The Internet has made this giant world smaller, providing a way to bring people together and share in a sense of community, regardless of location. Any collection of individuals can come together and form online groups to exchange ideas, successes, and achievements and seek advice or answers to challenges or struggles. One such example is the tiny living community. Reaching across the globe and growing in popularity, there are varied reasons, options, approaches, and methods for individuals, allowing relationships within the community to cut across social, financial, racial, sexual, religious, and political demographics.
There are people looking to travel full time in RVs. Some are those looking to implement self-sufficient resources to incorporate into their daily living, like solar power, composting, gardening, and off-the-grid living. Others are looking for ways to save money and live a simpler lifestyle. In my continued quest for researching tiny living, I find the vast amount of knowledge of those with experience to be both helpful and fascinating. As I continue my journey in living the tiny living lifestyle, I find the resources are sometimes right under my nose with relationships I already have. Kathy Proctor is one such treasure.
Kathy has been a good friend for quite some time. We have spoken about many subjects. We have had significant discussions on dating, love, friendships, running, lifestyles, schooling, psychology, and many more interests we share. My friendship with Kathy is one of those wherein we can go for long periods without speaking as we get busy in life and pick right back up where we left off. She is a wonderful person who cares deeply about others and is passionate about living life. The two of us have even spoken about our living arrangements, but somehow I have overlooked her expertise on the subject of tiny living and not gone as in-depth on the topic—until now.
Kathy is an active outdoor adventurer who truly loves living life on her terms. Kathy is mother to three children and grandmother to one adorable granddaughter. She claims her lifestyle allows her to be more involved and participate in activities with her family that she might not otherwise be as able to engage in if she lived in a traditional home, with its required costs and upkeep.
Just a little over four years ago, Kathy found herself at the end of a long-term relationship. With all of her children grown, she found herself living alone in a three-bedroom, two-bath, two-car-garage home with a bunch of “stuff.”
“Most all of it reminded me of the pain I had and was enduring, and I felt I needed to change my surroundings,” she said. “A friend made contact with me and after talking about my heartbreak recommended I look at this little 30-foot fifth wheel that was for sale.” She ended up paying $2,000 for the fifth wheel and proceeded to remodel it, investing another $1,000. Gutting it and putting in new flooring, furniture, counter tops, and sinks with the help of some amazing friends allowed her to begin her lifestyle change.
Since that initial purchase and remodel over four years ago, Kathy has upgraded a couple of times. Her second tiny home was a 35-foot RV with an extra bathroom and two bunks in the back. She just recently upgraded once again to a deluxe model. Her current home is a 35-foot with four slide-outs, offering a very roomy feel. With a wraparound kitchen counter, a built-in desk, a bay window, and a large bedroom and bathroom area, she is feeling content. Fully intending to continue living this way, she opted for some upgrades in addition to the increased space. The home is equipped with special double-paned windows and special sun and heat reducing window shades as well as outside shade cloths. Her trailer is also set up for four-season living, with special insulation underneath. When she mentions the stackable washer and dryer, a smile lights up her face.
If you really want to hear her get excited, asking her about her living environment will do it.
“I have no desire to live anywhere other than where I am at,” she exclaims. “I have two fire pits, beautiful grassy area, and gorgeous landscaping. I planted an apple, pear, and plum tree this year. I have a tiny garden that supplies green beans and cherry tomatoes, more than we could ever eat. I also have a beautiful deck right off my RV. There are chickens that roam the yards, lots of deer, turkeys, and snakes. We have this beautiful owl that stays in the trees. I have yellow finches and hummingbirds that surround my feeders daily. My RV community has beautiful people in it, and there is not one of them that I don’t consider a great friend. I am truly blessed where I am at. When I arrive home each day, I feel like I am in a dream. It’s so incredibly beautiful here.”
One of the biggest challenges I find with tiny living is the management of “stuff.” While I have managed to eliminate a significant amount of nonessential items, I still struggle with trying to identify what is really needed and worth keeping in order to avoid being overrun with clutter.
