Extreme Downsizing: Four months, Two people, and 35 square feet

The following is a guest post by Mariah Coz of www.cometcamper.com.

As we get ready for the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course, which begins on August 10th, I thought I’d talk a little bit about my own recent re-simplification and downsizing efforts (let’s call it Round 2). It is by no means the right thing for everyone to live in a super tiny space, and I don’t see myself living so ridiculously tiny forever, but I wanted to share my experience preparing to live in 35 square feet, with another person!

Most people would think that 100 square feet of living space would be tiny enough. But after a year of living in the COMET camper, my tiny mobile home on wheels, my partner and I decided that the camper just wasn’t mobile enough, and had more space than we needed. Sure, it’s a fantastic home-base. It’s always there when we need it. But truth be told, it’s an expensive pain in the ass to tow, and I want to ROAM. I thought trailers were the height of mobility and flexibility when I decided to renovate my COMET camper. I love my little vintage home on wheels, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t the right nomadic space to take me across the country for a number of months.

So after spending a few years downsizing all of my stuff to be able to fit into the COMET, I downsized again into my custom-converted Honda Element-turned-micro camper. It took a lot of planning and a lot of weeding through stuff. I had to really assess what I needed vs. what I wanted. I had to learn what items and things increased my comfort exponentially and which ones didn’t. I practiced living out of a backpack and cooking with just one bowl, a water bottle, and a camp stove for a month before we left for California in our tiniest home on wheels.

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It was definitely a challenge. Even for someone like me, the transition from 100 sq. ft. to 35 sq. ft. (where I could really only have one single bag, since most of the car’s storage was occupied by our camera equipment and camping gear), was really tough. I had to slowly whittle down my bag a little bit every day before our take-off until I felt like I could be comfortable with so few things. My partner Matt helped me too, which led to a few fights but was ultimately really helpful.

One of the things I thought about the most was what types of clothes would be best to live in. I could only bring a few outfits, and considering I run a vintage clothing store for a living that is a tall order for a girl like me! I ended up bringing mostly wool items (merino tank tops, wool sweaters, and wool tights) because the material is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-odor, and self-cleaning. Perfect for living out of a car with limited access to laundry! In the end, I STILL brought too many clothing items and realized I could have lived without a lot more.

And that has been my experience with everything related to living in a tiny car – you realize how little you really need. We ended up using far less cooking stuff, camping stuff, and “worst case scenario” type stuff than we anticipated. Next time we live in our car for 6 months, we’ll probably only take 50% of the stuff we took last time. You just realize how much easier and simpler life is with less stuff. Having more crap to keep track of and organize in such a tiny space just makes your life more stressful.

Having experienced traveling both in the COMET Camper trailer and the Honda Element, I can definitely say I prefer the ease of waking up, pushing the bed back, and just GOING when we live in the Honda Element. The trailer requires about an hour of set up and break down whenever you stop at a new place, and that can get old.

You are probably wondering how two people in a relationship got along living in 35 sq. ft. for 4 months. In our experience, it wasn’t that we ever wanted time away from each other, but that we desperately wanted time for the two of us to just be alone, without constantly being around other people. The thing about living in your car or van is that privacy is a joke. You have virtually none, unless you are in the woods. That was my only complaint – not that we needed more space or that I wish I had more stuff, but that I wished we’d had more time to ourselves without the worry of someone knocking on the windows of our teeny tiny mobile abode.

Having downsized twice in such an extreme way, I learned a lot about why people think they need to hold onto things, how to really let go of those things you don’t love or need, and how to be happy both mentally and physically in a smaller space. In the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course, you’ll learn about the psychology of stuff, how to de-clutter both your mental and physical space, and new techniques for keeping crap out of your life for good. The best part though, according to past members, is the private class forum. You’ll have access to everyone in the course so that you can connect with like-minded people, make new friends, share your successes, and get support and motivation throughout the entire process.

Some people take the Tiny Transition E-Course in order to prep for tiny house living, while others end up transitioning into the full-time RV or travel trailer lifestyle. Others just want to regain some sanity in their lives and less clutter and crap in their homes. Whatever simple life you’re looking for, I hope you’ll come and join me and the other classmates in the course. I look forward to supporting you in your journey, talking tiny in the group, and helping you create a simpler, happier life!

If you’re wondering what others have gotten out of taking the class, I’ll let them explain:

“This class has single-handedly changed my thinking and life. The email course is rocking my world with the “how” to do this, the access to the associated Google group is invaluable. You could lurk and never post with this group and it’ll change your thinking and life. Even if you just want to tread more softly on this beautiful jewel of a planet we live on, you will benefit from this course. I’ve found my true fun self since I’ve been taking this course. My stuff was burying my life, and I had no idea that I’d done that to myself. The e-course, the readings, and the Google Group together make for a powerful inspiration to keep going. The class is already paid for itself in less stress, less stuff, and heck, I’ve even lost weight! All because I’m realizing that I just don’t NEED a lot of things. While we may or may not move into an actual Tiny House, our house of 1,100 square feet is starting to look huge. We have SO MUCH SPACE NOW! I’m looking forward to a smaller house (and a smaller or NONEXISTENT mortgage soon). ” – Andrea

“This class is changing my entire life. For the good, too. So glad I made the decision to spend the money to take this course!” — Becky R.

“I am so glad I ran across the Tiny Transition e-course. I have made such progress, and peace has come into my life that wasn’t there this time last year, I am very grateful.” — Troy

“Thank you, Mariah, for one of the best experiences of a lifetime!” — L.

The next session of Tiny Transition begins on August 10th, so sign up now to save your spot. I hope to see you there!

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2 Comments Extreme Downsizing: Four months, Two people, and 35 square feet

  1. troy

    Mariah, I love the photo of the cometcamper, must have had all the lights on for that photo !? Great article about double downing your living space!!

    Reply
  2. Meridee Marsh

    My husband and I lived for 4 years in approx 60 sq ft aboard a 26 foot power boat with no inside running water and just a porta potty (as the restrooms were a 1/4 mile away in the dark in a bad area)

    Reply

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