The Fourth Phase of Tiny Living

In a recent piece, my first on tiny living, I referred to three distinct phases of this lifestyle choice: designing the house; the build; and the part where one moves in. My friend, a tiny home owner, has recently pointed out that there’s a fourth phase. She calls it the “maintenance phase.”

“It’s for real,” she explains. “Without landlord-tenant protections, we're kind of at the whim of wherever we park, even if we had a contract. Plus, there's figuring out all the firsts – first parties, holidays, winters, seeing how you imagined everything working in practice. It's just not like moving into an apartment or any other established dwelling at all.”

Phase four.

As a part-time tiny home dweller (though not a tiny home owner), the experience thus far has helped me see living, lodging and the concept of space (among other topics) in a new, refreshing light. Going tiny really is different from other living options. You’re starting fresh, very fresh.

I’ve lived on five continents in a diverse range of settings – from the highlands of Guatemala to Madrid to New York City. There’s nothing quite like tiny living. In a lot of ways, there’s nothing remotely close.

Tiny living makes you reconsider what efficiency means, what space means. When we talk about environmentally friendly endeavors where does one see the greatest impact? When we talk about stepping lightly, what do we really mean? When we talk about speaking with our actions, how loud will we be and who might be listening? When we talk about lifestyle adjustments, how far are we willing to go? How much are we willing to change?

Phase four of tiny living is about sustainability, making adjustments and taking a long view. It’s a prominent reminder that we aren’t talking about an ephemeral moment. You’re settling in and trying to feel more established. No matter where things go from here, your big (and tiny) adventure is far from over.

Those roads less traveled, remain the most interesting of all.

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