This week we connected with Quincey and Romania Myers, who shared that their inspiration for tiny living came as a result of watching HGTV’s show Tiny House, Big Living. That of course warmed our hearts since our very own Ms. Gypsy Soul is a first season Tiny House, Big Living alum!
THTB: Please introduce yourself to our audience. Where are you located? My name is Quincey “Q” Myers and my wife’s name is Romania (pronounced Ra-mon-ya) Myers. We have been HAPPILY married for six years as of July 30th. We have six boys between us, I have fours boys and my wife has two and their ages are 8, 13, 14, 17, 20 & 24 respectively. My wife is also a grandma and has a one year old grandson. We currently live in Burlington, North Carolina.
THTB: What inspired you to build a Tiny House? Is tiny living more of a dream or necessity for you and your family? Honestly, the idea came from my wife during the time when we were still living in our apartment. It seemed like the more we worked the more we were just living to pay bills and that was frustrating. Having such a large family didn’t allow any wiggle room to have any extra money to do the simple things that we wanted to do. One day, my wife and I were watching HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living and we were blown away. Watching how ordinary people were choosing to live in a way that allowed them to save money, travel and not be in bondage by things was very liberating. We were so inspired by that show that we saved about $300 to buy plans to build a tiny house, but the more we thought about it the more we realized that even if we were to build a tiny house the main component would be to put it on some property and we didn’t have the financial resources to do that. So, we were at a standstill and I remember going to work one day and my wife texting me telling me that she wanted to share something with me. She asked me later on that evening how I felt about downsizing and living in a school bus. I was like what, a school bus? How’s that going to work? As I honestly didn’t see what my wife saw, because I never envision that I would live in a house, nevertheless a school bus. So when she presented the idea I had to do some of my own research to get what she was trying to tell me. The more I started to look at other schoolies the more I started to realize that this could be a possibility, but it had to take some careful planning and preparation because it was outside of the norm. We also realized that we had to be intentional and deliberate about this plan in what we’d sacrifice due to the limited space. I’m a native New Yorker from Staten Island and my wife is from Durham, North Carolina so it was almost like the best of both worlds. If we could pull this off and have the liberty to travel and save money, was the deciding factor for me because of my financial obligations. So what began as necessity evolved into the dream that she and I both wanted and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made in our lives next to getting married.
THTB: Is there anything from your youth growing up/family experience that may have also played a role in your decision to live tiny? We believe that experiences from our youth definitely motivated and dictated the decision to live tiny. My wife, who I tease all the time and call her a country girl, loves the fact of having an opportunity to travel, go to the beach, or to be able to have a garden to do things in the outdoors. When I say she’s a country girl…..she is country. She’s good with her hands & she has a very intricate mind that’s always working and she loves how nature & the outdoor environment speaks to her soul. Whereas for me, I grew up in a housing project in New York City during the time when it wasn’t a nice place to live. I came from a real big family lots of cousins, Aunts, Uncles and so I was used to being around a lot of family. My wife is an only child so a lot of the needed attention to detail worked in her favor because she had a lot of time to herself to think, plan and create. It’s one of her strongest traits. I on the other hand while living in New York City didn’t have the same opportunities as some, but what I did have was the ability to focus outside of the negatives of my day to day neighborhood. My wife is single-handedly the most creative person I have ever met in my life. I’ve watched her take scraps, trash or garbage and make it into something beautiful. Because of the way that she thinks, getting me onboard to the idea of living in a bus took a little convincing but because of the love that we share I knew that we had to be on one accord to make this become a reality.
