scale down to happiness
February 21, 2014
Welcome to my tiny world.
My name is Whitney. I am a 34 year old gal who grew up around the hills and mountains of East Tennessee. I had a diverse upbringing that was a little bit City, a little bit Country, and a lot of culture. I was taught to live within my means and share what I have with others, which was easy in East Tennessee because the cost of living is so low.
I have a successful career in the legal profession, primarily because I learned to alleviate stress by putting less value on material possessions. This wasn’t always the case; in fact, in the past I quit the legal field, took a drastic cut in salary, and went to work at a nature center. That change taught me more than I could ever imagine.
Then my adventure began. It was a cold winter day when I received that phone call an old lawyer friend. He asked me to move to the Gulf Coast to do what I was meant to do…work on environmental law cases. Change is not something I handle well. However, something was telling me it’s now or never. I made the plunge and am now helping small businesses, large businesses, and governmental entities in their fight to thrive following the 2010 oil spill disaster.
I moved from Knoxville, Tennessee, one of the lowest cost of living cities in America, to Seagrove Beach, Florida, one of the highest—and for good reason. Seagrove Beach and Scenic Highway 30A are home to the most beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise Gulf of Mexico waters. This area is consistently voted as one the best beaches in the country. State Forest and Parks surround us. We are home to 15 coastal dune lakes, a geographical feature so rare that it only exists in a handful of places on Earth. As you might expect, this natural beauty comes at a price. We pay exorbitant amounts in rent each month because that is the cost of being able to bike to work and enjoy a beach sunset each night. But, is it? Do we have to pay top dollar to be a part of a beach sunset, or to bike around town? In my opinion, the answer is “no”.
By today’s standards, I could probably afford a $400,000 mortgage to “live in paradise”. In fact, that may even be the “normal” thing to do. Instead, one day while I was hiking around on the trails that meander behind my rental house, something my boss and dear friend said to me after my move popped into my head. The movers had broken pretty much everything I owned during the move down. I was distraught. I was ready to fight back. That was my stuff; my prized possessions. I had worked so hard all these years to pay for those nice things. He said to me “you really have an emotional attachment to your things”. I had never realized it, but it was true. This one thing he said to me would kick start my obsession in researching the tiny house movement.
I decided to sell my 1,600 square foot 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Knoxville, TN to help fund my dream build of a “tiny beach home”. During my great purge I came across an old article in our local Knoxville independent newspaper, Blank Magazine. The column is called “Knoxville Girl” and I was featured in this particular edition. The first words out of my mouth in the article were “I cannot think of any other place I would rather be than Knoxville!” Who would have thought a few years later I would have sold my home and begun a new life in this tiny coastal town?