Downsizing my Home, Up-sizing my Life

Downsizing my Home, Up-sizing my Life

“As you climb the ladder of success, check occasionally that its leaning against the right wall.”

I’ve always kept a spiral notebook nearby with the intent to jot down all my brilliant ideas, inevitably when brilliant ideas are scarce, to do lists and goals are plenty. Flipping through said notebooks last week, from my early twenties, I see “millionaire by 30” scrawled across several pages. At 29 I feel as though I have reached the intent of that goal without my net income even being close to seven figures.

Twenty year old me wanted to be a millionaire, ambitious…yes, but thirty year old me wants so much more, not only financial freedom but freedom to spend my time doing what I choose and I’ve found a way to get it!

In February 2011, I built a “tiny house” using reclaimed materials, for a total $3000. This was brought on because the thought of living in an apartment complex with 300 neighbors, who would all have the same floor-plan and Pier One furnishings decorating our white walls, literally made my stomach turn.

I originally planned to live in the tiny house for a year as an experiment, but almost instantly I adapted to my new space and enjoyed the forced simplicity that living in 97 sq. ft. requires.

Around this same time I was offered an awesome job to run the social media for Danny Gray Motorcycle Seats (like em here facebook.com/DannyGraySeats) where I work constantly here and there, networking, marketing and posting but at the same time I now have mobility to be anywhere in the world.

Today is a monumental day for me, a year and a half later and approaching my thirtieth birthday I was able to move my tiny house to it’s permanent location which I bought for $5,000. I now begin the process of converting everything off grid which means I’ll never have to worry about paying rent, mortgage or utilities ever again!

No longer am I set on a number but the lifestyle I thought that number represented.

63 Responses to Downsizing my Home, Up-sizing my Life

  1. David Ryan says:

    You are an impressive woman!

  2. oh dumb says:

    seems boring.

  3. Miranda Rice says:

    This honestly is inspirational. As I near my 30th birthday, I making changes as well to meet goals i made in my twenties. Keep posting, I love reading about the tiny house.

  4. Ranlikegel says:

    I’m a huge fan.

  5. Teresa Weir says:

    You are truly a renaissance woman!

  6. Congratulations on flinging the mortgage monkey off your back. How much land and what kind of location did you manage to find for 5K?

    • kristiewolfe says:

      Thanks Jonathan, I bought about a quarter of an acre (10,890 sq ft) which doesn’t sound like much until you compare it with the size of my house (97 sq ft). And the fact that there’s nothing around me so it seems like I own miles of land. The location is not the beautiful that I’m accustomed to ie mountains, it’s dry and flat no doubt about it but the sunsets and expansive skies are growing on me. It’s in the middle of nowhere but a short 20 min drive to downtown Boise.

      • You can grow quite a bit on 1/4 acre. I think the city lot on which my home sits is only about .21 acre, but there’s much more house on it. Still, 5K is pretty cheap, and now it’s yours. If you figure out a way to catch and store what little rainwater does hit your patch of land, you’ll be set.

      • Mardee Hill says:

        Wow, 10,000 sqft of land. Here in the Gulf Coast Big Bend area of N. Florida you must have 12,000 sqft for tiny houses/park model style homes. I need to find a cheaper more warm area to live. I would love to do a project like your Hobit Community along with some other Lupus/MCTD
        disabled “sisters” somewhere south of the Keys and more tropical consistently warm! LOL, I like to dream big. But will have to do something here being it will have to be on my daughter and son-n-laws preperty. I’m just reading up on your blog, do you sell your house plans or have links to them. I was a and had the nick name of Jill Of All Trades prior to the full body take over by the Lupus MCTD Trolls. I am trying my dangdest to do this on my own and getting back to doing the things like this that I loved so much! I do have to say I owned many a tools that even my daddy didn’t have. He loved to ground me so he could make me stay at home on the weekends. Torturing me by having me help him with his wood working projects or weekend warrior DIY builds 30 years before the term weekend warrior DIYer’s was even thought of. But anyway now at 56, I have never used a chainsaw so you just inspired me to get the strength back, buy one and use it to clear the area I’ll need for the concrete pad. Then use some of the wood and build a cordwood wall. You would love doing something like cordwood building with all of the artistic touches you can add like colored bottle windows. Will keep looking for a link to your house plans till I hear back. Oh heres a cordwood link http://cordwoodmasonry.com/

  7. Cheri says:

    Congratulations, this is so inspiring. We are building a small home with cash too, not a tiny house but smaller than the American way. Living a debt -free life is so freeing.

