"When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment."
State 20: Oregon - November 12, 2017
Woke up in Vancouver, WA Walmart ready for a new and exciting day! Today, we drive 9 miles South to Portland to attend a very special event Nate and I are extremely excited about. So much in fact, we revamped our entire agenda for the state of Oregon to ensure we were in Portland on this very day! We are off to the Portland Convention Center to do some dream building at our first Tiny House Convention!
In the United States, the average size of new single family homes ballooned from 1,780 square feet in 1978 to 2,662 square feet in 2013, despite a decrease in the size of the average family! The primary reasons for supersized houses are commercialism, prestige and the perception of a house as home investment. The tiny house movement advocates smaller living comparable with one's actual spatial needs. Typically, tiny homes are under 400 square feet, but when on wheels, they average 120 sq ft or less. Just as a point of reference, Lori and I both live in Rosie who is a cozy 76 sq ft! Although tiny houses can be on a fixed foundation, they are most often built on a trailer for portability and to bypass a town's sq ft requirements for residential dwellings.
Why build a tiny home when you can just buy an RV? Society frequently and incorrectly lumps RV’s and tiny homes into the same category, when they are in fact quite different! While RVs and tiny homes both aim to reassemble the comforts of a larger home into a more compact space, this is where their similarities end. Most RV’s are built with lower quality materials and last 10 years at best. Tiny houses are built using traditional building materials and last as long as traditional homes. RVs are constructed with lightweight materials to be easily towed, but tiny houses are made from heavier construction material making them a heavier tow. An RV is designed to travel down the road, but can remain stationary. Whereas, a tiny home typically remains stationary on the owner’s land, but can be moved on the roadways if needed. Most RV's are designed to be lived in without always having to be hooked up to utilities with the use of storage tanks. Tiny homes do not have tanks, and need to be located in a place where owners have access to water and sewer. Regarding purchasing and insuring an RV, most lenders understand RV’s. However, be ready for a rejection letter when you submit your application at your bank for a loan for your new tiny home regardless of your credit. People are used to seeing highways full of RVs, but it’s very rare to see a tiny house on wheels going down the road. Also, tiny houses have a cuteness factor, because they are a miniature version of the classic traditional home. If a tiny house is not a traditional home, and it isn’t an RV, then what the hell is it? Tiny houses are still a bit of an enigma, and society is still struggling to find our small corner of the world.
Why are people interested in living tiny? One of the primary reasons for a tiny home is a tiny purchase price. In 2013, the average price of a new home sold in the US was $262,000! However, the average price of a tiny home is $25,000 if you build it yourself, or $75,000 if a contractor builds it for you. In 2012, a California man named Gregory Kloehn actually built a tiny home by foraging for free materials for a cost of $40.00! 27% of the average American’s salary goes to housing costs. This equates to more than 10 hours of a 40-hour work week! Everyone should be asking themselves, “How many hours of my life do I want to spend working for my house?”. In addition, tiny homes are also less expensive in taxes, building, heating, cooling, water, electric, maintenance, repair costs, making them more economically friendly than their larger counterparts.
Why doesn’t everyone live in a tiny home? There are a lot of very powerful entities who have a lot to lose if tiny homes go main stream. The banks hate tiny houses! Mortgages provided a constant stream of revenue for banks, and affordable tiny houses means there is no need for a mortgage. To put this into perspective, every $100,000 you mortgage from the bank, you end up paying $100,000 in interest over the course of a 30-year mortgage! The banks are attempting to halt the tiny house movement by not offering loans for the construction and purchase of tiny homes. Those whom are interested in owning tiny homes are bypassing the banks by paying cash!
The government hates tiny houses! Tiny houses equate to lower property taxes, which decreases tax revenue for cash strapped municipalities. The government is attempting to halt the tiny house movement, by having planning and zoning set minimum sq ft requirements for residential dwellings, even if YOU own the land! Those whom are interested in owing tiny homes are bypassing the Planning and Zoning requirements by moving to places which are tiny home friendly! California, Oregon, Texas, North Carolina, and Florida are currently the most tiny house friendly states.
