If you haven’t come across a tiny home TV show or Buzzfeed article yet, let me be the first to introduce you to the concept of “tiny living.” It’s a minimalist lifestyle that’s resonating with multiple generations, and some people are going so far as to ditch their four-bedroom homes and white picket fences for a mini-sized house on wheels.
I spoke with several pioneers in the tiny house community: Mario MD Soto, who built his house entirely on his own and has what some might call the first “smart tiny house” (think wireless door); Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition, who travel throughout the U.S. advocating for the legality of tiny homes (more on that later) while filming a documentary series; and Jenna Spesard and Guillaume Dutilh, who travel throughout the U.S. working freelance, teaching workshops, and documenting their journey on their website, Tiny House Giant Journey.
Each tiny home tells a story about its owner(s)—how it was built, where it has traveled, and what purpose it serves. For Mario, he lost his house in the 2008 recession, and when it came time for him to buy a new house after paying off his debts, he looked for an alternative. Jenna and Guillaume didn’t want the burden of a mortgage and debt, so they quit their 9-5 jobs for a tiny house lifestyle after Guillaume came across an article online that highlighted a tiny house. For Alexis and Christian, Alexis always loved the concept of small, simple, outdoor living and came up with the idea for the travel project to discover tiny home communities through research.
All three tiny homeowners shared a willingness to downsize and a love of travel. Mario, who works from home for Apple support, says he always had a simple lifestyle, so the conversion to a tiny home was easy: “I would love to do a few months in different states … those main spots that you normally would only go for a week or do or a few days, I want to go there for a few months because I can, and really enjoy it.”
For Alexis and Christian the process was similar: “We found downsizing to be really liberating … there are certain rhythms that we learned when we first moved in that we’re used to now, but at first was hard.”
Jenna and Guillaume also cite the freedom of their lifestyle as a motivating factor, as it allows them to pursue their dream of being travel writers and photographers. “When you’re capable of taking a step back and realizing the benefits you get out of it, then those little issues disappear,” says Guillaume.