Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Rented Homestead

Recently, Nathan and I have been talking about finding a new house to rent. While our current place has always had its pros and cons, lately the cons seem to be taking over. Pros: we have a huge backyard with more than enough room for chickens, dogs, and a garden. We're close to everything - downtown, the university, the beach, the YMCA. We are right next to a really lovely and expensive neighborhood, which  makes running and walking the dogs an absolute pleasure. You will notice that all these pros relate to the exterior of the house. This is not a coincidence. 

The house itself is where the cons tend to congregate. The one tiny bathroom grows mold on the ceiling at an alarming rate. The kitchen is nearly falling apart - the floor is slanted, the linoleum is straight up missing in sections, the appliances are temperamental. Some of the windows are missing screens, the rest are hosting gaping holes. (There are some personnel issues as well, but I won't go into those, considering this is a public blog.) 

And true - those are all cosmetic things, which should be easy enough to overlook. But this winter especially, we've come to realize the Very Worst Thing about this house. Heating it. 


Let it be known: trying to keep a stupidly large, poorly insulated, and very drafty house warm through expensive and inconvenient oil heating is a very, very, very bad idea. So bad, in fact, that we can't actually afford to do it. Since we've lived here, we've spent about $1,700 on oil. Granted, that's taken us through two winters, but North Carolina doesn't get that cold for that long. Also, it makes our house less of a steal than we originally thought. Overall, we're paying a lot more than this place is probably worth, which is why we decided to boycott oil for the rest of the winter and instead invested in this baby: 


As far as space heaters go, it is small but powerful. We put it in the bedroom at night and I sleep like a baby. When I wake up and go into the kitchen to make coffee, I am slapped in the face with a burst of arctic air, but that's okay, because I scurry back to the bedroom as fast as I can. I have taken to spending my mornings working, not at my desk, but under my blankets, the space heater pulled close, the dogs at my feet, my laptop and coffee close by. It's actually kind of nice, though I'm beginning to miss the living room. 

Thus, we'd like to move this summer, when our lease is up. Which wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that we need to find a place that is dog-friendly... and chicken-friendly... and bee-friendly... and garden-friendly. Oh, also really, really cheap. Wish us luck. 

To avoid thinking about out residential prospects, I've become obsessed with tiny houses in the middle of nowhere, cozy cabins with just enough space, hideaways where only the essential and necessary are welcome. While I'm fairly certain none of these places exist in Wilmington, it's nice to daydream about the possibilities in our far-off future. Here are some of the best ones I've found through Pinterest.


This one would make a garden tricky, but at least it would be helpful in case of a zombie apocalypse. 







I love a tiny space +  a loft bed. This one seems particularly cozy. Plus one little space heater would probably be sufficient for the whole house. 


Drawers under the bed, high ceilings, exposed wood, big windows. Be still my heart. 


I love this one - it's compact, simple, and appears to have a loft bedroom as well. And I could probably fit two dogs in there, if only Calvin would lose a little weight. 


Don't you just want to crawl up there and cuddle the night away? 

Since it will be a few months until we can find a new place, and years and years until I can get my tiny cabin in the woods, we'll just have to make do with what we've got. Which isn't really that bad - especially since the high today is supposed to be in the 60s and spring is on its way. In the meantime, I'll be wearing three pairs of socks and a bathrobe, and daydreaming about our future home. 

13 comments:

  1. Hey Chrissy, best of luck in finding a new homestead. I fell in love with the tiny house concept a few years ago, though it's been a tough sell to the wife. She's all for 'going smaller' as long as we have indoor plumbing so, to that end, we've been looking for land to buy and are going to try to start our own little 'tiny house' type place.

    I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

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    1. I think indoor plumbing might be a deal breaker for me too. :)

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  2. Those all look like awesome spaces to me, too. I think you should find a tiny piece of land somewhere and let Nathan build a tiny cabin on it.

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  3. Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your housing woes. The heat issue sounds pretty bad, even considering North Carolina's mild winters. But you're right: spring is soon to be sprung--you're almost there! Until then, stay warm and perhaps bake lots of delicious things as an excuse to keep the oven on? :-)

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  4. Small houses seem just amazing--though I could imagine living in one with another person! I mean, I like George but... :)

    Good luck finding a new house! I hear you on the heat--we spend about $200-300/month to heat our house. It really adds up. Ugh. I hope that you can find something both amazing and accommodating!!

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  5. Best of luck finding a place better for you guys. I love all those tiny houses!

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  6. I always loved the idea of something teeny tiny, but then I realized it would only work without hobbies -- my art or Neil's cars or our camping. We just sadly have too much stuff to be hip or minimalist. Where do all those people put their stuff?

    I love your ideas though, something cozy, homey -- oh especially the little nook!

    Hope you find the perfect place to land!

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    1. We would have to get rid of a LOT of stuff for it to work. Probably not feasible, but it's nice in theory.

      What will probably happen is that we will buy land and a build a tiny place to live in while we build a regular sized place. Though this is probably a pipe dream too. Good thing I like dreams.

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  7. BEAUTIFUL! I actually have that exact same heater sitting at my (formerly) cold feet. We call it the puppy dog heater, as it follows us around. ;)

    I've thought about renting a future homestead, but I just don't like the idea of dedicating so much time, effort, and money into building a functional garden for someone else's cause. I tried it in the past, three times, and I'm sick of garden hopping. :(

    So, I'm saving up for property and a house. The only bad thing: that puts my homesteading dreams WAY off. Sigh.

    Thanks for the small house p*rn by the way. I oohed and aahed for sure. ;)

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    1. A day or two after I wrote this, we started thinking about staying here after all. We HAVE put a lot of work into our raised beds, and I'd hate to leave them so soon. I have no idea when we'd be able to afford a house, though, so right now anything we do is on borrowed land. I just hope the next people who live here like to garden. ;)

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  8. My friend had a similar realization about the price of oil. She lives in Colorado so it's colder a lot longer.

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    1. I don't think I could ever live in a place that gets an actual winter again. I've been too spoiled by the south!

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