Last weekend we went to the Tennessee Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga. We didn’t “fall in love” with one single home, which is how I know this recently resurrected idea of ours might actually have some traction this time.
This time? Yes, in 2015, we met Scotty and immediately fell in love. Scotty was a vintage 22-foot travel trailer in need of a little TLC…or so it said in the ad. At the time, we were so caught up in our grand ideas that we didn’t think much about the practical aspects of RV living or the problems one might encounter when dealing with a 30-year-old trailer and quite quickly we came to realize that TLC more aptly meant “Totally Lost Cause”.
For anyone who followed us back then, you know that adventure was sidetracked and we ended up staying put in Tennessee to help my mom. For anyone who wasn’t with us then and is interested in knowing what happened, here’s a good place to start.
What we learned from our flirtation with tiny living back then was that we had the specs right but our method was wrong. In short, we would have been better off with a tiny house in a permanent location than trying to haul a leaky hunk of aluminum all over creation with a mid-size SUV and a super-size cat.
Which brings us to the present…
We constantly toss around the idea of putting a tiny house in my mom’s backyard. Our city recently revised zoning to allow for tiny houses on permanent foundations. While we’re not yet sure what that means for tiny houses as accessory dwellings in a residential area, we’re still pretty excited by the progress and are finding the topic of tiny living coming up much more often.
As we toured the tiny houses at the festival (all of which were on wheels), we oohed and aahed along with everyone else while also having a serious conversation about the practicality of tiny living. We decided some things were just a non-starter…like a loft bedroom that is only accessible by ladder. We’re not old by any stretch of the imagination but we are over 40 and falling headfirst down a ladder during a midnight potty run is not high on our list of fun things to do at night. Besides proper stairs, our other “must haves” include: a combo washer/dryer, a covered porch, and off-grid plumbing and electricity.
We saw several homes that partially met this criteria but none that ticked all the boxes (as they say on HGTV’s House Hunters). So what does this mean for us? I’m not sure yet. We are in our current lease until next summer so we have plenty of time to flesh out a proper plan to go tiny should we decide to move in that direction. In the meantime, we still need to find out if a tiny house in the backyard is even legal here. I’ve also suggested we find a tiny house rental through Airbnb and try that for a week – not during vacation but during a regular work week. A trial run is something we should have considered two years ago. I can’t help but think of the headaches it would have saved!
Could you live in a tiny house? What are your “must haves” to give tiny living a go?
Here are some of our favorite elements from the Tennessee Tiny House Festival.