This morning, April wrote about trying to figure out how much house you need. In the comments, Tyler K. shared a photo of the house he and his wife live in. It has 450 square feet:

“Last year our joint gross income was about $170,000,” Tyler wrote, “but we still find this house plenty adequate, and it means our housing costs are proportionally half of the 30-35% of income that people generally recommend.”

I was intrigued (as were other readers), so I wrote to ask for more info. Here’s what Tyler has to say:

When we moved to Santa Cruz, we found this little tiny house one block from the beach. We loved it. We decided to take it as soon as we saw it. This house is a rental, but that’s something we’re okay with for now.

The big draws of Santa Cruz over Alameda were the beach (I surf and sail), the mountains and natural beauty (there are great parks, open spaces and roads for cycling), the weather (it’s sunny and 60 degrees out right now, which is typical for mid-November), my family, opportunities for my wife (she’s recently been participating in research on seals and sea otters). None of these things require a big house.

  • I can ride my bike to go surfing, or go the other direction and be riding through the redwoods in the mountains in less than half an hour.
  • We don’t have a TV room, but we don’t have a TV, so no need. We don’t have a guest room, but we don’t have guests but once or twice a month.
  • We don’t have a “hobby room”, but my wife can knit on the couch, and it’s really sort of hard for me to surf, cycle, or sail indoors.

The house is small, but it’s not a compromise to live in. I love living here.

We’ll probably have kids in the next few years, and not too long after that, we’ll probably want a two-bedroom place, but it will still be small. That may be when we decide to stop renting and buy our own place, as well.

Obviously, Tyler’s house wouldn’t work for everyone. But I think it’s great that he and his wife made a conscious decision to live someplace smaller so they could focus on the things that really matter to them. This, my friends, is one of the keys to happiness (and financial success).

On a side-note, Tyler recently completed a fascinating 30-day-project:

Most of our lives are lived on average days, not big once-in-a-lifetime days when we get married, or pay off the house, or graduate from college. Yet, many people focus quite intently on these big goals, to the exclusion of day-to-day life. This is my effort to emphasize the days that make up 99% of our lives. For 30 days, I’m recording the regular things that I do, every day.

He spent a month photographing the little things that making everyday life worth living, from birds to biking to bugs. This being in the present moment is another of the things that can lead to happiness.

Thanks, Tyler, for sharing your story with GRS readers!