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8 Tips for Going Tiny: Advice from a Nomadic Family

Updated: Jan 25

If you’re thinking about going tiny, you’ve come to the right place! It isn’t just about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about rediscovering your time and space.

After you’ve purchased your new tiny dwelling and figured out the logistics (budget, location, travel plan, etc.) there are a few things you’ll need to do to settle in comfortably. In no particular order, here’s your 8 Tips for Going Tiny:

Tip #1: Is It a Need or a Want?

When you move into a small space, you may discover a difference between what you think you need and what you actually need. When we planned to get an RV, I had to have a washer and dryer. It was essential. We “needed” it because in our house, I did laundry almost daily.

A washer and dryer would take up a lot of space but wouldn’t wash a lot of our clothes. If I installed one of these units, I’d spend all day doing tiny loads of laundry. Since that water goes to a gray water tank (where sinks and showers drain into), I’d also have to empty one of my three gray water tanks every day.

By using the laundry facilities wherever we’re staying, I found I could get several large loads done in just a few hours. And I only have to do that a couple of days each week, so it became more of a time and money-saver to go to the laundry room. Plus, I don’t have to maintain extra stuff, like appliances, which was one of our reasons for choosing this lifestyle.

Tip #2: Cook Smarter, Not Harder

The meals you make and how you make them can change when the size of your kitchen changes. At our old home, we didn’t think about simplifying meals. We would have pots on all four burners on the stove, something in the oven, and a sauce spinning in the blender. Since moving into our RV, we’ve thrown those recipes out the window (not literally, they actually went into the trash).

After our move, I scoured Pinterest for one pot/one pan meals, and simple recipes I could put together in my combination pressure cooker/slow cooker. This saves a lot of time, and dishes. We don’t have enough counter space to let the dishes pile up, so we can’t afford to create the mountain of messiness we used to. But we’ve enjoyed finding new ways to make our favorite meals and try out new things.

Tip #3: Be Prepared for Big Emergencies, in a Tiny Way

When we lived in our “sticks and bricks” home, I had a three to six-month emergency supply of food, toiletries, batteries, candles, a first-aid box, and a week’s worth of bottled water. As a long-time resident of a hurricane-prone state, it was important for us to be ready for anything. For anyone not used to living in a hurricane zone, preparation usually involves people waiting until the last minute to wipe store shelves clean of canned soup and bottled water – or wheelbarrows full of beer if you live in Key West.

This is how we came to eat non-perishable foods for the first three weeks we lived in our RV. All the space I previously had in a walk-in closet was no longer available. Items like canned food, extra jars of peanut butter and jelly, large candles, and excess batteries took up too much space.

Since storms and emergency situations can happen anywhere, I think it’s important to be ready for anything - severe weather, loss of power, zombie apocalypse. But we’ve changed how we do this. That’s what living tiny can teach you, too.

Our emergency foods don’t come in cans anymore. We have a dehydrated supply that takes up much less space and weighs almost nothing. We’ve changed to using smaller flashlights with brighter lights that take the same batteries. Best of all, now that our home is on wheels, if the area we’re in experiences an emergency, we can drive away.

Tip #4: Make it Yours

Though your RV comes with predefined spaces for you to work with, you don’t have to let the manufacturer decide how you use that space.

This area came with two attached recliners. We ditched those and opted for more counter/storage space instead.

As an example, we have a very large exterior kitchen that takes up a ton of room and we don’t use it. Six months into full-time RVing, I realized we need a place for my husband to store his tools when we’re on the road. The park we’re living at for the next few months provides sheds for seasonal and full-time residents where we can store a few extra things (it feels like cheating, I know). But when we hit the road in the spring, that stuff has to come with us. Before we leave, we plan to gut the exterior kitchen and turn it into a new storage area.

Tip #5: Re-Defining Personal Space

When we announced to friends and family that we were selling our house and moving into an RV, the first question everyone asked was, “How will you have any privacy?” They were worried about the kids. “What about when they’re teenagers? Teens need their privacy.”

Trust me, we thought long and hard about this. One of the non-negotiable rules I had for our RV was my “closed door” policy. I needed to have the kids in a room where they could close the door. Mark and I required a room where we could also close our door. Not all families need this, but for us, it was essential.

Even as I write this, my kids and I are working in separate rooms. I’m at the desk in the bedroom, my daughter is working at the dining table, and my son is in the bunkhouse. We may also work outside or use the clubhouse for a change of scenery. We can close off a room when one of us wants to be alone.

Living in a smaller space, for us, requires closed doors and open lines of communication. When one of us needs something, we tell each other. This helps reduce stressors that could occur when living in tighter quarters.

Every square inch is precious in an RV.

Tip #6: Learn Everything You Can About Your RV

I’m going to start this section by sharing a secret with you – I do not read instructions or manuals of any kind. Maybe if companies could be a little more entertaining in the way they explain things, I’d take the time to figure out how they work. But when it comes to your RV, you’ll want to learn as much as you can before you move into it.

This is a great time to learn about your operating systems. Read the manuals, do some online research – and I mean really, how hard is it to watch some YouTube videos? – check out blog posts from reputable sources, and learn how your new home operates. This will save you from encountering problems in the future. You can also check out 5 Things to Maintain Annually on Your RV and 3 Money-Saving Tips from an RV Tech to avoid potential issues.

During this process, you might also find parts of your RV that need repair. Every time you drive your RV down the road, you’re shaking up the contents inside, loosening screws, and placing stress on the frame. Because of this, you’ll want to learn what the parts of your RV are supposed to look like, so when you pull into a new site and see something out of place, you can correct it immediately.

Tip #7: Consider a Stationary Period

All of this is easier to accomplish if you don’t have the added hassle of moving your new home every few days. If you can, try to find a stationary location to live in your RV where you can adjust before hitting the road.

Tip #8: Let it Marinate & Go with the Flow

You don’t need to adjust to your new digs overnight. Try out your space the way you think you want it. As your needs change, you can move things around accordingly. As long as you’re flexible and patient, you will eventually get your space set up in the best way that works for you.

Try out these 8 Tips for Going Tiny for a more enjoyable transition in your new lifestyle!

Do you live tiny? Are you planning to downsize and wondering how you’ll adjust? Do you have any advice that we didn’t mention? Drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!


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