Tiny House – A Year in a Caboose

yellow car in front of a yellow caboose

That month I lived in a Yellow Caboose and owned a Yellow Subaru

I’m catching up on blog posts, so I realize I haven’t posted about the entire year I lived in a caboose!

Someone at Germantown Mill Lofts had the good idea to take a few old rail cars… cabooses to be exact (here’s a photo of the one I lived in from back when it was train-worthy), and convert them into 300 Square Foot Tiny Houses, then rent them at exorbitant rates! I talked them down to something reasonable.

The experience was pretty amazing. 12 months was about long enough, but living in a tiny house for a short period of time has some huge advantages…

First, I definitely finally figured out how to downsize and live with a lot less stuff. Most of my stuff is in storage, but that’s largely because I haven’t taken the time to go purge it. Knowing that you can live with one closet of clothes, an 8″ kindle fire as a TV, a tiny stove, tiny sink, tiny everything, and only a 10×10 foot room for everything else is a challenge worth living up to if you have an appetite for things.

Now don’t get me wrong, I miss some of my stuff. The vast supply of craft and DIY toys, including all my computer paraphernalia is a loss, but I find myself replacing those hobbies with similar ones that get me out and with friends. Rather than having a paint and canvas and nothing to paint, I spent time with friends at pottery studios (thanks @Danielle) and figure drawing classes (thanks @Julie), or in photography studios (thanks @Joe [Mays, not @LilBroJoe) or art shows or all sorts of things. And my piano was a huge sacrifice (thanks Ma and Pa for housing it for me for a while).

The sparsity also made me not only enjoy, but more thoroughly employ those things I did have. I probably most fell in love with my (great?)-great-grandmother’s cast-iron skillet which I have inherited in the past few years. Having limited cookware, I made practically everything — pies, pizzas, stir-fry, pancakes, and all the regular main dishes, side dishes, and deserts — in a single skillet. The only other thing I ever really used for cooking was a pot for pasta (I never quite got the hang of pasta in a cast iron skillet, but that’s a lot to due with the whole straining portion). I had a lovely tea pot, but I gave up the big coffee pot for a french press, and, you know what? Coffee got a lot better!

[Update: The nitro cold brew coffee that’s free at SpaceX is possibly the best coffee I’ve ever had… but the french press makes you work for it, which makes you appreciate it a bit more].

One of the nice bits about tiny-housing is that it always feels like camping. The bedroom in these particular apartments is a full mattress in the loft area. A full mattress touches three sides of the cupola, but in order to use the remaining space for a couple of seats, the ladder which leads to the loft is opposite the bed. This means you have to cross like a 24-inch chasm to get into or out of bed. There are two rails perpendicular to the bed which turn into handrails on the ladder, but that’s not a ton to keep you from falling out. The fear of rolling out of bed was real.

It was also an interesting experience inviting people to try out the bed. 😉

Ultimately, living in a tiny house was perfect for me for the year I did it. It was starting to get a bit old towards the end, but the whole year was one of the least stressful I’ve had in a long time. I took on a lot of hobbies and “stuff” over the years as a way of occupying myself, like ya do, but having no space and no things really helped prioritize my time and attention. Also, when you move out of a 300 SF area, a 1000 square foot apartment feels downright palatial! I’ve expanded my kitchen supplies with an Instant Pot, and still don’t have my piano, but I feel much more comfortable with a bit of austerity, and life seems more balanced.

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