Put Your Life on a Diet: Living the Simple Life

One man shares his experience living simply in a 140-square-foot home.

| November/December 2009

  • When they're not enjoying a meal at the fold-away dining table, Gregory and Makur use it as office space.
    Photo By Alan Stoker
  • Gregory and Makur both volunteer for the Small House Society, the Small Car Society and their local United Nations Association.
    Photo By Alan Stoker
  • Gregory Paul Johnson, with fiancee Makur Jain, lives in a tiny house.
    Photo By Alan Stoker
  • When he's not using it, Gregory can tuck away his gas-powered Coleman camping stove, allowing his cooking space to double as the dining area.
    Photo By Alan Stoker

I live in a home of 140 square feet. It doesn’t have a furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer/dryer, vacuum cleaner, blender, disposal or other common home appliances. For most of my commuting, I walk or rely on a bicycle. My small home is completely off the electrical and water grids. Most people would say this is an impossible way to live, but the truth is, my transition to a simpler life has made me happier and healthier than I have ever been.

In 2001, I read about Jay Shafer, who at the time was living in a 10-by-14-foot home he built on a trailer. Shafer constructed the home using residential-grade materials and insulation for economical year-round habitation—something most RVs and camper trailers lack. This fusion of camper and house intrigued me.

In 2003, I needed a change. It didn’t make sense to rent a small apartment, never putting money toward owning a home. I imagined myself 30 years down the road, having spent thousands of dollars on rent with nothing to show for it. Once I stopped and thought about where my money was going, I began looking at my options for purchasing a small house or condo.

I discovered that, while efficiency apartments exist, efficiency condos are not as readily available. Local housing codes have made it illegal to build a small "efficiency house," deeming such a dwelling uninhabitable even though the same-size dwelling as an apartment is legal. Basically, I wanted the option to own a simple room like the one I was renting.

I felt strongly that it was important to be part of the small-house community and reduce my environmental footprint. I worked closely with Jay Shafer on the custom design of my house plans, and within three months I had built my home.

More time, more money

7/28/2015 10:16:11 PM

You should NEVER use a camping stove inside, especially in this small of a space. Without proper ventilation, Carbon Monoxide builds up. Carbon Monoxide is orderless, you may experience a headache or just feel sleepy. Too many people die in their sleep from this.

Edward Campb
2/11/2014 5:21:10 AM

Yes, it is true fact . We should all diet and live simple life . We should follow some diet tips , and following that we can make our life fully healthy and simple. Some tips like firstly, we should drink plenty of water or other Calorie free beverages . Its really very much essential. Eat all protein food, green vegetables etc. Avoid all junk foods like noodles, excess of sweets, oily foods etc. Avoid excess of oil or ghee in your food. Be a foodie person but eat right healthy food by following healthy tips , diet tips . So, you will be perfect healthy and can live a simple life. http://www.dietsolutionprogramreviews.org/

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