“Those Tiny Houses Aren’t Realistic”

Macy M2 comments7180 views

In a recent facebook post, a minimalist group was making comments about how unrealistic tiny houses are ‘because I like my personal space and privacy’.  I normally won’t try to change someone’s mind when they have so clearly stated their stance and show no desire to have their mind changed.  I calmly accept that it’s not for them and that is ok.  This time, they stated it in a way that sounded factual, so anyone reading would think, ‘yeah, they are right, tiny houses aren’t realistic.’ That sort of thing is hazardous in a group setting like that.  So I had to chime in…

What took place was the same discussion I feel I have said a thousand times at this point but I don’t know that I have ever had the conversations so clearly laid out.  I think that is a sign that the conversations are changing

I’m happy to see the conversation take a turn

It’s no longer about the details of the house [how we poop, where we ‘park’, how much it costs (or doesn’t cost)] but a conversation on lifestyles.

It’s a good thing and I think tiny house advocates need to just keep practicing patience and respect while helping support others who may show the slightest bit of interest.  If we can do that I think minds will continue shifting to a place of understanding (if not acceptance) rather than judgement!

The conversation went like this:

Person #1: “Respect for the families that can make these small homes livable. My family would never agree to it. They like their personal space and privacy too much to share.” (shared with a link to a family living in 500 s.f.) I think it’s a good change to suggest it’s deserving of ‘respect’… but that is undercut with the presumption that it has to be uncomfortable to ‘share’.

Person #3-6: [something like ‘yeah, totally’] As the number of those who agree stack up it gets harder to disagree, because we are social animals who want acceptance…

Me: ‘I think everyone likes personal space and privacy, I don’t think living in a small house means you have to give up either of those’ Clear and direct.

Person #8: ‘Person #1’s points ring true. In a one-level starter house I find I can’t concentrate to write (I’m a writer part-time, my true passion) when there’s a kid close by, the tv on, my husband on the phone etc. Also I’d rather have empty space in more square feet than a smaller home which looks cluttered just to fit in the necessary.” Going back to the negative stance and adding in a third detail (looking cluttered) that is a bit off topic.  I didn’t feel like debating the ‘clutter’ aspect would add value to the conversation, beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder, won’t get anywhere with that! 

Me: “We find a separate space than home for work helps a lot! We both ‘Work from home’ but don’t actually work at home for that reason. It makes us more productive during work hours which makes us work less. Starbucks works for me but my partner needs more of an office setting. There are a TON of shared office spaces fortunately that you can rent share pretty inexpensively.” Cutting to the meat of things, work/life balance, one of the HUGE benefits of tiny houses, if you choose to take advantage of that.  There are a lot of ways to have a different workspace than your home these days, we have a shared office that you can freely use for $30 a month, pretty inexpensive (I choose to add that to head off the standard ‘that costs way too much’ reply).  

Person #8: “The thing is most of the time I can’t really get out of the house for one reason or another, like that I only have a 30 mins slot in all. I have an office job and then do the writing extra so I have to somehow fit it in. Shared office spaces have rents and I make a measly amount for each article I turn in, it’s more for the exposure than the money that I do it and the fact that I get free sponsorships for things I anyway would need to buy.”  At a point there is nothing to argue, these are all personal choices, that are perfectly ok to state, and respectable.  If I debated any of this I think it would come off as confrontational.  Nothing is wrong at all with any of this.

Me: If that works for you then I think that’s great!  I just always think it’s silly that some people presume that a small house equals no ‘Me space’ or privacy. There are lots of ways to make that work. We all do what works well for us. :)” So I clearly stated that.

Person #8: “I know what you mean about working better outside though. There were times when I would arrive at my workplace early so instead of going in I would find a cafe in the area, order a tea and do some writing. When I got a car I would remain in the car and do the work, even waiting outside my son’s school in the afternoons. Now I don’t get to do that before work as I’ve been asked to put in more hours and the rate they pay me is much better than the writing.” I was glad that she reopened the discussion.  Not only that but she expressed some common ground.  Reinforcing why it wouldn’t work.  In a way that, was sort of sad to me.  The job pays better so she prioritizes it higher (makes sense).  BUT the other side of that is that if you didn’t have so much to pay on you may be able to make a writers wage work well! 

