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Tiny Living: Going small to go big

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If you could trade in most of your possessions, along with the responsibilities that fall upon most homeowners, would you? Could you live without a lawn, without most of your furniture, a driveway, and no space for guests?

Would you be comfortable in close quarters with an intimate partner? With children?

If these questions terrify you, run fast from Columbus tiny house pioneers Modern Tiny Living. But if you’re, at the least, intrigued—or outright excited—by the benefits of downsizing, this thriving company could hold the key to unprecedented freedom.

Founded in 2016 by a group of longtime friends, Modern Tiny Living is driven by “the opportunity to do something greater,” says co-founder Trent Haery.

“My friends and I have always sort of been unconventional thinkers, looking for ways just to—as much as it is financially but also through time—to have some sense of liberty. And we felt also that the tiny house movement is right in line with our values.”

The friends took stock of the existing tiny home industry and found room to innovate, working with an experienced architect already familiar with the unique specifications of tiny homes. They sought to shift the industry standard from small cabins to upscale, modern living spaces.

“The results and the feedback would suggest we were right: that people want to go tiny. However they might not necessarily want to downgrade the quality of their interior. Hell, if anything, they want to upgrade because they say, ‘Alright, I’m not gonna go with the national average [mortgage]…. Therefore I will spoil myself with a quartz countertop and tile backsplash, and this, that, or the other.”

MTL’s building process varies for each individual tiny house order, a flexibility due to its relationship with Amish carpenters in Northern Ohio, and a company insistence on excellent customer service.

Their three standard models—The Kokosing (24 ft. trailer, 256 sq. ft.), The Mohican (20 ft. trailer, 230 sq. ft.), and The Point (20 ft. trailer, 240 sq. ft.)—start between $59,000 and $69,000. Final price is dependent on financing, included appliances, and other customizations. Each standard model has inspired dozens of custom variants, including a cowork space and coffee shop (“Upwork”), and a fully-solar, off-grid home with garage door and folding deck (“The Latibule”). Shells of their homes for the DIY-inclined are also available at roughly one-third of the price of a full tiny home.

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“As builders out here, we bend over backwards to make our clients happy, and the degree of customization is incredible because that’s just where the industry is today,” says Haery. “Builders are willing to go above and beyond to just have one more happy client in that regard.”

That is, if buyers can overcome a couple of cumbersome barriers to entry, most notably financing and legality. The emerging industry, for all its marvel, is still hamstrung by lenders and local governments who are unprepared for the complexities of tiny living, unaccommodating to them, or both.

Squeamish large banks are uncomfortable with the portable homes and the absence of corresponding property that a typical mortgage would include as collateral, leaving buyers to urge credit unions and small, community banks for RV loans.

“Still, most lenders are not interested in doing RV loans to tiny house manufacturers, usually because they’re afraid somebody’s gonna live in [the tiny house] full time,” explains Haery. “It’s obviously a depreciating asset so you can’t really compare it to dirt that you get with the house on a traditional home.”

But hope is on the horizon. Koala Financial Group, a specific tiny house lender, appears to have cracked the code, and could soon offer reliable financing to buyers at competitive rates with down payments of roughly 5%.

“What they’re promising sounds too good to be true, so I’ll be absolutely floored if they can deliver on it. But I pray that it works out because it’ll make getting a tiny home so much more feasible for hundreds of thousands of people,” says Haery.

If affordable financing can be achieved, buyers must then deal with the patchwork of municipal and county codes that prevent tiny houses from being parked legally in certain areas. The city of Columbus and adjacent suburbs maintain building codes and/or zoning regulations that exclude tiny houses from being considered legal living spaces. Haery contends that an imminent exodus from conventional housing structures and mortgages looms if these issues are sorted out.

While tiny houses might seem perfect for nomadic, excitable travelers, the industry’s clientele is much more typical than you might expect. And if minimalism is an attractive concept, it’s less likely than pure financial reality to compel the curious to go tiny.

“A lot of people think of the tiny house industry—our clientele—as a bunch of nomadic people who just don’t want to be tied down to one location. I don’t think that’s it […] I don’t think they’re looking to get a tiny house because they’re minimalists.”

Haery has multiple theories as to why the tiny life is appealing, but believes that most of them boil down to a greater sense of freedom and more options.

