What I Wish Others Knew About ‘Going Tiny’
Just a few points I want to make about ‘going tiny’:
It doesn’t have to be your forever home
SO many people love to point out that I have kids in a tiny house and that it ‘won’t work forever’. This may or may not be true. Right now it has ‘worked’ great for longer than expected though. I am SO grateful for our living situation. That isn’t the point though, at least not for me. I didn’t build this house as a retirement home. I built the house as a tool to enable the life I want to live. It has and is doing just that. When the house no longer does that I will come up with another situation. For me, it was a learning project. I built my own house. That was goal #1. Additionally it enabled me to become debt free. After 8 months of living tiny I had paid off all of my debts.
If it stopped there it would have been fantastic. Every month I save over $2,500 on bills I used to pay though. I would be very happy with my investment if it all went away tomorrow.
Tiny houses are just a ‘thing’
There seems to be a lot of folks interested in tiny houses who are tied up with the idea of minimalism. Not ‘letting things own you’. Yet they define themselves as ‘tiny house people’. When it comes down to it a tiny house is just another thing. It isn’t something to define yourself over.
The wheels are not usually about mobility
As tiny homes gain popularity I am seeing a lot more folks joining the movement who want a tiny house but don’t want the wheels, that is awesome! Most though, have no idea that the wheels in many cases are imperative to being able to build ‘that small’. Even though things are slowly changing, most places require you build to a minimum size, usually much larger than a tiny house (yes, even on your own property). This is a building/zoning department requirement, in order to bypass these offices you can put your home on wheels and be classified as a mobile structure. So even though most tiny houses have wheels a good portion of them don’t take many trips…
It’s a leap of faith
One of the biggest obstacles is finding a situation to live. Because of the wheels, tiny houses are in a different classification. Often times it can be tricking to find a parking situation. When I built, like many others, I had no idea where I would be able to live once complete. But I built anyway. There are a lot of great ways to connect with others for a parking spot. More and more community options coming up all around the country.
Still, this tends to be a leap of faith for those looking at building tiny now. There are WAY more waiting for it to be totally legal before taking that first step, and folks who want to save money for land first. Personally, because it is a legal grey area, I prefer to rent land rather than buy it. That way, I am not out the cost of the land purchase if I get asked to leave. The good news, once you have pretty close to a finished house parking options usually open up. People just want to see what they are agreeing to. No one wants to agree to house an eye sore, so it’s sort of understandable.
They are rarely ‘cheap’
I am a horrible example of how much tiny houses ‘usually’ cost. I hate that every time cost comes up it turns into a ‘builder greed’ and extravagance discussion (as if living extravagantly is a bad thing). People use my house is used a lot to try to justify this argument. No one seems to consider how many hours I put into finding and refinishing materials to meet my budgeting goal (under $12k). The fact is that most people don’t have or want to put in that sort of time. Having someone else do the work is not free. Nor is having someone else use reclaimed materials going to save you money. That takes time which often costs more than just buying ready to use material.
So, unless you are ready and willing to get your own hands dirty and pour yourself into your tiny house don’t expect to get one for less than $15-20k. Most DIYers spend more than that honestly on just materials. There IS value in hiring labor, a lot of value. Everyone has different influences on their tiny house decisions, cost/budget is only one of those. Your timeline may drive you to make less cost effective decisions, or any number of other factors, that is ok.
You CAN do it
I truly believe that anyone is capable of building a tiny house. There are a TON of great examples of people facing greater difficulties than standard when it comes to building. Sicily Kolbeck is one. If a 13 year old gal and her writer mom can build a tiny house with no previous experience can you? Or Vera Struck, who is a 65 year old, disabled cancer survivor who built her house on her own after attending a tiny house workshop. Where there is a will there is a way. No single part about building a tiny house is hard. There is LOTS of help out there in the form of YouTube videos, eBooks, blogs, Facebook groups.
There are no more helpful people than tiny house people. I don’t care how much of a beginner you are, we are all beginners at some point. If you jump in you will find a way!
It’s not hard
I’m often asked what my biggest challenge is about living tiny and I ALWAYS draw a blank. The best possible answer I can come up with is not being able to take a bath, that once a year, that I used to. It is not that hard (it was an intentional decision not to have a bathtub, you can have one :)). In reality the hardest part is dealing with the criticisms of others over my decision to live tiny, particularly with a pet and children. I only have to deal with that though because I choose to remain open about it and put myself in the public eye in an effort to normalize the lifestyle… that one hard part can easily be minimized by not doing that. Living in a tiny house feels just as normal and just as comfortable for our family as living in larger houses did.