How to Internet in a Tiny Home

Want to stop paying outrageous TV-Internet combo prices when you don’t watch TV? Or perhaps you don’t have any Internet service providers who will service your area with WiFi? Here’s how we do it!

While living in Alaska in our small cabin in the woods, we had to deal with challenges of almost off-the-grid living (we had electricity). But our home was too far into the woods to receive regular Internet services. The only service available involved paying quite a lot for satellite Internet, which was not going to be the fastest or most reliable. So in order to avoid dial-up speeds, we experimented with depending solely on our cellular network. We paid an extra $5 to be able to hotspot our laptops from our cell phones and then we upped our data plan to 10 GB of shared data a month. This worked well for our normal scrolling, emailing, blog writing, banking, and research, but we needed to install a rule against watching videos and limiting Skype conversations. Skype was the big killer – generally, an hour call would use up 1 GB of data. For video-related needs, we would drive into town and hang out at the café or on campus. This also meant no watching Netflix or other streaming things. Shaina was more affected by this limitation, but it was a healthy change from the binge watching of TV shows on the weekends she used to do.

Instead, we rented from Redbox and checked out DVDs from the library (being picky about what media you consume is a beneficial type of minimalism in itself). This worked alright, but sometimes you just want to be able to Skype in your own home. We were always a few days from the end of the billing cycle and would check our data (AT&T allows you to press #data to get an up-to-date text message with your data usage) and realize we had very little left, so these days were austerity days. We ended up deciding to increase our data plan to 15 GB a month, which worked very well. This allowed us to make at least 4 Skype calls a month without worry, stream shorter videos, and do all of our other regular net use. The unused data would roll over, so we often had months with 20 GB, during which we would treat ourselves to a few streamed Netflix or Hulu shows. You’d be surprised at how much of a sense of accomplishment you get for using only 10 GB a month and having a whole 5 GB roll over to the next month; PARTY!

This system was so easy, we continued to use it when we moved to Los Angeles. When we got to know our neighbors, we struck a deal to use their WiFi, covering half the bill in cash every month, but since they’ve moved, it’s back to the data plan. But even with unlimited WiFi access, we didn’t watch more Netflix, spend hours on YouTube, or Skype our families more often (sorry, Mom) – we have become accustomed to limiting those uses and filling our time with other activities.

I listened to a podcast where they outright dismissed using cellular data for your primary Internet access so I’m here to tell you that it is an option. And it can save you a lot of time and money!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s