What’s it like to live small? Tiny housers from all over the world tell us a bit more about the tiny lifestyle. Dirk and Eelke live in Canada in a campervan.
What does your tiny house look like and where is it?
Dirk: “Three and a half years ago, Eelke and I, together with our three cats, moved to Canada. In Vancouver, we bought a 1987 HMC Motorhome, almost 11 meters in length, which we named ‘The Beast’. The exterior is still in its original form, but we renovated the interior. Due to time and money constraints, we did everything ourselves.
Originally, we had the campervan parked near Vancouver, on a friend’s land next to a Christmas tree farm where we saw lots of wild deer, coyotes, birds and rabbits. In May 2017, we started traveling around, for an indefinite period. We don’t really have a set plan; all we know is that we want to see a lot of Canada and the US. And to work every now and then, here and there, in order to be able to fund the trip. At the moment, we are in Canmore, Alberta, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. It’s a fantastic place and we’re going to spend winter here.”
What are your reasons for living small, and how did it come about?
“I’ve always had a big passion for tiny houses. Like tree huts, for example. Living in Vancouver is expensive and it just felt wrong to spend a large part of our income on rent. That’s why we always fantasized about buying an old, yellow school bus. In 2016, that idea gathered momentum, when Eelke and I suddenly had less income. Renovating a school bus would cost too much time, so we eventually chose a campervan. Within two months, we had refurbished everything and sold three quarters of our possessions through Craigslist or donated it to the Salvation Army. It feels good to own fewer things.”
What makes living in a tiny house so nice?
- “The costs. The camper is bought, so we don’t have to pay any rent. Which means we don’t need to work so much to bring in a high income, and we can spend more money on fun things.”
- “The stuff. It’s good to experience that you do not need much as a human being. A roof above your head and love are the main things; the rest is a luxury. If we do not use something every day, we get rid of it. Less stuff gives you more space in your mind.”
- “Because we have a house on wheels, we can take it everywhere with us. We have already woken up in so many beautiful places. We are closer to nature and live outdoors a lot more.”
- “Eelke and I have learned to be self-sufficient. We can easily spend a week without being connected to electricity and water. This makes you more aware of consumption.”
Are there also aspects that aren’t so nice?
“Spending winter in a campervan is not always nice. In Canada, it can be minus 30 degrees and a campervan is generally not well insulated. So you can imagine what a challenge that can be. And because we live in a small space, it becomes messy pretty quickly. Especially our kitchen: we love cooking but not so much the cleaning or washing up.”
What is your tip to someone considering living a simpler life, with less possessions?
“Just do it. Start by getting rid of things or living in a smaller space. The larger the house, the more stuff you buy to fill the space. Look at the things that you don’t use on a daily basis, and ask yourself if they make you happy. It makes throwing or giving things away so much easier. ‘Small living’ with pets is (mostly) fine to do. We have three cats who always go out, no matter where we are parked up. There are also lots of stories on the Internet of people living small with dogs or cats. Everything is possible, as long as your animals’ happiness is considered and respected.”