“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” — Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau may well have planted seeds for the modern tiny house movement when he went “to the woods” to live “deliberately.” The 19th-century naturalist advocated simple living, an ideal Heather and Scott Emch fully embraced about five months ago. That’s when they journeyed to British Columbia, Canada, hooked up Scott’s diesel pickup to their custom-built 240-square-foot tiny house and pulled it to Mississippi. It now overlooks a creek bank in eastern Lowndes County, creating a markedly smaller ecological footprint than their former 1,300-square-foot home in Clovis, New Mexico, and freeing up the active couple to do — well, almost anything they want.
“We wanted to simplify and wanted more time for ourselves outside of work, to literally be able to get up and go when we want to, and now we can,” said Heather, moving about the compact home’s bright interior, revealing storage spaces cleverly incorporated into the design…
Back to basics
Scott is a captain in the U.S. Air Force, an instructor pilot at Columbus Air Force Base. Heather is currently a substitute teacher. When they married four years ago, downsizing was nowhere on their horizon. It wasn’t long, however, before the reality of relocations inherent with military life coincided with a revelatory visit to a fellow pilot’s tiny house in New Mexico.
“Scott and I kind of joked around for a couple of months about getting a tiny house ourselves and having a simpler life,” Heather explained. At some point, the joke morphed into a “what if?” and then into a viable option worth researching. The couple chose a builder in British Columbia and collaborated on the design. While the resulting residence has a footprint of about 240 square feet, it also includes an 11-square-foot sleeping loft and a 7-square-foot loft currently used as a “climb-up closet,” Heather said. Everything fits on a 28-foot flatbed trailer.
“I liked the idea of an efficient space,” said Scott. “Essentially one that can give us all the same amenities of a regular house, but not a huge space or price tag.”
The biggest attractions, he added, were the amount of money the couple would save when relocating and the time it would free up. (They still own their home in New Mexico and currently rent it out.)
“It’s nice to know we’re not tied to another 30-year loan,” Scott added. “This will allow us to save enough money to pay cash for our next house once we finally decide on a place to settle down.”
Both husband and wife agree the change in lifestyle has greatly simplified things. No more of their weekends are spent cleaning house from top to bottom, doing yard work or clearing out a garage. It literally takes 10 minutes to accomplish any kind of weekly chores, asserted Scott.
“So we have a lot more time to do things that we just didn’t before,” he said. “Whether we are taking trips to the beach, or going paddle boarding on the Luxapalila, we always have time to kill when we aren’t at work.”
The Emchs have divested themselves of a lot of “stuff” as well. It’s an aspect of tiny living that many owners find exhilarating. Every item now is one that truly matters. Money spent goes toward “quality, not quantity,” or is freed up to save for experiences, or for the future.
Proponents of tiny houses acknowledge the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. If considering a move, it’s important to go see tiny houses, spend some time in one. What works for singles or couples would be more challenging for a family with children, for obvious reasons.