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My Tiny House Journey. Why I Moved Out & What’s Next!

My Tiny House Journey. Why I Moved Out & What’s Next!

I’ve been meaning to write this article for awhile. My struggle is that I know people may judge me as a “sell out” and/or a “phony.”  I shouldn’t care what the haters think, but that is the flaw of the human condition. Although I’ve said all of this several times in videos and blog posts, I get the feeling that people want me to make a formal announcement. So, here goes – I don’t live in my Tiny House full time. I never planned on living in my Tiny House forever. I have decades of life ahead of me, and my house (in whatever capacity) will need to accommodate whatever comes my way. That being said, I DO still feel that I’m a Tiny House advocate and minimalist. I DO still love my Tiny Home and the Tiny House movement.

You Can Also Watch the Video I Made About Why I Moved Out of my Tiny House:

Quick Recap of My Tiny House Journey

This journey has been a long and winding road. It all started when I was 26 years old, when I was living in a large apartment in Los Angeles with a job I hated and a pathetic savings account. I knew something had to change…

Photo : 2014. My first trip with my Tiny Home / California
  • 2013-2014 : I helped build my Tiny Home with a lot of help from friends, family, and my (then) boyfriend.
  • 2014-2015 : I traveled the USA and Canada with my Tiny House in tow, visiting 30 states and 5 provinces, and clocking over 25,000 miles. I started documenting Tiny Houses on YouTube, which eventually became an unexpected career.
Photo: 2015. Stopped to smell the flowers while traveling with the Tiny House.
  • 2016: 30 years young and fresh off of a break-up, I parked my Tiny House in a Tiny House village in Oregon. I lived alone with my dog. Over the next year I paid off all my debts. My YouTube channel began to grow and become profitable. I was finally able to save some money for the first time in my life, thanks to my low housing expenses. Oh, and I met someone special – Nabil! He becomes pretty important, but at the time he lived 4 hours away in Seattle…
Bio Jenna
Photo: 2017. I was living solo in my Tiny Home in Oregon

Sometimes the two things you love, don’t exactly mix.

In 2017, Nabil and I had been dating a little more than a year, and it was definitely time to move in together. I was thrilled, but also a little apprehensive about this big life change. I finally found someone that I loved, and loved me back in a way that was so perfect, but a small part of me was scared to leave my Tiny House. At this point, I had been living in that space for over 3 years. I was 31 years old, and starting to become comfortable with having my own space. Maybe too comfortable. Without friends or family living nearby, the Tiny House had become (in many ways) my entire identity. It was my shelter, my job, and my security blanket. I was thankful for it beyond words, but I needed to make space for more in my life.

Photo: 2018. Nabil & I traveling through Morocco (I’m on my tip-toes).

You might ask: why not have Nabil move in with you? First of all, Nabil is a giant. He’s 6’6″, towering 14 inches over my head! There are taller people living in Tiny Homes, but MY Tiny House was NOT built for someone of his stature. You have to specifically build and design a Tiny House, Skoolie, or Van for extra tall people. Nabil constantly hits his head on doorways, low hanging lights, and he can’t sit up in the loft. He’s a trooper, but let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be comfortable living in my house full time. Secondly, Nabil owns a business in Seattle, Washington, which is notoriously not a Tiny House friendly city (at least it wasn’t in 2017). Asking him to move away from his hometown, his job, and his family, to live in a house where he doesn’t fit would be VERY selfish.

A Tiny House MUST be built and designed to fit the owners, or it will fail!

Since living in my Tiny House together was not a realistic option, we started discussing moving into Nabil’s house. On our first date, Nabil told me (before he knew I lived in a Tiny House) that he was a minimalist. He was proud to live in a tiny 460 square foot cottage in Seattle. I chuckled when he called his home a “Tiny House.” Admittedly, 460 square feet is pretty darn small, but he had no idea what he was saying… or who he was saying it to. When he saw my house (160 square feet), he was amazed what could fit inside of such a small space. Over the next 4 years, I would take him through hundreds of Tiny Home tours.

Photo: Nabil attempting to fit in a few different Tiny Houses

Knowing that Nabil already lived as a minimalist helped me move into his small cottage.

Another factor that swayed my decision to move out of my Tiny House was my desire to have a family one day. When I built the Tiny House, I was only 26 and a little naive. My goal was to live in the Tiny House for a year, and I wasn’t really thinking much beyond that. As the years went on, the drive to have a baby started to become an important goal of mine. I know, I know. I’m a walking 30-something cliché, but I’m okay with that! The truth is, my house was holding me back from making my baby-dreams a reality.

For the record: I’m not saying you can’t have babies in a Tiny House, or that you can’t be tall and live in a Tiny House. People do it all the time (click here for a story I recently covered of a tall skoolie). I am, however, saying that my Tiny House is not meant for babies or extra tall partners. I think a small house for a small family would be nice. Nabil was super accommodating to my anxieties, and he agreed with everything I pictured for our future. So, we did it! It took about 2 hours to pack up all my belongings. One loaded car ride later, I was moved-in. There are many benefits to being a minimalist.

Flash forward to 2019, Nabil asked me to marry him while we were on vacation in India!

5 months later we were married in October 2019

But what about my Tiny House?!

