How To Thrive on 20 m2

This will be my very first guest post done by Peter. 

Peter is the owner of the site ThrivingWillow.com

We met at a folk high school where I was a sailing student, while Peter was a teacher in kitesurfing. Since he was a teacher and I was a student, we didn’t speak that much. What we didn’t know was that Peter and I had the same interest in having a simple life and FIRE. But we first realized this after I was done at the school.

Luckily Peter wrote to me and told me he was reading the blog and he had started his own. One of the main reasons that I wanted to do a guest post with him, is because he has just finished his Tiny House project. Which is the perfect modern example of the “Walden” author Henry David Thoreau. He has just been broadcasted in danish television with his awesome project. 

The link will be at the bottom of the post. 

So without further ado, please welcome Peter!

Can you tell a little about yourself?

On an early family vacation, I was fascinated by a Norwegian bloke working as a diving instructor on the Canary Islands (a little jealous of you WannabeWalden). I remember looking back on the instructor steering the boat, crystal blue waters, 30 degrees, sun all around thinking: This guy is getting paid to do this every day, and why the hell isn’t everyone doing this? 

This memory has always been in the back of my mind and has led to a journey towards a lifestyle increasing freedom and maximizing the number of opportunities that could be pursued. 

Working in Denmark as a kitesurfing teacher daily is currently the goal and luckily an interest in Tiny Houses, living simplistically with low monthly costs, supports this dream-job and accompanies a below-average pay being in this industry.

The same approach has also led to a big interest and now life-changing path following the FIRE-style way and thoughts behind. Living below your means, valuing your time over material possessions, and being able to understand and believe that manageable investments in the present can become quite huge returns in the form of currency/time in the future. 

I’m currently investing as passively as possible in global index funds that happens automatically every month, rebalancing every 6 months, no matter what the monthly fluctuations have been following the statistically proven research that passive investors beat active investors in the long run. 

Investing passively also has the bonus that it makes sure you still have time for the valuable and fun things in life while working towards FIRE, as the investing part is not at all time-consuming. 

Where did you find inspiration for your Tiny House?

Researching different living options my wife and I came across several lifestyles such as vanlife, house hacking, renting small rooms but Tiny Houses especially caught our interest. 

While we were our 5-month backpacking honeymoon around SE-Asia (the ultimate taste of future FIRE-freedom!) we were looking for a way to maintain some of this lifestyle by increasing our flexibility and wiggle room uncertain of what and where we were going to end up working in the future.

Our interests lie outdoors, work, hobbies, living sustainably and we, therefore, haven’t had a burning wish for an average-sized house with the loan and maintenance that undoubtedly comes with it.

The inspiration came from the Tiny House movement in America which is especially ahead after the financial crisis of 2009 where the interest in downsizing became a necessity for many that lost all they owned in a short period. In the years following more and more saw the opportunities and positive aspects of living simply in a Tiny House. Whether less material clutter translates to better psychological wellbeing, I couldn’t say. But it’s an uplifting feeling having a clear and complete overview of everything you own. 

Why do you want to live in a Tiny House?

The main reasons for wanting to live in a Tiny House are flexibility, freedom, and space. 

At the age of 27, it’s hard to know for sure where in the country you’re going to settle down. Being able to move with under a week’s notice makes it possible to say YES! to sudden opportunities. Fewer strings attached and easier to change locations. 

Freedom in the sense of having that comfortable safety net knowing that you own your house in full. Think of how many situations have the pressure taken off them by not being affected or dependant on the monthly income arriving on the 1st. of the month. 

And thirdly concluding that we humans can adapt to many crazy situations. Think about it. Buy a 120-200m2 house? You are bound to fill that house up in no time with furniture, hobbies, projects, you name it. Build a Tiny house 20m2? You’ll fill it up yes, but you’ll have a natural maximum limit of space you can use. Instead of buying new ‘nice to have’s’ or ‘I use this once every 2 years’ there will hopefully be a larger interest in paying a little more for quality items that hopefully will last longer and maybe multifunctional, as there is room for less in your home. 

How much has the house cost you, and how much will it cost to live in it? 

We’re now almost finished after 5 months nonstop building and we’ve roughly spent 17.000usd so far including electrics- and water systems. All expenses are being noted, so a detailed overview of material costs can be produced when finished. The current costs are minus the off-grid systems. That’s the 2. Stage of the build.

Purchasing a ready-made Tiny House in Europe is anywhere between 45.000usd – 100.000usd so the chance of being able to build ourselves in the planning stages sparked an interest to see what it would cost in the end. 

We’ve never built any kind of building before (minor detail, jeez!) so a Tiny House seemed like a huge challenge. But we luckily came across a Tiny House builder that offered consultancy, tools, and a spot to build for a low monthly fee. A perfect offer for us. 

The hope and goal are being able to reduce the purchase price of a Tiny House significantly and lowering the monthly bills of a house for many years to come making it possible to increase our investments pumping the way towards FI. 

What is the one best advice you will give a person who would like to build one himself?

Once you’ve got a rough plan, investment is ready, you’ve got the time = Jump right in. Seriously. You can spend 1,2,3, years planning but you’ll never quite learn more until you’ve put the first screw in the first beam. 

And most important for the builders with absolutely zero experience like myself. Consider hiring a consultant to avoid costly and important mistakes. It may seem like a big expense, but using their contacts and experience saves you money that pays for the consultant him/herself.

A calming saying I’ve come across and love is: “Your first house/self-build is never going to end up quite as planned. You will always have materials, methods, or ideas on the way to improve for next time“.

The conclusion is, therefore, starting your house number 1! 

And for everyone thinking: ‘but I would like it to be close to perfect first time around, my Tiny House, as I’m only building one!’. Our Tiny House turned out much different than the plan at the beginning. But at the same time, it’s turned out so much better than expected with some of the coolest features that you’d never be able to plan. 

Go for it!

Is there a community where people can join and seek advice inspiration?

There are numerous Facebook groups where you’ll see America is heavily represented as they are so far ahead compared to Europe. This is perfect as many years of experience with tiny houses are out there to explore builds, constructions, designs, and layouts. Hopefully, the movement will spread as the popularity of downsizing grows.

My favorite source of inspiration is the Youtube Channel: Living Big in a Tiny House with 3,2 million followers that features Bryce Langston from NZ visiting and viewing Tiny Houses and just recently has done a Europe tour. 

Tiny houses are also a hot topic on Instagram and Pinterest for those more into those media for inspiration. 

For the Netflix user’s the series ‘Tiny House Nation’ is a great insight into a building process. 

Where can we find you?

The lifestyle- and financial aspects of a Tiny house towards FI will be shared on Thriving Willow. I’m currently working on interviewing and exploring European Tiny house enthusiasts!

A Danish national TV channel DR1 snatched up the build in the early stages and followed us the first 4 months and made a 30 min program about the process : See it here.

And final results you can find in the Facebook group ‘ Det Lille Potentiale’ / The Lille Potential. In Danish but can be Facebook translated easily if interested! 

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