THTB: What concerns, if any, did you have in your decision to go tiny? We think the biggest concerns that we had during the beginning process was in finding the bus. My wife searched the internet and found a website out of Florida, wesellschoolbuses.com and the best thing about this particular website was that they alloed layaway. We were so excited to find out that we could lay the bus away for only $100. One thing about my wife is that she doesn’t concern herself with what other people think, since we maet she’s always said that you have to learn to divorce yourself from the opinions of others and that is so true. With that in mind we were ready to take this journey together with no concerns about what people would say and what they would think and believe me we heard it all. There were times when people thought we were doing this because we were poor or they talked about this wouldn’t work because of the perception that this is not something that black people do. As we got into the build he more & more we realized that there weren’t a lot of people of color doing this, which is a shame. We never wanted to feel like we were tied down to our stuff because we follow the Bible, which says that the Lord wants you to have life and have it more abundantly. So more than anything else we were motivated because we didn’t see other blacks doing what we’re doing and we wanted to inspire. As we were researching the school bus conversions we didn’t see a single black face and we were okay with being and feeling a little radical.
THTB: How did your family and friends receive your decision to go tiny? Our families thought we were crazy. But like most people, they didn’t believe it until they saw it and once we started to really put the plans into action the less the people started to question why we were doing it.
THTB: Who designed your home and how did you determine the design for your tiny house? How long did you spend working on your design? The design of our home started out as a sketch that my wife did. She is excellent when it comes to putting her thoughts on paper, but the ball really didn’t start to roll until I got in contact with my closest friend in California who actually drew up a floor plan that accommodated all that we wanted. There were some modifications and tweaking here and there and with my being the visionary so if something didn’t look right we didn’t do it….’cause if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. 🙂 We got the bus in early April 2016, a 1990 Bluebird that had the seats removed, a hitch attached to the back and was titled as a motorhome – they even delivered. We stepped out on faith and moved out of our apartment on June 1st, though we didn’t start working on the bus until early July but we were living in it and converting it at the same time. We were fortunate enough to have someone allow was to park the bus on their property while we did the renovations and their only requirement was that we pay for the electricity that we used.
THTB: How long did it take to begin to build once you’d made the decision to go tiny? The bus actually was already at a point that we could actually live in it immediately. During the heat of the summer we lived in the garage that was on the property where we began the renovations. To say that it was uncomfortable would be an understatement, if you can imagine the heat of the summer and no air conditioning, but we survived with a fan. We knew that we had to properly prepare the bus for winter and since my wife has fibromyalgia we wanted to avoid needing an electrical source of heat. Which was a good vision because four days after the stove was installed and running, we experienced a snowstorm and temporarily loss our lights.
THTB: What was involved in building it- DIY/Partial DIY/Builder? How long did the entire project take? We’re still building as of right now, we have a lot of little things to still do and we’re thinking that we will pretty much be completely done with the entire build in a total time frame of a year, which is not bad considering that we’ve lived in the bus the entire time we’ve been building. There were three major modifications that we needed to have done; adding a fresh water tank, solar panels and plumbing. We also needed to purchase an alternator and repair an engine oil leak.
THTB: What, if any, challenges did you run into? I would almost say the biggest challenge has been explaining to people our “why” for the build, but really it bee getting the financial resources because you certainly can’t expect the “hook up” as so many people do. We know that we have to be better stewards over our finances because this falls on us to get it done. Another challenge has been dealing with the negativity sometimes experienced on social media.
THTB: What was your process for simplifying your life and getting rid of your excess possessions? How’d the process feel and do you consider yourselves minimalists? Our process was simple, if we don’t get rid of this crap we won’t be able to move inside of our bus and do the things that we plan to do. For me that was a little difficult because I am somewhat of a pack rat, but my wife she was really excited about getting rid of stuff. We filled up at least two dumpsters of “stuff” in our process and it felt really good and it was a cleansing, of not just the physical objects, but the mental and spiritual connection that they had on both of us. Every time something was purchased and brought in, something had to go out. My wife is VERY THRIFTY and I’m so proud of her because unlike most women that I’ve known in my life she can get rid of some stuff.
