My name is Chloe, I’m 24 years old, and I’m a disability support worker. My partner’s name is Luke, he’s 25 years old, and he’s a plumber. We both grew up in Geelong and met in high school. We’ve recently celebrated our tenth anniversary. On a trip to Europe last year, Luke proposed in a little village in Montenegro. We plan to get married sometime in the next year. For now, working on our tiny house is a main priority.
We’ve always been interested in alternative living. We have known that our priorities don’t lie in the typical 9-5 careers that allow you to pay off a 30-year mortgage for an unnecessarily large house. Our priorities are traveling, getting outside and enjoying nature through camping and hiking, and just spending quality time with family and friends. So when my best friend talked to me about her plan to build a tiny house, I was immediately interested. Luke and I spoke about the idea for a few years and trialed out some different tiny houses on Air BnB. We felt sure the lifestyle would suit us perfectly.
What really appealed to us about living tiny was the simplicity and the focus on what matters most. We aren’t materialistic people, but we live in a capitalist world, so it’s really easy to be distracted by this idea that success equals the amount of stuff you accumulate. When you consciously downsize and minimize the number of possessions you own, you’re making a real choice about how you want to live your life. For us, we’ve decided we want to live simply, slowly, and consciously. To us, that’s what tiny living is all about.
When our sharehouse lease was up, Luke’s parents offered, very generously, for us to park a small home on their acreage. We were so excited that they were not just open, but encouraging of the idea, and knowing that we had a spot for a tiny house made the dream feel like a real possibility. We began planning our home in November 2019 and only had six months until our current lease was up. Because this was such a short timeframe, we decided not to build the home ourselves. After some research, we found a business in Queensland called Aussie Tiny Houses that we loved. We created our designs together with the team at Aussie, and the team started building our home in March 2020. Around eight weeks later, our tiny house was ready to be towed down to us.
The main challenge we faced during the build was the Covid-19 pandemic. Our trailer arrived just as the restrictions were beginning. A few items that were ordered from overseas were delayed, and the guys in the warehouse were affected by social distancing requirements, however, overall, the process was really smooth. The main concern was whether the towing company was going to be able to cross the borders to deliver our tiny to us. Luckily, they were granted permission and were able to drive the 1878 kilometers (1129 miles) journey, and cross two borders to bring us our home.
When we were looking through different designs, our priorities were living room space, and a loft bedroom. We didn’t mind not having space to stand in the bedroom, and we actually love the coziness that lofts offer. We’re big movie lovers, so we wanted a lounge space that felt nice and comfortable. We also wanted our home to feel light and open, so our home has a lot of windows throughout. In the designing process, we were mindful of the fact that we were going to build a deck, so the home as two sliding doors and a bifold window above the breakfast bar. When we build our L shaped deck, we can open both the doors and the bifold window, and have a great indoor-outdoor space. This will be amazing in the Australian summers, as we’ll spend most of our time outdoors.
Our home is clad with monument Colorbond steel and has a cedar feature on the front. Inside we have light, warm wood tones and a plywood feature ceiling. This feature ceiling is one of our favorite parts of our home. We have a small cat door in our lounge and are going to be building a cat run that connects to a ‘catio’ for our fur baby Louis.
In our lounge, we plan to make a custom tv cabinet with floating shelves using recycled timber, which will display our tv, books, record player, records, and plants. This is going to be a real feature, and we’re looking forward to starting this project. Our breakfast bar sits opposite to our kitchen, which is a useful extra space when cooking. Behind our kitchen is our bathroom. We asked the team at Aussie to leave our bathroom unfinished, and are currently working on this area. We plan to put in light green subway tiles, a colored concrete sink, and floating shelves using recycled timber.
Our bathroom also has a cupboard that has space for a regular-sized washing machine, plus extra shelves for towels and any other bathroom items.
Our stairs all have storage, and they wrap around the back of the house and lead to our loft. One of the stairs is about one meter in-depth and is an excellent spot for miscellaneous items. It’s so large I can actually comfortably hop inside. The stairs are also cleverly designed in the way they are tucked around the back of the house, so they don’t take up space from the living room/kitchen area. Our loft includes cupboards for clothes and a skylight that opens up to allow for beers on the roof.
Overall, my favorite part of the house is the skylight. It’s so peaceful looking at the night sky when falling asleep. Luke’s favorite part of our home is the plywood ceiling. You can appreciate this design feature from anywhere within the house.
Our house is located at the back of Luke’s parents’ property in Geelong, Australia. We are situated in a spot on their block of land, where we get a fair amount of privacy. Our tiny faces out towards paddocks with horses and sheep, and we love watching the animals throughout the day. We’ve been able to connect to the services of the main house, and as Luke’s a plumber, he was able to connect us to the septic. We share part of the bills with the main house, and only have to pay for gas bottles to power our gas and hot water.
When friends and family visit, we can comfortably have four people inside our home, over for dinner. We have a large couch, so one friend would be able to stay over if they liked it. However, whenever we have more than four people over, we usually just have a fire and enjoy the outdoors. Having guests will be even better when we’ve built our deck.
To prepare for living tiny, we began sorting through our items in the six months approaching our move. We were both surprised by how much we had accumulated. For myself, downsizing my collection of clothes and finding a more versatile wardrove was challenging. For Luke, going through his large collection of video games and DVDs was tough. However, we both think that we’re much more conscious about what we buy now, as you simply don’t have enough room to accommodate items you don’t need or love. This is a great part of living tiny, as it allows you to really appreciate the items you do have. We can’t find too many negative parts about the experience so far, however, at this point, I’d say it’s easy for a bad smell to fill the house quickly, so it’s important to be on top of anything that may make the house stink!
If we were to start the whole process over again, the only change we might make is to add in a split system air conditioner. With all the windows in our home, it gets cold or hot quite quickly. So far, a small oil heater and a good electric blanket are getting us through the winter; however, our summers can get up to 40-45 C (104– 113 F), so it will be vital to keep our home cool.
We haven’t been living tiny for long, but already we’ve noticed we are spending more time doing the things we love, and we’re taking joy from the small stuff. The biggest change that we are thankful for is the opportunity to live a less complicated life, and to work towards a life with little to no debt. Our eventual goal is to be debt-free and reduce our work hours to travel and spend time with family and friends.
To anyone considering the change to the tiny lifestyle, I’d recommend making a fun weekend out of renting a tiny house and seeing how it feels. Think about the change, and what you’d need to change in your life to make that happen. Most importantly, think about your whys for making the change. What are your reasons for wanting to live tiny? If your values align with the tiny lifestyle, and you think it could make a positive change to your life, I say don’t look back and make it happen. Your values will be your guiding force.
To see our tiny house journey, follow along at @ourteenytiny on Instagram.