Living Tiny: Tammy’s Northern California Tiny Home

Living Tiny: Tammy's Northern California Home - And The We Saved

At ATWS we’re interested in challenging the norm of debt and spending. That’s why once a month we talk to people who have gone to (what some would say) extreme means with their living situations to get out of debt, save money and live a simpler life. Today we have a tiny house tour with Tammy Strobel. Tammy is a writer, photographer, and teacher in Northern California. Take it away, Tammy!

My name is Tammy Strobel, and I’m a writer, photographer, and teacher. I live in northern California with my husband, Logan, and my two cats, Christie and Elaina.

Why did you decide to move into a tiny house?
There were a lot of reasons we decided to move into our little house. Some reasons were financial, while others had to do with freedom. More than anything, we wanted to experience what it would be like to live in a tiny house on wheels. It’s been a great experiment and experience. With that being said, our tiny house isn’t our forever home.

Did you build or buy your tiny house? If you built it, please describe that process.
Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) built our little house. We worked with them on the design, but they did the building. My husband, Logan, and I didn’t have the skills to build a safe and cute house, so we hired PAD to help us.

Please describe your home.
Our little house looks like a small cabin. It is roughly 128 square-feet with a loft, and it was built on an 8 x 16-foot trailer. We’ve lived in the house for four years. My favorite part of the house is the sleeping loft. It’s so cozy.

Living Tiny: Tammy's Northern California Home - And The We Saved

If you feel comfortable, we’d love to hear about the financial part of buying or building your home? What was your budget?
It took us roughly four years to save for our tiny house. We knew the house would  cost about $30,000, and we didn’t want to take a loan from the bank, so we opted to pay in cash.

Did it cost more than you anticipated to build/buy your home?
The house cost more than we anticipated. My parents loaned us $5,000 to cover the remaining cost of the house. We paid back their loan in about 4 months.

What has been the most surprising cost of living in a tiny house?
The most surprising cost was going over budget on the cost of the house. Upon reflection, we should have saved more money before we decided to go ahead with the build. All of the other costs associated with tiny house living—like paying for rent to park our tiny house—didn’t come as a surprise. We knew about those costs prior to building and moving into our home.

Have you saved money since living in the tiny house?
It’s important to remember that we paid for the house upfront. We’ve also had to pay for tiny house parking. It took three years of living in the space full-time to recoup the total cost of the house. Compared to living in a traditional house, we’ve saved money—but not as much as we expected. If we lived in the tiny house for 20 years, I think we’d save a lot of cash, but that isn’t our long-term plan.

Living Tiny: Tammy's Northern California Home - And The We Saved

How do your costs compare to your life before the tiny house?
I’ve lived in a lot of different cities, some with a high cost of living and others with a low cost of living, so that’s a hard question to answer. Overall, making the decision to downsize our living space has saved us money. You don’t have to live in a tiny house on wheels to save costs on housing. For example, prior to living in our little house, we lived in small apartments that were relatively inexpensive.

Please describe your daily life (i.e. How do you work, exercise, eat meals, etc.)
I run a small business and model my schedule off my last day job. Usually, I’ll work from 7.30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with lunch and coffee breaks. Sometimes I’ll work less,  and sometimes I’ll work more.On the weekends, or after work, I take long hikes or go for drives. We live in a rural area, and there is so much natural beauty to see. I love going on everyday adventures, exploring our community, and my morning routine.

What is the best part about living in a tiny home? The worst part?
The best part of living in a tiny house? We own our house, and living in a tiny space has given me a different perspective on life, stuff, and my needs and desires. The worst part?  Most tiny homes on wheels fall into a legal gray area, or they are illegal to live in. We were uprooted from a community because of zoning laws. I don’t envision moving our tiny house again, unless we sell it.

Living Tiny: Tammy's Northern California Home - And The We Saved

Check out that million dollar view!

What advice do you have for other people who want to live a similar lifestyle?
If you are thinking of buying or building a tiny house on wheels, do your research. It’s essential to research the zoning laws in your city and state because most tiny homes fall into a legal gray area—or they are illegal to live in full-time.

When I started blogging in 2007, there weren’t many websites devoted to tiny homes. Now, tiny house blogs seem to be everywhere, and there are even reality TV shows featuring these homes! It’s amazing, and I think it’s great that people are talking about this housing option.

However, I think tiny homes on wheels have been glamorized. Tiny house living isn’t perfect or easy. And, it’s not a housing option that works for everyone. It’s important to remember that there are many ways to live a simple and joyful life. I always encourage my friends, family, and blog readers to think daily about what brings them joy. That’s not an easy question to answer and it requires a lot of reflection. Below are key questions I ask myself each month. I’ve simplified my life in many ways, but asking myself these questions keep me grounded and in touch with my feelings and values.

  • What does living simply mean to you?
  • What parts of your job bring you joy? And, what parts of your job do you struggle
  • with?
  • Are my core relationships healthy?
  • Does your community meet your needs?
  • What physical belongings can you donate to charity or give away?
  • How do your finances look?

These questions might seem overwhelming, but there are many facets to living simply. I think it’s essential for readers to get clear on their needs, wants, and desires before making major life changes.

Living Tiny: Tammy's Northern California Home - And The We Saved

Tammy has had more time for adventures since living in her tiny house.

Thanks, Tammy! Tammy created her blog,, in late 2007 to improve her writing and to share her story. Tammy spends her free time taking photos, walking, and hanging out with friends and family. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Logan, and two cats. You can read about Tammy’s adventures at

Do you live in a tiny house or alternative dwelling? I’d love to feature you in a future post. Email me if you are interested.

P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide


4 thoughts on “Living Tiny: Tammy’s Northern California Tiny Home

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  1. Elliott

    HI Melanie – huge conclusion about ‘not saving as much as you thought (sorry had to drop a pun somewhere)

    I’ve seen these around on pinterest and some of them look beautiful – yours included. I’ve always wondered what the actual lifestyle change it would bring. In Australia, where I live, the *minimum* build cost is about $120,000 + land cost so what you’ve done is way cheaper!

    Thanks for sharing your home to the world!


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