Sitting in a hotel in Cambodia, my partner and I questioned whether we keep traveling the world or return to the U.S. We didn’t have to come back, and we certainly didn’t want to return to the same old way of life we had before we started traveling. So, we asked ourselves what we wanted life to look like if we returned to the States… The answer: We would move into an RV!
Our new tiny house would be where we live, work, and travel full-time—but it’s only 200 square feet!
**The average hotel room in the U.S. is 325 square feet, just to give you a frame of reference.**
I admit I wondered if I would be able to make the transition to living in such a small space. I had grown up in a big family home, and as an adult lived in one or two-bedroom apartments with the exception of living in a small studio during my year in Los Angeles. Traveling gave me some experience with living in small spaces, but I don’t travel with literally everything I own in my suitcase. It took me some time, preparation, and research to wrap my head around downsizing to fit all of my belongings in an RV. By move-in day, I was ready for the challenge!
That was a year ago! I’ve learned and grown so much from living in this space, even after only one year. Looking back on the year, I have gathered my insights to give you an inside look at what it’s like to live in 200 square feet.
Less does not mean lack.
First, a common misconception is that less means lack. We may not have endless counter space and walk-in closets, but we are abundant! 200 square feet meets all of our “needs” and then some. We have so much room that we actually have a lot of luxury items that you wouldn’t expect to fit in such a small space. We have:
- A printer (it lives in the bathroom closet),
- An instant hot water machine and amazing water filtration system (both worth the precious counter space they take),
- Four different ways to make coffee (even with a milk frother),
- A pantry super stocked on everything (I think we have over 20 pounds of rice in our pantry right now, and that’s just rice),
- And, between the two of us, we have eight pillows (that’s like one pillow for every 25 square feet!).
We have done so much with our tiny space, from hosting dinners and having family over to hosting friends for sleepovers. I cannot believe I once thought that having less space meant I would be lacking in some way. I have come to understand it was actually a limitation that I was putting on myself. 200 square feet can feel really big or really small, it all depends on your mindset. Now, as I write this I am realizing that I have experienced more love, joy, happiness, and excitement in this past year than ever before in my life!
Small spaces force you to get creative, or else. I have had to put on my thinking cap and figure out creative ways to organize our space.
No room for shoes? I cut up over-the-door shoe hangers and had my partner install the smaller pieces under the RV bed! No home office? I got a bed desk! No laundry room? I hide the drying rack under the couch!
I love the challenge to remove any mental limitations and just make the space work with me. Now, we do a lot with our space. We make our own bread, make our own soap, make our own cleaning supplies, make our own butter (vegan of course), dye my hair at home, and we run three businesses and a non-profit from our RV. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need more space to be able to do more things. You just have to think bigger!
This was a big one for me because I didn’t notice how much clutter affects my energy and thoughts until I didn’t have clutter anymore. All the birthday cards, movie and concert tickets that maybe you’ll put in a scrapbook someday, the prom and homecoming dresses, or the outfit you’ll never wear again except maybe it would work as a Halloween costume… I wouldn’t have called myself a hoarder, but don’t we all often hold onto things longer than we need to? It got real when I spent a few weeks doing a massive cleanse of everything I had left in storage and had a huge garage sale. I committed to not keeping anything at the end of my garage sale and listed what was left for free on Craigslist. I literally felt lighter at the end of that day knowing that I let go of so much that no longer served me. (Who can wear 80 pairs of shoes anyways?!) We’ve all felt it at one point or another—like at work when you are suddenly more productive after cleaning and organizing your desk. There is a direct mental connection and 'weight' to all of the things in your life.
Break the “shopping cycle”.
Living in a small space has definitely made me more resourceful! I use one thing for multiple uses (like our soap making box doubles as a computer desk for my partner). And, whenever I have an event to go to, I don’t buy new clothes just because; I take on the challenge to mix up what I already own into something wonderful. Because our space is mobile, everything has to be put away and secured every time we move to a new location. This means I essentially touch everything we own EVERY time we move, which can be as often as every three to five days when we’re on the road. I am deeply connected to everything in our space serving a purpose or it has to go. After all, I can only wear one hat, one pair of shoes, one shirt, or one pair of yoga pants at a time. When choosing what went into my tiny closet, I picked all of my absolute favorite things.
Do I have only one winter hat? Yes. Do I see really cute hats that I find adorable? Yes. Do I have room for them? No.
This made me face an issue that I hadn’t ever thought about: Shopping is often used to fill an emotional void of some kind. I had been buying clothes, shoes, handbags, and jewelry all the years of my life and feeling like I would be more after obtaining them. My worth was assigned to the material items I could acquire, instead of coming from within. I can live without the hundreds of things I used to have because I am enough just as I am. I don’t need five cute winter hats to be whole; I just have one and that is enough. And, you know what else? Nobody notices or cares!
The world is your playground.
Our small space is cozy and I love it, but I do feel like stretching my legs and getting out a lot more than when I lived in a large house or apartment. I take my computer to the library or coffee shops, do yoga in the park, have dinner al fresco, and workout primarily outside. I often say the world is my playground, and RV life certainly encourages that. It’s not just about having a tiny space either, having a home on wheels has made us more mobile and free. We are able to travel and have a space to call home at the same time. As a result, we have seen some of the most magical places in the U.S. Bonus: A smaller space means less cleaning and maintenance, so I actually have more time to do all of the things I want to do. Read more, walk in nature, and explore all the beautiful places we visit.
All of this isn’t to say that 200 square feet is perfect all the time. We do occasionally feel cramped with the amount of counter space when cooking, and I have to do the dishes on a very regular basis because it doesn’t take much to make a big pile in our tiny kitchen. Even with those small quirks, I am grateful for our space and I love tiny home living. It is a challenge that has been inspiring and made me grow a lot.
Have any questions about tiny home and RV living? Drop them in the comments and I’d love to answer them!