tiny living with tabitha lyn

Posted on Location: , 7 min read

Tabitha Lyn Grimaldo is, without a doubt, the super-cool version of a modern-day pioneer woman. Functioning completely off-grid, Tabitha (34) and her two young daughters reside in a tiny home they lovingly call Little Joppa. Located in Azle, Texas – a small city west of Fort Worth – Little Joppa stands at 144 square feet on an 8×18 trailer. It is fully equipped with eight solar panels and a rain catchment system. All water is filtered into the house using a 12 Volt Ag Sprayer Pump. When she needs hot water, Tabitha uses a 5-gallon water heater. She does without a fridge or electrical stove, cooking and heating her home with a wood stove instead. In the summer months when it’s too hot to cook indoors, she uses her BioLite camp stove on the porch. When it comes to food, her family is able to grow 70 percent of their food on their property. They forage in the nearby words for another 20 percent, and only travel into the market in town for staples like rice and legumes.

From the time she was a child picking flowers and chasing butterflies, Tabitha has always possessed a great love and respect for nature. But it wasn’t until she started her small business as an esthetician that she sought a lifestyle change. “I believe it was through practicing skin care and learning about ingredients and what is in the products that we put on our skin and in our bodies that I really began to pay attention to how lifestyle, habits, and our environments really affect our mental, emotional, and overall health and well being. Through that, I began a quest for a much simpler and healthier way of life.”

Since 2015, Tabitha and her daughters, 10-year-old Yanis (Yaya) and four-year-old Yoreh (Yoyo) have been living off-grid with Little Joppa and thriving.

What made you decide to try tiny house living?
I had always loved tiny spaces as a child, and as an adult I lived in studios, lofts and small flats. I’ve never really enjoyed owning a lot of things, so living in small spaces really worked for me. One day about 8 years ago I was online researching tree houses, and I came across a tiny house. When I saw it, I knew that a tiny house would be perfect for me.

Tell us the story of how Little Joppa came to be.
I had been searching for years for a tiny house. I would search the tinyhouselistings website; I was sure that I would have to buy a tiny house that was already built. I really wanted to build one to suit my needs but I couldn’t find anyone to build it for me in Texas or anywhere close. I went to view a tiny house in Austin a couple of years before Little Joppa was built, and it was a lovely house, but it didn’t have off-grid capabilities. That was something that was really important to me, and so I decided not to purchase it.  I continued my search and, not having much luck, I became doubtful at times. What would others say or think of me living in such a small space with a child?

In 2014, I gave birth to my youngest daughter. Her birth was a very traumatic experience, and I almost didn’t survive it, but I did. And when I awoke, I promised myself and God that I would live out the desires and dreams he had placed in my heart.

The following months, I continued to search for a tiny house, and to my surprise, I found a man in Tennessee by the name of Randy Jones. He had built a tiny house that was specifically for living off the grid… I contacted him and asked him if the house was still for sale and he said that he had sold it, but that he could build me whatever I wanted. So we chatted over emails and I explained to him more about what I wanted, and that my main focus was something that I could live in off-grid.

I had to take a leap of faith. I sent him a picture of my two girls, and I and I told him, “I am trusting you. I don’t know you, but I trust you. I believe in you, and I want you to build my house.

So he drew up some plans and sent them to me. Everything was set; I just needed to send him the deposit so that he could start working on it. The deposit was half of what my house cost, which was $12,500. I had never met Randy; he was a very new builder, and had only built one tiny house prior to mine, so I had to take a leap of faith. I sent him a picture of my two girls, and I and I told him, “I am trusting you. I don’t know you, but I trust you. I believe in you, and I want you to build my house.” I sent him the deposit, and he began working on the house. He finished almost 4 weeks after, and my house was delivered to me on July 17, 2015, and we been living tiny ever since.

Did you have to downsize most of your belongings before the move? How do you stay organized in a small space with two young children?

Not too much. I’ve never been a big fan of furniture, and I’ve also always enjoyed sleeping on the floor, so I didn’t have to deal with getting rid of much. For us, it hasn’t been too hard staying organized because I have a rule: for everything we bring in, something must go out, so that goes for everything: clothes, toys – any and everything. Whenever a holiday like Christmas or a birthday is approaching, I have my girls go through their belongings to see what they don’t want, need or have outgrown and we donate those items. That way when they receive gifts for Christmas or a birthday, there’s space to put it. We don’t own many trinkets or the like, but clothes can become a problem if you don’t stay on top of it. I keep a small number of clothing, and my girls each keep their favorite pieces of clothing. Anything else we donate.

