Money Mic: ‘I Live in a 200-Square-Foot House … So I Can Live Out My Dreams’

Credit: Susan Teare

Ethan Waldman lives in a 200-square-foot home that he built himself.

In the LearnVest Personal Stories series, everyday people share the details of their money lives, discussing the individual choices they’ve made and how it’s impacted their financial journey.

Today, one man shares how downsizing into a 200-square-foot home helped him achieve the life—and career—he longed for.

My quest to start living in a tiny house wasn’t borne out of a need to downsize or drastically cut expenses, although both happened as a result.

Rather, it fit into a larger game plan of mine to have a more flexible lifestyle that kept me from being chained to a desk all day.

It all started in the fall of 2011, when I took a month-long sabbatical from my job and life in Vermont to ride my bike from British Columbia into Washington State and along the Oregon coast.

At the time, I was working for a corporate tech-training company, creating online courses and aids that helped employees learn software. It was a good job and I worked with wonderful people. But I hated being stuck in a cubicle, and riding through such a scenic part of the country made me realize I needed more time to enjoy life.

On top of that, I’d always wanted to work for myself. I remember my manager once asked me where I saw myself in five years. She thought I was management material, but I honestly told her I wanted to start my own business.

So when I got back from my sabbatical, I knew it was time to speed up that five-year plan—but I needed to get my ducks in a row first.

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  • lisainlouisiana

    Thank you for pointing all the benefits of being financially free! I’ve downsized from 2500 sq feet to 298 (moving in this August). Didn’t buy, but am renting it. There’s a photo on the blog site.

  • Zach

    Great story! You forgot to mention the flexibility you now have to give to Charity. ;)

  • PUdding

    How were you able to plug in electricity if you are not paying property taxes…?

    • Vicki W

      His cousin owns the land, and pays taxes, so no issue with electricity.
      There is no change in property taxes for the tiny house because they followed the limitations set.

  • flours

    I have a similar goal, but my intent is to purchase a 5th wheel so my husband & I can travel the country while working remotely for my company. I’ve already shared my goal with my management and they have asked me to create a business plan for what I see as a new market for them…I can help them market to companies that don’t want to pay travel expenses for our services (which many times must be on-site)

  • LastKingofHearts

    That 8k end of year bonus.