For the six-member Mike family, living in their pair of tiny houses felt just right. But everything else that comes along with owning a tiny house — construction costs and the bureaucracy of finding land — wasn’t so cozy.
Since the family sold its house this summer, moved into an RV and built its collective 688-square-foot tiny houses west of Ceresco, they’ve faced a rocky road to find a permanent, legal home for their new way of life. They’ve been kicked off properties several times, and despite filming a reality TV show about the construction of their tiny houses, aren’t living in them at the moment.
The construction of the two houses was filmed for an episode of “Tiny House Nation: Family Edition” set to air Thursday evening on Lifetime.
“We want to live in them,” Melody Mike said. “It’s breaking our hearts right now that we can’t.”
The Mikes — parents Melody and Darren; Darren’s teenage son Carter; the couple’s young daughters McKenzie, Trinity and Joey; and their dog — all moved into twin tiny houses in November. The World-Herald detailed the family’s plans in a July article.
Before filming, the family sold its house and moved into a retrofitted RV parked at The Gathering Place, their church in Valley. Shortly after, a neighbor complained, and the city told the Mikes that they had to move. So they moved into a two-bedroom apartment above the church.
Filming went well and was mostly fun for the family, Darren said, but the price quickly outgrew their budget, eventually by about $17,000, even after trade-outs from the TV show.
After construction, the family lived the tiny life for six weeks. They lived off the grid, drawing water from a well and power from solar panels. Darren shot his first deer, and cooked steaks and stew for the family. The kids played outside in the woods, and they made nightly campfires, staring up at the Milky Way.
“We absolutely loved it,” Darren said. “It was a lot of work repairing and fixing, but the lifestyle, it’s totally us. We’re somewhat desperate to get back into that.”
A month and a half in, connections to the underground cistern came loose. Then, the family was told that it had to vacate the land. Zoning problems are a common obstacle for tiny house owners. It’s something the Mikes hope will change soon, and they plan on appealing to nearby counties to find a solution.