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A couple living in a tiny house truck with a passion for travel and adventure and a love for photography!

Transitioning To Tiny Living Can Be Overwhelming

Today I am going to be real and I am going to be raw: I am going to share with you a part of the tiny house lifestyle that most don't share - that's just how hard it was for us to transition, and especially for me.

When Daniel and I first met we each had our own place - mine was a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath home with a 2 car garage, his was a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment with 2 single car garages, so you can imagine together we had a crap load of stuff! When we decided to move in together I moved in with Daniel for a couple of months at the apartment, to finish out his lease before getting a new place together. We put everything I owned in storage - EVERYTHING, with the exception of some clothes and some toiletries because there wasn't room for my items at Daniel's place, and we didn't want to pack it all twice. What I found during those couple of months, was that although I missed some of my things, I didn't really need any of them, and I don't recall a single time we went to my storage unit to retrieve something we had stored away there. That was one of the first of many realizations that maybe I owned too much stuff.

When Daniel's lease was up we packed up his things and joined them with mine and we moved into a big huge 2,700 square foot home. We had more space than we needed there, and found that we had duplicates of everything: two sets of dishes, two large TV's, two dining room sets, and if you can believe it - two grey sectionals! So we kept our favorites, sometimes having to rock paper scissors over who's items we'd keep, and we sold or donated the rest. We were happily living a life of luxury but we still owned so much stuff that we weren't able to park our cars in our two car garage. We knew that we had too much stuff!

Like most people who transition to tiny house life, whether it's moving into a tiny house built on a trailer, or embracing the #vanlife, we became obsessed with the idea of living with less by watching countless hours of YouTube videos. The more we looked at our stuff, the more weightless it seemed to go tiny. We dreamed of all the different ways we could make tiny living possible, everything from converting a skoolie, to an ambulance conversion, to RV or van conversions. We knew we'd ultimately go tiny we just didn't know when or how, so we began to purge...

In 2017 I took a job in Sedona, Arizona. Daniel didn't initially come with me so I looked for a small place that would be just big enough for one or two people. I settled on a cute little 2 bedroom twin home that was about 1,100 square feet. I left Daniel with all of the furniture except my bed and two arm chairs and moved with only the bare essentials. About 6 months after my move Daniel decided to follow me; he had the task of packing up the house and everything else we owned and bringing it out to Sedona. We knew however that the contents of a 2,700 sqft. house were not going to fit in 1,100 square feet. So we purged some more. We were impressed with how many items we were willing to let go of and for a time we were comfortable with our cute little life and place in Sedona, while we dreamed of living tinier.

In 2019 I was informed that my store in Sedona would be closing and I would be out of work. We felt that rather than stay in Sedona we should look for work in the Lake Tahoe area because that was where we'd always dreamed of settling down. We priced out rentals in the Tahoe area and instantly knew that this was likely the right time for us to go tiny. Not owning land and not knowing where we would end up, we felt that a tiny house on wheels was the best option for us. We began seeking out viable options of things we could convert to live in. Fortuitously, around the same time this was all occurring, we heard that Daniel's brother in law John was considering selling his beloved military truck tiny house conversion, Hank. We had always admired Hank but we didn't think we'd be able to afford whatever amount John would be asking for him. We decided to inquire about the truck anyway and after a few conversations and a HUGE family discount it seemed our dreams of going tiny were finally going to become a reality! So once again we began to purge our belongings, but this time with real intention because Hank is only about 160 square feet!

Have you ever had someone close to you pass away and had the experience of sorting through all of their possessions? It can take weeks, or months, or in some cases years to go through everything a person owns, because you have to look at everything item by item. You literally pick things up one at a time and assess if it has any emotional value, and if not, if it has any monetary value. The task of transitioning to tiny house life is similar but times it by 100, or maybe even 1,000, because every item you pick up isn't someone else's useless crap, it's yours! When we first started purging it was easy to sift through and make piles for donation. Over the 2 or so years that we were in Sedona, I 'cleaned out my closet' at least three times, each time selecting clothes and shoes and accessories that I felt I could part with or weren't of enough value to make it into my new life. But when the possibility of moving into something tiny became a reality, it was amazing how much stuff I still had left over to sort through. We of course had to sell the furniture, not a single piece of that was going to fit in Hank. But what about all of the decorations, the grill, the small appliances, the Tupperware??? Would we need two wine glasses or four? What if we had guests over? Deciding on which things and how many to keep became a very daunting task! 

So I'm not telling you anything new. The letting go part of the transition is a given, right? We all know that in order to live this way we're going to have to get rid of A LOT of stuff. But the part I didn't count on, and the part no one ever talks about is the MESS! I'll admit I'm a little OCD, okay a lot. Please don't take that like I am making fun a real disorder because I am not, I am entirely serious. I don't take medication for being OCD but at times maybe I should. The process of pulling everything we owned out of drawers, cupboards, closets, etc. laying it all out, and sorting it into piles created a ginormous mess! A mess that was overwhelming for me. I like things neat and orderly, some might say I even have a bit of a minimalist approach to decorating, because I don't like seeing a lot of things and I believe everything should have a place. Downsizing wasn't an overnight event, it took weeks! Weeks of living in a home with piles of things listed for sale; weeks with piles of trash bags filled with donations in every room; weeks of boxes labeled with things we'd be using in Hank, and more boxes of things that would be long term storage; weeks of my kitchen table covered in items we still needed to photograph and list online; weeks of strangers visiting our home to purchase things we had listed for sale and me being embarrassed about letting them into my mess of a home; weeks of cooking, eating, sleeping, and getting ready for the day among piles and piles of organized and unorganized mess! I was a wreck!

I cannot tell you how many emotional breakdowns I had during the process of transitioning to tiny house life, although Daniel probably could. But here is a video I took after having a panic attack, (a real one for which I am medicated) because the process of downsizing was just too much to handle: 

**Side note: this is our very first video posted to our YouTube Channel, but there will be a lot more to come. Subscribe if you'd like to see more updates and raw videos like this.**

For me the overwhelming part of transitioning to tiny house life wasn't so much parting with my belongings, it was living in the mess it created.

We are now in our fifth month of living in Handsome Hank and we are so incredibly happy that we made the lifestyle change. I'd be lying if I said we didn't ultimately keep more items than we needed, and our stuff still haunts me. The truth is that we have a storage unit in town full of things we wanted to keep but weren't sure would fit, along with items we knew we could never replace: our camping gear and Daniel's tools, my son's baby blanket, my amethyst cathedral, my dearly loved Rae Dunn collection, etc. Our intent is to build a somewhat larger tiny home one day, on our own land, on a permanent foundation. We know that the items we have in storage will once again be treasured items in our life when we have more space to enjoy them. For now we live only with what will fit in Hank. And we now know that two wine glasses are plenty (unless entertaining), three or four Tupperware containers are enough for leftovers, and our instant pot and air fryer / oven are the only small appliances we really need. So much of what we used to own was nothing but excess, and it's amazing to consider how much excess we really had.

Living in our tiny home on wheels to us means freedom: financial freedom, freedom to live where we want, freedom to travel, and of course freedom from our worldly possessions that weighed us down for far too long! The transition wasn't an easy one, but now that we've done it we can definitely say it was worth it!

We'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences with downsizing. Could you ever live in 160 square feet?

Until next week, 

Kayla (and Daniel)

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