A couple left Miami and downsized to a tiny home in a Georgia forest. They found happiness through building more tiny homes in their backyard and renting them on Airbnb.

John and Fin Kernohan.

United Tiny Houses

John and Fin Kernohan are Airbnb hosts who rent out eight units in their backyard in Georgia.They live in a tiny cabin on the property and built a community around tiny living.The tiny firehouse, tiny houses, yurts, and domes that they rent out range from $99 to $148 a night.

In December 2011, newly engaged John, 60, and Fin Kernohan, 44, decided to leave their city lifestyle in Miami behind and move to Georgia. John had recently sold his medical-research-lab firm, and they wanted to live a quieter life.

While John was happy to join Fin on this adventure, he wasn’t prepared for what she had in mind. “I knew she wanted to downsize, but when Fin was talking about a smaller house, she meant really small — 304 square feet,” John Kernohan told Insider.

They’d already spent a year living on a canal boat in London, and Fin didn’t see the need for a large house. They decided to sell their belongings and lease an 80-acre plot in a Georgia forest. They bought a lofted cabin shell from Derksen Portable Buildings that they could turn into a home.

It took a year to turn the shell into a livable home, which they named the Beloved Cabin. They needed to insulate it with drywall, install a wood-burning stove, add electric and plumbing, build a bathroom and kitchen, and create custom furniture.

The inside of the Beloved Cabin.

United Tiny Homes

The shell cost $6,500. “An important part of tiny living is to have tiny expenses,” John said. Their only expenses after the build were electricity and food.

In 2014, Fin started looking for a more permanent location for their home and found a plot in Lake Oconee on Zillow. “When we first saw the site that was filled with trees and came complete with a natural spring, I felt like we were home,” Fin Kernohan told Insider. “As we drove away, we immediately decided to make an offer.”

Building their sanctuary

The 3-acre plot with its own creek became their permanent home in 2015. After moving their cabin by trailer to its new site, they put down roots by building a deck around it with the help of a friend.

But this time they chose to install solar energy, a rainwater collector, and a HomeBiogas system for creating methane-gas cooking fuel, and use their natural spring for water.

They started a garden with fruit trees, built boxes for vegetables, and created a small yard to house chickens and ducks for fresh eggs.

In 2021, they added goats, which provided fresh milk and natural fertilizer to power the HomeBiogas.

Learning how to live small

The Kernohans first learned about the tiny-home trend when someone created a fake account on a tiny-house listings site and posted an image from their Facebook page. While the fake account was taken down, a whole new world opened up to them.

Their Facebook page began growing as the couple answered people’s questions about their lifestyle.

Keen to connect with other tiny-house owners, they launched the United Tiny House Association, which now has 183,000 Facebook followers and hosts festivals and charity events. They went on to build a tiny firehouse on wheels to take to fundraising events to raise money for firefighters.

The inside of the tiny firehouse.

United Tiny Houses

Providing the ultimate getaway during the pandemic

In March 2020, they visited Fin’s parents in Thailand and stayed in a small villa on their property, alongside other family members who also had homes there. They thought about how they could recreate this community vibe on their own land but with tiny houses.

They acquired three more plots of land and now own a total of 16 acres. One lot came with a 2,000-square-foot premanufactured house, which the couple decided to turn into a community space to give guests the chance to socialize.

They parked the tiny firehouse on one patch of land and added two more tiny homes — one with a Moroccan vibe and the other decorated with ornate gold mirrors and ivy, giving it a French feel. They built each home from scratch using upcycled wood and decorated them with items they’d found on Facebook Marketplace or at recycling centers.

The Rocco tiny house.

United Tiny Houses

They welcomed their first guests in August 2020

“When we opened, people were looking to get out of the city and into the country. It was ideal,” John said. At first, their guests mainly came from Atlanta, but when travel restrictions were lifted, they started to attract tiny-house fans from as far away as Vietnam and South Korea.

While Airbnb search provides the majority of their guests, they’ve attracted fans on TikTok. A short tour of the inside of Beloved Cabin that Fin made received over 1 million views.

Like all homeowners, they’ve also faced their challenges. Cold weather last winter caused a pipe to burst in the tiny firehouse. “If you have a teeny pocket of water, it can blow something, and we should’ve just turned the heaters on,” John said.

Living the good life

John spends his time in the community house baking cookies or serving up pancakes to hungry visitors. Fin, who’s also a spa therapist, offers spa treatments to female guests.

They’ve added a yurt, two domes, a bell tent, and a renovated bus to the property. They now have eight listings that range from $99 to $148 a night.

Visitors can hit the hiking trails, go biking, or hire kayaks from the Beloved Cabin. They can also search for crystals in the creek. “We had to tell guests not to bring shovels or a wheelbarrow as one couple did, which was kind of funny,” John said.

They’re booked during the holidays and most weekends but keep Monday to Wednesday free to leave room for planning festivals and their philanthropic work.

“I like the fact it’s in our backyard,” John said. “We hear horror stories of people renting out homes and they’re taken over by parties. As it’s in our backyard, we don’t need to worry as we can keep an eye on things.”

Fin said she loves the pace of her life now. “What I love most about living in the Beloved Cabin is how simple your life is,” she said. “You only spend time doing things that you love to do.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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