Why We Went Tiny
There isn't an easy or singular answer to why Dan and I decided to go tiny, but if I were to narrow it down to a couple short answers it would be: 1) Living smaller is financially better, in a very significant way, 2) We want to retire or partially retire early in life, to enjoy travel and things we like to do in our younger, healthier years, and 3) to simplify our life and enjoy experiences over stuff. The financial reasons are probably the most prominent and the biggest driver for us to live a tiny lifestyle. Although the tiny house itself is just finishing up as of September 2016, we have been living a tiny lifestyle for several years. Going tiny took a lot of work and behind-the-scenes doing on our part and it's been something we have worked towards for almost 5 years.
A year after we got married we bought a house. It was a very nice house, a regular sort of 2-car garage house with a green grass yard and 2 bedrooms. A perfect starter home for a young couple. We probably shouldn't have bought this house because it was an hour drive to work each way for me, and Dan was driving about 40 minutes in the other direction each way to his work. Ultimately the location and the toll of driving was unsustainable for us. Dan eventually left his job and went back to school in the same place I was working, so we sold the house and moved to a rental in Marion, Indiana, which was where I worked and Dan attended school. It wasn't so much that we were commuting together to the same place that caused us to reconsider owning this house, actually. It was that I started looking into paying off our student debt as fast as possible. I dove into our finances and although the house was within what we could afford, we were spending a LOT of money on owning and maintaining two vehicles and putting gas into both of them. Between the mortgage, car costs, and our student loan payments each month, we only ended up with about 25% of our total take home pay being liquid. And we still had to feed ourselves and our dogs out of that 25%. Basically, we were backed up to a wall financially with no room to put extra towards our student loans. If we continued down that path, we would be on the 20-year payoff scheme for our student debt. I didn't want to have that kind of burden hanging over us for that long so I started looking at what we could cut. The first (and biggest) place to look at cutting costs was our house. As sad as it was, we listed the house for sale and managed to sell with a decent margin over what we had bought it for. Selling the house allowed us to move closer to work and school - actually, we moved so close we could walk. Which led to another area we could cut costs: transportation.
Dan and I both had cars at this point. We specifically gave ourselves a trial period of about 4 months to see if we could make do with just one car. It turns out that we could, very easily. So we sold our second car and have been a single car family for almost 5 years now. It takes planning to move through life with only one car, but now it's second nature to us. I estimate that only having one car save us about $2,500/year in registration, insurance, and maintenance costs (and that's excluding a potential car payment).
Starting in 2011 with the sale of our first house, we've been steadily downsizing our living conditions. First it was into a rental house, then to just a bedroom in a much bigger house in California when I took a job working for Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Then we moved to Salt Lake City, into a 330 square foot studio apartment. We lived there for two years while I was working off and on to finish the tiny house, which is just 155 square feet including the sleeping loft. Each time we have moved smaller, our wallets have seen a positive impact and our quality of life has gone up. Now at our smallest space yet we are paying just $200 per month for rent including utilities, and we are loving life so much more.