Living in a tiny house seems like a dream come true. But what do people living in a tiny house do as a pastime, and how do they pursue their passions in the limited space that they have at their disposal?
Arnold from The Netherlands explains it all to us. He converted a truck into a tiny house and is living there with his girlfriend Ellen and their lovely dog Tess.
Living in a tiny house entails a different lifestyle altogether, compared to living in a regular house. We can learn from Arnold’s story how important it can be to have communal spaces, indoors and outdoors. This can greatly enhance the possibilities a tiny lifer has at his or her disposal to pursue hobbies. In fact, working on communal spaces can be a hobby in itself!
Read on and find out how and which hobbies you can maintain and explore while living in your beautiful cosy tiny house, and how you can bring that about. What is more, read below about how living the tiny house life can actually expand your possibilities instead of narrowing them down!
‘Hello Arnold, where are you based?’
Arnold: ‘We live in Ten Boer, in the northern region of The Netherlands. Our lot is part of a project of thirteen lots with tiny houses. We rent the land from the municipality, and we have permission to live in our tiny homes as long as they are deemed safe by the municipality. There are three more communities adjacent to our project, and a street full of tiny houses. In total we are with 60-70 people, all living in tiny houses.’
‘What kind of tiny house do you have and how did this come about?’
Arnold: ‘I converted a truck into a house. Someone gave me the truck, and I just started converting it into a tiny house. This took me several years. After work, I would go and work at it. I had no specific goal with it, and no place to stall it yet. Then I heard about this project; my girlfriend and I visited it, loved it, and we stayed.
We basically live the same way as we did when we were still living in a house; from the inside, the truck is like a regular house.
We had parted with a lot of stuff when we moved into our last house, and when we made the move to this place with our truck we parted with some more stuff. That was kind of liberating. We have everything that we need.
It is a great feeling to be able to live in a house that I made myself. It is unique and an expression of who I am.’’
Space is naturally limited in a tiny house, and a lot of people live in communities of tiny houses. They often have communal spaces which they can use to pursue their hobbies. Since space is limited in a tiny house, it really pays off to have a bigger space that can be used. In this way, you could play a grand piano whilst living in a tiny house, or like Arnold, even play the drums!
How do you experience having communal spaces available to you?
Arnold: ‘To us, working on our communal spaces together with the other members of our community, indoors as well as outdoors, is enjoyable. In this respect, living in a tiny house definitely differs from living in a regular house. The people within our community devote their time to building something we can all profit from, whereas people living in regular homes generally work solely on their own home and use it for themselves. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that; it is just a different way of life. Tiny house living is more geared towards living as a community and adding to the community. Here in our community that works really well.
There is a balance between our private space and the community: we have our lot, versus the community life and the communal spaces that we engage in.’
What kind of communal spaces are you working on?
Arnold: ‘We have a farmhouse at our disposal. There, we have set up a woodworking space and a car workshop for mechanics.
Once a month we engage in community work: we work in the communal garden, put wooden bird nests on our terrain, do maintenance work outside and inside, and work on the communal space inside the farmhouse.
Currently, we are adding a new facility to our communal space: an Airbnb place to stay. Anyone can stay, and we can also use the guest facility to welcome guests who need a place to stay, for whatever reason.
This way people can experience what it is like to live in a tiny house community. It is our way of contributing to society, building that bridge between our community and society, and giving back.
We like sharing our ways with others, inspiring other people, and showing them alternative ways of living that can benefit all.’
‘So you are a music lover, a drummer even. Can you tell us more about this, and, more importantly, how do you manage that in a tiny house?’
Arnold: ‘Well during the day I am at work, and in my free time I play music: drums and bass guitar. I play in several local bands.
Fortunately, there are quite a few people in our community who love to play music, and we decided as a community that we will build a music studio. We are currently engaged in this. We can use the space to practice, rehearse and perform.
There are also artists amongst us, and they create works of art in our communal outdoor space. For example, a neighbor of mine has created a huge work of art on our terrain. This kind of freedom is rare; generally, there is not much public space available that can be used this way. We love to have this space available to express ourselves and to share our art, in whatever way.’