    • kristiewolfe says:

      Thanks Cheri and I agree, I read a interview with a business mogul who went millions of dollars in debt when the stock market crashed, and he said “you’ll never feel as rich as when you get to zero”

  8. nice work..the best decesion we ever made was selling our house and moving to a small place..we got rid of most of our stuff (which we don’t miss) and have been doing the work ourselves over the past 4 years..keep up the good work!
    It was an adjustment for us but anything worth having is worth effort and sacrifice!

    • kristiewolfe says:

      love your domain name – Living small is nothing compared to living off grid so much respect!

      • Larry Hardenbrook says:

        I love that you can do this. Very amazing… I wish I had your courage and ambition to do the same. Very inspirational and I look forward to hearing more about your home and life…..

  9. I love your blog! My husband son and dog all live off the grid. We love it! We belive in no debt. We also belive in the buy a crappy car till it breaks idea. People are always yelling at me to get a new car! WHY! Its even funnier their faces when a not so freaky looking person gets out. What shes driving that. hahah and I am so using the time machine response. I love your blog.We live in a tiny house as well.
    http://tinyhomesteadfreedom.blogspot.com/

  10. This is so awesome! I am curious though….do you ever feel afraid by yourself out in the middle of nowhere?

    • kristiewolfe says:

      Thanks Ramona, and nope haven’t ever been afraid being alone anywhere really. I’ve been thinking about doing a post on ‘unverified fears’ because I get that question a lot when people come visit – so stay tuned!

  11. Stacie says:

    I agree Kristie. I am selling my sequoia and getting me a time machine. I have been planning an off grid tiny home for a few years now and it looks like this spring I will make it a go. Also, if people are looking for really cheap land there is a place called smiles4uinc that flips land. (I have no affiliation with them). But you can find many acres of dry land for a couple grand. Thought everyone may like to know about them. Keep on truckin girl…..your life sounds like the dream we all have..

  12. Hi Kristie.

    You are an amazing girl, a source of inspiration.
    I love his philosophy of simplicity.

    Greetings from Spain.

  13. […] self-professed «capitalist hippie,» Wolfe describes how she had a wake-up call to eschew the materialist life during her late […]

  14. […] self-professed “capitalist hippie,” Wolfe describes how she had a wake-up call to eschew the materialist life during her late […]

    • Al says:

      Just watched a video of the Hawaii off-grid home you & your mom built. Inspirational & gives me hope that I can do something similar, but I don’t have the construction skills you and your mom acquired, and I wonder if I could find the same type of situation in Maui for the similar prices?

  15. Joe says:

    Inspirational!

    • Susan says:

      I just came across your little house in Hawaii. I am so impressed. I am soon to be 60 and wish I had the energy of my younger days. I have an island that is 21,000 Sq feet in MA that I want to build something similar on. The island has been in our family for many years and had a couple of different structures on it that have all been vandalized and destroyed. I remember such joyful times there as a child. It is visible from the shoreline and the lake is only about 7 miles long. I have wanted to rebuild out there and have just started with the calls to inquire q to how to go about it. Wondering if if use a generator and if you have a septic tank ? I would imagine building codes in HI would be challenging. Any advice you can give would be gladly appreciated. Any chance you’d be coming out Boston way anytime in the near future. I’d love to show you around and pick your brain. : ) ~ Susan

      • kristiewp says:

        Thanks Susan! Your project sounds like so much fun holy moly! I travel a lot so you never know I just may show up :)

  16. Darren Odom says:

    This! Very smart design, use of materials, rule breaking, outside-of-the-box thinking. I think you’ve got the perfect balance of space, integration with its surroundings, and simple, beautiful design intuition. Much admiration from Colorado.

