Stop Mocking Tiny Homes

May 2, 2016

This is a tiny rant.

Recently, I've seen a lot of mocking of tiny homes, across my Twitter feed and the blogs I read (BTW, you can play Chuck's drinking game and get quite soused just by reading what's coming next. See score below). I think it's because of the Tiny House Hunters show (which I don't watch). The general slant is that tiny house hunters are all crazy, and they are damaging their families and relationships by choosing the lifestyle. To be fair, the initial criticism and hilarity is aimed more at the show, and the naïve reactions of people who are looking for these kinds of homes. But some of the mockers on Twitter call the people who attempt this lifestyle idiots and nut jobs.

Ok then, I'm an idiot and a nut job. I live here. Admittedly, it's not a tiny home, it's a boat. It's 46' by 12'10" (at its widest). Due to the shape of the boat and the amount it tapers, I guesstimate it's ~400 sq. ft. of living space.

I live in this space with my spouse and two pets. No children. And yes, when I first started looking at boats as a possible home, I reacted exactly like the people described on the show. But I have been living in my boat since 2000. In the six years prior to that, I lived in an even smaller boat, for a grand total of 22 years of tiny space living.

I don't feel particularly maladjusted. My marriage is intact. I don't smell. I don't run around other people's homes with my arms starfished wide singing odes to how much room they have. I've had multiple opportunities over the years, and the financial means, to abandon this lifestyle, and have actively chosen to stay in it (full disclosure: since 2007, I also own a rural cottage at which I spend a couple of weekends a month). Will I always want to do it? Probably not. But for now, it works, and it works well, for my family.

We initially chose to live aboard because Vancouver's pricey real estate market would have forced us into the 'burbs and a long commute. The rental market in Vancouver is also extremely unfriendly to pets, and owning let us get around that restriction. We also have plans to go offshore sailing, and this is the boat we'd do it in.

I have a 15 minute bicycle commute to work. I walk to complete most of my errands. I use less water than the average Vancouver resident, and less energy, so my carbon footprint is better (with the exception of heat, which unfortunately is still fossil fuel for us, but we're working on that). I have cable and high speed internet, and lack for nothing except, perhaps, for a bathtub and dishwasher (but hey! less water, remember?).

I live in a marina where multiple families with children of all ages also dwell. In my experience, kids raised on boats tend to be well adjusted, care for their environment, are extremely community-minded, and are less prone to fall for the worst of the consumerist bullshit out there.

So I'm asking the mockers: why this need to tear people down because they want to downsize? The response is: "Oh, we're not mocking you, we're mocking the hipsters." But why snicker at people who are simply trying something different on for size (see what I did there)? It may not be for you, but it just might be perfect for them, after they get over the initial adjustment. All of the critiques sound super-judgey to me, and that's what's getting my goat (the one I don't need to crop the grass I don't have to mow).

No, it's not a lifestyle for everyone. I'll freely admit that. It's not perfect, and has its drawbacks (my closet is microscopic). But it's definitely NOT crazy, or stupid. Especially in a world where we're encouraged every day to spend more, buy more, told that bigger is better and consume, consume, consume, where McMansions contribute to urban sprawl and our fossil fuel addiction. A world under existential threat because of our unsustainable consumption habits.

From where I sit, it's the rest of you who don't quite seem sane.

Drinking Game Score:

  • Regularly bonks head on cockpit hatch or shins on winches
  • Parks boat in front of other friends' homes
  • Home is a vehicle
  • Toilet is inside the shower
  • No appliances
  • 2 pets
  • Dog is horrified by the actual act of sailing
  • Awkward bed in/out clambering arrangements
  • Can't sit up in bed without hitting head
  • No privacy
  • I mentioned hipsters?
  • Mentioned downsizing
  • Got sanctimonious about the environment
  • Traveled because of home
  • Teeny-weeny closets
  • I have a cottage

Goes off to mix 17 drinks, because that recipe sounds really yummy.

2 comments on “Stop Mocking Tiny Homes”

  1. I've often considered a houseboat, since I'm not inclined to sailing and would like the extra 'room' it would provide. However the missus can't stand the strong ocean 'smell' and would probably be nauseous 90% of the time.

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