Downsizing to 200 square feet is no easy feat, but for Jilan Wise and her husband Josh Farley, it was a decision grounded in financial necessity. The couple had been renting a 2,500-square-foot house in Kansas City, Missouri, with two kids and two dogs—but they were overwhelmed with increasing living expenses, maxed-out credit cards, and student loans.
Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design
Tiny house living, the duo surmised, would be their escape plan from debt. The couple spent over a year designing and scraping together a bare-bones budget of $18,000—including opening a line of credit—to fund the construction of their tiny house.
"We spent so much time researching this project," Jilan says. "The learning curve was massive, and the inspiration was our budget. We wanted to create a beautiful space with new material for not a lot of money."
The couple temporarily moved their family into Josh’s parents's home and built the tiny house with help from Josh’s father, a certified electrician. In just over two months, Jilan and Josh completed their tiny house and set off on a move to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Without money to buy property, and obstructed by Las Vegas’ stringent rules for tiny houses, the couple first moved into a "questionable" trailer park—a last resort, since many RV parks and other mobile home communities Jilan called had refused to accept their tiny house.
The old trailer park, described by Jilan as seedy and uncomfortable due to an antagonistic neighbor and petty thefts, was less than ideal, but living there gave the family the means to climb quickly out of debt and adopt the minimalist lifestyle they craved.
With their newfound financial independence in hand, the family seized the chance to move onto private property after nearly two years of living in the tiny house. "Moving away from that trailer park brought such an overwhelming sense of peace to our family, it was unbelievable," says Jilan.
Yet, moving onto private land also meant moving out of the tiny house due to local laws restricting full-time tiny house living to RV and trailer parks. Jilan and her family now live in a "normal-sized house." The couple has listed their old abode on AirBnB after investing in a few upgrades including new finishes, cupboards, and hardware—including a Nature’s Head composting toilet.
Shop the Look
Armed with the experience of designing, building, and living in a tiny house, Jilan and Josh launched Far Out Tiny Homes, a tiny house design/build business.
Related Reading: 10 Tiny Homes You Can Buy For $60K or Less