Jocelyn and Jarvis knew they would have to make some radical changes in their lifestyle if they were going to get out of debt, but they did not know that those changes would put them on a different path altogether.
In order to pay off their $96,000 debt from student loans, credit cards and the purchase of small rural property, the couple moved into a small apartment, changed jobs and switched to a strict cash-only budget. By adhering to a frugal lifestyle, they were able to pay off their debt in 20 months. Their plan was then to save to make the down-payment for their own home.
However, the lessons they had learned had changed their perspective. “We’d gone from this heavy burden of debt to feeling very free,” recalls Jocelyn, adding that they asked themselves, “Do we really want to now take on a huge mortgage?”
Their answer was no, and when a friend of Jocelyn’s was selling the framework of a tiny house on a trailer bed, the couple began a new journey. With only a two-week window to make the decision to buy the house, Jocelyn admits she talked her husband into the design and building project. “We planned to work on it for maybe four to five months,” Jocelyn says. “We started in May and we thought we would be finished by November.”
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However, since neither of them had building experience, and their daughter was born in the meantime, the project ended up taking 14 months. “We spent our evenings on YouTube watching videos on how to wire an outlet or how to flash a roof,” Jarvis says.
“It was a huge sacrifice,” says Joselyn, who cared for their baby while Jarvis worked on the house. Their story is detailed in a new YouTube video (above). “I sort of hated the tiny house for a while. … But as soon as we moved in, it was totally worth it.”
Today, after two years in their new home, the family has added a fourth member, a baby son, and they are hooked on the tiny house lifestyle.
Built on a 32-foot by eight-foot trailer bed, the home has a 225-square-foot main level and a 100-square foot sleeping loft. Jarvis admits that having a separate small bedroom for the kids on the main level is an important part of the design for his family. “I’ve seen a lot of designs that only have a nook (for kids), but I think that would be very challenging,” he admits.
The home has a composting toilet, uses well water, is heated with propane and has an on-demand hot water propane tank. It operates on a standard 15-amp plug-in to the property owner’s home. They have added solar panels as part of their plan to be able to go off the grid in coming months.
“Living in a tiny house really promotes living a lot of the time outside,” says Jocelyn. “We are so much more connected with the seasons now.” Calling themselves novice gardeners, the couple is starting to grow some of their own food in terraced gardens outside their home, and they are raising chickens for eggs.
Jarvis and Jocelyn currently rent their home site but are saving to purchase their own property and to then live off-grid in the near future. “Because we don’t have debt and we don’t have a lot of possessions, we have a lot of freedom,” says Jocelyn. “We feel very much in control of our lives.”
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