Tiny House dwelling has become a trend in recent years. The surge has been fueled by popular shows like FYI’s Tiny House Nation and HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters. Companies specializing in tiny custom houses have popped up all over the United States. In January of 2017, I moved into one of those tiny houses. My house may be small, but that doesn’t stop me from living large. Tiny house dwellers have made an art out of creating a comfortable place to live, entertain and even work.
I had been thinking about moving into a tiny house years before it became a trend, but the timing was never right. However, in August of 2016, I went to the Colorado Tiny House Jamboree. I shopped builders until I found the right fit. A month later I pulled the trigger. By October 2016, my house build was underway.
The advantages of living in a tiny house far outway the drawbacks. (I wish I would have done it 10 years earlier!) If you are thinking about buying or building your own tiny house, here are six things to consider.
1. Tiny Houses are Built for Flexible Living
Tiny houses on wheels are not your average “trailer house.” Many tiny homes are built on trailers for flexibility. They can easily be moved around. Tiny houses built for a nomadic lifestyle build them, so the height and weight meet highway restrictions. They are more durable, better insulated and last longer than the average RV. They are an excellent option for those with nomadic jobs: oil field workers, traveling nurses, or site jobs. These homes can be parked in an RV park IF they are RV certified. (Get that RIVA sticker!) Some trailer parks will also accept them if you don’t have a place of your own to park it. Of course, you don’t have to be a nomad to live in a tiny house.
2. You Can Trick Out Your Tiny Crib
If you are inclined to build your own, tiny houses can be built almost anywhere. (Just remember to acquire the necessary permits.) You can customize it to meet your needs whether you want a ski crash pad or a breezy beach house. If you are a skier, customize your build to specifically accommodate your ski equipment. If you are a surfer, build your house to hold your surfboards. Whatever your “thing” is, you can customize around it. The cool thing about building your tiny home is you can afford to trick it out in a way that you might not have been able to afford in a traditional house. You might be able to splurge on that specific finish or fixture you’ve always wanted. Outfitting 200 square feet is obviously more affordable than outfitting 2,000 square feet. If you aren’t building in on a trailer, you can custom build your house to fit an awkwardly shaped lot or squeeze it into a space that a traditional home would not be able to.
Obviously hiring a builder is not as inexpensive as building it yourself, but if you aren’t that handy (like me) choose a builder that understands your vision. Make sure to articulate your needs and desires. Most tiny house builders enjoy the challenge of creating a space that will look amazing and meet your needs.
3. Tiny Houses Cost a “Tiny” Bit More Per Square Foot
Reducing expenses and saving money can be an incentive for tiny house dwellers. However, depending on the kind of customization you want, the price can vary from a couple of thousand to several thousands of dollars. My 194 square feet house cost $40,000. I have seen DIY tiny dwellings built for as little as $2,000 and as much as $120,000 for a fancier home. While small houses are still relatively inexpensive when compared to the average sized home, there will be sticker shock if you compare the price per square foot to a larger house.
4. Tiny Houses Help You Ditch the Debt
The number one reason I live in a tiny house is to live debt and mortgage-free. Living mortgage-free allows me to work fewer hours and spend my time doing the things I really like to do, like traveling. My expenses are also smaller because I have much less maintenance and lower utility costs. (I live in the Pacific Northwest, and my utility bill was $39 for January this year). Living smaller really does allow me to live large. Because I don’t have any debt, I can afford to treat myself to experiences I would not have been able to afford otherwise. Also, one of the bonuses of living in a tiny house on wheels is not having property tax on a home. While you might have taxes on the land, you won’t have it on the house, therefore reducing your expenses further.
5. Tiny Houses Have Smaller Footprints
Small houses make smaller footprints by using fewer resources. I am not nearly the consumer I was before moving into a tiny house. I don’t have the storage space for “extra stuff.” I have learned I can appreciate things without owning them. I am mindful of what I bring home and produce less waste. I require fewer maintenance and cleaning products. I have a composting toilet which cuts down on my water usage. My house is also “solar ready,” and I plan on purchasing the panels soon. Overall, my house already produces a fraction of the greenhouse gases my traditional home did.
Many tiny house builders are terrific at sourcing recycled and sustainable materials for a build. I have seen houses built from old barn wood and leftover construction supplies. Deek Diedricksen from Relax Shacks is a master at this! You are only limited by your imagination.
6. Tiny Houses Can Provide Extra Income
Many people have built small houses as a guest house or a mother-in-law studio. If you have outgrown your tiny home or are going to leave it vacant for a time, consider signing up as an Airbnb host. It can bring in a little extra income. It gives others a chance to see what tiny living is all about. It is an economical way to check out styles and floorplans before making a significant financial commitment. There are a variety of tiny houses out there to rent, from tree houses to floating houses.
As a tiny house dweller, I am excited to see the tiny house movement flourish as an answer to a plethora of situations. Tiny houses are a great option if you are a nomadic worker, need affordable housing or want to live debt free. They are even being used as alternative shelters for the homeless. As tiny house dwelling gains momentum, it’s cool to see tiny house communities popping up all over, including Denver, Colorado and Sonoma, California. If you are considering a tiny house, you have more builders and floorplans to choose from than ever. I love living in a tiny house, and I can’t imagine ever going back to a traditional house!
If you live in a tiny house, how do you like it? What are your challenges?
If you are considering buying or building a tiny house what are your concerns?
If you are interested in other posts on living in a tiny house, check out my blog.