Less often more in tiny home
Callahan residents Jack and Raquel “Rocky” Mounce learned that less is more when living in a tiny home.
The couple’s 800 square-foot home at 54058 Lawhon Road is supposed to be highlighted on the FYI Network’s “Tiny House Nation” this fall. Zack Giffin and John Weisbarth co-host the show, which has aired for five seasons. As of June 5, FYI has yet to cancel or renew the show for a sixth season.
To be featured on the show, the couple responded to a request from Tiny House Nation for first responders. Jack Mounce is a family nurse practitioner and a lieutenant with the Jacksonville Fire Department. Although requested by the Record, the couple is prohibited from providing complete details of the home until the program airs.
Jack and Rocky knew early on that they wanted to live in a smaller home. They discussed the idea for several years before starting the build in September. The three-bedroom and two-bath home was completed in a little more than 60 days. The home cost more than $140,000 to build. The couple moved into the home in December with daughters Keirstyn, 12, and Mila, 16 months and house cat Scally.
“I’ve always been a minimalist,” Jack Mounce said. “You don’t need a lot of extra. You don’t need a lot of the other things. You also hear a lot people in Florida say, ‘Hey, you know, hey, my electric bill is $600 a month in the summertime.’ My electric bill is $50. I have the same lifestyle you do. You know what I mean? I have a 3/2 house with plenty of space and storage for what I need. I don’t have any dead space.”
He added that the more space people have, the more likely it is that it could become overrun with personal items.
The downsized lifestyle has taught the couple that less is more.
“If you buy a 3,000 square-foot house, your goal from that point forward is to fill it, is to make it feel lived in,” Jack said. “Well, once you start that trend, you continue to do that. And eventually, it’s, “All right, I have too much. I just have to get rid of this stuff.’ And then the more you own – the more it owns you. And the more, ‘I can’t go anywhere, because I have this 3,000 square-foot house. I can’t afford a vacation because I’m house poor now.’”
Paring down belongings from a 2,500 square-foot home in Atlantic Beach to their current home wasn’t as difficult as they thought it would be.
“Once you get started, you just get rid of everything,” Rocky said.
“We realized that we had, like, three cold mist humidifiers for the baby, but we didn’t realize it, because one was in our upstairs Jack and Jill bathroom and we hadn’t been in there in a year-and-a-half,” Jack said.
The pair designed the home, including choosing the colors and finishes. The home’s interior has all of the modern amenities and storage areas that a traditional home does.
The structure is built on an acre, with the foundation set on 10-foot reinforced pylons to lift the structure. It was also built to withstand hurricanes Category 3 and above.
“We wanted that U-
shaped house because we wanted a central deck in the back,” Rocky said. “We told them what we wanted, what our designs were. They checked my Pinterest boards – everything. And then they put together a portfolio and with like, ‘This is choice A, B and C; which would be your first choice? Which would be your second choice for everything, the lighting, the flooring, the sink, everything?’”
During the final stages, when the TV production crew was at work on the premises, the couple stayed away until the reveal.
Tiny living has broadened their financial horizons to some degree.
“We like the simplicity of it,” Jack said. “We don’t have a mortgage. In that aspect, we owe nothing to any bank. Being free and clear at our age is really nice.”
His wife likes that the home is easy to clean. She only spends about 15 minutes a day managing responsibilities.
With the financial freedom, the couple now shares traveling experiences with their family, spending funds on trips that would have been put toward utilities or other expenses a larger home requires.
The family has enjoyed the customized home that is outfitted for their needs. As can happen in life, the couple will soon face a life change. Jack recently accepted a job elsewhere. The home is already on the market.
Through it all, Rocky said the tiny living experience was positive and she doesn’t rule out the possibility of the family living in a non-traditional home in the future.
“I would live in an RV,” she added. “Like now, seeing – like, it’s not intimidating living in a small space, I would go smaller. I know we could do it.”