Heading South for the Winter – or Why We Left the Tiny House

After ALL that, we did it, we headed south for the winter. We packed up what little we owned and left the “Tiny Mansion” – and moved to Salida.

After all the blood, sweat and tears. After the two plus years of finding our way home. After the build, the TV show and the spectacular return. We went “full circle” – and then we left again.

Why you may ask? Many, many, many reasons.Living Small is Living Large

If you watched our adventure on television, you might think the return “home” was a straight line — a true heroes journey of emerging victorious after defeat. However anyone who knows us (or was behind the scenes) is aware that the line was much more erratic than straight. We not only decided to rebuild after being indecisive for so long, we decided to do it on national television and agreed to try out Tiny House living on top of that.

The road was bumpy and rocky along the way. For close to two years, we had no peace or clarity about moving back. We continued to visit our land and to enjoy the quiet and the views, yet so often we left ash covered and sunburned and heartbroken about what was lost.

In January of 2014, we were done with all the waiting. Little did we know what was waiting for us. As I shared on my 5/8/14 blog, a catalyst appeared in the form of A&E’s Tiny House Nation and we jumped into action.

Looking back, we are certain that had we not committed to the TV show, we would still be second guessing and putting off making the decision.

It seemed like the perfect Cinderella story; we rose from the ashes and returned to our land. Yet we were working with TV deadlines, and as general contractors, our learning curve was steep. It was not an easy build. Contractors had to work on top of each other often with cameras rolling. With any build there are breakdowns, however the tight timeline led to multiple emergencies per day. The weather seemed to work against us bringing snow, hail, massive lightning and thunderstorm, even a lightning caused fire in the area.

We failed inspections, sprung leaks, made major errors, had fire-related erosion issues and more. On rougher days, we questioned our sanity and our desire to return. Our sleep was off, waking in the middle of the night sure we had forgotten something crucial. We were on edge and in new territory. Then we would return to the land, and see the shell of a house sprouting up, breathe deeply, and remember why.

On June 13th, we wrapped with filming and officially began our new life in our “Tiny Mansion”. Still the problems continued. Leaks, leaks and more leaks. Plumbing issues, appliances malfunctioning, a fancy heating system that couldn’t keep up with the cold of early fall. Then, the clincher: after eight years of perfect internet service, Skybeam dropped us from their coverage area. With satellite not an option for David’s work; tired, cold, discouraged (and heart-broken) we screamed UNCLE!!!

South to Salida we went. Salida, a picturesque mountain town surrounded by 14-thousand foot peaks, the Arkansas river flowing through, established in the late 1800’s, a population of 5500 – need I go on?

We loved it. We loved riding our bikes around town and always running into someone we knew. We loved the restaurants, the scenery, the remodeled Victorian houses and the tree lined streets – and oh how we LOVED the people. We loved small town living.IMG_4208

And still we wondered, were we giving up too easy? For a while, I tortured myself. I doubted our choices, and cried WHY? I cocooned into our new life in a new town and soothed my soul by slowly letting go.

Now three months later, I sit in a very different setting then that mountainside oasis, in a small circa 1900 house surrounded by other houses with tiny yards in a town that I have come to adore. I call Salida home yet I know can always return to our mountainside oasis that waits patiently as the weather rolls in and the ravens fly by.


  • Marcia
    Posted at 03:24h, 06 February

    Sounds like a Phoenix Rising to me! Congratulations. And simply GORGEOUS writing!

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 03:34h, 06 February

      Thanks Marcia! That means a lot.

  • MaryKay
    Posted at 03:53h, 06 February

    A brave and beautiful decision. Enjoy that sweet home.

  • Susan
    Posted at 04:27h, 06 February

    Oh, such good news to hear you found your place! The road is sometimes a helluva lot more twisty, but the arrival sounds perfect. I’m so happy for you!

