Cece and Her Tiny House in Northern Minnesota
In May of 2021, I made the transition to move into a tiny home. Sold off a lot of my possessions, moved into a tiny home and quickly figured it out. Living tiny has been a big source of curiosity for many of my photography clients so I decided to put together some commonly asked questions. My hope is that you can learn more about tiny living.
Photos by- Riah Beth Photography
I reached out to folks and friends to see what their tiny home questions are. Maybe as the reader you too have the same questions. Hoping this helps answer any burning questions you might have about my life.
Did you build it?
- Unfortunately no. I bought the tiny home May of 2021 from some friends of mine that lived in it for a summer. The home was built in the St.Cloud, MN area. When purchasing the Tiny Home, I was only 21 years old. I didn't own any power tools and didn't have a place to build or the skills yet on how to build such a structure. The longer I've had the tiny home I have changed and fixed things. A lot of learning has happened in owning a space of my own but I am no where near capeable enough to build a tiny home yet. I'm still working on building my powertool collection.
What is your favorite thing about the tiny house?
- The freedom! Living tiny has opened so many doors for me. Having the ability to move the tiny house wherever, travel, and keep my living expenses lower allowed me more of the opportunity to be an artist. To me, it's really a magical time in my life to be living in a tiny home, and to have something to call my own.
What's your least favorite thing about tiny house living?
- It's different everyday, sometimes I wish for running water or more space. It really comes down to perspective and being creative in a tiny house. You constantly have to adapt and adjust in order to make things work. This summer I put on an art show with about 20 large metal prints and they arrived a month before the show. For a good chunk of the summer a large part of my house was taken up by these prints and that was a bit annoying. I was able to think creatively and was happy to find them a new home after the show.
How long will you live in a tiny home?
- Until living in a tiny home no longer makes sense to me. Currently it has fit my lifestyle beautifully. I'm in my early 20's, live alone and it's exactly perfect for one person. I understand that my wants and needs might change in the future and am open to adpating. I forsee myself living in a tiny home for probably the next 4 years or so.
Do you move it a lot?
- Moving the tiny home is the most stressful part of owning a tiny home. Things have to be removed off of the walls, the house gets leveled and really it's a whole process to just move it. I try to avoid moving it as much as possible. The first spot I brought it was a sled dog kennel just outside of Duluth and then the second spot it moved to, is and where it currently resides, just outside of Two Harbors, MN. I try to do as little moving of the tiny home as possible though.
Do you have a pet?
- No pets. So far all of the places I've put the tiny home have had dogs living on the land and I've been able to enjoy hanging out with dogs without all the responsibility of owning one. Someday I'd love to be the "dog mom" to a sprint racing sled dog. For now, the house might be a little crammed for a leggy seld dog, until I have my own slice of land I shall wait.
What do you want to take away from your experience and carry with you the rest of your life?
- You fill up whatever space you live in so living in a small house that fits your needs is perfect! This space has taught me that you can easily chase owning the coolest car, having the fancy clothes or the best pots and pans to cook in. Ultimately, you can do a lot with less. When I first moved into the tiny home I had one rusty fork from my grandma. For the first few weeks, I ate off this old rusty bent fork that had been passed down in my family as the "best egg whipping fork". My grandma owned it and so did her grandma, when she passed away I longed to be the owner of THE best fork in the family. It was a fork and it worked! I ate every meal with it until my sister sent over some mis-matched silverware she had at her house. In the whole process of moving I had totally forgotten about getting silverware. We as humans are REALLY creative problem solvers, when you don't have everything you always need it's perfectly okay. You will figure it out and be so proud of yourself when you do.
The idea of "minimalism" is trendy but I think people forget it's a constant to live with less. You have to continue to look at everything around you and ask yourself, does this still make sense to have in my life? Both with stuff and just life in general. Now I ask for lame things as Christmas gifts like my favorite snacks, toilet paper, or things I really need that need replacing like shoes. It helps keep things I don't need out of my space.
I also want to remember that I can do hard things. Transitioning into the tiny home wasn't easy, now it's just my life and I don't think much of it. Throwing myself out of my comfort zone is crucial to experience growth.