What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced along the way since moving into Little Joppa?
I’ve had so many little things here and there. When we first moved into the house, we had a big problem with fire ants. I guess I parked my house right on top of an ant bed, and they were angry. They were everywhere inside the house. It took a couple weeks to get rid of them, and because we live on an organic farm with lots of wildlife in the area, I couldn’t put down chemicals that would be harmful to the wildlife or the soil.

The first summer living in the house, I had an issue with my solar and as a result, we were without power for almost a month. That was pretty interesting, but we learned just how little we need to live happily.

The first summer living in the house, I had an issue with my solar and as a result, we were without power for almost a month. That was pretty interesting, but we learned just how little we need to live happily. Things break down here and there and need repair, but nowadays we have the luxury of Google and YouTube.  I have learned how to fix and repair things when needed. But I would say one challenge that I have struggled with is the lack of human interaction I deal with sometimes. There are times that I go for weeks without going into town, and so I don’t get much interaction with other adults. I’ve always been a loner, but I have seen just how important being able to talk and spend time around others is for me.

What does a typical day look like for you and your girls?
A typical day for us would be my youngest daughter, Yoreh, and I waking up around 7 AM; my oldest, Yanis, sleeps in and wakes up a little later, which works out great because it allows me to have one-on-one time with the littlest one in the morning and one-on-one time with my oldest at night.  I make breakfast and tea for us and we go for a walk through the woods to kind of set intentions for the day. I also use this time to pray, and just remember the things I’m grateful for. After this, we walk back to the house and depending on the current season, we tend to the garden and plants. Yoyo will help me and play outside, and by the time we are finished, Yaya is awake. So I make her breakfast, and lunch for Yoyo and me.

Once everyone has finished their meal, my girls will play outside and I use this time to wash dishes and tidy up inside. I also do whatever else needs to be done around the house. I have a wood stove that I use for cooking and heating, so I gather and chop wood frequently. We do a lot of walking in the woods behind my house to gather wood and to forage for greens, berries, and whatever the current season has to offer. I make dinner for us, and usually right after, Yoyo will be ready for bed. Either my self or Yaya will read her a bed time story. Once she is asleep, Yaya and I have our time together. I homeschool her, so I use this time to teach her, go over her lessons and to read with her. When she is all done, we usually end the night with drinking some loose leaf tea and few games of Uno.

What are some ways that you decompress after a long or stressful day?
For the most part, my days aren’t too stressful, especially when I’m at home and I don’t go out to the city. My days are pretty easy-going. But on those days when I do need to de-stress, once the moon comes up I like to go outside and lay on the deck. I watch the moon and star gaze, and just listen to the sound of nature doing its thing at night: the owls, the insects, I see deer often, coyotes. I listen to music, I dance sometimes, I pray, and I just enjoy the night air.

Do you think you’ll ever go back to a “traditional” lifestyle?
I can’t see myself ever returning to the city or living a traditional lifestyle. I believe I will continue to live off the grid in some type of tiny dwelling for the rest of my life. It is so important to me now, and it has become a part of who I am. It’s not so much living tiny – it’s just living with less. Living a simpler way, and living closer to nature.

What is the biggest benefit of living the way that you do?
My favorite thing about living a simple, intentional life would be all the free time that I get as a result of living with less. I get to devote my time to my daughters – being with them, caring for them. I love being their mom and they are growing up so fast. I don’t want to miss out on all of the beautiful experiences and special moments that I am gifted because I am the mother.  At the end of the day, that is my real treasure.

Want to keep up with Tabitha and her tiny-house journey? Follow her on Instagram at @littlejoppatinyhouse.

All photos provided by Tabitha Lyn Grimaldo.


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1 Comment
  • Shawn
    September 5, 2018

    Wow. What a beautiful way if life. Today most of us are distracted by so many things that really aren’t important at all. But I loved how you said you have to be intentional to live a simpler and healthier life. More time to focus on your girls and God and the pure beauty of nature that He has surrounded us with. My hat is off to this strong, young woman who seems to have her priorities exactly where they need to be. And Kudos for going after your dream and living life in the fullest fashion of what brings you happiness!

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tiny living with tabitha lyn