Kathy agrees that this is her biggest challenge.
“Where do I put all my stuff—antiques, items from having a larger home, and items from my children’s childhood?” she asks. “I have a good amount of antiques in storage and have struggled a bit with where to put everything. Currently, I have my antiques in a storage unit. I have some items (seasonal and occasional use) under my home in storage bins. I have a trailer skirt that covers some big items, like my granddaughter’s stroller, bike, etc. I am learning to live simple, and I do mean simple. My new relationship is teaching me that living even simpler is key to contentment, and I am finding great relief from it.”
For Kathy, the lifestyle offers huge rewards. She loves her community and the environment where she lives. Plus, the lifestyle she is able to live comes with tremendous benefit. She was spending almost $1,100 monthly in her last conventional home over four years ago.
“I am not even a third of that cost,” she says. “This type of living is simple. The savings living this way allows me to live content. I can afford to purchase toys (two quads, kayaks, etc.) without worrying about how to pay for them. We can take our quads from the driveway and go to some of the most amazing trails. It is quiet. All of my friends love the idea of living like I do. The RV park I live in is just a wonderful community. Many nights, we gather at someone’s patio and enjoy wonderful conversations, laughter, and good food. The community, the simplicity, the nature surrounding me, the quiet, and the beautiful night skies all make this type of living worthwhile.”
The simple lifestyle also allows Kathy time to engage in other hobbies she enjoys.
“I love making things from pallets and up-cycling items,” she says. Her favorite is a bench made out of a queen-size headboard and foot board. The seat is old barn wood. Her entire deck is made out of pallets with filler wood here and there. The seats on the deck couch are made from two crib mattresses that she covered. Recently, she purchased a large number of old windows. She painted one for a girlfriend’s birthday and has given a couple away as frames for pictures. A volunteer opportunity as support staff for Iron Man has provided a newfound affection for participating in running and other sports. She is beginning training for a Spartan race in which she will be completing with a group of friends.
“From my home, I have some of the best training areas, with large hills, sandy hikes, and long trails,” she shared.
Visiting with Kathy helped solidify some of my own thoughts and longings in my personal tiny living journey. One of the greatest things I am finding along my path is the sense of genuine community. Those I have met both in person and online, either contemplating or currently living the lifestyle, are some of the most authentic people I have ever met. One of the things I would really like to incorporate, at some point, is to live in a community setting with other people living the tiny living lifestyle, a place where the sense of community goes beyond the occasional nods of hello as neighbors jump on or off the wheel of the daily rat race. I dream of being in a community where neighbors gather often, whether that be around a campfire, pallet porch, or shared space—a place where we come together to eat, converse, sing, laugh, or play. Maybe a community garden, a shared kitchen, or a movie projected on the side of a tiny home under the stars.
Make it count!
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Tiny Living in a Giant World is all about sharing ideas, ideals, and experiences related to living essentially, happily, gratefully, and simply. Presenting methods in which one can apply to living a more meaningful and purposeful life to the level determined individually suitable. Exploring simple living while living fully.
George Scott is a single dad living the tiny home lifestyle with his son and their dog. George states, “Simplicity doesn’t mean having nothing. It’s not about sacrifice; rather, it’s about eliminating clutter (tangible non-utilized items, over-extended schedules and commitments, etc) and allowing for the meaningful (life-breathing activities and relationships). Though, in its infancy, the tiny home movement is poised to be one of the biggest housing trends in the coming years. People from all demographics are making the move for varying reasons. One does not need to live in a tiny home to apply many of the principles employed. The areas of particular interest for engaging in this adventure and nature of this column stem from several perspectives: mobility/freedom, affordability/economics, simplicity, sustainability/environmental impact, and self-sufficiency.” Join in the discussion here or find George at www.facebook.com/tinylivingworld or email him at [email protected].