Yes, You Can Live In A Tiny House With Kids

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Originally published on ExpertSure.

imageDo 2 adults and 2 children fit into a 207 square foot Tiny House? Yes, absolutely, say Kim and Ryan Kasl, a Minnesota couple who have two young children, 6-year-old Sully and 4-year-old Story.

You have probably heard of the tiny house movement. Mimi Zeiger in her book Micro Green: Tiny Houses in Nature describes it this way, “In the wake of the United States’ housing crisis and the overall global recession, the single-family home—once the celebratory site of domestic accomplishment—has become not a symbol of pride and freedom, but a prison of economic uncertainty.” Wow. Those are strong words.

Building a tiny house can help families avoid taking out a mortgage because a it costs much less to build than a conventional house. Going tiny also means that your water, sewage, garbage, and electricity bills are much less. And because a tiny house is, by definition, tiny, you can’t fit much stuff into it. Less stuff to buy means more money in your pocket.

A tiny house is also kind to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that between 2000 and 2050, global energy use will go up 300 percent. This drastic increase in energy and material consumption will put a huge strain on the environment. Going tiny will help reduce that impact. And don’t forget- needing less money to pay bills opens up many opportunities to use your time for enjoyment and recreation. “I love that as Ryan climbs the ladder in his career we are not upgrading our home, cars, and ultimately, our debt,” explained Kim Kasl. “Instead we’re simplifying our lifestyle while upgrading our experiences and adventures. I want the weight of excess responsibilities and bills to be gone so we can be free to do awesome things together as a family.”

Your time becomes opened up for activities that make you happy, regardless of whether they make you money. And beyond giving you more time to spend with friends and family, tiny living often forces you to spend more time outdoors, which is proven to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety- but, can you actually raise kids in a 200-square-foot house?

How do you cultivate personal space? Or have friends over? And as kids grow up, have sleepovers, and hit puberty, is tiny house living even possible? The Kasl say yes, absolutely. They began by taking baby steps. “When we knew for sure that we were going to build a tiny house, everything started gradually,” she explained. “We ‘moved’ downstairs first and brought everything we needed with us. That left the rest to be easily sifted through, boxed up, and shipped out.”

After moving downstairs, the family moved back upstairs and went through the process again. After a couple of moves within their old home, they were able to differentiate between items they actually needed and ones they could do without. If you have something that won’t fit in your tiny house but you don’t want to part with, get creative. Ask friends and family if you can store something at their place. “The one thing we refused to get rid of was our collection of books,” said Kasl. “We just keep a bookshelf at our grandparents’ homes and swap books out for fresh ones when we visit.”

Entertaining family and friends involves designing outdoor spaces to fill the need — decks, patios, a grilling area, even a hot tub can keep you from living like hermits.

But what about the kids? Do they really like the tiny house life? “They love everything that has to do with our new lifestyle. Seriously. No exaggeration at all,” said Kasl. She says her kids don’t even want to go back to their old house. “They want to get back home to the tiny house as quick as they can.” They don’t even mention the toys lost in the transition or the bedrooms that no longer exist. They seem eager to help with chores like cleaning, cooking, and gathering firewood.

Looking down the road to when the children are older, the Kasl already have a plan. “We are looking forward to a big high school project of helping each of the kids build their own tiny houses. [That] will give them an opportunity to gain construction skills, learn how to be self-sufficient, and give them the option of starting a life with mortgage freedom.”

What about “cabin fever” during the long Minnesota winters? “I think anyone who stays inside all winter might go a little crazy, no matter the size of their house. We plan on getting out,” said Kasl. And, when at home, her family has embraced the new list of chores and responsibilities that winter has brought. “It feels like a vacation: peaceful, simple, exciting,” she said. “We love it completely.”

Living With Children in Your Tiny House

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Source | Images: Yes Magazine, with photos by Kim Kasl.

Reprinted with permission.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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