People often ask us how we ended up living in a tiny house, and I always wish I had a good place to start the story.
We started actively designing a building a tiny house a little over six months, but our honeymoon seven years ago sparked the flame. We rented a beautiful and quaint cottage in the Appalachian for a few days and almost cancel a trip to Chicago just to stay in the cabin for longer. We loved the intimacy, the quality, and the tranquility.
But, I think the most relatable starting point of our tiny house journey began a year after we moved to California. We had been living in Redwood City, paying an astonishing $2,300 a month to rent a one bedroom cottage…and just so ya know, this is a normal amount to pay for housing the Bay area.
Our landlord told us that he planned to raise rent by a couple hundred dollars and we started considering our options.
Since we had a two-week trip to Spain coming up, we decided to just move out. We figured that if we moved out of our apartment before we left for Spain, then we would save $1,150 while we were gone! We also got in touch with the people who were moving into our cottage and asked them if they’d be interested in buying all of our furniture (which they were).
So in a period of just a few weeks, we sold almost every large item we owned, moved everything left to a storage facility, and left for Spain.
We figured that when we got back, we would rent furnished places instead on Airbnb. As long as we were able to beat $80 a night, then we’d come out even and be able to take vacation whenever we wanted without having to pay for rent in two places.
At the same time, we decided that we were ready to start a family (I know, right?).
Bela’s birth-control had not been treating her well, and we thought that this was as good a time as any. We’d remove the birth-control, then just sit back for a while and wait for the signs. How magical it would be, we thought, to all of a sudden find out that Bela was pregnant!
As fortune would have it, we had no trouble at all conceiving a baby…it only took one day.
Halfway through our trip to Spain, Bela began feeling nauseated and her breasts grew sore. A magical moment indeed, haha!
When we got back to the States we had no real quality place to stay, which was a problem since Bela felt sick almost all the time. We bounced around between a few Airbnbs, I camped out while Bela took a business trip…we we’re basically homeless.
Eventually, we rented a small section of a house of Los Altos where we would spend most of Bela’s pregnancy. When Bela was 36 weeks pregnant, we moved out to Oakland to be closer to a birthing center in Berkeley for Bela to give birth. Though our time in Los Altos was difficult, the birth in Berkeley and our time in Oakland were some of the most intimate of our lives...
We knew that we would have 3-4 months of parental leave once Escher was born (thank you, California!), and we decided to come up with a new housing solution during that time.
Because we were still renting furnished places by the month, we decided to spend a month of our leave in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Housing is much much cheaper in Mexico, so for the same price as our place in Oakland, we rented a two-story penthouse with a rooftop jacuzzi and a full-time nanny for the same price (say, what?)… yea, anyone can do this sort of stuff if you put your mind to it and are willing to think outside the box.
So at this point, we’d sold enough to fit into a 4x5 storage facility. We didn’t have a lease for anything more than a month or two at a time and we rented exclusively furnished apartments so that we never needed to buy much. We used this freedom and flexibility to enjoy long visits with our families, long vacations, and to see new places in California. But, we thought that we could improve our living situation by having a semi-permanent residence instead of renting month-to-month. Somewhere that could be our own, but also be cool enough to rent out whenever we want to travel.
This all led us to look into tiny houses.
During our time in Puerto Vallarta, we vowed to research whether it might work for us, and by the time we returned, I started to work on designing our house.
We’ll follow up soon with what happened next!
We still had to figure out the barriers of moving into a tiny house (spoiler: there are SO many…), we had to learn what the perfect house required, and we had to find the perfect someone to build it! Ahhh, it makes me nervous just thinking about it all again, but hopefully this blog will make it easier for anyone else looking to start this incredible transformation.