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Category: Remote Work (page 1 of 2)

How Tiny Houses Give Financial Freedom

So, you could put your savings into a mortgage and work the rest of your life to pay it off, or build a tiny house – a small cheap sustainable home – and have heaps of time to do what the hell you want, with very few living costs. Ummmm let me think…

According to a documentary I watched called ‘Small Is beautiful’, tiny houses tend to be under 300 sq feet, and they’re often on a trailer so they can move around. The tiny house ‘movement’ has become so big there are whole networks and communities based around it.

tiny house bed

 

An Aussie startup called Unyoked hooks people up with trendy tiny holiday homes (above). You know the kind – glamorous sheds (there’s an oxymoron!) with wood-panelled walls, a few scandy-lookin’ furniture items, a succulent plant, some nice art on the wall…they’re kind of glorified contemporary caravans or trailer homes. I love them!

“Tiny house living is about living in and out” according to one of the tiny house owners on the doco. In warm climates you can just expand your living area to include the space surrounding the house. The freedom to move around is a real draw…you could escape the winter and move north, or make use of land while it’s available….or do house sits.

Tiny Holiday House exterior

Life of freedom or lifetime of mortgage?

I suspect the real appeal beyond their cute size is in the financial freedom tiny houses represent. They’re a major life hack. One of the biggest financial burdens we have is the ongoing cost of living. Most of us only really work full time in order to pay our rent or mortgage. It feels like the odds are stacked against us in expensive cities like London and Sydney. We spend most of our lives working to save for, then pay off a mortgage.

The cost of a traditional bricks and mortar house including materials and labour is sky high, even if done independently. Tiny houses are part of a growing disruptive movement in construction and housing. Mod houses, kit houses, pre-fabricated and even self-‘printing’ houses built by robots are bringing quicker and cheaper options.

Tiny House Interior

 

Once you have a place to live which you own, you have a lot of freedom. Unless you have very expensive tastes or a big family, you probably don’t need to work full time. This is part of the reason I’m so interested in eco houses. Once you tick the major ‘need’ boxes – house, power generation, food, you hugely reduce the amount you need to earn. And hence the time you spend working. You therefore have a lot more freedom to spend time as you please. I’d use the time to create multiple revenue streams such as freelance digital marketing, painting and setting up eco accomodation to rent out.

If you think about what you need from a home, it’s actually the functionality and location that’s most important. Somewhere to sleep, cook and hang out that keeps you warm and dry. Tiny houses can be key to real freedom, both financial and time-wise.

Tiny houses are ideal for slow travel and digital nomadism

Imagine being able to travel around with all the comforts of staying in your own home! It makes slow travel a lot more achievable, staying in different places for long periods. If you have a location independent job it would be ideal. The tiny house movement is like a modern re-invention of being semi-nomadic…hipster gypsies! It’s fascinating sociologically and seems like the start of a real shift in how we live to more sustainable, affordable and adaptable means.

tiny house on wheels

Tiny designer houses

The beauty of tiny houses is that they can be nicely decorated with minimalist principles and a few quality items. Not many people would be tempted to live in a smelly old shed or skanky trailer. The increasing availability and exposure of cool aesthetically pleasing tiny houses is speeding up the movement. There are some great examples of beautifully kitted out tiny houses which make the whole idea far more aspirational.

KODA tiny house

 Building vs buying a tiny house

Imagine designing and building your own tiny home exactly as you want it. There would be so much satisfaction once it’s done. When it comes to building it would not be straightforward but obviously that’s part of the reward; designing your own living space and seeing the end result. I kind of like the idea of living in a small simple kit home or premade one just to try it first then I’d know what I want.

But the idea of a custom home that’s been lovingly crafted from wood isn’t comparable to a pre-fab chip-board jobby… I guess both have pros and cons. A happy sustainable medium is what’s needed. Perhaps a customisable pre-fab option.

One of the tiny home owners in the doco explains “Knowing they’ve built it they know how to fix it. Buying a second-hand RV it could go wrong” 

A master craftman in Japan built an amazing tiny home on wheels from wood. Explaining his choice of material he said “plastic and other man-made materials create unnecessary garbage. Garbage that can’t be returned to nature becomes an unnecessary burden on future generations.  “It’s important to me to use materials that don’t create unnecessary garbage for future generations.” Nicely put!

He designed it so it feels like the outside environment comes into the living space. The whole thing opens up so it doesn’t feel small.

Do tiny houses need to be so small?

The size makes the homes portable, cheaper and easier to manage. A tiny home owner from the ‘Small is beautiful’ doco explains how she likes knowing where stuff is. There’s also a freedom from owning less in line with minimalist principles.

tiny house
However, I wonder if living in a confined space would drive you (and whoever you lived with) crazy. Adapted versions of tiny house living seem more compelling than living solo in a tiny home. A community with different communal areas as well as private. For example perhaps a few communal kitchens and living areas like the open air kitchens in Bali….and separate outdoor bathrooms for each house.

I have always loved the idea of trying out living in a tiny home. I mean, I sort of did it when living in a basic hut in outback Australia for three months a while back, and loved it. I do wonder if other building methods could offer similar rewards but more space though. An ideal set-up for me would be to own some land with all the infrastructure, a few buildings and a garden, where I could keep a tiny home and up and leave when I feel like it, renting out the other spaces.

As one tiny home owner says “There’s a hook in there that attracts people… Frees them up for what they wanna do in life”

A friend of a friend of mine has built a tiny home on a trailer up in Canberra, and I’m super keen to go and check it out.

