Before we lived big, small, we lived big, tiny. In 2014, we left Florida with our house in tow and headed to California. However, the house in tow wasn’t the fifth wheel we currently call home, it was our beloved Tiny. Tiny was a 2006 Outback 21RS Travel Trailer. You see, neither RC nor I had ever towed anything even remotely that big so we were a little apprehensive at first. Also, we were purchasing a tow vehicle as well, and since we really weren’t sure how long we would live a life of mobility we didn’t want to purchase a big ole truck that we might not need in a year or so. And even more than that, we wanted to pay cash for this trailer, so that limited our options tremendously.
And that’s how we ended up with Tiny.
*These pictures were taken at different times during our life in Tiny, hence the differing decor.
We lived in Tiny for 15 months. Less than 200 sq. feet for six people. But you know what? It totally worked, and on top of that, those 15 months in Tiny made our new fifth wheel seem HUGE to us. Which is why we named her Ginormica. =) Before I get into introducing you to Ginormica and the life we live in her, I wanted to tell you about and show you Tiny. We sold her last summer in California, but she still holds a special place in our hearts.
Tiny came with a full size bed that was located in a part of the trailer that extended out the back when we were parked. We affectionately called this the “bed cave” and it was where RC and I slept. A reversible curtain (which is why you see different curtains in different shots) that I sewed separated us from the kids. Yep. A curtain. Two bunks, along with a dining table and a sofa that transformed into beds slept the kids. Everyone had a place to sleep, though the process of turning our living/dining room into a bedroom every single night, and a bedroom back into a living/dining room ever single morning did become rather old. Tiny came with great bones; white cabinetry and wood looking floors. I recovered all the upholstery, sewed all new curtains, and painted all the walls except in the bathroom.
We used the bathroom facilities that the RV parks provided for showers. We used the shower stall in Tiny for our dirty clothes bag, and extra storage for laundry detergent, paper towels, and swim towels and suits. We each had a hanger with our bath towel, our loofah, and a plastic bag to carry our clothes to and from the park bathroom. The soaps, lotions, razors, etc. were carried in plastic bins and we had one for the boys and one for the girls. (you can spot them on the third shelf in the pic of the bathroom cabinet) There were times when it would have been so much nicer to simply shower in our own place, but the cost of gas for hot water, plus not having anywhere else to store this stuff made using the park bathrooms the best option for us. Both parks we stayed at had daily cleaning service and really nice bathrooms.
We only had seasonally appropriate clothing available in the camper. Our off-season clothes were stored in two big suitcases that lived in the back of our Yukon. The kids each had one bin for all their clothes and RC and I had our clothes in the cabinet in the bed cave and in the small entry closet for items that needed to be hung. We did (still do) laundry once a week and everyone has enough clothes for about 10 days. We had very few “nice” clothes, luckily our life doesn’t require them. RC and I both had a few pairs of shoes, but the kids basically just had their tennis shoes and flip flops. I have tried to buy cute shoes for my girl, but she is a tennis shoes kind of girl all the way. Bless.
I focused on a diet of simple meals that required few pots and pans. I had one large pot, one small pot, and one frying pan, along with one cookie sheet, one cake pan, and one muffin tin. And guess what? We didn’t starve or live off Ramen Noodles. 😉 My crock pot gave out on me a few months in and I replaced it immediately. It’s a life saver when living tiny. We had six of everything and everything got washed as soon as it was done being used. The sink was tiny so there was no way of leaving dirty dishes in it anyway. If we had guests, which we did, the kids would eat on salad plates so there was enough for everyone.
At first, our home school stuff was kept under the dining table seats, but the hassle of getting up and removing the cushion to get to things we needed multiple times every day meant the stuff didn’t live there long. We ended up storing some of our shoes outside in a plastic bin and putting our home school stuff in one of the shoe bins under the bottom bunk. So much better.
We didn’t make our kids get rid of any of their toys, but they were only allowed to bring a few of them, while storing the rest. They each had a bin of legos, and then each had a small basket for a few other things. We are big video game players so everyone has a Nintendo DS of some kind and we love our movies so we put those in big movie holders (I can’t think of the actual name for those right now :/). They also brought some outside toys like balls, light sabers, and frisbees and those lived in a bin outside. It really is amazing how creative kids can be when their resources are limited. Also, I happen to think there is nothing wrong with being bored. Sometimes it is good to sit and do nothing.
We also lived in areas of the U.S. whose climates made it possible for us to spend much of our time outside on our “patio”. This alone kept us from losing our minds. We also took advantage of parks and libraries, and both RV parks we were at had playgrounds and swimming pools. Major pluses.
It truly is amazing how much less we can actually live well with than we realize. We are so conditioned to think we need so much more than we actually do. One thing that we experienced in paring down our belongings was how much we still had, even in just 200 sq. feet. We were definitely not hurting for comfort considering how most of the rest of the world lives. Paring down our belongings also caused us to pare down what we spent our time and money on. Surprisingly, this was very freeing and focusing.
It’s funny to me now how it was almost painful to get rid of most of our belongings. I dreaded the thought of one day wishing I still had my stuff. Yet, the very day we drove out of Gainesville, FL with our belongings trailing behind us, RC and I both commented on how light we felt. Yes, we still had a 10×10 storage unit filled with things, but we could literally go anywhere and have what we needed right there with us. It was amazing. I’m grateful for our time in Tiny. She changed us in some of the best ways.
Next week I’ll share with you why we even chose to live big, tiny in the first place, and how the physical changes we went through were simply shadows of the spiritual changes we were experiencing. Subscribe to the blog and you can get new content delivered directly to your inbox once a week. That way you don’t miss a thing!