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 04:46h, 06 February

      Thank you Susan! I know you KNOW~

  • Kristin Greenleaf
    Posted at 04:48h, 06 February

    My son and I live in a small house built in 1897 in the tiny town of Elbert. Finally home. It’s been a long journey, but it makes being here that much sweeter. Happy for you!

  • Mary Ann Tate
    Posted at 14:59h, 06 February

    Continued happiness to you!
    Mary Ann

  • Janna Moll
    Posted at 15:23h, 06 February

    You are home wherever you are and always welcome HERE.
    Love, love, love.

  • Maria
    Posted at 16:02h, 06 February

    Hi, Kristen! So good to see you are in a place in your heart and soul that you love. Happy Life to you!

  • Barbara
    Posted at 22:19h, 06 February

    You are strong and have purpose and support.

  • Betty Dodds
    Posted at 22:26h, 22 March

    Kristen, Just read about all you had been thru with the fire and losing your house. We to lost our house (well the walls were still standing) in 2005. We were having a new roof put on and the roofers caught our house on fire. For seniors like Bill and I it surely was something to live thru. We did rebuild here in Port Charlotte and I do have a book I have almost finished about the experious. You were so right when you said you questioned so many decisions you had to make, we to did that.

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 00:38h, 23 March

      Thank you Betty. I am sorry to hear about your loss. It’s quite traumatic! I would love to read your book too! Sending you a lot of love.

  • Sande
    Posted at 09:31h, 10 May

    Kristen, so happy for you snd David!

    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 14:00h, 10 May

      Thanks for all the love, Sande. We had a lovely celebration of mom yesterday.

  • Doug
    Posted at 12:49h, 22 October

    Puts a new spin on that episode of THN we watched last night. Guess the grass wasn’t as green as they portrayed it to be.

  • michael
    Posted at 10:41h, 22 September

    I just came across the article from last year (2015) about people who have abandoned tiny houses. It was a sobering read … the young couple in Canada and then you and your husband losing everything in a Colorado wild fire. I can only imagine your sadness of everything gone.

    I have never experienced anything like that … but deciding to rebuild after more time has passed … life passing away second by second … I don’t know what decision I would have made. I now find myself at a crossroads … I rent a small type cottage in central PA with a storage room of “stuff” … a huge DVD collection, books, wonderful cookware never used and packed away, clothes never worn … most people get the picture.

    So I must get rid of stuff … the money alone spent on DVDs and CDs can never be recovered.

    We all have these “crossroad decisions” eventually to make.

    I am happy for you and your husband and maybe the inner peace is there for the future.

    Your tiny house was so nice, from the pictures … an awful lot of expense but at least you gave it a shot.

    I have one question … had there not been that wildfire and you still had that first tiny house … how do you think your life would have went? It seems you both really like that first little tiny house. Do you think you would still be there or would you have also moved on by now? … if the WiFi was still available. I see that was the main decision to leave.

    Thanks for the good part of the internet … we can read about other people that we could never meet.


    • Kristen Moeller
      Posted at 23:40h, 15 October

      Thank you so much for your comment – and your inquiry. That’s a good question – I’m not really sure. I believed for so long that we would still be there as we loved it so much. So many gifts have come from our new life in our new town. New friends, new experiences, and now a new dream home. I am learning not to be so definitive about anything 🙂 Thanks again for reaching out.

  • Pingback:One Woman Turns Ashes into Beauty with the Rocky Mountain Mansion - Tiny Houses
    Posted at 18:20h, 28 March

    […] You can learn more about Kristen and her incredible journey by visiting her blog at https://kristenmoeller.com/2015/02/heading-south-winter-left-tiny-house/ and following her on social media at: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristenmoellerfanpage […]

  • Phaedre Harvey
    Posted at 16:17h, 12 July

    Kristen My name is PhaedreI just saw your story on Tiny House Nation I am sorry you had to move but sometimes things hapoen that we can’t control Good luck to you and your husband