  17. David says:

    Hi Kristie! I’ve been a fan of the Tiny house movement since I lived in a little tiny apartment in Japan and loved it! I just bought my first rental property and now live in Paris. I’d love to do something similar here or perhaps if/when I come back to the US. I’m curious how you found the land in Idaho and Hawaii. I’d like to buy from a distance as well, but I’m not sure where to look online. Anywho, as Susan says above, if you come to Paris, let me know! There are some awesome “tiny house” boats here that people live in. They’re amazing examples of mobile living. Good luck!

    • kristiewp says:

      It sounds like you’ve got a pretty great deal going. I found both my lots on Craigslist actually. It take a lot of scouring but there are deals out there.

  18. Jorge says:

    You inspired me and my family, you’re a great woman ,in few months we will try make happen. Tanks for the ideas.

  19. I liked your comment about your friends saying you will never be able to find a suitor., as soon as you said it I thought I wonder how many online perposals she’s gotten

  20. Robert Windham says:

    after seeing the tv show re: your Hawaii place, I kept wondering why you aren’t in Hollywood or on TV, somewhere, I don’t ever recall(I’m not a youngster)seeing anyone with everything going for them……looks-obviously, very smart, photogenic, eloquent, great camera presence and electric eyes ….get an agent and grace us with more of you
    ocalagator

  21. elizabeth moody says:

    Kristiewp, you are a god send. I have a few questions. I hope u don’t mind. What part of Hawaii r u in. I love the fact that u get lots of rain and love the jungle tropical feel. Been looking on graigslist etc. But not sure where to buy. Also do u have an email? I have so many questions, like can u help me to build my small home.? My email is lizzymoody@hotmail.com and I’m ready to get off the grid and out of the matrix.
    Fondly
    Elizabeth Moody

    • kristiewp says:

      Hello Elizabeth, my tree houses on the Hilo side of the big Island. I’m currently not doing commission projects because I’m starting my next build in Washington state :)

      • Elizabeth Moody says:

        Thank you so much for the response. Sending you only positive energy and i know your home in Washington State will be smashing. Keep us updated please.
        Be well and thanks again for the positive hope for all us woman out there.
        Fondly,
        ELizabeth Moody

  22. Just bought 3 acres on the Big Island in Fern Forrest 20 miles above Hilo. I plan to come see what I bought any October. I think I saw that’s where your at? Any way we could come by and personally visit your place. I have the same exact idea,just not so high. Also did you ship your vehicle over or it once you got there? Thanks. Davidwmcelveen@yahoo.com

  23. jack says:

    Great job Kristie. I enjoyed your videos. I’m a residential architect and have been considering liquidating and living in an RV for several years. Not sure if I can ever make the decision to do it.

  24. Becky says:

    Wow, Kristie…you are exactly what I hoped to be years ago. I so admire your strength and wisdom and courage. Right on! Now at 55 and considering retirement (my partner urges sooner than later) I am obsessed with this simple, tiny living. Thanks for sharing your incredible life and illuminating the possibilities.

  25. larry says:

    I built a tiny simple house two years ago before I have seen this movement. I have a organic farm in southern Utah so I can live that simple life style. I have lived on Kauai also nice…Where have you been your an awesome person from what I have seen good luck.

  26. Kenny says:

    Do you still have to pay a land tax..?

  27. Clayton says:

    Would you ever build one of there Hobbit homes for someone? I absolutely love this home but I could definitely not pull off a build like this myself or even close to it. Again absolutely outstanding work!

  28. pat clark says:

    Kristi who did you buy your land from in Hawaii?

  29. Sam says:

    I just purchased 100 acres to live sustainably. I had picked out what I wanted to build but you shot that one out the window. Now I’m looking at some of your ideas. Are you going to the mother earth news fair in Topeka?

  30. David Hoffman says:

    Pretty rad way to live. Once I’m rich from all my brilliant novels, I think I may hire you to build my Ewok treehouse village.

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