Tiny Tricia

My journey to a tinier me.

The Millenial's Guide to Living Tiny

Hello, fellow millenials. Lovers of subscribing instead of owning, experiences instead of things, animated GIFs instead of words. Welcome to your guide to living a badass tiny life.

Automate your house supplies.

Are you really going to try out a new toothpaste brand any time soon? Amazon Subscribe & Save (or their fancier new "Dash" button) was made for the mundane. Stop wasting energy remembering to buy, making a trip to get, and schlepping home the 16-pack of toilet paper every month and go the set-it-and-forget it route.

When you figure out the right cadence for these items in your life, you'll be cutting down on errands, making sure you always have the right amount available in a limited space, and saving money.

Bonus: PillPack is an amazing way to just-in-time your regular medicine needs.

Clean up your papertrail.

The PaperKarma app may be one of my favorite downloads of 2014. It's been a wildly successful (and simple) way to almost completely eliminate unwanted mail from my life.

And if you haven't switched all of your bills to paperless billing, get on that. I tossed pounds of credit card statements and receipts dating back to 2009 in my company's secure shredding bin.

No one needs that many jewel cases.

If for some reason you can't bring yourself to rip you CDs and DVDs then donate them to the public library, at least get rid of all those bulky cases and put the discs in a binder until you catch up to 2015.

But seriously, this is why we have external hard-drives, da cloud, and every flavor of streaming service known to man. 

Enjoy it—or let someone else enjoy it.

You know how when little kids hoard toys just so other kids can't play with them? You're probably doing that.

This is actually a really fun problem to deal with—when you go looking for things with this mindset, you'll find yourself enjoying more of your stuff (burn those fancy candles already!) or actually finding your house filled only with objects you really love.

Choose experiences over things.

I work for a company that's all-in on the idea that experiences are superior to possessions—at Eventbrite we call this the experience economy, and millenials are rocking it. I would much rather do something I've never done before and build memories with others than simply receive an object as a gift.

And in cutting down my possessions, I can attest that gifts carry the most guilt—so please, no more stuff.

 

More than our parents' generation, I'm excited by the idea that success no longer needs to be showcased through impressive possessions. I don't need an impressive TV or radio or massive DVD collection—I have access to everything I need on my computer and phone. 

Ownership fuels classism and it's increasingly unnecessary. Instead, common technology has allowed us to shrink our lives—and I intend to enjoy it.

The 10 Commandments for Tiny House Building Volunteers

I've been helping build a tiny house for a few weeks now, and one of the main things I've learned is how difficult volunteers can be. But if you're the kind of person who works hard and is nice to people, you'll be more likely to get invited back to the build site.

Here's a basic etiquette guide for all building volunteers:

1. Thou shalt not bring pets or kids under the age of 10.

This is a construction site, which has inherent dangers. Anyone age 10-17 should be supervised by a parent/guardian at all times, no exceptions.

2. Thou shalt not wear flip-flops or other attire inappropriate for a construction site.

This is a site of amateur builders, so we all need to take reasonable precautions like closed-toed shoes. Decent work gloves are highly encouraged.

3. Thou shalt not exhibit an ego or otherwise annoying attitude.

You will not be living in this home so you don't get to make the decisions. Respect the owner and know that everyone builds their home a little differently.

4. Thou shalt not be reckless or otherwise inconsiderate.

The build site should be a positive environment where safety and helpfulness are the top priorities.

5. Thou shalt not show up without warning.

It's also poor form to cancel an RSVP at the last minute—be respectful of everyone's time.

6. Thou shalt not dominate the home owner's time with questions during build time.

Ask questions about their plans during down time; you're here to help.

7. Thou shalt not proceed when uncertain. 

Ask the owner to check and confirm anything you're not sure about before you do something you can't undo.

8. Thou shalt not waste. 

Materials cost money (and/or took considerable time and effort to get), so be careful and conscious when using them.

9. Thou shalt not litter.

Follow campsite rules and leave the area better than how you found it.

10. Thou shalt not talk about tech.

This one is kinda specific to the Bay Area and totally a personal annoyance. But seriously. Can we not talk about tech for one day? (Tesla battery fascinations excepted.)

 

When it comes time for me to build, I hope I'll have enough capable friends to help out. But even so, I'd probably ask volunteers to sign a waiver—probably a variation of Habitat for Humanity's waiver—since injuries are a real possibility and I couldn't afford to be sued.

Hopefully everything here is common sense to most people, but sometimes we all need a little reminder. Build on, tiny people!

5 Modern American Conveniences I Happily Live Without

One of my first indications that living a tinier life might be a reality meant for me was the pride and contentment I feel when I think about the things I can live without. Here are a few that generally baffle my parents.