Wall Street hates tiny houses! Tiny living equates to less consumption resulting in less spending, and the less people spend, the less profits Wall Street generates. Being a minimalist is a prerequisite to living tiny. When living in 120 sq ft, there is nowhere to put a closet full of clothes purchased from Macy's, a playroom full of children toys from Toys R’ US, a 62 inch LCD TV from Best Buy, and results in a fraction of the building materials needed from Home Depot. Wall Street is attempting to halt the tiny house movement, by relentlessly bombarding all of us with advertisements of their warped vision of the American Dream, which lines their pockets and fills our closets with crap! Those whom are interested in owning tiny homes are bypassing Wall Street, by not buying whatever it is “they” are selling because we don’t have the need or the space!
The result of their stumbling blocks for the tiny house movement is only 1% of home buyers acquire houses of 1,000 square feet or less! In spite, of their efforts, the tiny house movement is gaining momentum! Tiny houses have received increasing media coverage including television shows such as, Tiny House Nation, and Tiny House Hunters. In addition, millions of older Americans whom lost their homes in the Great Recession have taken an interest in the tiny house movement. Subsequently, many Millennial's whom watched their parents lose their homes, have rejected traditional home ownership. Not to mention, Millennial's are bogged down with crushing student loan debt, and could not afford a traditional home even if they wanted to.
On Christmas Eve 3 years ago, Lori and I purchased the blueprints for our tiny home, which was also right around the time we began planning for our cross country journey to find our new home state. Coincidence? I think not! Since I am very handy, I should be able to largely construct my tiny home on my own, and actually look forward to doing so. There is something primitively rewarding about constructing your shelter with your own two hands, and most don’t have the fortune or the desire of having the experience. Although we already had the blueprints for our tiny home, today I was looking forward to see how other companies constructed theirs to incorporate additional design ideas. Now that you have a basic understanding of the tiny house movement, it is now time to move on to the fun! Below are a few of the tiny homes we visited at the Portland Convention Center.
REALWOOD TINY HOME 1
REALWOOD TINY HOME 2
SEATTLE TINY HOME
WOOD TINY HOME
TRU FORM TINY HOME 1
TRU FORM TINY HOME 2
COVO TINY HOME
TINY SMART HOUSE
TINY MOUNTAIN HOUSE 1
TINY MOUNTAIN HOUSE 2
After departing the Portland Convention Center, we continued on with our exploration of Portland. For years, I had heard about the wonderful food trucks in Portland, and could not wait to experience them for myself. When I had finally arrived, I found most of the “food trucks” were converted old rusty campers, or small poorly constructed wood shacks, which were graffitied, abandoned, collapsing, and 90%, of them were closed when we visited during lunch. The garbage cans were literally overflowing with trash all over the sidewalks, and the stench was nauseating! I would not eat any of the food from any of the food trucks under any circumstances whatsoever! This was a total disappointment! The nasty pictures below speak for themselves.
After departing the “Food Trucks”, we headed to Portland’s Pearl District. While researching sites to see, a place called Powell’s City of Books kept popping up. Reviewers said, “Powell’s is a must see when in Portland, and another person said “Powell’s City of Books is a mind blowing experience”. Although I have absolutely no idea how visiting a bookstore can be a mind blowing experience, I must admit my curiosity was titillated, so off we went on foot to Powell’s City of Books.
Occupying an entire city block, Powell's City of Books claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the entire world. Their inventory consists of over four million new, used, rare and out-of-print books, and they purchase over 3,000 used books a day! The store consists of over 68,000 square feet of retail floor space, in 9 color coded rooms, and divided into 3,500 different sections. The only words I can find to describe Powell’s City of Books is overwhelming chaos! There had to literally be 5000 people inside the bookstore during our visit going in every direction. I can’t imagine the scene in this store around Christmas time! Between the color coded rooms, and the further divided subsections we were lost, and overwhelmed within 5 seconds of entering.