Watch this space…

How I Lived Happily in Outback Australia On $75 Per Week

Cleaning rooms in a rural caravan park in Katherine, Outback Australia, I was more content than I remember. Plenty of free time and surrounded by nature, I had all I needed despite earning very little.

My job search in Darwin had turned into weeks of adventures and drunken nights out. I’d been searching for rural work that would count towards my second year working holiday visa application. One of the criteria for applying is (bizarrely) three months of specified work in a rural location in industries such as agriculture and construction. Quite different from my usual office-based jobs!

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JOURNEYS & REVELATIONS: FROM LONDON OFFICE TO LIFE ON THE ROAD

This blog is about journeys of self-development and exploration of smarter ways to travel, live and work. A place to reflect and record stories of travel adventures and realisations that happened along the way. 

Many question the nine to five urban existence with a package holiday twice a year and have a sneaking feeling that we can live more logically and sustainably, with more leisure time, focussing on what we care about. I’ve been exploring alternative ways of living, travelling and working, meeting people who have escaped the ‘norm’ and live differently. Testing out how realistic and sustainable they are.

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My favourite things about Fremantle

We raced to the coast just in time to catch the huge red molten sun dipping below the sea in a split second. My first glimpses of Fremantle were an exciting mix of tropical paradise and some kind of old Western town;  historic character pubs and buildings, red dusky sky and desert-like climate. So exotic and different to the urban European vibe of Melbourne.

I peered up into the squawking Norfolk Pines to see if the nesting birds were starlings, and was amazed to see hundreds of bright rainbow lorikeets rustling and nesting for the day. I’d never seen such colourful birds, and so many!

I’d gone to Freo to visit Rob, who I met at a festival near Melbourne where I was living at the time. Rob’s neighbourhood of South Fremantle is a short walk to an amazing sheltered beach with turquoise water and white sand. (South Beach) Swimming there was like swimming in a warm blue pool.

Exotic flowers such as frangipani and hibiscus are everywhere in front gardens.  There’s an arty feel to the ‘hood, with colourful street art on many walls. Tamer and neater than Melbourne street art.

Going for walks at night I imagined living in one of the cute special Federation houses. Many are painted with lovely subtle colours such as teal and peach. Homely glowing interiors, fairy lights and cute cosy porches hinted at how linked the outdoors and indoors are here. Exotic floral scents like jasmine and honeysuckle smelled heavenly on the warm night air.

At dusk we cruised through the cappuccino strip which has the vibe of a Mediterranean island holiday in summer with its busy restaurants and enticing outdoor seating. I just couldn’t believe people LIVED here!

Wafting through Fremantle’s trendy shops and pretty markets on a dry sunny Saturday we felt high on life. Dipping in and out of Rob’s regular haunts to pick up his ‘essentials’ seemed as far from my weekly plod to Brunswick Coles as things could get. We dropped by the ‘oil lady’ for essential oils and Frankincense incense sticks…visited the herb and spice lady in the markets who clearly had a crush on Rob and let him scoop out his own herbs as he was a special customer…Locals interacted with real warmth and openness everywhere we went.

It seemed like everyone noticed us, caught our eye and smiled. The woman in the deli gave us a knowing smile and asked how our day was going while Rob picked up his organic coffee beans, and we exchanged some cheeky banter with smiles and nods.

It’s amazing how people engage with you when you’re happy and open. I inspected the delicacies and special chocolate in pretty wrapping. Everything seemed special and easy. In bed that night I closed my eyes to see colourful patterns of dresses and chocolate bar wrappers I’d browsed.

Organic cafes and health food shops stocked amazing arrays of products I’d never seen. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. The Raw Food Cafe is a great space with cool industrial decor and some incredible dishes. The ice cream is the best I’ve ever tasted – vegan and sugar free! The rose and rich chocolate stick in my mind.

Fremantle Markets sell colourful fruit and veg, healthy (and not so healthy) food, and pretty homeware and gifts. It’s crazy to think the famous Fremantle Prison housed convicts from the 1850s to as recently as 1991. How very different life must have been for them compared to the healthy wealthy residents of the town today.

Jogging south one day from dog beach along the beachfront path which winds through the dunes and trees I found an old shipwreck off Coogee Beach jutting out of the water near the shore.

Further down the beach this incredible old abandoned power station came into view with an eerie green pond in front of it. It’s a super quiet area with almost nobody about except the odd dog walker. I cautiously snook inside and snapped some photos of the graffiti-ed walls, ignoring signs threatening to keep out.

Another great thing about Freo is that you can get the Ferry right over to Rottnest island in only half an hour. It’s a small island with little coves and lovely beaches, with a view of Perth in the distance. We hired clunky bikes and cycled round the island. We met some inquisitive quokkas – cute little marsupials that were mistaken for giant rats by the early Dutch settlers, hence the island name of ‘Rat Nest’. If you put some water in a cupped hand they come and drink it!

The sunsets in WA are incredible. The sun melts down right over the ocean horizon with incredible colours. It’s one of the best places on earth for sunsets I’ve been to, along with the Northern Territory. It’s even better than India which was pretty amazing. One night we even saw the moon set over the sea in a smudge of dark brownish clouds – something we’d never seen before!

I stayed with Rob for a week in February – the height of WA summer, then for a couple of months in winter. They were some of my most memorable times in Australia. The first time was not long after I met him, in a whirlwind of summer love. The second was a more realistic taste of what it’s like to live together. But that’s another story…We remain close friends to this day, and chat when we can. He’ll always be a special part of my life, and taught me many important lessons about love, life and relationships <3

ON THE WAY TO A DREAM

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