Ryan Mitchell was fired from his first adult job just six months after starting it. The sudden unemployment left Mitchell helpless and made him ponder on his life choices. Worried about his future, Mitchell decided to turn his life around with a smart plan.
Over a period of seven years, Ryan Mitchell has saved $100,000, paid his student loans, traveled the world and started a successful business venture. According to the 35-year old, all credit goes to his 150-square-foot tiny house.
Mitchell says, “It’s hard for me to put into words, the impact is so profound. I attribute me living in a tiny house to me having a higher quality of life. It helped me to be more open to opportunities.”
Mitchell did some serious pondering for adopting this lifestyle. In 2009, Mitchell graduated with a master's degree in Human Resources from Western Carolina University. Only six months into his first adult job, Mitchell found himself unemployed, after his boss one day told everyone that the company is shutting down, “My boss came in and said, ‘We’re closing the company. You’re all out of a job.’” This was the point in his life that made Mitchell ponder on his life. He felt helpless and knew that he had to take some action if he plans to get by in this life.
“I realized half my income was going to rent, insurance and maintenance, and I said, I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but if I could eliminate housing from my budget, it would set me up to be in a better position.”
Thinking of solutions, Mitchell then discovered tiny house movement online. Intrigued by the idea, he started doing more research on the idea. Eventually, Mitchell decided to build his own tiny home with his own design. For the purpose, he started to save up money. He started working at a non-profit during the week and every weekend, he'd work on his new tiny home.
Mitchell now owns a website that helps aspiring tiny house dwellers.
All in, the materials for the house and the solar panels to power it cost him $30,000. The labor was his own, so it was free, less the help of a licensed electrician and plumber.
Mitchell says, while working on his new home, he was nervous, that this was not going to work out and his plan might fail. “It took me a year and a half [to build],” he says. I was nervous that living in this tiny house wouldn’t work, that it wouldn’t be for me, but I told myself I only had to do it for two years to get to the break-even point.”
The confidence over his choice later came from the apartment he was sharing with a roommate during the process. “I realized I had boxes from when I’d moved in there that I’d never opened. I hadn’t needed whatever was in them for years. That opened my eyes to the role stuff played in my life.”
When the realization dawned upon him, most of the stuff he owned for years he has not used them. Mitchell decided to opt for a minimal lifestyle. The decision made it easy to get rid of all the items and prepare for his move to his new tiny home. He sold some things, donated others and held on to the things he decided he needed. He kept a few books, keepsakes his yearbooks but not much else.
“In that process, it wasn’t just my housing I was rethinking, it was my whole life, my priorities and goals. I realized the thing that made me the most happy wasn’t stuff.”
Mitchell shifted to his tiny home on land. He says he helps pay taxes on (but doesn’t pay rent) in an upscale Charlotte neighborhood in 2014. The extra sunlight and lots of windows have made it much easier for him to settle with the size of his new home.
Sharing his design, Mitchell says his tiny home includes everything like a normal home, it's just that, everything is built on a small scale. “My house is built just for me,” Mitchell says. “All the counters are the perfect height for me, the closet was designed around my wardrobe even the kitchen storage was designed for the foods I like to eat. It really is like a normal home. Everything is just on a smaller scale.” When you walk in the front door, you’re in the living room. In the back is the bathroom and kitchen, and a queen-size bed is located in a loft above.
Mitchell admits, one thing he misses having in his new home is having a guest bedroom.
Mitchell had his plan well designed. Also, thanks to his smart decisions and profits from his website, he was able to launch a successful business. “I had an extra $20,000 that I took and started a co-working space and then sold for a big profit,” he says.
He also wrote a book about tiny house living to help others, which he now runs fulltime.
It took some time to adjust to his new tiny home but Mitchell now loves his new home. In near future, the 35-year old plans to shift to a much more traditional house and if everything goes smoothly he is also hoping he will have saved enough money to retire by the time he’s forty.
“The tiny house fueled all of it. A lot of people see it as just a stepping stone and that’s how I went into this. I was going to use this to enable things to build income, build wealth, [and eventually] build a more traditional house. That’s what happened. It let me start a business, helped me reduce my debt. It let me live life on my terms.”