We didn't plan on a Tiny House at first. About two years back, when the housing market was making its comeback and we were 9 years into the 30-year mortgage of our two-story, four-bedroom house, we realized that it had become too big for us. The daily trips up and down the stairs, especially for Mona who was working at home - though in hindsight was great exercise - was taking their toll as we entered our fifties. It was a house with no practical backyard, with neighbors - other than a select few - who were less than neighborly (to be polite about it).
Our kids were just about gone. Our son had moved out years before and our daughter was seriously considering that as well with a now-fiance entering her life. The "empty nest" we had heard about was becoming a reality. And it was a BIG nest.
Initially, we thought about single-level ranch style homes nearby. Perhaps even a condo. But they all had one major drawback: cost. You see, we were in a mortgage with a super low interest rate and an equally low monthly payment - lower than most rents anywhere in town. Selling the house after paying off the mortgage and other key debt pieces left us with just enough for a down payment. But then the 30-year clock reset and we would have a higher interest rate and higher monthly payments. No matter how we crunched the numbers, no matter the scenario, it just didn't make sense.
Mona had been looking at Tiny Houses for a while by this time, watching videos on social sites, and mentioned them to me. Of course, I immediately shot down the idea. We had too much stuff! All of our collectibles, our paintings, our curios and knick-knacks. There was a reason our garage barely fit our two cars. How could we go from such a large house to something, by definition, is less than 400 square feet? Inconceivable!
Time marches on and in early-2019, we started looking into selling the house. We weren't sure where we would end up, but we had to do something. I also began researching tiny homes in more earnest, and fortuitously I came across the YouTube channel of Bryce Langston called Living Big In A Tiny House. HIGHLY RECOMMEND by the way. Watching his videos and others I found, I soon realized that maybe, just maybe we could do this.
There was so much to think about. Downsizing sure - that would be a major challenge. But that ended up being the least of our concerns. There were builders to find, a design to er, design. And perhaps the BIGGEST TINY hurdle: location, location, location. Sooooo many ways cities and counties and the state made it SO DIFFICULT finding a spot to live LEGALLY in a tiny house. From zoning ordinances to allowances (or lack thereof) for ADUs (Accessible Dwelling Units - aka "Mother-in-Law" housing) to simply a lack of available tiny house parking and communities in Northern California.
And then there was the misperceptions of what Tiny Houses really were. So many people - RV and Mobile Home Park owners especially - had this image of a beat-up converted "Schoolie" (school bus) or a homemade shack haphazardly stuck on an old trailer. Yes, admittedly those do exist. But tiny houses can be so much more! But that lack of understanding led to SO many brick walls at places where we should have been able to park.
We found ourselves in the unenvious position of wanting to sell our house, pay off most of our debt and using the remaining proceeds from the sale to buy our tiny house. But without a guaranteed spot to park it with the hookups we needed to live, we couldn't proceed with any of it. And unbeknownst to us, a "world of change" was marching toward us. Time was more of the essence than we could ever have imagined...
COMING NEXT: How through what we now realize was amazingly fortunate timing, the dominos in this crazy process started falling in place...