I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a huge fan of the tiny house trend that’s currently sweeping the globe.
From shows like “Tiny House Hunters” to blogs and social media accounts of those who have taken the life-simplifying plunge, tiny houses are everywhere, and minimalism has become the buzzword du jour.
But going small is a big commitment, and not one that most people are willing or able to take.
Getaway House, a Boston-based startup that designs and builds 150-square-foot, eco-friendly homes, wants to give everyone a chance to live little. Getaway rents their “tiny houses in the woods” (currently three outside of Boston and three outside of New York City) starting at around AUD$129 per night, and aims to give urban professionals the chance to unplug and get a taste of minimalism.
With such a trendy premise and just six houses available for rent, nights at Getaway aren’t easy to come by. So when I saw a Saturday in July open up, I booked it immediately.
Here’s what it’s like to live in a tiny house — at least for a night.
Getaway keeps the exact locations of their tiny houses a secret until 24 hours before departure, though they promise that the homes will be accessible by train, and within two hours of either Boston or New York, without traffic.
My boyfriend and fellow tiny-house-goer lives in Connecticut and has a car, so we opted to forgo the extra Amtrak expense and drive to the mystery location in (SPOILER!) upstate New York.
Cell phone reception is a bit spotty on Getaway property, somewhat by design, as visitors are encouraged to undergo a digital detox. Nonetheless, a trusty Maps app got us to our tiny rental in no time.
All three New York Getaway houses are on the same plot of land, although we couldn't see or hear the other guests.
Our home was named 'Eleanor,' and described as an artist's escape. According to the website, it's 'Perfect for couples, writers' retreats, and 'me' time.'
While the setting feels like a campground, Getaway's hours are decidedly hotel-chain. We couldn't check in until 3 pm, and check out was promptly at 11 am the next morning. With just about 18 hours of small living, we were eager to get started.
We stepped into the perfectly appointed, rustic-chic Eleanor. The New York houses just opened for business this summer, so the light wood siding and artsy piles of 'cabin-porn' books were in perfect shape. So tiny! So clean!
The house may be teeny, but the land is vast, and beautiful. Each house has a fire pit, picnic table, Adirondack chairs, and a small grill. However, the weather was not quite on our side: it started raining on the drive up, and didn't let up until well into the next day.
Getaway stocks some snacks and provisions in a pseudo-minibar. You can either leave cash in a lock box or Venmo the company -- not quite in line with their 'digital detox' preaching but convenient nonetheless.
My boyfriend and I wanted to try out tiny cooking by using the lodging's cast iron cookware and two-burner hot plate. We drove to the nearest grocery store and picked up ingredients for a simple meal and, of course, some booze.
Using the two-burner hot plate and carefully rationing the 120 gallons of water we had for the night, we cooked up a delicious stir-fry dinner using the long, wooden countertop that takes up most of the Eleanor's main living space.
We took advantage of the fact that it was only slightly raining to build a quick campfire, using firewood provided by Getaway (we Venmo'd them).
We sat in the Adirondack chairs and observed the sights and sounds of nature, including spotting an amazing horned owl, something I would never have expected to see in the wild.
As the rain picked up, being back inside the house was peaceful. Also, since the eco-friendly off-grid homes have no AC, we were glad that the rain kept things cooler than the 90+ degrees it had been the weekend before.
What is the bathroom like in a tiny off-grid house? Well, there's a shower stall with all-natural products and an electric toilet that uses some space-age combo of foil and vacuum suction to take care of waste. You get 15 flushes per night, but you can always call the Getaway site manager if you need more.
The bathroom was fine, and the toilet an interesting quirk, but I was unable to get hot water to come out of the shower, despite letting it run for a few minutes. Worried about using up our water allotment I gave up. In the morning, the electric toilet started flushing repeatedly without us touching it. Maybe it was using up the rest of our flush quota?
Sadly, the 11 am check-out time meant that the morning passed quickly, as we stepped over and around each other tidying up and gathering the garbage and recycling to take out with us. This was the first time I thought that maybe two people in a tiny space could get frustrating. The tiny concept is perfect for a vacation because we didn't have any of that pesky 'stuff' that inevitably would take over.
So, would I consider going tiny full-time? Getaway House is a lovely taste of the lifestyle, but it's a sheltered one. With just one duffel bag and one bag of groceries, the house stayed cleaner than if we had all our possessions. And the hotel-like amenities gave it a luxurious, vacation-like feel that probably wouldn't be replicated in my real life.
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