My wife and I live in a tiny house. Not as small as some of those tree house/doll house thingies you see on TV, but very small nonetheless. There is a bathroom just inside the front door, and there’s a decent-sized bedroom. Between the front door and the bedroom is a small space that serves as kitchen, living room and office. When I step inside the front door, it’s 18 steps to our bed at the farthest end of our humble abode.
We have enough room for a table and the falling-apart love seat that came with the place. The love seat is my wife’s office (she works from home and spends about ten hours a day there) and where she eats her meals; she rests her laptop on a folding tray table. The table is my office (where I do my writing, that is) and where I eat my meals. The TV is wedged kitty corner on top of a bookcase and next to our printer.
My office workspace/kitchen table
My wife enjoys working remotely, and I can see the appeal (even though my own attempt in that vein was less than a positive experience). She can work any hour of the day or night (even in her PJs, if she so desires), as long as she gets everything done. It definitely saves money on gas. Also, we can travel at will, wherever there is a wifi connection.
As for me, I’m glad that I work downtown rather than being stuck in our little space all day. Yes, even with the price of gas. Even though I have to get up at 4:30 in the morning in order to snag my handicapped parking space. Even though more than once I’ve nearly met my maker while merging onto the freeway in the predawn darkness. Even though it takes me 45 minutes to drive the 12 miles home in rush hour traffic.
We have now lived here in our cozy mouse hole for 2½ years. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be here.
The best thing about our little place is that the monthly cost is far less than the inflated rents charged for the privilege of being wedged like sardines in a can known as a Sacramento apartment. And we enjoy the luxury of having everything included — electricity, heat and A/C, water, trash collection, cable. We experience extraordinarily hot summers in this part of California, and it certainly is a relief to be able to blast the A/C without worrying about a $500 electric bill (what we had to pay in June, July and August when we lived out in the Mojave Desert). This time of year, however, it gets cold. One wall of our place is attached to the owner’s garage/workshop, and I don’t think there’s much in the way of insulation. This situation is further aggravated by the wonky thermostat that we can’t get off the “temporary” setting, hence converting the air temperature from toasty to freezing several times daily.
This place was originally built as a mother-in-law suite, out in back of the main house where our landlord lived with his wife and four kids until recently. When the landlord’s in-laws decided not to live here, he began renting it out.
My wife likes the place because we’re behind a big iron gate that opens and closes electronically (so far, I’ve only hit it once while attempting to back out of the driveway). She says the gate makes her feel safe. Well, there’s a lot of crime in this area (can you tell me of an area where there isn’t?).
Recently, our landlord sold his painting and cabinet installation business. He had quite a few employees, and he was exhausted after years of supervising them here at his workshop and at installation sites. His kids were growing up fast and he felt that he didn’t spend nearly enough time with them. He is relishing in the opportunity to start afresh in Arizona, where the kids’ grandparents are close at hand. I hear he’s looking for some other type of business to run. How exciting to start a new life!
Thankfully, our landlord is not selling his house, at least not for now. He will be renting it to two women whom I believe are distantly related to him. This means that we get to keep our itty bitty love nest. We’ll stay here as long as we can, but our guess is that it won’t be too long before he sells the entire place.
Having one’s landlord reside just a few yards away comes with its pluses and minuses. In some respects, we’re rather sad to see the family go. But honestly, some things I will miss and other things I won’t.
What I’ll miss: Having the landlord just a stone’s throw away when the toilet starts leaking, we get attacked by ants, the dishwasher or microwave go wonky, or one of the recessed lights burns out (replacement of a bulb requiring the climbing of a ladder).
What I won’t miss: The used car lot vibe. Some days I’ll come home and find two enormous work vans, two of my landlord’s personal vehicles, and my wife’s little beep-beep of a Ford all wedged into the driveway. Some days we have to park on the street until a vehicle or two can be moved.
What I’ll miss: Having the kids around. They’re still a bit shy around me, but they absolutely adore my wife. And they get excited when my five year old grandniece comes to visit.
What I won’t miss: The piles of toys, bikes, tricycles and four-wheelers seemingly strewn everywhere. We’ve learned to dodge the daily detritus of a flock of kids, although we periodically end up stepping on something (an action figure, a toy truck, a grape) or running over something with a tire.
The bike pile
What I’ll miss: The little things. Showing the landlord’s wife (who home schools the kids) a shortcut for teaching the multiplication facts, receiving a surprise gift of strawberries, handing out ice pops to the kids in the summer, listening to Jonah excitedly telling me a story in incomprehensible baby talk.
What I won’t miss: Being unable to do laundry for three days in a row because the washer and dryer in the garage are blocked by a work crew busy with a big painting project. Contending with sickening paint fumes for days on end when cabinetry for multiple accounts is being painted at the same time, just on the other side of our wall. Stepping around and over cords and generators used to run the electric equipment used in the landlord’s business.
One of the landlord’s recent painting projects in the garage just on the other side of our bedroom wall.
What I’ll miss: The animals. Zoe, the German shepherd. Tiger, the striped kitty. And the flock of chickens. My heart was warmed when, at first, we were told that the family was taking all their animals with them to Arizona. Gradually, however, I discovered the truth. Zoe was given away to a nephew. (Hopefully she’ll be able to run around and get more personal attention in her new home than she does here, locked up in her pen all day.) The chickens and their coop were given to the neighbor lady. And, so far, I hear that they’re still planning on taking the cat with them. I sure hope so. My wife, who doesn’t even like cats, feeds Tiger all the time, and he follows us around every time he sees us. Wherever you end up, Tiger, I hope the rest of your nine lives are purrrfectly content.
My grandniece with Tiger
The hen flock, just outside our front door.
What I won’t miss: The animals. Zoe is a really good dog who ended up with a bum rap incarcerated in doggy jail most days. We routinely bring her our leftovers from restaurants. My wife makes her chicken broth ice pops when it’s 110 degrees outside (and goodness knows how much hotter in that thick German shepherd coat). Zoe, I won’t miss hearing your signature first bark, followed by a whine when you’re shocked by that electric collar. Cruelty! I won’t miss seeing you throwing yourself at the aluminum fencing, begging for a little attention from someone. Tiger, I won’t miss trying to figure out where you’re hiding so that I don’t accidentally run over you with my car on the way out to work. And as much as I’m charmed by the clucking and pecking of the hen flock, I won’t miss the steady parade of chicken poop left on our porch. Watch where you step!
Good luck in Phoenix, guys. May blessings be upon you.