Living differently

Tiny house – huge potential!

Currently, I am on an inspiration journey to gain new perspectives about life and work. This week, I spent two days in a tiny house just to see what it’s like. I am not sure if I could reduce my entire living space to 20-25 square meters for good, but the idea is certainly making me curious and it seems to hit the current zeitgeist: having a smaller carbon footprint, simplifying your life and putting the brakes on endless consumerism.

Have you ever vowed to yourself when you were in the process of moving house that you will not acquire any more clutter from now on? Have you then also found a couple of years later when the next move came about that there is still ever more stuff that “seemed like a good idea at the time” to buy? Do you have boxes in the basement which you haven’t even upacked from the last move? If you answered yes to some of these questions then we have something in common. We long for a cleaner, simpler way of living. But can we do it?

In a recent TV documentary I heard about a tiny house enthusiast in northern Germany. I gave him a call and found out that the place where he works and lives is only 2 hour drive away from Berlin. I had a trip planned to Berlin anyway and had some time to spare for inspiration so I booked a short stay to see for myself if I would want to join the growing group of tiny house aficionados.

The first challenge was to make fire. The model I stayed in does only have very minimal heating, so if it is as cold and foggy as it was outside on the day I arrived, the house with its thin walls that have an insulation made of sheeps wool gets pretty cold and damp-ish. Upon arrival my host also made it clear to me that this was going to be digital detox: No WiFi, and the signal was not even 3G, barely enough for a phone call – forget about data transmisison. So, it was a case of “heat your own house” without a youtube video.

Making fire in a small oven should be straight-forward enough – well; I made it (at attempt number five). The oven was cold and had not been used in a while. All the more pleased was I when finally I got a fire going and the room became warmer and cosier.

It’s funny how for degenerated city dwellers like me, heating the room is already part of the adventure. Observing yourself fail at little household chores that for our grandparents were still second nature. Overcoming that feeling of despair. I made dinner (luckily not on the oven), opened the bottle of red wine provided and settled in to the feeling of being alone. Being all by myself is not easy for me and at the same time I feel that it is much needed. Why do we as digital, modern humans struggle so much to surrender to something that we deserve, need and that feels good once we dive in? When have we settled for preferring constant stimulation over being with ourselves? Why is it so difficult to do nothing and just be?

I slept well in the small wooden house. It was so quiet. The oven got cold sometime around 2 in the morning, my nose was freezing when I woke up and it cost some effort to get up from my comfy warm bed to put a fire back on (much quicker already the second time, yay!).

I set out for a long walk, found a lake a little while away where the geese were gathering noisily and the reed was swaying in the breeze. Each of my two mornings, I practiced yoga. That was challenging in the confined space in the kitchen but that was the only spot with underfloor heating. I meditated in the evening before prepraring dinner, enjoyed making the most of what little provisions I had brought. On the second day I also visited a small town nearby.

Overall I can say that I really enjoyed my time in this tiny house prototype. Sam, the creator, warned me that the newer ones are already much more sophisticated (and warmer) but I liked this “first edition”, it touched my heart, somehow. Sam told me that more and more people would like to live in tiny houses in Germany – it’s a movement. The problem is that regulations do not really keep pace easily with new developments like this and in most cases, the dream of the tiny house is shattered by the reality of “Bebauungspläne”. So Sam works at convincing municipal administrations and show them, what they could gain if they opened up opportunities for different concepts of living. I wish him all the best on this journey and will keep a tiny house option in mind when we look for a new place to live in the coming months.

A short video (in German) summarizing my impressions.

If you would like to visit the place, you can find Sam’s website here and the page for the resort where I stayed here