By Mallory Hopkins | firstname.lastname@example.org
There were dozens of tiny houses and plenty of people bonding and building new friendships over tiny living at the second annual Florida Tiny House Festival in Elkton, Florida, just outside of St. Augustine. The United Tiny House Association held the festival from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19.
“Complete strangers are brought together by the idea of living simpler,” said John Kernohan, Chairman of United Tiny House Association. “We wouldn’t be where we are at today in two years without the support and generosity of the people in the community,” he said, adding that the Tiny House community is very tight-knit and full of people more that willing to help each other.
Suzy Beckwith is a tiny house dweller as well as a tiny house consultant and builder.
“I came here to show that a woman can do it and do it for less. I built my house in 38 days and I built it under budget,” Beckwith said. Her budget was $20,000 and she was able to only spend $17,000. She built her tiny home with her own determination and the help of her friends.
“What I didn’t know how to do, I called my friends with what I didn’t know how to do and said ‘can you come show me how to do this?’ and they would,” Beckwith said.
Tiny living comes with its own bumps along the way. Beckwith mentioned that transporting her home on wheels is one of the biggest challenges.
“I don’t have a truck and I’m at the mercy of my friends,” Beckwith said.
There are other risks associated with tiny living as well. Some incidents could do so much to cost Beckwith, and other tiny house owners their homes.
“Last year, at the end of this festival, a tiny house fella was taking me home and my house fell off his truck,” Beckwith said. “Three miles from here, so that was terrifying.”
There were Skoolie’s at the festival as well, which are school buses that have been converted into mobile homes. Skoolie’s are a sub-community of the Tiny House community. Tiny house owners agree that the community of people is what makes tiny living so special.
Sandy Blankenship lives in a Skoolie that herself and her family helped her convert into a home.
“I was tired of living in my condo and I sold my condo and decided to buy a recreational vehicle but couldn’t find a recreation vehicle that I could put my king size, Sealy mattress in.”
Blankenship said that being able to have her king sized mattress in her new home was her main priority.
“So, a friend of mine said ‘Have you looked at skoolies?’ and I had not so I started doing research and I thought well that’s really perfect to kind of save myself $80,000 by buying a $2,000 school bus rather than an $80,000 motor home,” Blankenship said.
Something that has become increasingly common is that these tiny house and skoolie owners decide to do renovations and build their homes themselves rather than having someone else do it. This is true for Blankenship as well.
“I’ve done all of it myself, I’ve had my son and son-in-law have worked side by side with me to do the carpentry and plumbing and stuff but my hand is in all of it,” said Blankenship.
Blankenship had learned a lot of lessons in the journey to completing her Skoolie, but the most important lesson was “to be flexible because not everything works the way you want it to, an example would be that this is my third bathroom, and now it’s perfect.”
Tiny living isn’t for everybody, but it works well for Blankenship.
“I own my own business, I’m a midwife and I own an insurance billing company that bills for midwives and birthing centers around the country,” she said. “So because I’m self-employed and you can almost get Wi-Fi everywhere, I can take the bus on the road and work.”
Blankenship attended the festival to surround herself with like-minded people.
“It’s a community and so then you meet new community and there’s kind of a subculture within the tiny home movement and so just meeting new people,” said Blankenship of the Skoolie community within the Tiny House community.
Marina Beckley, co-owner of KY Tiny Homes, spoke about the trends of people that were seen at the tiny house festival.
“It usually is one of two totally different groups, it’s the ones that are in their 20s, just getting out of college, or are not going to college, but want the adventure before college—versus the baby-boomers, although they want a bedroom downstairs, they want the not having all that stuff anymore.”
Beckley thinks that more people are moving to tiny living “to make it more about traveling and adventure and get creative about what you need versus having too much.”