“I think that’s a major benefit that tiny homes offer people is the option to have a place to live that they like, they’re proud of, they own, and it doesn’t feel like the word ‘mortgage’ is based on the word ‘death.’ It doesn’t feel like this is gonna be a bill until you’re dead. And that’s a nice liberating feeling—that you can go out to eat, you can take a vacation, and you don’t need to charge it, and you don’t need to be rich. You just need to downsize.”

Curious about tiny living options? Schedule a tour and ask questions at moderntinyliving.com/schedule.

Sidebar: Ways to go tiny, without the tiny home

So you’re not ready to take the tiny home plunge yet. Happiness really can be about wanting less, rather than having more. Try some downsizing ideas now, and maybe a tiny home will be in your future.

Storage

Think vertical. Think wall-mounted storage. Think ottomans and benches that open up to create extra storage space. Clear, stacking containers are best for frequently-used items.

Purchasing habits

Consider the life cycle of each item you purchase. How long to plan to keep the item? How often will you use it? Where will you store it? What will you do with it after it is no longer useful to you? Something you don’t bring into your home is something you don’t need to store or organize.

Declutter

That project you started but didn’t finish? Will you ever get around to it? What about those things you intend to fix but haven’t? Do you need that collection of trophies, memorabilia, or whatever, or would a set of pictures do? Don’t use sentimental attachments to necessarily determine what you should keep and what should go.

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Weekend Lookout: Harvest Fair, brewery parties, socccer

Mitch Hooper

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Welcome back to another installment of The Weekend Lookout, my fellow weekend warriors. As we get through the last few weekdays and gear up for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, here are the happenings and events that are worth checking out before heading out. Hang in there, ya'll! The weekend is almost here.

Saturday

Land-Grant 5th Anniversary Party @ Land-Grant Brewing Co.

Happy five years, Land-Grant! To celebrate the occasion, Land-Grant will be hosting a variety of musical acts such as Hebdo and Zoo Trippin'. Chow down on some Ray Ray's barbecue, watch the Buckeyes kick off in the evening, and of course, drink all the Land-Grant brews you can.

Harvest Fair @ The Columbus Commons

Looking to get your fall on without leaving the city? Look no further. Head over to the Commons on Saturday for the free-to-attend Harvest Fest complete with fall-themed activities for all ages. Additionally, there will be a pumpkin patch with a $2 entry fee.

Talk It Out: Endless Summer Fest @ Misfit Manor

This indie music festival will feature the likes of many local acts including Girl Fox and snarls. The day kicks off at 4:07 p.m. sharp, so don't be late!

Sunday

Olde Towne East Pop-up Market on Bryden Rd.

On Bryden Rd. on Sunday, 40 different vendors will line-up for a pop-up market in OTE. Everything from matcha from Potion Matcha to lunch from Street Thyme Food Truck will be available for visitors, and it's free-to-attend.

Columbus Crew v. Philadelphia Union @ Mapfre Stadium

Not only is our faithful Crew taking on Philadelphia this Sunday, Troubled Sapiens will be performing before and during the match! The first performance will be in the parking lot from 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the final performance will take place at halftime in the stadium.

FBCC Presents: Movie Night + Beer Tasting @ Grandview Drafthouse and Theater

In collaboration with Fat Babes Club of Columbus, Grandview Drafthouse and Theater will play host to a beer tasting and movie night. Here visitors will sip craft beer, wine, and ciders as they watch comedy clips of "fat" performers throughout time. The day kicks off at 2 p.m., but FBCC recommends showing up 15-20 minutes early.

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The Weekend Lookout: 9 different ways to spend your weekend in the city

Mitch Hooper

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Summer is fleeting, but luckily fall is on the way. We are entering that Goldie Locks zone of weather which means it's the perfect time to get up, and get out. From a big music jamboree with Doc Robinson on Saturday to Tyler, The Creator stopping off at Express Live, here are the events and happenings to keep on your radar.

