In 2007, the average size of a new single family home was 2,479 square feet. But now that suburban McMansions are considered as stale as a decade-old Big Mac, the latest American housing trend is going the opposite direction. It’s called the Tiny House Movement and refers to homes as small as 80 square feet.
Seattle’s Isaac Vicknair says he doesn’t identify as being part of a movement, but over the last couple of years he’s lived in four different 8X8 structures. But his take on the Tiny House is very unique.
“Almost four years ago now I decided you can either get really rich and not worry about money or you can not need any money and not worry about money. That seemed a lot easier for me. So I quit my job, I started getting rid of all my bills; phone bill, rent, anything like that. It took me about a year, maybe a year and-a-half, to finally get rid of everything. But now I actually have no recurring bills of any kind.”
But how do you live rent free, and not in your parents’ basement?
“I put an ad out on Craigslist and I say, ‘Do you want a free tiny house?’ I’ll usually get about ten people and one or two seem like normal people who actually do want it for some real reason. The deal is, I get to live there for free for six months. They give me one power outlet and then they get to keep it. People have wanted it for a garden space, a music space, a yoga studio, a playhouse for kids. There’s a lot of cool things you can do with a well-built structure in the back.”
Isaac’s lifestyle definitely is not for everyone. For one, there’s no plumbing. Isaac uses a little ship toilet. As for bathing, “I’ve got a lot of friends. I’m in a community-minded group of bluegrass people. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly scandalous but I date around. They are the ones demanding the shower, not me.”
Isaac says he’s actually surprised that complete strangers let him live in their backyard for six months.
“I’ve noticed there’s definitely a correlation between how much money and how nice the area is and how much they’re willing to trust me. Generally, if it’s in Shoreline and it’s just some redneck, there is a lot of trust. Like immediate open, ‘Yeah, you seem like a good guy, throw it on up!’ But if it’s somewhere in Madrona, it takes a long time to break that ice.”
But once he moves in, Isaac doesn’t want the ice to get too thawed. He has a strict rule that his house host never bothers him.
“I’m often completely naked and just laying on the floor painting myself with glow-in-the-dark paint to see if I can look like a jellyfish. I have a lot of strange ideas. The last thing I want is a knock. So I tell people, ‘Absolutely no bothering me. If it looks like I’m dead, still don’t bother me. Come after six months.'”
Which shouldn’t be a problem in his new arrangement. He’s in the process of building a new tiny home in the yard of some pretty unique people.
“They’re definitely an alt, poly, bondagey kind of group. They’re like the nicest people. They’re pacifists, witches, earthy folk.”
Isaac says this might be the last free tiny house he lives in before he makes his way back into what he calls, “Polite Society.” But he hopes that others who’d like to do what he’s doing would put their fears aside for some adventure.
“I think it’s like the one in 100 that’s going to be disaster. But I think if you start doing things because you’re afraid that something bad might happen, you’re already on the road to having a really boring and, I’d say, not that meaningful life. You can’t spend your life being afraid of the one in 100, but just trusting the people and just going for it has led to either awesome times or really interesting stories.”
In case you’re wondering how Isaac does things like eat, he says he Dumpster dives, does trade, sells little art projects and he works one night a week at a bar.