My freedom from the burden of excess
I’ve always considered myself a bit of a pioneer—brave and curious. So, when a huge late-life change forced me to begin from scratch again, I was determined to live a more creative, sustainable, and minimal lifestyle.
I first encountered the Enchanted Forest of Lummi Island, Wash., during an artist studio tour. I hopped on a tiny, 20-car ferry, with no waiting in line, and took an eight-minute ride across the channel to pure magic. I fell instantly in love and put an alert on Zillow to see what was selling as soon as I arrived home.
Two years earlier, I’d set a goal of finding a beautiful tiny space in an artistic and quiet community where I could spend time working remotely, create art, live in community, and travel. I’m not particularly handy or wealthy, so I wanted something that was simple but move-in ready—at least with hot water, Wi-Fi, and electricity!
I returned to the island to look at a promising listing a few months later and was greeted by a deer in the driveway of a tiny home that overlooked huge evergreens. This tiny home was a “vintage” 1953 New Moon Travel trailer. It had a separately built bathroom, a spacious outdoor living area, and was on two lots smack in the middle of the forest. Surrounded by a cacophony of birdsong I literally gasped at the beauty, and I knew in that moment that I had to live there. The timing and pricing were a “God thing,” and the doors of fate flew open for me to buy what the realtor called “the kitschy casita.”
After the first few months of living in on the island, I began to discover a newfound love of nature and simplicity in my 8 ft. wide by 60 ft. long tiny home. Deer often join my early morning coffee on the deck, and the seasonal bird migration brings a symphony to the forest each spring. At first, it was a bit lonely—especially, during the pandemic, when everyone was secluded and family wasn’t visiting. But since then, I have been able to get to know my tiny-home neighbors, focus on reaching out to the local community through art classes, and participate in the Local Artist Studio Tours. Without the distractions of city life, I can explore my passions and appreciate the beauty of a truly enchanted forest.
Another benefit is financial freedom. The tiny home lifestyle has allowed me to live more sustainably, without the financial burden of a large house. I was able to purchase my tiny home outright, and the monthly costs of utilities and upkeep on the house are much less than what I spent on my larger city dwellings. This has given me the opportunity to travel, taking myself— and my virtual job—to other parts of the country and the world. I often tell my family that “I have to pinch myself,” I’m living my best life.
Going tiny is not for the faint of heart and it’s important to note that the tiny house life is not for everyone. But if you are thinking about downsizing, or experimenting with a tiny home lifestyle, don’t wait! The freedom it brings, the blessings of living with what brings you joy, and leaving behind the heavy pressure of maintaining stuff you don’t need far outweighs the sacrifices. But count the cost before you sell everything and move.
Here are five considerations before you decide to go tiny:
Cost—Tiny homes are typically much less expensive than traditional homes but still require a significant financial investment. In addition to the upfront cost of the home, you may need to purchase a hardy vehicle if you plan to travel with it, as well as the ongoing cost of utilities and maintenance. Mine stays in place, so I didn’t have to purchase a vehicle to tow it.
Space—The size of your living area is a key consideration for anyone interested in tiny home living. They’re called “tiny” for a reason. Tiny homes are much smaller than traditional homes, and you must be extremely creative to figure out what stays and where it will be stored. If you are married or with a partner, how important is it for you have space to be alone? Seriously consider if this is the lifestyle you want.
Location—Tiny homes are not allowed everywhere. It is important to research local zoning regulations and other factors before choosing a location to live.
Community—What level of social engagement are you looking for? If you love a city lifestyle, parties, and overnight guests, a condo with a guest room may be a better fit. But if you love solitude, simple spaces, freedom from material burdens, and nature, the tiny lifestyle has a lot to offer.
Family Visits—I love tiny living, but one of the biggest challenges for me is that my family members live hours away and it makes it more difficult to spend time with them. Having a tiny space is not conducive to having overnight guests, although my grandkids think sleepovers are great fun, and I bring them for extended stays at the island as often as possible. They’ve even made up a song about Lummi Island!
Living a tiny home lifestyle continues to be a liberating and rewarding experience. With faith, the right planning, and preparation, I have created a cozy and comfortable home while reducing my environmental impact and living a simpler lifestyle. I continue to nestle myself into a delightful artistic community and am getting to know neighbors of kindred spirit. Through the process of downsizing, I have found freedom from the burden of excess and discovered a newfound appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.
Kellie Moeller is a native Washingtonian, proud tiny home dweller, and “Island Girl.” When she’s not working as a marketing consultant, you’ll find her creating artwork or capturing the creatures of the Enchanted Forest on camera. Take a tour of her tiny home and learn more about Moeller’s journey online at https://linktr.ee/kellieshepherdmoeller_artist