This past summer, I had the opportunity to participate in a social media internship in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a dream job and continues to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had — but the journey to finding housing in a city that was 10 hours away was long and tear-filled. I knew I wouldn’t have a car, so I knew I needed to be smart about how close to downtown (and a bus station) I was, which meant the prices for even a tiny apartment were too high even with a salaried internship.
Luckily, I had a dear friend who had connections and got me synced up with a young woman who had just started living in an alternative living situation — a tiny home inside of an old camper. I instantly fell in love with the place from the pictures; it was warm looking, full of plants and sunlight, and surrounded by a plot of beautiful land in the middle of East Atlanta. Within a few weeks of accepting the internship and signing my lease, I suddenly was living a dream I never thought I would achieve – I was living tiny! For 3 months, I learned the ins and outs of what sustainable and small living required, and I found what I loved — and what makes me never want to do it again.
Some of the things I loved:
- Forced minimalism – My subleaser was living in Africa for the duration of my stay in her home, so all of her things stayed in the house. She lived pretty minimally, and it was comfortable, but I still had to adjust even more to my newfound minimalist lifestyle. I could only pack the essentials across the board, and it forced me to see what I could and couldn’t live without
- Sustainable living – everything from the amount of trash I created to the amount of water I used in my morning showers became more in focus. I became much smarter about how I used resources. I was responsible for clearing out my water tanks, disposing of my trash, recycling, and compost, and keeping my electric bill low (made extra difficult by the midsummer Georgia heat). I learned to eat better and buy local and fresh, worked to take shorter showers, and spent a lot of time in the pool!
- Peace – there’s nothing more peaceful than having an oasis. I’m a city person at heart, but being raised in Ohio, spending my summers camping and in the parks around my house, I need nature to keep me anxiety free. It’s not true of every tiny place obviously, but many campers and tiny home hookups are in parks. Especially living in a place like Atlanta, and working in the downtown area, I appreciated the peacefulness of my tiny home.
And some of the things I hated:
- Composting toilets – I cannot stress enough how much I longed for flush toilets while I lived in the camper. It’s an incredibly sustainable option – and easier to clean and travel with – but the cleaning, especially since I lived alone and am generally not a super physically strong person, quickly became a difficult and unpleasant task.
- Water tanks – It’s not always the case, but for my tiny house, I had to unload all of the “grey water” I used in the house so that there would be no standing water under the house. Like with the toilet, I’m generally a weak person, and especially after a 40 hour work week, I was not into having to haul water across the yard for an hour. If I were just in school, I may have been better about it, but the fact that I was commuting 45 minutes to work, working all day and then commuting home during rush hour made me resent the task.