Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

What Do You Need?

This weekend it was cold and dreary out, so I decided to tackle all my belongings, start to thin things out in preparation for moving into a Tiny House.  While I am about 1-2 years away from such a move (purchase the land and build my house), I knew there was a lot of things that I could get rid off.  I was able to reduce my belonging by about 50% by removing unessential things, junk and stuff I didn’t need anymore.  I should note I first donated, then recycled and finally if I had to, threw away.

The exercise got me thinking about what do you need?  I started a Mind Map (using xmind, a favorite of mine) to consider how I would integrate my tiny house, my stuff, food production, water, and energy.  When I got to stuff, I started to think, what does it mean to live simply?  The idea came to me, it’s a lot like going to college, simple, small etc.  When you move into a dorm room you have next to no space, but you need to have everything you need to live.

Now some will be quick to point out often in college you have a cafeteria, a gym, laundry facilities, etc.  I agree, but I really like what Gregory Johnson  over at Resources For Life says about this, living in a Tiny House means you need to “outsource” things.  So instead of a bowflex, you get a gym membership, instead of a full kitchen, you eat out (quite common in NYC).  Etc. Etc.  These things cost money, but in the end, you are saving a lot and with no debt it isn’t as bad, plus it afford you more free time.

So when we consider moving to a college dorm room we know a few things: it is small, must be multifunctional, must be meet all your needs.  Sounds like similar circumstances in a Tiny House.  So if I were to make a list of what would it include?  Well here is suggested shopping list for a dorm Click Here.

The other thing to consider when trying to have a rough idea of what you will need is the 100 item challenge.  Here is Tammy’s list of things that she has in her house.

Finally I realize that no matter how slim I get things I will need to thin out some more when I make the final move.  So here is my plan.  Once I have constructed my Tiny House I plan to park it outside where I am currently living for 1 month.  I will move into my Tiny House with nothing.  The idea behind this is that any time I need something, I go into my old place and get just that one item.  Now this means I do have to pay rent for 1 month extra, but I should be able to swing it.  As I need things I will go get them, extra exercise for sure, but the point of the exercise to shift to an intentional way of life, so if I have to get on my shoes, go outside, unlock the door, walk up the stairs, find that one thing, then I will think about it.  At the end of the month I will have stuff left in my old place where I will sort through it all.  Is there things that I can do without or absolutely need?  I figure at the end of the month there isn’t much that I absolutely need need need if I didn’t use it in that time.

Below are two things that will help you along your way to reducing your things.

Here is a great book on getting your stuff under control and life simplification:

Here is a video that I like about one guys quest to simplify:

7 Comments
  1. Ryan,
    As someone who sold it all and moved into my 21 foot RV I suggest when you move in to the new house, move out of the apartment and put your remaining things in storage miles away. Having your stuff that close and convenient will make it too easy to bring it back and more importantly find a home for it.
    Plus a month of storage will be much cheaper than a month of rent. Then you can use the money saved to buy tiny house related products like a folding silicone colander, folding measuring cups, folding dish rack, and smaller organizational products, baskets, bins, yadda , yadda.

  2. A few comments on the minimalist lifestyle:

    1). It’s wasteful. To throw out or get rid of something that you no longer need or use makes sense, but if you have to purchase a new one down the road, that is a waste, both of your money and of the resources and work that went into creating it.

    2). It’s leeching. “The other things you see in my video are my roommates”. I’m sure your life is a lot less cluttered by not owning things, but the other people around you end up having to lend you those things that you don’t own. People who don’t own a car berate others that do, but then need a ride everywhere. The nice thing about good friends is that they won’t leave you in the rain without an umbrella, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw away your umbrella and expect your friends to carry theirs for you.

    What do you do about food? I assume you’re either eating out for every meal or using roommates cookware, utensils, dishes, etc.

  3. Jeff, I agree on both of the comments you’ve made; I was honestly thinking the same thing when I watched the video. One thing I have noticed, especially in regard to the second comment, is that those whom go uberminimalist go, dare I say, too far. There are a couple blogs, none of which I will mention, that have extolled the virtues of living with less than 100 items, but then mention getting a morning coffee from the person’s barista. I fail to understand how having a coffee maker and coffee and a reusable mug is somehow worse off than not having those items, going to a coffee shop to spend nigh $4 for a cup of coffee in a disposable “cup,” just for the sake of being able to say “I’m more minimalist than you.”

    Likewise, that same blog also goes on to say that most meals are eaten out due to the person’s dislike for cooking. Yes, eating out is ok, and it’s not bad, but that forgoes the ability to cook large batches of food inexpensively, or storing the bulk of leftovers for middle-of-the-night snacks or on those dreary weather days where you do not wish to step outside.

    I’m all for minimalism, and for not buying everything under the sun “just because,” but the majority of peoples’ 100 Thing Challenges miff me due to having more exceptions than rules, and for, as you have mentioned, the entire leeching factor.

    One thing about the video itself that bemused me was that the guy had a desktop with two monitors, a netbook, cell phone, digital camera, digital videocamera, and two iPods, yet he didn’t have any cookware of his own (technically, one could get by with just a pot, iron skillet, slow cooker, or pressure cooker) or something as basic as a pocket knife or handkerchief. Granted, I suppose one could always count Kleenex as a consumable and not count it in the 100 Things, but ultimately, which is more minimalist in nature: a reusable, washable handkerchief, or a box of tissues?

    Also, if you don’t mind my going off on a tangent, is there someway to disable the pop-up tab that accompanies TheTinyLife now, asking to like it on Facebook? I already have Liked it, yet the tab persists when I reload the page, and is rather annoying.

  4. Another thing I just remembered about the video, the guy’s eventual task of rebuying books he already has, just for the sake of being able to store them on his computer, simply does not make sense. Ihave one book – since selling a second – that is 130 years old, and it in almost pristine condition. Books last a long time if properly taken care of, and their carbon footprint is considerably less than a computer. Although books can last centuries, can be borrowed, lent, resold, et cetera, I have yet to see such flexibility in ebooks, and I sincerely doubt that the formats of the books will even be compatible in a century’s time. Furthermore, most ebooks are considerably shorter than physical books, making their purchasing cost vastly higher per word than that of a physical book. I’m sorry, but I’ll stick to my used physical copies from bookstores where they can be purchased for as little as a dime each, and let the diehard minimalists purchase new copies of ebooks for $10 or more.

  5. My feeling is that using everything outside the home is just shifting what you have to elsewhere. When I get my tiny home, I’ve figured out how to have a small oven, microwave, fridge and even washer/dryer combo. I will actually be able to live inside my home rather than just sleep there. It won’t be a dorm room but a home! I will be able to take care of all my daily functions right there. I will be able to cook, do yoga if I wish, shower and clean my clothes. I won’t have to depend on anyone else for normal things.

  6. Ummm… some things are missing here: Towel? Soap? Wallet? Suitcase? Pillows/sheets? Just nitpicking though.

    Bigger picture, I agree with other posters there is a bit of a conflict with an extreme minimalist lifestyle and the quasi-self-sufficiency a tiny house offers.

    It can be cheaper and more efficient to minimalist (aka grad student) lifestyle, but homeowners are usually looking for independence and solitude as well…

  7. Tips and tricks for tiny homes: http://tinyhouseforum.com/topic.php?id=25

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