Saturday

Doc Robinson's Family Jamboree @ Woodlands Tavern

If you trust our taste with The Turbos, then having you trust us once more with Doc Robinson shouldn't be a stretch. Here's a little taste of what Doc Robinson will bring to the stage on Saturday. The Family Jamboree kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will include a large roster of local acts including Parker Louis and Hebdo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg

German Village Oktoberfest @ Wunderbar

You already know the drill here: fill your steins full of Great Lakes Brewing beers, chow down on German classics from places like Pierogi Mountain, and don't even worry about the cover charge because this is a free-to-attend event.

Can Release: Opera Cream Stout @ Platform Beer Co.

New beer, who dis? Platform Beer Co. is breaking out a new can this Saturday at the taproom where they collaborated with The BonBonerie for this Opera Cream Stout. Platform will have beers ready for purchase around 10 a.m. so come early, and come thirsty.

Sunday

Kölsch In The [email protected] Gemüt Biergarten

It's a beer release party in the Garten! Gemüt Biergarten is breaking out its newest brew Huginn & Muninn Kölsch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for just $3 in the Garten. Gemüt describes this beer as a light-bodied German ale that is malt-forward with a slightly fruity flavor.

Tyler, The Creator @ Express Live

Tyler, The Creator has been on a new level in terms of music popularity. His albums Igor and Flower Boy have received plenty of critical acclaim, and his unique sound landed him as the artist who created the soundtrack to the newest iteration of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The often off-the-walls rapper will be taking over Express Live on Sunday evening with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.

It: Chapter 2 and Hustlers @ South Drive-in

Going to a drive-in to see an It movie, ah. It feels like the good old days again. Was I around for those days? Maybe not, but the nostalgic vibes still stand. Head over to the South Drive-in for a double feature of the newest It: Chapter 2 as well as Hustlers. Everything kicks off around 7:15 p.m., and the Drive-in suggests showing up an hour early to be safe.

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A Day In Delaware: Horse racing, kayaking, food trucks, cocktails

Mitch Hooper

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It's horse racing season in Delaware at the Little Brown Jug and that means two things: you're either about to lose, or currently losing.

The beloved horse racing at Little Brown Jug, affectionately known as LBJ, kicked off on Sunday and will run until Thursday. If you're looking to get in on the action, here is where you can buy tickets.

But, if you've already spent all your gambling money and just need a break from the horses, there are plenty of alternatives available in Delaware. Here are three spots to keep in mind as you explore our not-so-distant neighbor to the north.

Kayaking at Alum Creek

Whether you hit it big on your bet, or lost it all in the first race, Alum Creek is perfect because it's free. While the views on the walking trails are great, the views from a kayak are even better. The water there is very calm with the exception of a boat passing through every once in a while making it a nice spot for beginners.

And if you're a veteran on the water, the lake is relatively large meaning you can make an entire day out of it. I recommend packing a cooler with some picnic food—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, string cheese with crackers, and some fresh fruit—and making pit stops at some of the beaches right off the lake. And, just so I can say I told you so, leave your phone in the car, or in a water proof bag.

Dinner At The Food Truck Depot

The Food Truck Depot is a relatively new eatery and bar in Delaware and it's sure to have something for everyone. If you, or someone you're with, is a vegetarian/vegan, Encompass Eatery is a familiar face at the Food Truck Depot and they offer plant-based dishes such as a grilled caprese sandwich, or straight up carnivorous sandwiches like the hearty roast beef sandwich. Other food trucks that have made appearances include Tortilla, Red Door BBQ, and Deja Food. Also at the Food Truck Depot is a full service bar with craft selections and cocktails as well as a large sand volleyball court if you need to burn some calories.

Drinks On Sandusky St.

Delaware is absolutely loaded with options when it comes to drinking in the evening. Looking to taste some bourbon and whiskey? Check out Opa Grill And Tavern which boasts the largest bourbon selection in Ohio. Or perhaps you're more of a beer person (you are from Columbus after all). Barley Hopsters is a beer lovers heaven as it offers large coolers stocked with local, regional, and national craft beers. Build a six-pack to take home, or sip on your beer of choice while you ponder your next option.

Not too far from Barley Hopsters is Restoration Brew Worx which offers a variety of their in-house brews. And if you're looking for an elevated cocktail, 1808 American Bistro is on 29 E. Winter St—just a stone's throw away from Sandusky St. On the flip side, if you're just looking for a dive bar to call home for the evening, The Backstretch will have you covered with cans of PBRs and Tullamore Dew.

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