Bianca Metz, a tiny living consultant, wants you to think deeply about moving to a tiny house.
Is living in a tiny house something you’ve wanted to do for a while? Many people who are considering going tiny worry about not being able to make it last. Will their lifestyle choice be resilient to life’s changes? Will they ever get sick of it?
Bianca Metz is a tiny home, downsizing, and sustainable living consultant in Southern Ontario, who lives the tiny house lifestyle herself. If you spend time with her, she will probably ask you to “think deeply” about something. It’s her trademark phrase, and for good reason – she knows better than anyone that you can’t get away with just a surface commitment when it comes to minimalism and sustainability.
Bianca’s secret to good tiny living? Values and a really well-designed tiny house.
Bianca works with people all over the country, helping them move into a tiny house, downsize, embrace an alternative minimalist lifestyle, and stick to it. Besides her wealth of knowledge in Ontario tiny house regulations and by-laws and hyper-organized approach, she has her own experiences to offer.
“I live in a tiny 240-sq.ft. house with my husband and our 4-year-old son. When our son was born, we were living in a typical condo in Guelph. At that point, we decided that what we really wanted to do, for him and for ourselves, is live close to nature, do land stewardship, and spend more time with each other.”
“My husband is an outdoor guide and forest school teacher, so sustainable living was always a closely-held value for us. Downsizing really makes you think that less is more and gives you space to give more attention to the people in your life, perhaps the children in your life. To make downsizing resilient in that way, you have to ask yourself the “why’s” that really get deep. Why is it that you want to downsize?”
“We just measure success differently. We’re not on the path of a pursuit of things.”
Bianca and her family have lived in their tiny house in Southern Ontario for almost four years – and plan to continue. Their secret to living well in a tiny house?
“We just measure success differently. We’re not on the path of a pursuit of things. We don’t believe that you need a big space and a big home and all the things that fill it. We don’t need a basement to store things and a garage to park our car. In fact, when we walk into big houses now, we actually feel suffocated, because there’s just so much there. It’s funny, because people expect to feel that in a small space, rather than a large one. But, our house is very well designed for us. Success in living tiny is really, really about your space and your attitude – it’s not just about moving from a big house to a small house and hoping that it will work out.”
It’s not so much about cupboard colours and drawers under the stairs.
Ok, clever storage spaces in tiny homes are absolutely necessary for keeping your sanity and minimizing clutter. But, Bianca emphasizes, it goes deeper than that. Once the all the finishes and the colours of the home are selected and the tiny house is delivered to you, you must commit to living minimally.
“You’ll find that people are usually motivated to downsize based on finances. But if there’s a second layer in there, or even a primary layer in there, of really wanting to live more simply and reduce your consumption, then you’re making space for things in your life that truly matter.”
“The most important piece of the puzzle is the resiliency piece. It’s the reason that so many people have a hard time finding success in their downsizing journey. If it’s done unintentionally and with motivation that isn’t strong enough, then it won’t stick.”
The downsizing journey isn’t an easy one and can require a lot of discipline. However, making the commitment to a more mindful and minimal lifestyle has undeniable benefits.
“The most important piece of the puzzle is the resiliency piece. If it’s done unintentionally, then it won’t stick.”
“You really do need to purge a lot of the things in your life to make moving into a tiny home resilient. We’ve done that and we’re very, very minimal. We’re not crowded with things in our home and we have access to nature. We did this so we could live partially outdoors and we’re outside all day, every day most of the year. Because we have that opportunity, it makes everything so much easier. And not paying a mortgage really helps.”
Caution: living in a tiny house may cause you to re-examine your priorities.
Besides the practical realities of life, Bianca talks about some of the cultural reasons why downsizing can be so difficult. In North American culture, we often consider a bigger home as a reward for working hard, a sign of success. We reward ourselves with “stuff”. Tiny living turns this mentality on its head.
“I see people really struggle with going from a bigger space to a smaller space because smaller spaces are not necessarily the goal for a lot of people. It doesn’t fit our framework of how we think about living.”
“You know, when people are looking to move out, they rent an apartment or they’re in student housing. Then they go to purchase something small and they continue to work and work and work so they can “upgrade” to something bigger. Overworking causes people to burn out, it causes overconsumption as a coping mechanism. Suddenly, you do not have time for yourself or for others.”
Burnout is something that makes a lot of Bianca’s clients start considering making a change. That is a transformational time that can bring a lot of clarity about priorities that may have gotten lost in the shuffle.
“Halting and getting out of this framework, you have to really ask yourself, why am I downsizing. If your reasons include the financial freedom aspect, if they include lower consumption, if they include environmental purposes and reconnecting with yourself, with others, with nature, then you will not feel like you’re moving “backwards”. If you have these pillars, you will actually be excited to downsize.”
What were those pillars again?
Did you catch that? Let’s go over the pillars again. According to Bianca, downsizing into a tiny house will be a transformational personal experience (and lasting lifestyle decision) if you’re doing it for these reasons:
- Lower consumption and a focus away from accumulating things and upgrading to bigger homes.
- Financial freedom because you want to be spending your money on things other than your house.
- Reduced environmental footprint and a desire to explore sustainable living models.
- Reconnecting with yourself and with nature, forming a deeper understanding of what is important to you, keeping what’s essential and eliminating everything else.
Do you need help? Bianca can help.
Bianca helps many different people in their downsizing and tiny living journey, from understanding how they can apply minimalist and mindful living to their lifestyle, to navigating building code regulations and finding parking for their tiny home. She says, the best time to contact her is right at the beginning of the process.
“I basically say that I’m the first line of defense. And the reason I say that is because there are so many very costly mistakes that people can make during this journey. A lot of tiny home information that is out there is based out of country and out of province. And so people are planning and dreaming based on information that does not suit a situation in Ontario. I’ve worked with people who purchased tiny homes that they can’t have permited here in Ontario, because they’re not built to the specific building codes and certifications that you need to follow. Or sometimes, they’re just not looking into legal parking or coding situations.”
“The clients I have who reach out right at the very beginning are set on a much easier trajectory than people who are finding me after they’ve even purchased a build or put down a deposit or found a parking spot that turns out not to work. If I speak to people right at the beginning, it gives me a chance to give them an overview of the important pieces of the puzzle, saving them a lot of backpedaling and headaches.”