Big wisdoms from small living

Karin Prins and her husband, Gijsbert, realized their dream of living in a tiny house with their two children and a dog. Two years later, Karin takes stock: Is it really so idyllic, four people living in 25 square meters? In Issue 36 she tells us about her big wisdom learned from small living.

All is quiet in our village. The setting sun has turned the sky pink and horses stand motionless in the field. Sitting in the rocking chair, I admire a photo on Instagram: a beautiful, high-altitude mountain landscape. In the foreground is a woman. She’s wearing a hip hat, a spotless outfit and an elated smile—as if she is on her way to a party. When I stand on a mountain top, it’s in zip-off shorts, with a red face and my hair wet with sweat under a crumpled cap.

Large sacrifices for a small home

The world on Instagram is often prettier than reality. Am I adding to that image too, I wonder. Because the Instagram photos of our lives in and around our tiny house are sunny and idyllic. Nothing indicates what we sacrificed three years ago, when we were literally working on our dream at every free moment: to live fulltime in a tiny house with our family.

On Instagram I don’t share pictures of not wanting to get out of bed on a cold winter morning, when the stove is still warming up. No photos of me staring at the sink full of dishes, missing my dishwasher. Or cleaning the dry toilet—a nasty job. Would I have embarked on this adventure if I had known all this before?

Moving Our Tiny House Is an Enormous Undertaking

June 2017. Our tiny house is on the road for the first time. Nervously, I’m following in the car. After a year of building, networking and talking to municipal authorities and landowners, the transport day has finally arrived. Our dream home, pulled by a red tractor, is moving painfully slowly.

Shortly into the journey, something happens that we were scared would: One of the bearings on the trailer breaks. From that moment on everything seems to go wrong. To cut a long story short: days later than planned, and with the help of a low loader, we finally arrive at our temporary destination, a campsite somewhere in the middle of the Netherlands. A few weeks later, just as we’ve got over the shock, we hear that the municipality with which we’ve been talking for a year has decided they cannot accept tiny houses after all. We look questioningly at each other again: Why do we want to do this?

What have we learned

Now I don’t think of this period very often anymore, of all the uncertainty and setbacks, while we kept on working and looking after the children. We were in the forefront of the tiny house movement in the Netherlands. There was so much to be learned about building your own, partly self-sufficient house and how to live in it legally.

Yet I wouldn’t have missed it. The fact that we endured all that and now live temporarily in the beautiful tiny village of Kleinhuizen (which is Dutch for ‘small houses’), gives us great confidence in ourselves and in the continuation of our adventure.

  • Read the rest of Karin and her family’s journey in Issue 36.

Text Karin Prins  Photography Magnus Lindvall/