Some of my earliest memories are actually of tiny living. When I was a young child, we had a motor boat that to me seemed huge. It was actually about 27 feet long. I remember the sense of awe I felt as we travelled over the water on what seemed to me to be our house, never missing anything that we had at our house.
When that boat sank in an accident, my adventuresome parents decided to build a sailboat in our garage. The 22 foot sailboat took two years to finish. I had benefit of seeing the boat slowly take shape through what I could see was a lot of hard work. Then, I had the magical experience of living on this tiny home on the water with my entire family (five of us). While others had a cottage on a lake, we lived in this portable cottage and travelled many lakes over the course of my childhood.
It probably comes as no surprise that I am outdoorsy and love to camp. In my early twenties, I went on a five-month trip to New Zealand. I cycled some parts and took a bus for others, but for virtually all of the five months, I lived in an RTT (Really Tiny Tent), which barely fit my backpack and sleeping bag, and I could not stand up in. For five months! When I got home, I really couldn’t remember why I needed any other stuff than what was in my backpack. That was an eye-opener, for sure!
Fast forward seven years to the year 2000. I was living in London, Ontario and suddenly decided that I wanted to live in a trailer. Never mind that I had never actually slept in a trailer, and had only ever visited a trailer once, one which belonged to a friend’s parents. Never mind that I knew nothing about trailers and trailer shopping….nothing…zero. Undeterred, I bought the first trailer I looked at, an old 8 x 22 foot Corsair with a pretty blue stripe on it. I paid what was my total life savings at that time for the trailer, a large wad of cash.
When my new neighbours at the campground checked out my purchase, I was complimented that I had, indeed, got a great deal. “Did I check underneath the trailer to make sure that the floor wasn’t rotted out?” Nooooo…….It turned out to be in good shape. “Did I know that having a double axel was a great feature?” Nooooo…. “Did I have the propane system checked to make sure it didn’t have any leaks?” Noooo…..“Had I checked the awning before I bought the trailer?” Noooo…I guess you could say that I just got lucky, but I felt at the time like God was looking out for me and my tiny living dream.
The location I had chosen to place my trailer was a beautiful conservation area on the eastern edge of London. There were many nature trails and a fairly sizeable man-made lake, Fanshawe Lake. Living there, I could enjoy quiet nature at home and drive to work in the city of London in about 20 minutes.
In addition, I was attracted to tiny living because of the savings compared to city rent. Even though I had paid the handsome sum of $3,000 for the trailer, it paid for itself relative to even modest rent in London ($400) in only eight months.
However, living in the trailer community brought many unanticipated gifts with it. My neighbours were kind and helpful to the newbie in their midst. I got tips on how to hook up propane tanks and what I needed to build an adequate grey water system. Noticing that I didn’t have a front step, one neighbour brought their old one by to help me out.
There was only one problem with my tiny living lifestyle: I could not live there in the winter. Each fall, as the weather got colder and colder, the trailer would be more and more miserable to live in. Even then, I would dread leaving the beautiful campground to live in an apartment in the city. I wanted to live tiny all year round, but at that time, it just didn’t seem possible.
After five happy years in the trailer, I sold it when I left London to return to school in Toronto. I still have many fond memories of my time in that tiny living community and still keep in touch with some of my old neighbours there.
Colette has worked as a professional researcher and freelance writer for almost 20 years.
In 1999, Colette began living tiny full-time in an 8 x 22 foot RV trailer. She shared this home with her partner, Peter, and their dog, Indy for five years (excluding winters).
She currently lives year-round near Kingston, Ontario in an off-grid THOW powered by the sun while she prepares to build a small off-grid cabin for her permanent residence.
Check out her personal blog at http://mytinyhouseadventures.blogspot.com