EDITOR’S NOTE: Ok, I admit it. I am fascinated with Tiny House Dating; concept and site. Don’t get me wrong – anyone who knows me, reads the Tiny r(E)volution blog or listens to our revo Convo podcast knows that I am incredibly happily married. So I’m certainly not lurking around on the movement’s most peculiar website looking for action. But browsing the member profiles is, well…weirdly addictive. The patterns you see are remarkable. So many tiny housers want to be more self-sufficient, want to be more connected to the land, claim no political affiliation, prefer dogs over cats, etc.
Early on, before Tiny House Dating went public, Kai (the website’s founder) approached me about using my personal story as an example of what’s possible for couples that share personal values and the desire to live modestly. I wasn’t sure at first but I felt like my wife and I were a perfect example of how love can continue to blossom even in a small space. Coupled with what Kai was really setting out to do I couldn’t say no.
A couple of months later there are over 400 members and the site is growing by the day. We recently feature Kai and his business partner Erica on the r(E)vo Convo podcast but after the mic turned off we kept talking and I was able to find out this.
Tiny r(E)volution: So…any marriages yet?
Kai: Oh jeesh, I hope not! I mean, we’ve really only been online for about a month (since we had to go offline and rebuild after the initial surge). But I did hear from a guy the other day who told me “I think that I have met the love of my life through Tiny House Dating, but I can’t let her know that just yet; it is too soon and she’ll think I’m a nutcase.”
Tr: Probably a good move on his part.
Kai: Yeah, pretty much! Let it grow…
Tr: Speaking of grow – Tiny House Dating grew out of control at first. What happened?
Kai: I built the site on a $50 WordPress template and $5/month hosting. I didn’t know if anyone would ever sign up. It just seemed like a fun thing to try. Then Tiny House Blog posted an article about it, and subsequent articles generated over 1.3 million hits in 6 days. The thing literally crumbled (I think our hosting company had to call the fire department).
Tr: Sounds like a great learning experience.
Kai: Closer to a breaking point, I think. But the community really came through with a successful crowdfunding campaign. And hey, to draw a parallel…I guarantee that when it’s time to build my own Tiny House I will be using the absolute best trailer and highest quality materials I can find. No more duct tape.
Tr: Good…I won’t be scared following you down the highway then. And what’s going on with the site now?
Kai: It’s back online and we’re welcoming more and more members every day. It’s awesome…so much fun.
Tr: Yeah that’s what I was saying earlier…the way people describe themselves, how they are living and what they want out of life kind of draws you in…
Kai: Wanna hear some of my favorites?
Kai: Ok, so there’s the guy who spent 6 weeks living communally in Costa Rica on a sustainable permaculture farm. He says it really opened his eyes about many things, so he’s down to a 300 sq.ft. studio now, and is totally open to building a tiny house for mobility, ownership, minimal off-gassing, low utilities, etc.
Tr: WORD. That’s some crunchy granola goodness right there. Let me hear another.
Kai: The woman who is almost finished building her tiny house, with the help of a carpenter. She worked for 8 years in theatre in Canada, working from Manitoba to Prince Edward Island on big and small shows. She’s looking for friendship, a little romance and partnership.
Tr: Aww, cool. I hope she finds it.
Kai: Me too!
Tr: One more…
Kai: This dude says “I’m a tiny house disguised as a human being.”
Tr: You’re making that up.
Kai: I’m not!
Tr: Any other good ones? I mean, they’re all good. But another that stands out. I know you read them all with great conviction!
Kai: A woman who lived in a yurt and a converted greenhouse in Hawaii, off the grid before, and loved it! She’s looking for friends of both genders. And maybe more than a friend one day!”
Tr: Who wouldn’t want to know someone like that? I mean, someone who likes small spaces, probably has a green thumb, and has connections in Hawaii.
Tr: Last one. I’m starting to think you’re making these up.
Kai: One of the guys is in the process of becoming more of a minimalist and downsizing- he recently moved from 2000 sf to 500 sf and his next step is a tiny house. He describes himself as a professional type guy, independent, living with 3 dogs! He loves design, architecture, gardening and travel. And he has a 2nd 500 SF cottage in Maine during the summers.”
Tr: Is he the most eligible Tiny House bachelor or something?
Kai: Tell me about it! But hey, if someone’s looking for a companion that’s a bit more…umm, whimsical (?) then how about my all time favorite?
Tr: This stuff is like crack. You’re just baiting my readers now.
Kai: She’s part of a group that does community service work by bicycle, dressed as superheroes. Her cape has a map of Lake Superior on it. She and some of her girlfriends created a group called GLOSS: Glorious Ladies of Synchronized Swimming. They mainly just play in the water. She currently lives on 60 gorgeous acres in NE Missouri, as part of a community land trust that she started with friends. Her permaculture homestead is 10 acres, and her home is a palatial 120 square foot cabin-on-wheels that she built in 2011. She tell us that she isn’t afraid to head into the wilderness by herself, but it’s a ton more fun to have a cute guy at her side.”
Tr: That is like tiny house dating swoonery right there. If I had a phone the lines would be lighting up for sure.
Kai: We’re only a mouse click away. Yes, that was a shameless plug!
Tr: Ok, shifting gears…take it up a level. What are the age groups and geographical locations of your members?
Kai: Ages range from 18-70 (the average is 41). Our gender ratio is 59% female to 41% male. We represent 25 countries, and half of our memberships are paid while the other half is scholarship-based.
Tr: Oh right…that paid membership thing. What’s the deal with that?
Kai: The reason for the payment plans is simple. If we don’t have some kind of filter, people who really have no interest in the site will sign up rampantly. Tiny House Dating will become “Dating for Everyone and Anyone” and then we’ll lose the community feeling we are trying to maintain.
Tr: It’s almost like people would just sign up for a dating site because it’s free. Who would have thought…
Kai: Yep, pretty much exactly like that.
Tr: But you offer scholarships, you said?
Kai: We offer 100% scholarships to anyone who has a legitimate interest. We’ll never exclude someone who shares our values, based on his/her inability to pay.
Tr: That’s awesome! So, assuming someone is interested in Tiny Houses or minimalism of some sort, and is looking for friendship (or more) why wouldn’t he or she sign up for Tiny House Dating?
Kai: There’s no real reason not to, though I also like to set realistic expectations. For example we’re brand new, so there’s a not a high probability of finding a ton of potential partners in your exact geography.
Tr: But that’s already changing…
Kai: Right, and it will continue to improve. And we’ll keep upgrading functionality too, though at its heart this site is about connection, not technology.
Tr: Kind of like what I’ve said in the past – that Tiny House living isn’t about the house; it’s about connection and relationship.
Tr: Cool. Well, that’s about all the time I have for today.
Kai: You’re going back to browse the site some more, aren’t you?
Tr: You are a crack dealer!