The rise of the tiny home

Tiny homes have been used as solutions for paying less rent and a way to address housing crises. They’re ideal because they’re small enough to fit in densely populated cities and not as expensive as full-size homes to build and maintain. Regardless of tiny house residents’ motivations, they’ve probably dealt with similar situations: having fewer possessions, building their tiny home, and dealing with naysayers.

One couple downsizes for freedom

Curtiss and Kelly had been living in Alaska for a few years after moving from their home in Michigan. Curtiss was teaching high school English as his day job but he played one-man shows as Cousin Curtiss nights and weekends. 

Kelly was earning a masters in early childhood special education and working in social services. She wanted to take a break after graduating from her master’s program but eventually get back into the professional world. Like Curtiss, Kelly also loved traveling and the great outdoors.

“I think the biggest component with that was the reality of knowing it was going to cost money to travel,” says Kelly. “It was just too big of a leap almost to continue to pay rent and then hope that we had enough money to cover those other expenses.” Living in a tiny house seemed to be the best way to travel across the U.S. economically.

Tiny home logistics

The couple spent about two months just researching what they wanted to build.

They ended up buying a 98-square foot utility trailer to convert into a tiny home for about $4,750.

Slowly piecemealing the home together over a span of nine months, Curtiss and Kelly said they came up with a weekly schedule for building: They’d brainstorm what they were going to build on Friday, go to Home Depot on Saturday for supplies and build on Sunday.

In total, Kelly and Curtiss told Business Insider they spent $10,250 making their tiny house. 

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“Our main goal was to be able to travel around the country for a year and not go into any debt by doing so…and by living in the tiny house, we were able to do that.” The pair said they think they made it to about 28 states over their year of traveling — including Michigan, California, Tennessee, and more.

A bit of advice

Kelly and Curtiss told Finance101 that one of the most important financial lessons they learned while building their tiny home was taking it slow. “We had these ideas,” says Curtiss. “But we piecemealed them all together so that we didn’t drop five grand in a day and then took nine months to put it together.”

Kelly says that she and Curtiss have some “gypsy in their souls” and still love to travel. “Which means we don’t own a whole lot and we’ve both been totally okay with that,” says Kelly. “The emphasis for us is on exploring where we’re at and now being able to continue to travel,”

When asked about advice Kelly and Curtiss have for other people that want to travel the U.S. in a tiny home for a year, Curtiss says “Do it.”

“It’s going to be scary. It’s not going to be pleasant all of the time,” says Curtiss. “But it’s something that if you really feel you want to do it, you need to do it, you have to do it, you must. Otherwise, you’re going to resent the decision not to for the rest of your life.”