Amy Kileen didn’t always live small.
After living in Bakersfield for 35 years, she came up with a three-year plan: become debt free, retire from teaching, and buy a tiny home.
Her home in Bakersfield was 1,600 square feet, on a 12,000-square-foot-lot. Her tiny home now in a space in Silver City RV Park is a tiny 220 square feet.
Kileen grew up in Sutter Creek, Calif., but attended high school in the Douglas area for one year. She and her father came here to fish and prospect for gold during her childhood.
“I always wanted to come back,” Kileen said. “Nevada is much more welcoming toward tiny homes than California, and I needed somewhere close to the airport with a good medical facility, and lots of sun.”
After her children grew up and moved away, Kileen realized she was only really living in two rooms of her house, and felt a sense of guilt.
“This should be a house for a family,” Kileen recalled thinking, “not just for me. Now one of my old students lives there with their family.”
Kileen spent her life teaching English and Biology until she retired.
She sold her house in April of last year, and lived in her Airstream RV while she finished her last year of teaching, until her tiny home was finished.
She contracted the business California Tiny House to build her home, but wishes she had hired a builder in Nevada.
“My advice is, when you buy a tiny house, you should buy it from a builder in the state you will live in,” said Kileen. “The heater doesn’t work as well as I need it to here, because in California, there’s no need for it. Once the temperature goes under 30 degrees, it stops working.”
Her reasoning for living in a tiny home over an RV is simple: it’s much more open, so she never feels claustrophobic, and the tiny houses are made with real products, like hard wood, cork flooring, corrugated metal; definitely no plastic.
“Things that last. It makes me feel much more comfortable.”
Her greatest challenges in downsizing to a tiny home were narrowing things down. She held several garage sales in California, but still ended up bringing items from a storage unit there, to a storage unit here.
“I wanted to live here for a full year before getting rid of everything else, to find out what I’d really need in the end.”
Now in her spare time, Kileen is an avid fly fisher, as well as a skeet and trap shooter. After obtaining her Nevada residency she was able to receive her CCW permit. She also makes jewelry, ties fishing flies, and volunteers in the community.
Her advice to those who have toyed with the idea of downsizing but haven’t made up their minds is to rent first. There’s a tiny home community in Kings Beach with rentals, but Kileen said also renting an RV of the same size is a good start.
Tiny homes can range anywhere from $6,500 if the person uses salvaged materials, builds it entirely themselves, and has a lot of patience and time on their hands, to upward of $200,000, which, some would say, defeats the purpose of a tiny house.