Me: “Undoubtedly! And that is precisely why we chose to live smaller. Our costs are WAY lower so we felt comfortable quitting our day jobs to pursue our passions. We definitely make less money but we feel happier at the end of the day. We thought we were following our dreams but our office jobs drained us dry!” I think that [common] defence AGAINST tiny houses is actually one of the best reasons FOR them.  

Person #8: “Unfortunately artists make little to no money here in Malta. My husband is a DJ and I am a writer but we both of us need a day job to actually pay the bills. Thankfully after nine years of being unhappy at my job but unable to quit, finally things changed, including ownership, and I feel like I want to be there.” This is the part where I think of one of my favorite quotes “If it’s important to you, you will find a way.  If not. you’ll find an excuse”.  For people who have made up their mind, sometimes that’s it.  I don’t think this gal is deadset against it, just finds them unrealistic, probably in part because of comments like the original poster made.  I’d guess this was her knee jerk reaction to state that we are different.  I’ve decided that I will be responsive to those who show interest but never push past a comfort zone.  I HATE when people do that to me.  It comes off as ‘holier than thou’.  I like to be a support system but not a pusher! 😉 

Me: “That’s great! It’s nice to have the feeling of ‘wanting to be somewhere’.  I totally get the art fields. I am also a writer/artist and my partners passion started with his etsy shop. Our background is architecture, which is just a glorified art degree 🙂.” So I took one last moment to explain that ‘I get it’, we’re the same on the job front.

Here’s what I wish!

I wish we would stop glorifying ‘being busy’.  Sometimes it’s just an excuse but more often, it’s real.  There is no time for ‘passion’ other than in between ‘things’ for most people.  I hope some day it’s more normal for everyone to be able to embrace their passion.  To not be stigmatized for living a [perfectly comfortable] lifestyle that enables your passion.

I wish I didn’t hear loved ones brag/complain about working 90+ hours a week.  Like it sucks but it’s somehow ‘honorable’ too.  Working hard is important but so is prioritizing yourself and your loved ones.  The world SO needs your passion!  Working like that is LITERALLY giving your life away to someone else and their cause.  Which in the case of most corporate jobs, isn’t generally that ‘honorable’.

I realize that a lot of my life is founded on pure, awesome but dumb luck.  I was born into a good family, a good era and am surrounded by good people.  That is SO lucky.  I have healthy kids, a safe neighborhood.  It’s enabled me to get a good education, meet successful mentors and generally do awesome things.

I definitely have pitfalls and shortcomings though, too.  I’ve made wrong judgement calls, a LOT.  The one thing I know though is that we can make our own path. It’s scary, but possible.  For some it’s easier than others.  It’s possible for everyone though!

Also, tiny houses might now be ‘realistic’, they might be idyllic.  And I like that better! (but I also find them to be a very realistic option 😉 )




  1. What I hear you describing so well is actually the absorption of the Japanese work ethic into Western corporate culture. In Japan, it IS admirable to work excessive hours, the job comes first at all times, personal cultural and individual worth is measured by dedication to ridiculously long workdays and workweeks. The Japanese standard of living is also tied into this mentality – the most expensive standard of living in the world. That drive to do more, make more, spend more, and gain more approval is simply failing. Japan is currently experiencing the highest suicide rate in the world and the statistics are still rising. Human beings simply cannot sustain giving more and more and more of themselves to gain a lifestyle defined for them by everyone else. I say (as an old, retired, financially independent female) go suck eggs! Be a little selfish – put yourself and your family first, make wise financial decisions, be frugal, be willing to make small sacrifices today for a happier tomorrow, make better career choices, and STOP looking to others for personal happiness and approval.

    So, that’s my perspective in support of what I think I hear you articulating so well. Keep givin’ ’em heck, Macy, and help them learn to see life in broader terms instead of viewing life over the handlebars of a treadmill!

  2. I think you handled that well. The great thing about tiny homes, though, is they can be had for multi time less than a regular foundation home– especially if choose to build them yourself and out recycled materials.

    And so my own go-to response to people who say a tiny house is too small for privacy is build a second thow for yourself if privacy is that important to you. Just treat it like a seperate room. Even two tiny houses would probably fall under in price to a larger foundation home. That way you’d get the privacy and still maintain all the other benefits of thow living.

Leave a Response