Six years ago, Tammy Strobel was unhappy- “I was commuting 2 hours a day, going to a job I hated, overweight, unhappy, kind of middle class plight”. Then she watched a youtube video featuring Dee Williams and her tiny home- a moment she calls her “turning point”- and she began to dream about less.
Prior to downsizing Tammy and her husband, Logan Smith, were living in a two-bedroom apartment, driving two cars, commuting long distances and $30,000 in debt, but they were hesitant change the status quo. “Initially, we resisted the idea of moving into a smaller one-bedroom apartment because we were more concerned about appearances and space for guests than for our financial well-being. We decided something needed to change once we realized our debt was causing us so much stress.”
Tammy and Logan began with small steps. They sold one car and moved into a one bedroom apartment. Next it was a 400 square foot home. Today they are car-free and living in a 128-square-foot home on wheels (designed by Dee Williams’ company PAD). Along the way, the couple shed weight, stress, debt and the unhappiness they felt being tied to jobs they didn’t enjoy. Today, Tammy is a full-time blogger/photographer/teacher.
Tammy recently published a book titled “You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)”, but she explains that it’s not exactly happiness that she pursues, but resilience. “Jobs move, people lose jobs, people die,” she explains, “So how can you structure your life so that you’re more flexible and embrace the good stuff even when loss makes it really really difficult?”
One of the biggest side effects of living in a small, mortgage-free home on wheels is the freedom to move, something that has served them well in the past year. When Tammy’s father had a stroke, unfettered by home or car loans, Tammy was able to be with him during the last months of his life. When Logan lost his job (it was transferred to Boston), they were able to pick up their home and move from Portland to Northern California to be closer to family.
For their first move, they attached their tiny, wheeled home to the back of a pickup truck and drove the 400 miles from Portland to Logan’s family cattle ranch in Montague, California (in exchange for free rent they put in “workshare” hours). Within the year, they moved again to be closer to Tammy’s mother: this time they parked in her yard in Red Bluff, CA. Again within the same year, they moved to a more permanent home in Chico (their college town and still close enough to family) where they pay $500 in rent for an empty lot and hookups (it was previously occupied by a mobile home).
“Even though the past year has been a lot of upheaval with moving the house, like it’s harder than you think to move the tiny house and stressful and all that, but I’m really grateful for that because we’ve had that flexibility to really be there for family”, explains Tammy. Her father’s death “was part of the reason we decided to move back home just to be closer to family and really focus on that because that’s what matters, you only get one shot.”
Photo credit: Tammy Strobel. She teaches e-courses on how to photograph everyday life: http://rowdykittens.com/everydaymagic/
“You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap)” http://www.amazon.com/You-Can-Buy-Happiness-Cheap/dp/1608680835