Kothney-Issa and Marek Bush joined the micro-living movement back in 2017. Inspired by HGTV's Tiny House Hunters, they moved into a 200 square foot mobile home, complete with a living room, a bathroom, and a lofted bedroom. It has one closet for clothes, and a cute reading nook. The kitchen doubles as a content "studio," where they produce videos for their popular YouTube channel Living Tiny with the Bushes.
The place is tight—even by tiny home standards—but the couple, both 28, felt liberated in their simplistic utopia on wheels.
Then the pandemic hit. Like so many others, the Bushes are abiding by #stayathome orders to slow the spread of COVID-19—except they're baking banana bread and puzzling together in a space smaller than the average one-car garage.
When I reached the couple via phone last week, they'd managed to keep the cabin fever at bay, even after eight weeks of quarantining under the same itty-bitty roof. Amazingly, they said, self-isolating has actually brought them closer together.
"This is going to sound really crazy," Kothney-Issa told me, "but, like, I just really, really, really, really enjoy spending time my husband."
"Yeah she does!" Marek interjected with a laugh.
Kothney-Issa shushed him: "Let me finish!"
"So," she continued, "we'll be editing a YouTube video all day, but I'll still feel like, 'Gosh, we haven't really spent any time together.' Mind you, all we're doing is sitting in the house together, but it feels to me like we haven't spent any actual quality time together, because we're cranking out content. So I get in my feelings a little bit. And then he'll be like, 'Babe, seriously?'"
When they need alone time, they utilize different areas in the tiny house. Kothney-Issa works out in the living room, while Marek lounges in the loft. The couple only leaves to grocery shop every two weeks, or to go for runs in the neighborhood.
"The biggest annoyance is if one of us is on a phone call, and I'm trying to make a phone call at the same time," Marek said. "One of us will have to step outside, just so that we can hear ourselves think a little bit."
But really they don't want to be apart. They go on daily walks together, read the news in bed, and divvy up the cooking. They've also implemented a strict no-phone policy at dinner, because "dinnertime is like date night," Marek said. "It's just been really refreshing to just spend time together without interruption. We used to spend so much time out of the house, that it had almost started to feel like we didn't even live there. We're re-discovering our tiny home."
The Bushes—who have been together since middle school—were living in a rental home and majorly in debt when they took the tiny plunge three years ago. "We wanted to have a place we could call our own," Kothney-Issa said, "and we were tired of renting and putting our money into something that we weren't going to own."
Seduced by the perks of a cheaper, more simplistic lifestyle, they commissioned their custom home to accomodate Marek, who is six-foot-five. They sold all of their furniture on Facebook Marketplace and donated back-of-the-closet clothes to Goodwill, before moving into a tiny house community in Lake Dallas, Texas.
The two managed to pay off all of their debt two years later. But now, like 20.5 million other Americans, they're both unemployed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Kothney-Issa, who worked at a restaurant, was laid off. Marek, a theft and fraud investigator, also lost his job.
They're job-hunting, but most companies aren't hiring. According to CNBC, the number of people looking for work is also currently at a historic level. In the meantime, the Bushes continue to make YouTube videos and cherish their time together in this new homebound normal.
"I think the most important thing for us right now is that we still have our lovely tiny home and that we have each other," Marek added. "That's all we really need."
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