Don’t worry, I didn’t leave it behind. I couldn’t bare to sell, so I found a way to convert the space into a gorgeous vacation home. In 2018, I moved my Tiny House to Whidbey Island, which is only one hour from Seattle. The beauty of having a house on wheels is that you can bring it along! Nabil and I consider it our second home, and we visit the house whenever we need a break from the city. Parking on private property has really allowed us to expand our outdoor space and create a private oasis. Last year we built a detached porch, which I love!  When we are in our tiny cottage in Seattle, I rent my Tiny House on AirBNB so that others try out the lifestyle.

Photo: 2020. My Tiny House on Whidbey Island, WA
2020: My Tiny House on a sunny day on Whidbey Island.

Why I Still Consider Myself a Minimalist & Tiny House Advocate

  • You CAN be a minimalist in ANY size home. Minimalism is about your connection with your belongings, not the space you live in. Believe it or not, there are people living in Tiny Houses that aren’t minimalists. And there are people living in large homes that are!
  • I built a Tiny House
  • I lived in 160 square feet for 3 years
  • I STILL own and live in my Tiny House part-time
  • I rent out my Tiny House to others, helping them embrace and try out the lifestyle
  • I now live in a small house – only 460 square feet (for now) – which I share with another human and a dog (that’s 230 square feet per person).
  • I produce a TON of content that helps others embrace the Tiny House movement, including informational articles and hundreds of videos on my YouTube channel.
  • One day, I dream that my kids will use my Tiny House as their first home. Speaking of, I have one more thing to share…

Baby Bump

I’m Pregnant! Baby Girl Due December 2020

This year has been crazy for everyone, and my life is no exception. Quarantine, racist atrocities, smoke & fire, politics,… it’s all too much, and not much of it is good! But one amazing thing DID happen this year – I’m pregnant!! Nabil and I found out in April, and the baby is due on Christmas Eve. Salies (our dog) is totally oblivious, but we’re so happy. My baby-dreams are coming true just before I turn 35.

Nabil & I Live in a 460 square foot 100-Year-Old Cottage in Seattle, which we are currently renovating.

I mentioned our cottage is 460 square feet, but I didn’t mention that it’s also 100 years old?! This little home could use some modern comforts and upgrades, and we’d like it to happen before baby! Nabil and I have also decided to add a bedroom and a bathroom so that the our babe can have her own room one day. The total square footage of our cottage, after the renovation, will be almost 700 square feet. I know – it’s not tiny. But if you do the math for 3 people and a dog, it’s as if we each have a Tiny House.

One final note…

I’m not here to get into a tiniest house contest. I’m here to share how living alternatively has influenced my life, made me financially stable, have a healthy relationship with my belongings, and ultimately made me dreams come true. Isn’t all you could ever want from a home? I believe living alternatively is about finding creative ways to make your house work for you, and that includes admitting when it’s time for a little more space.

Stay tuned for updates on our baby girl!

 

 

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20 Comments

  1. September 26, 2020 / 1:08 pm

    It’s all good and another stage is just months away…all the best to your continued journey

  2. karen Chaudiere
    September 26, 2020 / 8:25 am

    We have been following your story from the beginning! Congratulations on so many topics. You have been an inspiration. We live on Hood Canal now and bought 2 acres in Kingston where we will be building our tiny house in 2 years when I retire.
    We know of your AirBnb on Whidbey as we are frequent AirBnb guests and visitors to Whidbey Island.
    Karen and Rick

  3. September 26, 2020 / 5:16 am

    Congratulations! Live your life the way you want and don’t let the haters get you down. It’s all about personal choice and not comparing ourselves to others.

  4. Sheri
    September 25, 2020 / 7:56 pm

    Congratulations on the baby. I am so excited for the both of you. I met you on a Saturday in Boise Idaho many years ago and would love to rent your Airbnb once this Covid thing is over.

  5. September 25, 2020 / 6:57 pm

    Each of us are given a life to live as we choose. I have followed you since the “beginning” and I am at the stage in life where I want to downsize even more and have considered a tiny but alas bylaws are an issue. You’re moving to bigger and I’m looking for smaller, lol. The cycle of life as they say. Congratulations on you new baby girl and keep on keeping it real. I admire your honesty – like a breath of fresh air 🙂

  6. Jim Chase
    September 25, 2020 / 2:20 pm

    Jenna –

    You don’t have to justify anything to anyone.

    You have walked the walk and lived the tiny house life for several years. You have done more in those years than most people ever attempt. Moving to a bigger place is what you know will work for you in this new and wonderful stage of your life.

    My wife is obsessed with tiny houses mainly because of you. I think they are great too!

    We definitely don’t have a tiny house. Ours is 1500 square feet, but it works for us and 2 teenaged boys. We are, however, definitely minimalists, spending most of our time in the garden or playing music.

    I would, however, love to have a tiny house as a vacation place on the shore of a nearby lake, or for the kids or guests in the yard.

    Thank you for letting us vicariously enjoy your tiny house journeys. It has been amazing. I would love to see some reno videos of the tiny cottage!

    Congratulations on beginning this next stage of your life with your husband and soon to arrive baby! I hope you enjoy every minute on your new giant journey!

    All the best,

    Jim and Lynne

    • Lori
      September 26, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      I agree with Jim and Lynn! I would love to see your renovations too!!

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