Television

When I moved to California, I realized it would cost me about as much to properly pack my nice new TV as it would be to replace it. So I sold it to a friend and never bought another. I watch movies and TV shows from Amazon Prime on my laptop occasionally, but generally I'm thrilled to avoid the time-suck that is TV.

Microwave

The studio I moved into didn't include a microwave and didn't have much counter space to add one, so I didn't get one. And guess what? Everything I eat can be handle by the stovetop or oven.

Dishwasher

I thought I was going to hate doing dishes by hand because it's been terrible in the past, but I think the difference is I eat at home a lot less than I used to. Since I only cook at home a few times a week (I'm lucky to have a job that feeds me well and often), I only do dishes a couple times a week. I've learned to like it.

Air Conditioner

I live in the Bay Area, where most (but not all) homes don't have A/C, and that's fine 95% of the year. A wall fan helps out.

Car

This one, I'll admit, I'm beginning to question. When I moved to CA, I sold both my motorcycle (no way was I about to tackle San Francisco hills!) and my sedan (it's expensive to bring cars into this state and parking can cost as much as most people's car payments). Now that I moved to the less-crowded East Bay, I do feel like I'm missing out on exploring my area, hiking, and camping so I'm considering buying a beater.

BONUS: Internet

Since I now work for a company where the entirety of my work is online, I do have Internet now. But for the first year of my adult life, I went without. 

 

I think a lot of us don't take the time to question the status quo of what a comfortable life looks like until we have to. Nothing is a given, really. Asking myself what I really need has been one of the best things I do in my life.

My Tiny Backstory

I first heard about tiny houses years ago from my godmother. I was spending spring break of my senior year in college with her (the first time we'd really spent much time together). Her home was packed with art, books, cooking tools, and vintage knick-knacks. I loved it all, and I aspired to build a home like hers—full of stories and warmth and cuddly pets.

After undergrad, I got my first real apartment (and my dog Paparazzi), and despite being in the middle of nowhere Texas, it was definitely the nicest place I've lived to date. Garden bathtub, built-in bookcases, a huge walk-in closet, and a small outdoor balcony. It was perfect. It was also probably too expensive for my barely-above-poverty-level journalism job.

But then I got offered a better job, less in the middle of nowhere, and I moved to Central Pennsylvania along with everything I owned (plus a series of things my parents didn't want anymore). I moved into a 2.5-bedroom townhouse (complete with a basement), and I had plenty of room for everything. This was the life, right? I'm a grownup now?

Not really—despite all the space and a lot of nesting on my part (I made the half bedroom into the library I never had and planted a vegetable garden in the tiny backyard), I was pretty lonely in this house. And since it was in a "changing neighborhood," I wasn't able to get anyone to be my roommate.

So I moved into a smaller 2-bedroom apartment across town and proceeded to share my home with two fantastic students I found on Craigslist. I was happier, but eventually, I landed a dream job in California and it was time to leave again.  I knew enough to know the Bay Area housing market would be vicious, so it was time to cut things in half.

After living in a cramped and not-so-cozy Airbnb room in a less-than-desirable San Francisco neighborhood for 2 months, feeling like I'd made a huge mistake moving to the West Coast, I was thrilled to move into a 3-bedroom home in the Castro with two great roommates. With the help of our garage and the fact that neither of them had much common area stuff, my half-POD of stuff fit just fine.

When our rent was raised unexpectedly after the first year, I decided to look east, and I was fortunate to find an affordable, 1920s studio apartment in Berkeley. More downsizing commenced. Once again, my life shrunk to fit into a smaller space.

And that's where I'm sitting now—at a desk donated to me, with my bed on one side and a couch that's too big for this space behind me. My apartment was advertised as 400SF but I think that might be a stretch—the main room is just 200SF, then there's the small bathroom, walk-in closet (used to be a Murphy bed), and kitchen.

There are a few things I wish were different (like having windows on more than one wall for ventilation and maybe a view), but generally I really like this space. It fits me.

I know my neighbors. There's a yoga studio a half-mile down the road. There's a vegan grocery right next door, a pole-aerobics studio on the other side for flare, and an underground theatre one door over. To get to and from work, I walk through a park often filled with senior volleyball players, young ninjas-to-be, and banjo-fiddle duos. I take my dog to a dusty park filled with friends. I feel happy here.

My only real complaint is the money I pay in rent every month. Though affordable by local standards, it kills me to throw money out my tiny windows. The homes here in Berkeley are so adorable (what can I say, I like a craftsman bungalow), but a fixer-upper starts at $600K. What's a non-rich girl like me to do?

Build a tiny house. That's what.