After merging into the swirling sea of humanity, we eventually navigated our way to the information desk where we were handed a map of the store! I am serious; you literally need a map to navigate your way around this bookstore! Unfortunately, the map was of little help, so we decided to just wander around to take everything in. First, I needed to go to bathroom, but we would first have to find the bathroom! I asked the lady at the desk where the bathroom was, and was told it was in the purple room. Seriously? The purple room! Ok, where the hell is the purple room? To which she replied the location of the purple room is on the map”. Off we went, and about 20 minutes later found the purple room and the bathrooms. However, there was a line of 25 women ahead of me for 6 stalls, and the bathroom was closed for cleaning with a janitor standing guard outside of the door. I was shocked to discover this was the only bathroom within the world’s biggest bookstore, and I took my place in line with my fellow females. After another 30 minutes of waiting for the bathrooms to finish being cleaned, the 25 of us were in clearly in visible discomfort, and decided to bum rush the women’s bathroom! Although one of us didn’t make it, the rest of us emerged victorious, and I was thankfully among them. We felt liberated and relieved!
This was without a doubt the largest bookstore I had ever seen! Floor to ceiling shelves stacked with books as far as the eye could see on every topic one's consciousness could comprehend! There was even an entire 40-foot span of shelves for books written about Sigmund Freud! There was an author signing books in each color room, and even a rare book room which required a special pass to enter. Clearly the written word is not dead and people are not just reading off their kindles and Ipads these days. This was very nice to see. Please see the pictures below.
For years, we have heard how wonderful Portland was, and frankly I didn’t see much that was wonderful during my visit. In addition to the above, we visited Washington Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Pioneer Place and Pearl District Park. I didn’t go into great detail about these stops, because there really wasn’t much positive worth mentioning. Portland 's city motto is “Keeping It Weird”. We too walk to the beat of our own drum, and appreciate others whom do so as well. What we found in Portland was not “weird”. What found in Portland was a nasty, smelly, filthy, city and no one we met even cared! We didn’t see a single cop during our entire time in town, and there was more than one occasion we would have felt more comfortable being in the presence of one. The public transit system consisted of trains, buses, a street car, and an ariel tram, and each was a nightmare to navigate. Trash overflowed onto the city streets, and garbage littered every sidewalk. Graffiti was everywhere! They had these strange 4 headed water fountains throughout the city for the homeless to drink from. As a nurse, it clearly posed a public health risk as they appeared as if they are rarely cleaned. To make these strange and disgusting drinking fountains even worse, they were constantly flowing wasting millions of gallons of water each year! The nastiness just went on and on for block after block!
Apparently the city has experienced a financial boom in recent years for reasons I can’t fathom based on my visit. As a result, property values have risen, resulting in slew of vacancies in store fronts. Literally every block we walked, for lease signs hung on the windows. However, the most disturbing consequence of skyrocketing property values, is it usually results in drastic increases in homelessness. It is estimated 3,000-5,000 people live on the streets in Portland, but based on my visit, I believe that number is grossly under reported. Every block we walked down there were homeless camped on every park bench, and huddled in almost every building out cove, and many were sleeping in sleeping bags on the sidewalk while pedestrians literally stepped over them. I understand homelessness is a very complex issue to address. However, I have traveled all across the US, and out of all of the places I have visited, never before have I seen a city possess such a total disregard for another human life. Portland was awful to see, nauseating to smell, and I left the city having had lost some respect for humanity. Please see the pictures below of our visit to Portland to see what it is really like!
Portland was one of the cities we were most excited to visit, but I guess the old say is true "When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment." After departing Portland and promising each other never to return, we drove 9 miles West to Beaverton, OR where we found a Walmart to sleep for the night.