Well everything this summer has been flying by and the Tiny House Jamboree was no exception. It was a jam-packed three days full of inspiring speakers, beautiful houses and some pretty awesome food (can you say, wine ice cream?). I hate that it's over already but the good news is: 1) I will be going back next year and 2) It rekindled my love for all things tiny.
So, for those of you that couldn't make it out to Colorado Springs, I thought I'd share a little wrap-up post-Jamboree.
First of all, this was my first time back to Colorado since I was 10 years old and my family took a trip across the country. I remember that even as a child, I proclaimed that I loved Denver and would like to live there. Although that's pretty much all I remembered.
But right away, I was enamored with how beautiful the countryside and the skies were. I mean seriously, look at this sky!
The Jamboree was held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, but thankfully, I did NOT have to speak in the giant stadium like I originally feared. ;)
We were actually in the field next to the stadium and the amount of things to do/see was amazing! The first thing you hit was the food trucks and can I just say, I had the best poblano pepper tamales that I've ever had in my life?? I also tried this amazing little dessert that was 100% fruit but somehow looked like soft serve ice cream (I think bananas were the secret ingredient). It was gluten-free, dairy-free and had no sugar added, so I figured what the heck! I tried blueberry peach with vegan sea salt caramel sauce on it. OH MY YUM. Although, I still had to pawn it off on someone else after about 5 bites. That's what happens when you quit sugar!
Ok, so enough about the food... once you entered the gate to the main area, the real fun began. In addition to tons of different vendors that included solar panel systems, essential oils, body care products, composting toilets, trailers, TH movers, wood stoves and more... there were 48 tiny houses to tour. Yes, my favorite part!
I will admit... there was a period of time there after my bad tiny house experience, that I was a little bitter. Not really outwardly, but I realized that I had stopped watching tiny house TV shows, stopped looking at tiny house pics on Pinterest or IG and pretty much stopped thinking about tiny houses altogether. It wasn't that I didn't want one anymore, it was just that I didn't want to think about it for awhile. It's like when you go through a bad break-up and you have to stop dating for awhile. But then once the hurt starts to wear off, you slowly start putting your toe back in the pool.
Well consider my toes wet!
Although I loved a lot of the houses that were there, there were three that definitely stood out as my favorites:
#3. Sprout Tiny Homes
Although I didn't get any wide shots of the interior unfortunately (the tours were pretty crowded!), I did snap one of this beautiful shower stall and the cool double staircase.
The interior was GORGEOUS though and was both chemical-free (woohoo!) and 10' WIDE! That is a good 2' wider than most tiny houses and you could definitely tell the difference. I assume that you would probably need a special license or vehicle to be able to move it, but I think it'd be worth it!
#2. Tiny Idahomes
So, my second favorite was this house from Tiny Idahomes. Again, I didn't really get to take any good pics of the inside since it was so crowded, but here are some from their Facebook page:
#1. Tiny House Chattanooga
And then, there was my favorite. I LOVED this house from Tiny House Chattanooga. The bathroom felt spacious, the shower was gorgeous, the ceilings were huge, the closet space was amazing and they even had a built-in wine rack. Sure, it costs $82,000 as shown, but that's only $50,000 more than my last one! ;)
Check out the amazing interior in this video...
Just slightly different than Sweet Caroline 1.0, huh? Now granted, these houses are all waaay more expensive than my first house, but... you get what you pay for. Plus, as tiny houses continue to gain popularity at a fast pace, the prices are going to continue to unfortunately go up. It's not to say that you can't still buy a tiny house for less (and you can always build one yourself for a lot cheaper!), but these "luxury" models are steadily becoming more popular. And I can see why!
So, I didn't go to the Tiny House Jamboree just to look at houses. There was also a little thing I had to do called speaking on the main stage. EEK. For those of you that don't know, I hate public speaking and would pretty much rather go bungee jumping than speak in front of a large group. BUT I know this opportunity presented itself for a reason and I know it is important for me to share my story, so I put my big girl panties and got up there and did it.
Thankfully, we were NOT in the gigantic stadium like I had envisioned in my dreams (nightmares). We actually spoke on a stage off to one side of the property, with I'd guess about several hundred people in the audience.
Angie Alcorn (of Tiny House America) and I spoke about our experiences with less-than-stellar builders in a talk called "Buyer Beware" (named after my blog post that went viral). Since both of us had experienced a bad ending to our tiny house journeys, we wanted to share some tips with others about how to avoid ending up in the same boat.
Mainly being, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and TAKE YOUR TIME. I know from personal experience, that it can often be tempting to just dive right in and go full steam ahead because you want to hurry up and be in your tiny house! But it is WELL worth the time and effort to do your research thoroughly before signing with anyone. I had done a lot of research on builders but when my original top choice fell through after months of going back and forth, I chose the builder that I ended up going with on a bit of a whim. I based my decision more on "clicking" with him, then actually investigating his previous work thoroughly, which was my bad.
Which is why Angie and I also recommend that you:
- Check references (previous customers, suppliers, vendors, hired help, bank, etc.)
- Do NOT worry about being the "nice guy"... speak up and make your voice heard and understood!
- Be as involved as possible and visit the build site often.
- Remember that YOU are hiring (and paying) THEM, not the other way around. So don't change your desires or needs to fit them. Find someone that will fit your situation.
We are actually going to produce a step-by-step checklist that will take you through the process of choosing a builder the right way, so keep an eye out for an email about it soon and if you haven't subscribed already, make sure you do so here so you don't miss it!
The other great part about the Jamboree though for me was getting to meet some of the people in the tiny house community in person. I had already spoken with so many of them via email or social media (or watched them on TV!) so it was nice to finally meet them in person... like Guillaume (a fellow Tiny House Big Living alumni), Macy Miller (of Mini Movies), Kent Griswold (of Tiny House Blog), Andrew and Gabriella Morrison (of HOME), Andrew Odom (of Tiny House Magazine and Tiny House NC) and Kim Kasl (of Bless This Tiny House).
But perhaps the best thing about being at the Tiny House Jamboree was being reminded of how amazing the tiny house community is. Not only are they seriously some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but they have all had the same epiphany that I did in 2014... stuff does NOT equal happiness. Bigger does NOT always mean better. And sometimes it takes having LESS to actually live MORE.
I am super excited to see what the future holds for tiny houses, as well as how and when Sweet Caroline 2.0 will take shape. And I invite you all to continue along on my journey!
Until then, keep your dreams BIG and your worries tiny...
P.S. If you weren't able to catch my eBook, "Tiny Abundance: My Journey to a Simple, Yet Fabulously Abundant Life in 160 Square Feet" when it first came out, but want to catch up on my story... I am knocking more than 50% off right now! Grab it now for only $9.99 with coupon code "JAMBOREE2016" right here!