October 11 marks our 1 year anniversary of living in our tiny home, a 200 square foot converted school bus we lovingly call the “Just Right Bus”. In the past year we’ve learned a lot and made a few mistakes. I’d like to share some of what our time in the bus has taught us about living tiny.

Downsizing doesn’t stop once you move into a Tiny Home.
Keeping track of the amount of belongings we own seemed like it’d be a breeze compared to going from 1600 to 200 square feet. To be honest though, old habits die hard. It takes constant vigilance for us to keep our home neat and clutter free. I’m regularly evaluating what we have, what we need, and what we want to ensure only the most important or precious items remain in our limited space.

I learned that the best way to avoid buying things you don’t need is to stay away from stores or commit to only buying what’s on a prewritten list. Your time and money are worth more than the moment of pleasure you might get from buying that shiny thing you think you want. Even after a year of practicing this, I still sometimes have to step away from an item in the store and say out loud to myself “do I truly need this?” or “where would I put this?” The hardest part is saying “no thank you” to perfectly good free items from family or friends. It definitely gets easier with practice.

We will never be 100% done.
The truth is that there’s always something to be done, something that can be improved upon, something to fix. Many improvements can only come to fruition once you’ve lived in and used a space. For example, we were storing all of our small toiletry items in one giant drawer in the closet. My nail polish was buried under boxes of bandaids, dental floss and q-tips and sorting through it all to find what you needed was a real pain. We thought about it for a few months and then came up with the idea to make a medicine cabinet out of a space that was serving as a shelf. Now we can easily see and access our toiletries without hassle. So my advice is to just be patient and open. Reflect on what you use, what you do and what you need and the ideas will come. To get over the desire to be “done” I just remind myself that this process and our lives are about the journey, not the destination.

Medicine cabinet before

Medicine cabinet after

We are not stuck
Some people seem to think our bus is a means to an end, that we’re living in it just until we can afford something bigger or better. The truth is that we have no timeline for when we plan to move out and we are incredibly happy in our home. One fact that we do feel great about is that in the 1 year we’ve lived in the bus it has paid for itself. If we were to walk away right now, we would have actually saved money compared to renting.

Kelly and Chris in their converted bus home

Living in a tiny home is a big change and a commitment but unlike a traditional home, after a relatively short period of time, you could choose to walk away and not be financially underwater. To anyone seriously considering living in a tiny home because they think it’s a place they will be happy, I highly recommend it. It has changed us in ways we never could have imagined. Although tiny homes aren’t for everyone, ours is Just Right for us and we hope yours is Just Right for you too!

Kelly Ross is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings. She lives in a converted school bus that is neither too hot nor too cold with her husband and two dogs. You can learn more about Kelly and her “Just Right Bus” at her website or Facebook Page.

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