The whole experiment of moving into a tiny home was to see if our family could improve its lifestyle. We wanted more than a pointless pursuit that was endless and self defeating. Getting ahead financially has to come with rewards. There’s no point in an exhaustive financial struggle that leaves no time for enjoying life.
The Rat Race
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” — Lily Tomlin
At what point does the rat race seem to be a “win?” You’re a rat in a maze continuously being put through the task of finding the end. If you’re lucky, you’re rewarded with a big piece of gold cheese. If not, there’s some type of punishment awaiting you to deter you from making that same choice again. It’s the same maze every day. The same cheese. The same punishment. Once you complete the maze and receive your cheese, do you enjoy it? Or has the maze made you too focused on the cheese and you begin to drive towards it no matter what the cost?
Rats are actively prosocial, altruistic, creative and resourceful animals by nature, but they get a bad rap in our society. We often view them as dirty or vile and associate the term “rat” as someone with unscrupulous behavior. If the “rat race” is a competitive pursuit for finanacial gain, then winning that race can certainly cause you to have developed unscrupulous behavior to get ahead. At the end of the day, the rat race doesn’t seem so appealing anymore.
There’s a balance to work and life. In the end, you never hear people regret that they didn’t make enough money or the things they will miss the most are their cars and homes. Realizing this before it’s too late is the key to enjoying the life you have. Yes, we have to work and make money because this is reality. The equation is finding the right balance between ‘how much work to make how much money’ balanced with ‘the fulfillment of personal goals and overall enjoyment of your life.’ If you’re fortunate, you will have a career that you love, making it seem less like work and more like achieving positive personal goals.
Our family decided that affording and maintaining a larger home did not balance with the traveling and personal interests of any one of us. We want to see more of our beautiful country and explore the wonders of nature. We want to have more time to connect with friends and family. We want careers that feed our soul and help make the world a better place to live in. We want to evolve to a global community that thrives on connecting with the world around us. It is not about “things”, it’s about experience and connection.
Finanacial reports state that your housing costs (rent or own) should not exceed more than 30% of your income or you become “cost-burdened.” This includes all costs associated with housing- utilities, insurance, mortgage, rent, taxes, etc. This was easily achieved by the baby boomer generation, but the sky rocketing increases to real estate since the 1950’s has burdened following generations. Housing costs have increased as much as 40% in the past five years alone.
According to media statistics, housing is devouring an average of 40-60% of newer generation’s income. Living without a huge “cost-burden” is difficult for Generation X and bordering impossible for Millenials. This is an insane thought given that Milennials are making more money than the preceding generations. It’s just not enough of an income growth to keep up with the growth of real estate prices.
The increase in real estate prices isn’t just for big cities and their suburbs anymore, mid-size cities are increasing rapidly too. Relocation isn’t a terrific option when faced with the same burdens. Tiny Homes and Shared Community Living are rapidly becoming the most viable solutions for current generations to maintain a work-life balance. Our tiny living adventures opened our eyes to the possibilities- Finding Your Home.
As we look around us, we see our friends, family, and neighbors complaining about their physical shape, inability to spend quality time with their loved ones, constant upkeep of their homes and yards, and stress from working too many hours. They complain about living in the “rat race,” but at some point we have to acknowledge that the “rat race” is a choice. With that in mind, we can choose to make another choice—step out of the race. Change the dynamic.
At the end of the day, what are you most thankful for? Having a great conversation with friends and loved ones as you sit side by side watching the sunset? Sharing your knowledge of the world by teaching your children first hand how to sew, cook, fix a bike, care for a pet, trim the hedges, plant flowers? It may seem mundane, but these are the motions that build your human connection.
What a wonderful experience it is to build character and self esteem by hiking, bike riding, and seeing the world. Teach your children how to be global thinkers.
Back to the Tiny Home
Moving to a tiny home has allowed us to refocus our priorities. It hasn’t always been easy learning to minimize space, but living without our “things” has been a piece of cake. I guess you really don’t realize how much you don’t need “stuff” until you just don’t have it in your life. We haven’t missed a thing!