6 Surprises of Living Off-Grid in a Tiny House

Good surprises, too! It’s not all bad.

The surprisingly cute Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) or possibly the Regal Jumping Spider, two options presented by observers of my photo on iNaturalist.org

#1 Falling in Love with Spiders and Dragonflies
I’ve been making new friends! The Bold Jumping Spider seemingly tries to communicate with me by tapping its pedipalps and mouthparts while making eye contact through the window screen. Ever made eye contact with a spider that can turn it’s head to watch you? Yeah, it’s weird. And cool. They’re gorgeous, and Blue Dasher dragonflies (Pachydiplax longipennis) are beautiful, too. I didn’t know anything about dragonflies until we moved here. Now we delight in the flight of large groups of dragonflies around our house in summer.

The spectacular Blue Dasher dragonfly! Bonus: eats mosquitoes.

#2 Cleaning the Stove
Initially, we prepared for an induction range, but when a mistake was made and our house came with an electric glass one, we adapted and are happy with it. It’s just surprising that a glass cooktop requires a different cleaning regimen involving a special cleaning solution and careful use. On the right burner in the photo, you can see we’re not good at maintaining it! Here’s a link to general care instructions for the Summit brand, in case you want one.

We have a Summit brand 2-burner glass cooktop that came installed in our tiny house.

#3 Abundant Water
We practiced 5-minute showers before moving off-grid. We learned how to extremely reduce and conserve our water consumption (beyond basics like not running the tap while brushing teeth). Then we got out here, and surprise! We are flush with water almost daily! Yay! It rains so often in Northwest Arkansas that we have plenty of water, and since it comes from the rain and goes into a native plant greywater garden, I feel good about using as much water as I need.

#4 Noise
We expected peace and tranquility out in the countryside, but actually, most of the time it can be quite loud. Airplanes fly overhead daily (we’re near Drake Field airport) vibrating the window panes if they’re low. We can hear the interstate highway that can drown out frogs and birds I’m trying to ID. Depending on the season and time of day, multiple loud appliances run (often simultaneously): the whole-house air vent, two small fans, the portable AC or the fan in the portable propane heater, the big and small dehumidifiers, the bathroom vent, and the water pump – nicknamed “Bowser” from the video game Super Mario Brothers.

Our “book nook” is cozy and spacious! We love it.

#5 Plenty of Storage
It’s quite surprising for a tiny house on wheels, but honestly, our cabin has better storage than any other place I’ve experienced. The storage stairs are awesome, the large drawers under the window seat are spacious, the extra loft provides overflow space (although we’re trying to reduce the volume of stuff) and the kitchen cupboards don’t feel crowded. We have nice bookshelves upstairs and downstairs, too!

Solo has a beneath-the-stairs litter box hole resembling a bird nest box!

#6 Cleaning House
I was excited to live tiny because I expected to drastically reduce the time I spent cleaning. Instead, it actually increased! It takes less time to clean the entire house (which I rarely do anyway – like, twice/year) but more time daily to keep vital spaces minimally clean. That’s because we live in the “entryway” and “litter box zone” – both located in the middle of the house. In a larger house, there is more space or hallways or porches or rugs between the front door or litter box and the other rooms, stopping the dirt before it gets everywhere. But in a tiny house, dirt becomes concentrated quickly, smells are always nearby, and cat messes can’t be put off until later as easily. So if we don’t want cat litter between our toes and inside our underpants, I have to clean it off the floor, bed and seat cushions multiple times daily. Ryan jokes that this is living tiny with a cat, which is sadly true. But I’ll keep Solo and just clean more often. He is worth it!

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