Tiny house living in a community seems to be all about giving and receiving: to give back to the community means that other members and visitors will benefit from it. This creates a dialogue, and that is one of the purposes of art: art and music are meant to stir the soul. An audience for music, or visitors for works of art, are naturally there in the community. This can create a specific flow of creativity, which can not be accomplished in a private regular home. We can already conclude from Arnold’s story that tiny homes situated within a community can expand the possibilities of pursuing hobbies.
Of course, one can play music and create art in a tiny home, without having access to a communal space. For example playing the guitar, singing, or playing the flute. Or one can make drawings, watercolor paintings, or make paper or art.
Since space in a tiny house is limited, most tiny lifers focus on activities outdoors, sharing activities, and using the unlimited space and possibilities that nature has to offer. Being an outdoors lover can greatly enhance your tiny living experience.
Whether you are living by yourself or are part of a community, gardening is something you can easily do. It can be very fulfilling to create a beautiful garden or to grow crops.
Arnold: ‘Being outdoors is important to us: we love gardening, and being outside. We grow our own crops, and we even have a garden where people can just harvest whatever they like. It is all grown without chemicals and is organic and natural. For us it is very important to grow natural crops, we believe in natural ways of life, and natural solutions.
I guess you could say gardening is a hobby for us; but all in all, tiny house living, as we see it, is a way of life. Living the tiny house life is our greatest hobby! And yes the outdoors, gardening in particular, certainly plays a big role in it.’
You mentioned that quite a few members of your community are engaged in natural building and crafts. Can you tell us more about this?
Arnold: ‘Yes we love crafts, such as woodworking. That is why we have set up the woodworking space in the farmhouse.
Recycling is also important to us: we recycle in so many ways, one of which is building. My own tiny house is a product of recycling: I gave the truck that had no use as a truck any longer, a new purpose: it was to become our house. Just open the mind, and creativity starts flowing and new ways of life will present themselves.
There are also members of our community who are into natural building, such as building rocket stoves and building with cob. These builders are all about working with natural materials and recycling materials. For more information check out their website: www.masconmenos.wordpress.com.
We enjoy building our own homes, and we care greatly about the impact that we make on the environment. So this naturally leads to building with natural materials.
Again, just like creating communal spaces and gardening: to us, building is more than a hobby, it is a way of life.’’
Do you build tiny houses with cob within your community?
Arnold: ‘Some houses are built with cob, some have rocket stoves, others do not. The members who are building with natural materials do this for other communities as well. You see, more and more people are discovering alternative ways of building and living.’
It could be argued that the term ‘tiny house living’ might not be accurate, since it seems to expand our ways of living and thinking. If you are planning to live in a tiny house, or are already living in one – you do not have to forsake your hobbies. On the contrary: if you manage to make use of spaces outdoors and indoors, and if you work with others, you can start exploring new worlds.
Do not despair if you do not have a communal space though. There are plenty of crafts that you can easily do in your tiny home, such as working with beads, wood, and cards, knitting, or crochet – just to name a few. These do not take up much space and are enjoyable.
What other hobbies are pursued by the members of your community?
Arnold: ‘We always have quite a few workshops going on, where people of our community teach about mindfulness, reiki, alternative medicine, stuff like that. We like to focus on body and mind and to be at peace with ourselves and others. The workshops are attended by members of the community, as well as visitors and clients.’
If you are a yoga or meditation practitioner, a massage therapist, a reiki healer, or a coach, you can easily practice this from within your tiny house. You can even meet with clients in your tiny home. Or, these days coaching sessions are often held outside, during walks. This can easily be done in the vicinity of your tiny home. A lot of people will be thrilled to enter a tiny house; for them, it can add to the experience.
These hobbies do not require much space and can be done within the tiny house and – when the circumstances are right – outside.
Hopefully, you have been inspired by reading this article, and are looking forward to pursuing existing and new hobbies in your tiny life!
Thank you Arnold from ‘Landjegoed’ at Ten Boer, for providing us with information about living the tiny house dream in The Netherlands. For more information about the community that Arnold is a part of, visit the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/landjegoed.