What's your bathroom situation like?
- I could talk about this subject far more than most folks as "fecies management", I like to call it, has recently become a big part of my life since living in a tiny home. I use a composting toilet from Nature's Head. This is by far the BEST optioin in my situation. I tried the porta potty life and peeing in a pickle jar, then finally saved up enough money to get a composting toilet. After about 7 months I was able to afford one and it was a dream come true! When I have guests over now they get the "poop talk" from me explaining exactly how to use and navigate the bathroom situation in detail. As for showers I have access to a shower and laundry room at the farm I live at and am eteranlly grateful!
Do you miss running water?
- Yes. I miss long hot showers the most. But I don't hesitate to take a LONG shower when I am at a hotel or at my parents house to make up for the weeks I go with quick ones. The adjustment to life without water took a little bit of time. At the start everytime I washed dishes it was just figuring out how to use less water and get things really clean. Now having lived this way for over a year, it doesn't seem odd to have to boil water to wash dishes anymore. A lot of the skills to have a normal life without running water took time to learn because I had never lived for long periods of time withough access to running water.
Do you ever get scared/anxious living alone?
- It was an adjustment period at first and now I love it! To combat living alone and feeling lonely, I do spend a lot of time on the phone chatting with friends from all over the country. That might be one of my favorite parts is being able to continue to foster relationships with other folks who might not be near by otherwise. I am someone who feels really safe in the forest in the middle of no where which might also contriubute to feeling safe in the tiny home alone.
What is your favorite part about living tiny, and what do you miss about "standard" houses?
- I miss easily having over company over and having the space to entertain. It might be the fact that I live in the woods far away from town but I miss being able to provide a space that feels comfortable to my friends and family that are used to indoor plumbing and being able to shower everynight. I wish I could throw larger dinners with friends or an oven that is something I wish the tiny home had.
My favorite part about living tiny is the feeling of finical freedom, which feels really weird to say. Before living tiny I was paying rent like most people do. Part of the reason I moved into a tiny home was because I was tired of crappy landlords and not building equity. The tiny home made the most sense and seemed like a really good opprotunity for my future and the housing I needed. Yes it came with some large compromises that most people won't consider (no running water, getting rid of most of your things, pooping outside, responsibilities of ownership) but for me it was worth it. To be fincially independent as a young women is EXTREMELY freeing. It has been a rewarding process that I feel proud of. I hope other women consider it for themselves too, that they too get to experience supporting themselves without needing partnership. Being able to provide a space of my own has allowed for the ability to be the driver of my own life.
- Mice and heat! Since I didn't get to build it, I had to figure a lot of it out. Where are they coming in from? How is this house even built? What can mice do? It's been a lot of trouble shooting learning where and how to keep the tiny house in tip top shape. The mice arrived into my house fairly early on and I was forced to figure it out asap to stop their invasion. Then fall of 2021 came around and I was still living off-grid and had no system set up for heat yet. After many cold nights curled in a sleeping bag and failed attempts to install a propane heater, I decided to move the tiny home to a new spot for winter (I do miss living with 50 sled dogs though). The move came quickly as finding a spot was suddenly very urgent with winter coming in fast. Once I moved to a place with electricty my world changed and I got heat AND power! My home now currently is at a farm in Two Harbors, MN.
- I fell in love with living rural. You can't park a tiny home in a city, the city doesn't really like tiny homes as they are just glorified trailer homes. To solve that problem I had to put the tiny home in the middle of nowhere. I grew up in the suburbs and had no idea of what living 25 minutes from a grocery store was like. It was a wake-up call in a good way to better understand and respect the lifestyle of folks who live in rural spaces. I have felt very greatful to feel so at home living in these stunning rural spaces. The endless trees, never locking car doors and forest has felt incredible. Getting to spend a lot of time picking blueberries, fishing, being outside in endless trees, rarely seeing people, swimming in creeks, and enjoying the slower pace of life has been such a gift. I hope to continue to live in the middle of nowhere, it's where I feel most at home.