US parents Kim and Ryan Kasl are raising two young children without benefit of washer, dryer or TV. And they’re doing it in a tiny 24.8-square-metre house.
But they don’t feel deprived. “This is a choice,” Kim Kasl says of her family’s decision to live a minimalist life in a portable one-room cottage perched next to a sparkling lake in Minnesota.
The choice has allowed the family to get by on one income, to home-school their kids and “instil amazing values – valuing experiences and time together over stuff we store in our house”.
The tiny house doubles as a school room. Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii
It’s been almost two years since the couple and their children – Sully, 7, Story, 6, and Brinkley their shih tzu – downsized from a 185-square-metre suburban rambler to their tiny house. They had to shed most of their furniture, shoes and clothes, toys and their big-screen TV.
Their dishes now fit in one drawer. “Everybody’s got a plate. If one breaks, we go to Goodwill and get another,” Kim Kasl says.
“Evening at the campfire. Today was a gardening day! And a jumping off the dock day!” Photo: Instagram
Kim Kasl inside the family’s tiny house. Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii
Impractical, special-occasion clothing, such as high heels, were purged. “I have one pair of jeans.”
But the couple accepted the spartan realities of tiny-house living because they were eager to embrace a life unencumbered by debt, burdensome belongings and endless household chores. And they say it feels like freedom, even after weathering two winters in such close quarters.
“We love it,” says Kim Kasl, a former wedding photographer who does the home-schooling. She remains an upbeat cheerleader for tiny-house living, speaking at events and blogging at blessthistinyhouse南京桑拿. “When you eliminate excess and unnecessary things that cause you stress, what’s left is everything good.”
“Everything is GREEN! ???? We have flowers blooming, birds singing, and kids jumping in the lake! I’m excited for all of the white trim to be painted brown, along with the pvc pipe venting the composting toilet. Then maybe I’ll work paint the shed. And we’ll be aesthetically complete!” Photo: Instagram
Not that there haven’t been challenges, she admits, starting with finding the right place to put their tiny house. Zoning and building codes have not caught up with the tiny-house movement.
“We were roadblocked, roadblocked, roadblocked.”
Finally they found a lakeside lot, which formerly held two RVs. It wasn’t suitable for building a normal-sized new house, but there was room for a tiny house.
Kasl can’t think of a thing she doesn’t like about life in their micro house, although she would like an in-home alternative to the laundromat.
Ryan Kasl, who works as a special education administrator, appreciates the financial benefits of simpler living. The family was able to build the tiny house for around US$30,000 ($39,600), thanks to hands-on help from family members and discounts and connections they were able to access as part of appearing on TV’s Tiny House Nation.
The couple say it has freed up funds for travel, including a trip to the Tiny House Jamboree next month, where Kim will be a featured speaker.
“We’ve had a lot of adventures and new experiences,” she says. “We don’t feel our life is tiny.”
Tiny houses, it seems, are everywhere. There are countless books and TV shows about how to find, build and live in them, and you can’t log on to your laptop without seeing a tiny-house Facebook link or YouTube video. But while many people are curious about drastic downsizing, very few are taking the plunge.
Tiny homes – under 46 square metres – represent a growing but still very tiny slice of the housing market, less than half of 1 per cent of all homes for sale in the US this year, according to Trulia, a residential real estate website.
The Kasls’ tiny house features a sleeping loft – a raised platform at each end of the single room, connected by a narrow catwalk. It also comes with a composting toilet, small wood-burning stove and clever but minimal storage space.
Each child has three small plastic bins for storing their entire wardrobe. The family also has a good-sized storage shed next door where they stash toilet paper, paper towels and off-season clothing.
During the summer months, their lake setting is idyllic. The kids play outside, the family eats meals at their picnic table and they have a campfire just about every night.
“In the winter, we go to the ‘Y’, the library, visit family and friends,” says Kim Kasl.
When they want to gather a large group, they meet at a restaurant – or use Airbnb to rent “someone else’s big house”.
– Star Tribune