Living in a tiny space — early thoughts

On my first night in our tiny house on wheels, I had a nightmare.

Like a lot of my weirdest dreams, it was set in a rundown house we lived in about a decade ago (though the house in the dreams never looks much like the actual house). In the dream, a woman had broken into the house and surprised Tom and me. Then other intruders emerged from cupboards and wardrobes and began saying mean things. I quarrelled with these people and grew angry.

Then I woke up in pain. The nightmare had made me lash out with my foot, and stub my toe on the ceiling.


(Actually the second toe. Tip: never Google images for “stubbed toe”. You will faint.

How often do you get to say that? Well, if you regularly stub your toe on the ceiling I don’t want to know the details, the point I’m making is that living in the tiny space of the Mustard Yellow House is testing my body in unusual ways. As it was bound to do — yet not as much as I feared.


Our day in the sun

Through the miracle of solar power our fridge now runs all the time, we can charge our devices, and our plugged-in modem gives us the internet.

Other things too, and we’re exploring the possibilities. This is only the second full day of solar power, after all.

One important thing I can do is run the PC during the day, which means I can write and work (and look for more work). Tonight we might try watching a movie, and see what that does to the battery.


Because our lives are now rather tied to the battery and the little percentage figure it sends to a monitor installed next to the bathroom door. Right now the percentage is 100, which is a nice figure, but of course it falls as we use more power and rises the next day with the sun. (more…)

Why On Earth Are We Doing This?

It’s an obvious question, if wordy: Why would Tom and I shed our books and microwave and 50-inch TV along with most of our possessions and our connection to modern sewerage in order to live in a 23-square-metre house-on-wheels in a New Zealand paddock?

IMG_5818One reason why I haven’t explained this yet is that I thought you, my 19 gentle readers, would prefer to see pictures of the house. Another reason is that I lost track, because for at least a year, I have NOT asked myself this question.

I’ve been signed up to the plan, certain through all the unpredictabilities that this was a good and smart thing to do. I’ve done the thinking, made my peace with it and put all my heart into it.

So to explain our motivations, I have to step back and remember the reasons. Here they are, in no reliable kind of order. (more…)

Our House Comes Home

Yesterday I waited by State Highway 1 at the entrance to Makahuri for a special moment: my first glimpse of our tiny house on the move, and its arrival at its (and our) new home.

The house and its towing Mazda BT-50, with Jack at the wheel, left Carterton at 2.30pm. At the foot of the Rimutaka range, Jack stopped for a safety check before crossing the mountains…

Mustard house safety stop Abbots Creek

Then he followed this route — the blue line from Carterton but then the route that’s marked as 1 minute faster (the alternative would have been impossibly narrow and winding)…

Route map


How Our House Looks Now

In my first and second posts on this blog, I showed you what our house looks like. Most of the photos were months old, and the house has progressed. So today, here are my latest photos, taken a few days ago at the builder’s yard where the house is being finished.

Let’s start with the “front” of the house — the bit that’ll face north into the sun.

TH northeast

See how the wheels are at each end of the house, unlike a lot of tiny houses, which have the wheels in the middle. We think this makes the house more stable and steerable. (more…)

We Have Land

On Saturday we signed to rent a site for our tiny house. Finally, after two handshake agreements fell through in the space of a month, we have land.

The land is what we New Zealanders call a “paddock” — a rectangle of flat grassland with an east-to-west row of trees at the north, breaking the prevailing wind…

Site looking north… and a derelict building just beyond the southern border…

Site looking south

“Derelict,” you say, eyes wide and concerned about our wellbeing. And yes, it’s very run-down and robbed out, with pigeons roosting in its joists. But this building has quite a history; if walls could talk, these ones would shout, cry, curse, and sing hymns in unison. (more…)

Adaptability Is A Muscle, And I’m Working It

Lego-man-working-outIn a few weeks Tom and I will move into our tiny house on wheels. What will it be like? I think it will be like one of those thought experiments that physicists dream up to show how bizarre the universe is at those rare moments when things are all squeezed or travelling unbelievably fast.

Our wok might not turn square and our shampoo might not start reciting poetry, but things are going to be weird. In that tiny, mustard-coloured, squished-up singularity, I expect space, time and space-time to behave differently from how it has in the universe we’ve known.

What will fail to fit in our house that we really, really need? Which simple action — like walking past each other — will be impossible? Which habits will we have to lose?

We don’t know. But living in 23 square metres is bound to be one of the biggest adjustments either of us will ever make.

We will have to adapt, adjust, and evolve. (more…)

A Bump In The Road, And Awesome News

Our tiny-house plan was looking perfect — too perfect, as we found out last night. For the second time this month, a deal to rent a site for our tiny house fell through. It’s a bump in the road, but fear not, I have some nice news too.

PotholeFirst, that bump in the road. Here’s the situation: Tom and I are staying in a rental holiday house with the dogs, and doing pretty well. We had agreed orally with a landowner to rent part of his rural block, along with a powered and plumbed studio but not the garage it is connected to.

For us it was a “wow” deal. Electricity, wow. A toilet, wow. Lockable storage space, wow. A place where Tom could set up his massage table, wow.

But then the bitch-goddess of broken relationships interceded. (more…)