What Does Life in a Tiny House Look Like?

What Does Life in a Tiny House Look Like?
Credit: Yvonne Pflieger
This article is sponsored by Set For Life.

From what my parents told me of their experience growing up, there was a fairly strict timeline in place — graduate high school, find a partner, marry said partner, buy a house, have kids.

While that sounds fine, it appears the generations to follow have realised that there is no one way to tackle life. Everyone is on their own timeline, which makes life that much more enjoyable.

Yvonne Pflieger and her partner Andy are prime examples of this, venturing off on their own journey and moving into an increasingly-popular Tiny Home.

With the full setup of a standard house, Tiny Homes are compact and are designed to fit everything with as minimal space as possible.

Lifehacker spoke to Yvonne to ask about life in the day of a Tiny Home, what made her take the leap and follow her dreams, and how the adventure’s currently going.

Lifehacker: When did you decide to embrace the Tiny House lifestyle? 

Yvonne Pflieger: My partner Andy and I had always been lovers of the ocean and the beautiful Australian landscapes. We loved life on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and worked in corporate jobs for a long time, renting apartments close to the ocean and paying a lot of money to live there.

Over the years, as Manly became busier and more expensive, we started considering moving up the coast. 

Going on a plastic-free journey in 2014 triggered changes in our shopping and consumption behaviours. In 2016, I took the opportunity to move into a four-day part-time role, focusing my spare time on volunteering at a local community-run organic grocery store and co-operative and dog-rescue. This was so much more rewarding than working with corporate clients, so when the time was right in 2019, I resigned from my corporate job, we packed our bags and moved up the coast. 

I started my own business focused on working with clients who have similar values, Covid happened and we finally got that push to change our lifestyle and make our dream of living more sustainably a reality.

LH: What were your initial thoughts after moving in?

YP: Initially, we were very curious to see if we actually liked it. We had never stayed in a tiny house before, so we were a little worried about the available space. But it feels so much more spacious than you would think (our tiny is 8m x 2.4m and 4.3m high with 2 lofts).

At the beginning, we were worried about power (we are relying on our solar panels), how we could fill our water tank (as it was rather dry when we moved in) and how we could live with a composting toilet. But very soon, we got used to everything and realized that we needed much less power and water than we thought.

We also hadn’t realized how much wildlife there is around us. After a couple of weeks we started to notice the plethora of birds, we have kangaroos hopping around and other visitors — even a turtle at some point from the dam.

LH: What don’t you miss about traditional houses?

YP: Before we moved into our tiny home we were renting, so we were somewhat limited in what we could do with the rooms, i.e. painting the walls, making it a true home. This is definitely something I don’t miss as now it’s all up to us. We can be as creative as we like and have a teal-coloured kitchen, for example.

LH: What does a day in the life of a Tiny Home look like? 

YP: Actually, not much different to a day in a traditional house, just with more connection to the outdoors. We get up, I often practice yoga or other sports in the morning, some days we might go for a walk or to the beach, then have breakfast at our kitchen bar or outside. Then I switch on my laptop and start working (I’m working for myself as a digital marketing and advertising consultant), my partner is often doing some work around the house as we still have a few things to do, or he is doing some research or work of his own. We have lunch together, work some more. 

In the late afternoon, once it cools down, I spend some time in the garden, checking on the veggies and seedlings, sowing new seeds, pottering around, before we have dinner and then stream a series. Quite a normal day I’d say.

We have friends over, too, you’d be surprised how many people can be catered for in a tiny house and its surroundings. We even had two Great Danes visiting once. 

On weekends we go to the markets, explore our surroundings, spend time on the beach and with friends and visit our favourite local boutique brewery. 

We no longer need to spend hours each day commuting. Oh, and our mobile and internet reception is great despite us being in a semi-rural area.

There are chores from time to time that are unique to a tiny house and/or living off-grid, like emptying your composting toilet every other week or so.

LH: Would you say you’re closer to your partner now? Did it take long to get used to the close proximity of one another?

YP: Yes, for sure, 2020 was an interesting year. The funny thing is that we are stepping less on each other’s toes in our tiny house compared to when we lived in a regular house. The way the kitchen is laid out makes cooking together a lot easier and due to the limited space, we’re a lot tidier.

It works well being in such proximity. There is only one room (combined living, dining and kitchen with a sleeping loft and a storage loft. The bathroom is the only room with a door), but we have our dedicated spots where we work. Then there is the deck and a lot of grass around us, so we have different options to retreat if we need to. And cafes and beaches, even co-working spaces are not far in case we need more privacy.

LH: What do you love the most about your current lifestyle? Do you see it changing anytime soon?

YP: We love that we are fully off-grid and can live close to nature in a lovely, peaceful area. We have plenty of privacy, no nosy neighbours and can do what we want. And it is so much cheaper than renting a traditional house or apartment.

Our water and power consumption is minimal now and we have the ability to grow our own fruit and veg and live with the land and not from it. 

At the moment we love where we are and don’t see it changing anytime soon.

LH: What advice would you give to people who are also thinking of going down the Tiny House route?

YP: Have a very thorough idea of what you want and why you want to go tiny before you start building. Really think about what motivates you and look at alternatives. We love our new life, but it is not for everyone. 

Have a think about what you can and want to build yourself. The more you get involved in the building process the better. My partner helped our builder out a couple of days and it is so good to understand how everything fits and works together. Also, the more you get involved the more individual and to your needs and wishes your house will be – and you’ll feel a lot more at home straight away.

We found the perfect builder, but there are others who were not so lucky. So be very careful, do your due diligence and ensure you have a good contract in place that protects you in case of any issues. 

Other than that, follow your dreams and keep a positive outlook.

As someone who had to lose $500 from a bond because I accidentally put a dent in my rental’s wall with a mattress, the thought of being able to deck out (or dent) your own joint without fear of repercussion is a comforting one.

I say we all do away with the standard and move far into the forest, away from humans, and live a chill life.

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