THTB: Are all of your belongings in your tiny home, do you have storage elsewhere? We use to have belongings in storage but the goal was to get rid of it or at least downsizing it. My mother in law who initially thought that this idea of living inside the bus was a little crazy, but has come around to see our vision, allowed us to store some stuff in her attic. Other than that, all that we truly have left is inside of the garage that we just haven’t gone through yet but we will because we will be leaving this location very soon. We don’t consider ourselves minimalists but we have realized that true happiness is not defined by how much stuff you have, but who you have it with.
THTB: Has moving into a smaller home been a big adjustment? What did you learn from doing this? What would you advise those who are thinking of downsizing? It hasn’t been such a big adjustment, but it did take some intentional planning in order to be prepared. We’ve named our home, THA BOUSE and it’s taught us that we can do it and we sit around sometimes and smile and laugh about how free we are and how good it feels. You don’t want to do this by the seat of your pants, so our advice to anyone is to do your research & homework and be very thorough about it.
THTB: What do you love most about your new home? What are some specific touches you decided on, aspects of the interior and exterior that make this home a true expression of who you are and your personality? Any special features? What we love most about the bus is the fact that we built it the way that we wanted it and it feels like home. My wife loves the fact that we can trave. We recently just rebuilt a custom-made couch and the fun part is you can always build what you need. Our wood stove also doubles as a cook top. We installed a 320 watt monocrystalline solar panel and are still in the process of trying to purchased eight additional panels for the rooftop so we will be completely off grid.
THTB: Did you use salvaged or reclaimed materials in your build? If so, how’d you go about sourcing those materials? I mentioned earlier that my wife is the thriftiest woman I’ve ever known, about 75% of our build came from finding pallets, thrift store deals, Let Go & Craigslist. You should have seen us trying to load a Chevy Spark with pallets.
THTB: Do you plan to travel? Yes, we’ve been to Tennessee and Georgia and love that whenever we need to stop and park we just pull into a Walmart parking lot to rest and relax. Most stores don’t really give us a hassle because they’re more intrigued about what it is, which works in our favor.
THTB: Is your home eco-friendly? Do you use a composting toilet, if so how was that transition? Yes, and it took me a little while to get use to it, but now I actually enjoy it more than a regular flushing toilet. We waste so much water flushing. My wife wants to eventually install a rain catchment system for bathing and laundry.
THTB: So much of society focuses on having more and making more to have more, success looks like bigger, more, better. Often people of color are focused on having more when they begin to make more because they haven’t had, somewhat like the Jeffersons’ “Moving on Up” lifestyle. Why have you chosen this path instead? We believe that if more people would exercise their liberty to live how they want, instead of conforming, they would be much happier. We feel so free, we’re not totally disconnected from the world but just free to degree that we can enjoy ourselves. I enjoy seeing the expressions on people’s faces when we pull up and they see a black couple, working together to do what most people say is impossible.
THTB: Do you plan to live in your tiny home long term or is it a temporary solution for a bigger plan? We are temporarily in the school bus, but eventually we want to retire and convert a city bus. We met on the bus and it’s only fitting that we live on a city bus to replicate that first meeting.
THTB: Where do you see the tiny house movement going? We believe that more & more people are getting to the understanding that things like houses and cars and the area you live in won’t make you happy. We can’t wait until we can truly go wherever we want and to do all the things that we want to do together.
THTB: Why do you think more POC haven’t joined and/or are reluctant to join the TH/Tiny Living Movement? Fear of the unknown is paralyzing and crippling, people are afraid to take chances based on what other people think. We are bound and chained to our stuff. It’s time to realize that we need to lead our communities. Our bigger plan for living tiny is to save and be able to do ministry. We want to be able to serve by pulling up to shelters in whatever town we find ourselves in, rolling up our sleeves and providing meals. My wife came up with the idea for “THE BOUSE, THE BREAKFAST BOUSE”. Our family has been blessed and we’re planning a breakfast at a Homeless Women’s Shelter in July. We feel that serving others is such a blessing, it keeps us humble and we want to not only fill stomachs literally, but also spiritually.