What life is like for a man who has 2 tiny houses on his own private island in Florida

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Monica Humphries
·5 min read
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The island is located in Sarasota, Florida. Tiffany the Tiny Home
  • Tim Davidson lives in a 270-square-foot tiny house on wheels.

  • After moving around in the tiny house for two years, he purchased a private island in Florida.

  • There he added a second tiny house, which has an octagon shape designed to withstand hurricanes.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

In 2017, Tim Davidson was given 60 days to move out of his family's vacation home in Florida.

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Tim Davidson works from inside his 270-square-foot tiny home. Tiffany the Tiny Home

Davidson had been living in the vacation home in Sarasota, Florida, for about a year when his family decided it was finally time for him to get a place of his own.

Initially, Davidson considered buying a traditional-size home.

While he was house hunting, he realized that a large home meant unused space, unnecessary belongings, more taxes, and more money.

Davidson just wanted the necessities: a bedroom, living area, small kitchen, and access to the outdoors.

A tiny home felt like a perfect solution.

Davidson getting kicked out sparked his tiny home journey. By the 60-day mark, he bought Tiffany, a 270-square-foot tiny house.

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The 270-square-foot cost Tim Davidson about $71,000. Tiffany the Tiny House

Davidson purchased Tiffany for about $70,000.

In May 2017, Davidson moved into his home with two boxes of belongings.

"I just dove right into the minimalism," he said. Davidson estimates that he got rid of 80% of his stuff.

The tiny house got its name from the colorful glass light fixtures that fill the home.

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Arrows point to a few of the Tiffany scones sprinkled throughout the home. Tiffany the Tiny Home

Davidson quickly fell in love with the 1920s-Craftsman-style home, which is filled with lighting designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

"It was like a calling to me," he said of the lights in the home.

Davidson and his father work in the lighting industry. Growing up, his father made Tiffany light fixtures, so Davidson has childhood memories of his dad bringing home Tiffany light prototypes that would mesmerize him and his mother. Seeing similar fixtures in the tiny home, Davidson felt as if it was meant to be.

The home has two lofts, a full bathroom, a living space, and a kitchen.

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The interior of the 270-square-foot tiny home. Tiffany the Tiny Home

One loft is Davidson's bedroom and the other is a storage area.

Downstairs, there's a living room, which has a small couch, TV, and some storage space.

His table folds down for some added space, and there's even enough room in the living room for a washer and dry combo.

In the bathroom, there's a tub, shower, toilet, and sink.

Now that Davidson had a home, all he was missing was a permanent piece of land to live on.

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Tiffany glows at night. Tiffany the Tiny House

For the first two years in his tiny home, Davidson moved between destinations, visiting different campgrounds and tiny-home festivals.

Davidson was ready to find a permanent place, and that's when he came across Shellmate Island, a 1.5-acre island for sale in Sarasota, Florida.

Davidson purchased a tiny island in Florida for $200,000 two years ago.

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The island is located in Sarasota, Florida. Tiffany the Tiny Home

Davidson said Shellmate Island had been for sale for years but the seller was asking for an "astronomical price." After some negotiating, however, he purchased it for about $200,000.

When he purchased the island — which Davidson has nicknamed Rusty Gold — it was overgrown and used to store old RVs. Davidson turned it into a livable place.

Today, the island is filled with tropical fruits, such as mangoes, avocados, mulberries, lychees, pineapples, and figs.

"It's a beautiful piece of land," Davidson said.

Life was looking great, but Florida's hurricane season made Davidson realize Tiffany wouldn't survive a powerful hurricane.

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The island is now lush and filled with fruit trees. Tiffany the Tiny House

Hurricane Irma was the first major hurricane Davidson experienced living in Florida. And though the hurricane didn't hit Sarasota badly, it made Davidson reconsider shelter.

Davidson, who grew up in Ohio, said he quickly became aware that evacuating wasn't easy when thousands of other people are also trying to leave. Meanwhile, a tiny home on wheels wouldn't be strong enough to survive a hurricane.

If he wanted to be stationary for future hurricanes, he'd need a stronger home to withstand powerful winds.

So he bought a 320-square-foot tiny home for $90,000, which has an unusual octagon shape designed for hurricanes and strong winds.

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The tiny home is designed to withstand hurricanes. Tiffany the Tiny House

Davidson purchased a 320-square-foot tiny house for about $90,000.

Its unusual octagon shape is meant to prevent wind from building up pressure and destroying the structure.

Designed by Deltec Homes, is ideal for hurricane season, Davidson said.

Inside the home, there's one bedroom, a living room, bathroom, and kitchen.

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The interior of the octagon-shaped tiny home. Tiffany the Tiny House

Inside the home — which Davidson rents out on Airbnb to help pay for his living expenses — there's no wasted space.

The bedroom area takes up about half of the space, while the other half consists of a living and dining area, kitchen, and bathroom.

Davidson hasn't second-guessed living in a tiny home and says it's one of the best decisions he's made.

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The tiny homes at sunset. Tiffany the Tiny Home

Davidson said the first night in his tiny house felt like a momentous life event.

"I was nervous, but I was excited," he said. "There are certain moments in life where you're like: 'OK, this is a big step. I'm doing something drastic in my life.'"

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