After Ryan’s post earlier this week, I got to thinking about sense of security. Living in a tiny house definitely decreases dependence on money but living the tiny life does not necessarily mean a life free of worries.
Before jumping in, I have to say that the completion of La Casita came at a time of great upheaval in the lives of my fiancee and I. Our rental had been foreclosed on, the bank had kicked us out, the tiny house was 3/4 done and we were essentially homeless. Luckily I had family in the greater Charleston area that took us in but it was a harsh reality for a couple of months. Since moving in to our house, life has been easier in terms of money but in terms of legal shelter there have been distinct challenges.
I guess my first question for someone thinking about a tiny house would be: do you mind living in an illegal situation according to most zoning codes? If this doesn’t bother you then my second question would be: does possibly not having a home address, which can make acquiring a driver’s license, a post office box or your citizenship difficult, concern you?
These are some of the realities we’ve faced living in a tiny house. Without a home address, it is very difficult to get our driver’s licenses in Vermont. Without a home address my fiance can’t start his citizenship application and in Charleston I couldn’t get a po box without a street address. Not everyone has this issue when it comes to tiny living but it has been a constant for us since moving in to La Casita and I never considered this would be one of the issues I would face.
Having just moved to a new community in Vermont, we’re slowly meeting folks and people are incredibly nice and open to what we are doing but we’ve already had a town official contact us about living in the house and its questionable legality. In a town of 3800 people, it’s not going to take long for us to be noticed. In a city of 100,000 it was much easier to hide from zone enforcement although they would roll by in their truck about once a month. They never stopped and asked questions but the possibility was there and we knew it. La Casita was a “temporary studio space” to anyone official who asked but it was fairly obvious we were living in it. Luckily, we planted it in the ghetto where cops and officials were more worried about busting drug dealing than some illegal zoning issue. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that neighborhood and living there was wonderful. We had great neighbors and no one ever messed with us but if we had parked anywhere else in the historic district of downtown Charleston, I’m certain we would have been forced to move.
Restrictions such as where you can place your house are an issue for some. For us, things worked out and hopefully, once our house makes it to Vermont, we’ll find another great situation. Our neighbors in Charleston loved the house and they not only understood but admired the concept. Many folks would say, “I want a house like that! No mortgage, no big bills, no worries!” and to some extent this is true! There is a lot less added stress in the $$$ department of life but other stresses arise. In terms of security, I feel more snug and at peace in a small space than I ever did in a large one. Big hotels make me anxious and expansive spaces indoors don’t bring me a sense of security. As kids, my sister and I would burrow under our day bed and pretend we were foxes in a den, snug and warm in a small, dark space. Other animals certainly get it. Look at our closest and most loyal of animal companions: dogs. Most enjoy having a small space in which to den and it’s proven that an anxious dog provided with a kennel or small, designated space of their own will feel great comfort and calm. I’ve certainly received comfort and a greater sense of calm since moving in to La Casita. Except in one capacity: fire.
La Casita helped tamper my concern of earthquakes. Charleston lies on a major fault line that shakes from time to time. In a tiny house, I had no worries about that anymore! The house would just sway with the earth but when it comes to fire, my fear has grown. Any home can catch fire but the thought of being in such a small space with the main exit down a ladder can sometimes make me nervous. Now that we have to consider heating options for the house, safety tops my list of features for any element While we have an upstairs and kitchen extinguisher we are considering a sprinkler system for the times when we aren’t home. It may seem over the top to some but since this is our house and no one will insure it, we have to take the necessary precautions to protect it.
That’s probably the third question I would ask: do you mind being uninsured? I don’t mean to strike through anyone’s determination to build and live in a tiny house but the reality of it is not only unfair, it’s annoying. Try calling insurance agencies and asking them to insure a dwelling on wheels the size of a shed and most will tell you “we aren’t able to label that” (aka: zoning doesn’t allow it and/or know how to label it and neither do we). If a traditional agency does decide to cover you, try making a claim and see what happens.
So what do you do? Well, in this case, you look to your community. I’d love to see a community invested agency that would cover tiny houses or as Ryan suggested in his post about possible non-profit or cooperative insurance initiatives. Folks think it’s cheap and easy to build these structures but when it’s your house, that’s a complete fallacy. So all the time and money you put in is essentially your responsibility to protect and at times that can be a real downer in the security sense of living the tiny life.
Living life comes with a host of difficulties and while I’ve listed some of the issues we’ve come across, I stand firmly behind this statement:
Living the tiny life is the best life for us!
We love it because in the end, for me and Cedric, our needs and wants are satisfied by tiny living. We can agree it’s important not to be blind to the realities tiny housers face but if, like us, you find that the good outweighs the bad than you won’t be disappointed with living the tiny life.
- What is your experience insuring a tiny house?
- What precautions do you take with tiny home protection?
- How do you address the illegalities of living in a tiny house?
- What positives outweigh negatives in your tiny life?