Tammy Strobel on letting go of her tiny house

As one of the earliest occupants of a tiny house, American Tammy Strobel has been a source of inspiration. Now, however, she has traded in her little house on wheels for a different home that is a better fit for her life today.

The cats ran into the morning light, and I followed them into the fresh spring air. My first cup of coffee would have to wait because the sun was rising over Mount Shasta, and I wanted to photograph the ephemeral golden light. I watched the cats happily saunter ahead of me with their tails straight up in the air, and as I snapped a few photos, I heard a rustling noise behind me.

I assumed it was Red, our neighbor’s dog, in her usual spot under the porch. Every morning, she came over to the house to supervise the cats and my early morning photography sessions. Red was thrilled that I was awake and bounded toward me with a neon green tennis ball in her mouth. I greeted Red with a smile and tried to capture her with my camera, but she moved too fast to get a clear shot.

Ready for change

My husband, Logan, was watching us from the kitchen window, and I could hear him laughing at our antics. Logan brought me a cup of coffee in my favorite blue mug, and I decided to enjoy the sunrise and stop taking photos.

Logan and I sat on the front porch and between sips of coffee we continued an ongoing conversation about selling our tiny house on wheels. We’d been living in it for over four years, and we were ready for a change. However, we were more attached to our little house than we thought, and the decision to part with our home was challenging.

A decade before the conversation on the front porch, Logan and I had got married. At the beginning of our marriage in 2003, we argued about our finances frequently, and those disagreements caused us to reevaluate how we spent money and what brought us happiness. As a result, we decided to simplify our lives.

The ultimate minimalist living experiment

Between 2004 and 2009, we gave away or sold the majority of our belongings, paid off our debt, changed careers and focused on buying experiences, not things. We also dreamed of owning a small home, but housing prices in California, US, were unaffordable and we didn’t want a mortgage or the responsibility of maintaining a big house.

That changed after we watched a YouTube video featuring Dee Williams’ tiny house in 2007. Williams’ house was incredibly small, affordable, beautifully crafted, and it could be towed down the road. Living in such a small dwelling seemed like the ultimate minimalist living experiment. We decided to follow Williams’ example and, by 2011, we had purchased and moved into a tiny house on wheels. The house was twelve square meters; about the size of a large camper van.

Over the past fifteen years, Logan and I have let go of stuff, debt, bad habits and more. When it comes to letting go, we have a lot of experience—but that doesn’t mean the process is easy. So, why is letting go difficult?

  • Read Tammy’s complete article about letting go of her tiny house in Issue 35.

Text & Photography Tammy Strobel