choose a design that worked perfectly for our specific needs.
  2. Reduce expenses and income. One thing I couldn't have done if I had kids was feel free to quit my job without any sort of safety net. Not that other people with kids can't make similar choices but since I don't have kids I couldn't even begin to understand the trade offs and sacrifices that are necessary. I had plenty of fear that I couldn't sustain myself, but not having a mortgage and not having expensive bills that come with a large home helped give me the confidence to quit. 
Update October 6, 2015: 
The NotMom Summit

Tomorrow I make my way to Cleveland to meet a woman I have been working with since 2012. I am excited to bring together 125 women from all over the country (and Canada) who share this experience of not having children. When you don't have kids the conversation is different and we are just looking for our tribe.

And that's the thing about women without children.

We belong to all kinds of demographics from tiny house dwellers to large home dwellers. We are all colors, all cultures, and all ages. And for the first time we're getting together in one place to share our stories and learn from one another. And that I had a had a hand in it - because of the opportunities I've had after building a tiny home - is incredible. 

This is exactly what I mean when I say "Live Deliberately."