What I Wish Others Knew About ‘Going Tiny’

Macy M19 comments22889 views

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.



  1. I Just Wish…

    That people would stop being so negative and learn to appreciate the differences in us all. You have done a fantastic job and are an example to us all. Stay tiny if tiny is what works; no need to fix the unbroken! My dream is to one day go tiny and I am saving for it now…

  2. Beautiful Post, Macy. Great points. It’s a lot of work and time to reclaim or re-use lumber or other building materials. Sometimes it’s really, really worth it. Other times, I’ve wished I’d used my time differently. It’s kind of like refinishing an antique piece of furniture, you don’t really know what the finished product is going to be like or how long it’s going to take, or what you’ll discover along the way. I’ve had some huge successes and some that didn’t work at all.

  3. Thank you for this article, and for your blog. You, like so many in the tiny house community, are a dream. So many are super helpful, offering fantastic support and motivation. My husband and I have also faced a lot of negativity from acquaintances (people seem to either really love or really hate the idea), and our project has only just begun! We are still in the subfloor stage, but hoping to get to the framing soon!!! Best wishes and congratulations for your beautiful home and family!

    1. Thank you so much! Enjoy the build, no matter how frustrated you may get there will be a point that you miss the building a little :). You have lots of support coming from my direction! Good luck!

  4. I can’t understand the criticism. But I do understand where you are coming from I encountered the same thing while I lived in a 32 foot motorhome, which I did, so I did not have to have a roommate. California is terribly expensive. And I still do for living in a 725 sq. foot house. But I can also say I am debt free. This nation seems obsessed with bigger, better and debt. I won’t ever understand it. Kuddos to you for doing what is right for you, and spreading your knowledge.

  5. It’s funny that so many Negative Nellies are out there. I used to work with a man who never had a positive thing to say when I greeted him every morning. I got into the habit of laughingly saying to him, “And we’re all gonna die, but today, here we are!” I’d go off to work and be grateful for that lesson. I never wanted to be as negative as he. Then, I met another person who, no matter what the circumstances, when you asked, “How are you?” would invariable reply, “Fantastic!” I’m much closer to that way of thinking.
    My new tiny house has more than a couple of disappointments: The builder didn’t do things to my specifications, making it unlivable for me for several months; my illness from that debilitated me for a while, but on the whole, it’s coming along. Unlike so many younger people, I did design this to be my forever house, but, in the past, I bought 3 other houses that I also planned to live in for the rest of my life. Things just don’t ever work out as ‘planned.’ Life is uncertain. “A great adventure, or nothing at all,” as Helen Keller reminds us.
    Macy, you’ve been an inspiration to many, and the ones who nag and negate are jealous that they can’t bring themselves to live out a dream, or learn to adapt to change and embrace its possibilities. Never in my wildest dreams would I have seen myself here today. Keep on keeping on, and congratulations on your great spirit. Most never get to live like that.

  6. Hi Macy! Congratulations on the new addition to your family! I love your house and am trying to build my own tiny house. I have been poring over your blog and I did see your post about calculating weights. Do you happen to know approximately how much your house weighs now? I found a trailer in my area for ~$3200 with lights and water tanks. I’m not sure I’ll keep the water tanks. It has 2 5000lb axles and is 31ft flat deckover with a 5ft tongue?/neck? It’s not a goose neck. I am trying to understand how heavy my house will end up if I build one very similar to yours, except entirely enclosed from the start and 31ft long. I wonder if I need to replace the axles entirely with higher load bearing axles, or if I could get away with adding a third axle like you did.


    1. I forgot to add, if I do add a third axle, can it be higher load bearing than the other 2 or is it strange having them different load bearing capacities?

      1. Usually they are the same because that is how they disperse the weight… so youll only be as good as your lowest rated axle, if that makes sense.

    2. Hi Laura-
      I have never weighed my house since the scales were closed on moving day but the very experienced driver estimated it at 15-16k pounds. That was with a very heavy floor system. In the renovation I threw away about 4000 pounds of removed tile so I estimate the final house now to be approximately 11-12k pounds (29′ long, plus about 4′ additional over the gooseneck). Hopefully that helps!

  7. Hello Macy. Sorry to hear about all the negative criticisms you receive about your current life choices. Please disregard all of that ‘noise’ and do not allow them to make you second-guess anything. Those comments are from people who are envious and angry at themselves for not having the courage to consider an alternate option of ‘the American dream’. Through careful research and planning, you arrived at a solution that is right for YOU. Upgrading your house won’t be a problem because of the money you saved by living tiny. (Not to mention what it enables you to put into your children’s college funds.) The goal of most is to minimize/eliminate debt in order to better enjoy life. Due to a few sacrifices, you are experiencing that now as opposed to at age 65.

    1. Thanks Nell, I couldn’t agree more. I am ‘over; the nay sayers, I just wish that others had the confidence to go forward in spite of them. I hear too many stories grounded because of supportive friends and family.

  8. Thank you for such a wonderful and informative website, and don’t let anyone tell you how to live! I am currently planning a 30 foot no loft tiny house. The biggest challenge will be weight and price in that order. My plan is to park it each summer at a different lake in MN and then, near retirement, sell this one and upgrade to a more permanent model and buy lakefront property after “testing” numerous locations.

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