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.