I’ll never forget my first gypsy caravan. Emerald green gingerbread trim, yellow dutch door flanked by tiny window boxes runneth over with hot pink geraniums… white pony grazing lazily alongside. I don’t remember how old I was or where I saw this image (which instantly seared itself into my permanent psyche) but I do remember being absolutely incensed. I mean, why on earth had I been born and strapped to these ridiculously regular people and not to an exotic band of gypsies so that I, too, could live in a magical little house on wheels… with a pony? Oh, the injustice!
So you can imagine my reaction when it recently came to my attention (where have I been?) that there is something called the tiny house movement. All around us people are building tiny houses. To placate inane laws which prevent people from building homes which are deemed “too small” (small houses = small property taxes = big no-no) these tiny houses are predominantly built on wheels. In other words, they are gypsy caravans (!).
Who is fueling this tiny revolution? Older people freeing up and paring down – choosing to ditch their big homes and redundant possessions, younger (and smarter) folks choosing to go small from the get go, environmentally conscious people from all walks of life who choose to leave behind a smaller footprint (and in some cases next to no footprint at all) and, perhaps, a few gypsies wannabes. The implications (financial, environmental, psychological) are both huge and heartening.
Where to park these tiny houses? That’s a little trickier but not impossible. If there’s no generous relative in your life with land to spare and you can’t afford to buy a patch yourself you can offer a small monthly sum to a struggling homeowner in exchange for a corner in the backyard… or to a cash strapped farmer for a tiny slice of his or her paradise. There are also some more formally organized partnerships that are cropping up called tiny house communities.
Gypsy envy aside, this concept has really got me fascinated. For example, I am a single mom. My son is grown and living his own life now. In a few years my teenage daughter will likely be shipping out, too. Admittedly, over the years we have lived a bit of a gypsy life though more by default than design… moving 12 times in the last 24 years (which is also the current age of my son). From country to country, state to state, town to town, house to house. Boy, this is getting old. And exhausting.
Not the moving around, so much – one could argue that I am a bit of rolling stone by nature – but the carting of all of the many contents from one house to the next, the crippling mortgage or steep rent, the never ending, ever rising utility bills. Somehow (“Hey, mom, did you ever think that maybe going to art school wasn’t such a good idea?”) money is not bursting out of the seams around here. Nor is there an investment portfolio or any of those things that seem to belong to other people. And those “other” people, as we’re all noticing, have become notably fewer and farther between. Which means that the vast majority of us are facing a future of continued stagnant wages, rising costs and ever increasing debt while the environment, in the process, is being destroyed. In other words, samo, samo.
The cherry on top of all this is that retirement, for many of us, is not even in our vocabulary. When you step back and think about it for a minute it really does seem crazy to spend our entire lives working to pay for our unnecessarily large (and immobile) mortgaged or rented homes just so we can come home on our day off and maintain them.
Which reminds me (ugh), it is my day off and I am now way behind on my housework, which there is far too much of.
Ya know what? The vacuuming can dang well wait until next week. I am simply too busy trolling the internet and dreaming of my not so distant life as gypsy queen of my very own tiny house on wheels, complete with window boxes… and a pony.
Ok. Maybe not the pony.
Click here for the tiny house movement’s background.
Click here for tiny house plans and workshops. And here. And here. And here.
Click here for tiny house (on and off wheels) listings.
Click here for tiny house (on and off wheels) inspiration.