Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal
Candace Anderson and Aaron Castle live in a tiny house in a friend’s backyard in Redwood City. They are looking to relocate, however, as they have to move their home on wheels by Dec. 31.
Candace Anderson and Aaron Castle are moving toward a simpler life. Neither wants to be forced into a nine-to-five routine and the couple would ideally like to live totally off the grid.
About two years ago, they made a life-changing decision when they were looking for a new place to live and found that rents in the area were just too high.
So, the couple, both 37, pooled their money and bought a tiny house for $16,000 and fixed it up themselves with recycled material.
They’ve been living in the backyard of a friend in Redwood City but must move by the end of the year. They want to stay in San Mateo County but don’t know yet quite where they will land.
In the meantime, they’ve learned to navigate around each other in their tiny home, it’s 137 square feet, and have even found ways to give each other privacy.
“It’s like marriage boot camp,” Castle said. “Everyone should be required to live in a tiny house before getting married. Divorce rates are guaranteed to drop.”
They sleep in a loft and have plenty of storage although they are always looking to make do with less.
The house is small though so the dishes after dinner can look like a massive pile compared to being in a regular-sized kitchen, Anderson said. The laundry pile can also look pretty big, she said.
There’s room enough for their two cats, too.
For them, the tiny house represents the best way to live affordably in a county where rents for a one-bedroom apartment have climbed more than 50 percent in the past four years to $2,516 a month, according to the county’s Housing Authority.
In a white paper published earlier this year, housing officials recommended that the Board of Supervisors consider tiny houses as a way to solve the housing crisis.
It’s starting to become a housing trend and the couple communicate with individuals all over the country who have adopted the lifestyle.
They blog about their experience regularly and have started to be contacted by others who want to see just how tiny their home is and whether it would work for them. They are meeting soon with the San Carlos yoga instructor, Yiwen Chang, who the Daily Journal profiled in April. She too craves a simpler life and said a tiny house may be the way to go.
Even nonprofit agency Samaritan House is looking toward tiny houses as a creative solution to solve the county’s housing crisis. The trouble is, however, there’s not enough land available in the county even for tiny houses.
Anderson and Castle are willing to offer their services in exchange for free or low rent and believe cities should start looking at their zoning laws to allow tiny homes to pop up in backyards all over the county.
A tiny house would be perfect for the college graduate transitioning into the workforce or for home care workers who tend to those who want to age in place.
They want to be part of a “cultural transformation” toward living with less.
Anderson is an artist and Castle does odd jobs to support the couple. They’ve been together for five years now.
Eventually, they plan to spend their days tending to a garden and chickens as they find solace in their tiny home on wheels and the potential lifestyle it could bring.
They want to live completely off the grid.
Their tiny home does have one decadent feature, however, a nice big bathtub. It’s another spot in their home where they can find privacy and relax.
Without the pressure of paying a big mortgage or high rent, the couple finds they have a lot more time to spend with family, play music or do whatever they want really.
Castle grew up in Redwood City and Anderson in North Dakota.
They’ve even insulated their tiny house to survive much colder climates in case they end up leaving the Bay Area altogether for someplace cheaper and more chilly.
Living in a tiny house is green living, they say.
Their carbon footprint is virtually nonexistent.
“A tiny house truly is an affordable option, but until there are clear codes defining them, existing building codes are modified to allow for their use, or a process is established for securing variances or camping permits, life in a tiny house is simply too good to be legal,” Castle said.
Follow the couple’s blog at canander.com.
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