From Tiny House to Skoolie & Some Things I Learned Along the Way

Our tiny house dreams were sewn together from our desires to be free & a home to call our own without a 30-year mortgage.

Our tiny house dreams were filled with determination to let go of things and hold onto experiences. Our tiny house dreams were set in motion by determination and the undying will to do it on our terms without the care of others opinions weighing us down.

Several years ago we did just that.

We built a tiny house cabin in the woods, 2000 feet above elevation in the majestic mountains of Tennessee. A barn-style shed was reinforced and converted into a rustic cabin that housed our little dreams and an off-grid lifestyle. We paired this lifestyle with a mini-homestead where we grew our own food, raised our own animals, and chopped our own wood to heat our little barn. It was an incredible experience and this summer we realize we wanted more.

Our dreams were too big for a tiny house cabin in the woods.

My family and I realized we wanted to be more mobile. As clichéd as it sounds, life is way too short to live the same day twice. We wanted to travel. We wanted to give back. We wanted to see other permaculture set ups and homesteads, and if we decided to settle at a later time our home would already be with us, a part of us & we could just settle.

We mapped out a plan that included our goals, finances, & necessary steps.

We closed our homestead, decided to get back on the grid by renting a friends small home, with the exception that we could bring our tiny house cabin to the property (to remodel & sell). Going back on the grid would speed up the process and help us try and meet our goal of acquiring and building a bus & moving by late fall 2018. Our land, our tiny home, our vehicles would all be sold and give us a financial cushion on top of our savings and the work we do. We finalized the move, gutted some parts of the tiny house to remodel it & began looking for the exact skoolie we wanted: a Flat Nose Diesel Pusher. DT466E engine. Alison 6-speed transmission & 2 speed rear end.

As whimsical as our lifestyle may seem, nothing is done without a plan.

You have to have a back up plan. You don’t want to end up stuck somewhere without a plan to get yourself out of any situation that arises such as; repairs, illness, etc. So for that very reason, WE PLAN! It’s not full-proof, but it gives you options.

Along this adventure we learned a few life lessons and I share them with you below:

  • Tiny houses on wheels in whatever form are ideal versus on skids. I love our tiny house cabin, but along the way I realized having the freedom to move your tiny house whenever needed added to that freedom. Our preference most definitely has become to have a home that is mobile.
  • When building a tiny house, we recommend you don’t live in it while you build it. My family and I have done this and it was stressful. It puts a strain on you emotionally and mentally. Build first and then move in. I am surprised my relationship with partner survived this. My son was a little bit older when we started this. Already a pre-teen, but I can’t even imagine doing this with young kids, even babies (living in a construction zone).
  • Whatever budget you have in mind please know that will change. Things happen and you will more than likely spend a little bit more than you planned.
  • Up-cycling items for your tiny home takes work. It’s much easier to buy something pre-made and install it. But! It’s not a sustainable way to live and if you want to lesson your carbon footprint, then finding, reusing and recycling items for your tiny house build is the way to go. It’s also a huge money saver. You must remember though that this adds more time to your build & it adds more work, but the end result can be exquisite. The end product has character and a story that belongs to you and only you. How many people can say that about their home?
  • Let go of people’s opinions. I won’t deny I have spent a good portion of my life worried about what people think. Maybe it’s the empath in me. Maybe it’s my compassionate heart. I don’t know…what I do know is that the moment I stopped caring about what people thought, and stopped carrying the weight of their opinions on my shoulders I was free. I could have saved myself a whole lot of heartache in my younger years if I had learned this a lot sooner. My partner is better at this than I, and he has definitely been a good influence in this department on my son and I. People will always have an opinion on why you should and shouldn’t do this. On how much you should and shouldn’t spend.
  • Sustainable living all the way! I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly cool it is to see the sun shining brightly and know that the power of the sun is supplying electricity to your freaking house! I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly cool it is to know how much water you are using and how much of an impact you’re making on the world around you. I can’t begin to tell you how incredible it is to heat your home with wood (there is nothing like heat from a wood stove, it’s the coziest and hottest heat I have ever experienced). Call us hippie’s, call us weirdos, call us whatever you want, but we have a love of nature and a love for this planet and it powers our minimalistic dreams. We are not perfect. We sometimes use plastic, but we recycle. Sometimes we use paper towels, but I am transitioning the men of the tiny house to use cloth napkins. Right now we are indulging in some modern amenities by being back on the grid, but with moderation and a great respect for what it’s consumption does and it is only momentary.
  • Becoming a minimalist is liberating. I promise that you won’t need 3 sets of sheets and 4 comforters and tons of throw pillows. I promise that you won’t need 8 sets of dishes and 12 forks, spoons & butter knives. We are liberated from stuff. And we still take time to clean house. We donate, discard or sell. We also try to have a minimalistic wardrobe. I can’t even believe that at one point in my life I had hundreds of shoes and designer handbags. I also encourage my family not to buy me things. Their love is enough. Shedding yourself from stuff, takes another weight off of your shoulders.
  • You can do this debt free. I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur. I have had many successes as much as failures. My partner retired from the automotive & construction industry with over 25 years of experience and working for himself. We are not rich beyond our wildest dreams. But we did have savings and we both continue to work on our art, our calling. We did this all by working and taking money from our ‘paycheck’ and putting it into savings, our build, etc. It may take longer, but we enjoyed this process, because we worked towards it and were and are able to put into it on a weekly basis. It helps to see those milestones being checked off. It’s a motivator.
  • Just do it! I know I sound like a NIKE ad, but I mean it. Just do it. You could spend your entire life waiting and saving and then it will be too late. Make it happen today and just do it. Go after what you want. Have no regrets. Every bump in the road gets you closer to your destination.

What are your tiny house or skoolie dreams?

 

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