I have lived in a tiny house for about 18 months now. I love it. I wished I had done it ten years ago when I was first thinking about it. Overall, I have saved a ton of money. I don’t have a mortgage (I paid cash for my house), and I save big on my utility bills. This year my January utility bill was $39, and May’s was $15.00. (For those curious, I use a Dyson to heat my house.) However, over the last year and a half, I have discovered four hidden costs to keep in mind when you are considering a tiny house.
Unless you already own land, you are going to have to lease or rent land. Finding a place to park your tiny house can be challenging. I live in Washington state, and while some counties are tiny house friendly, some are not, at least not yet. At the moment we are staying in an RV Park and it’s the RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) sticker that allows us to stay here. Because of the sticker, our house is considered a “custom RV.” Initially, I had rented 5 acres of private land, but that fell through forcing me to park my tiny house in a rented space that costs a bit more than the rented land was going to. Research the cost of living in the area you are going to live, including land leases, rent or land payments and factor that into your budget.
Space is a premium commodity in a tiny house. Living in a tiny house can also be challenging, and it requires you to take a hard look at your possessions. You will only have room for the essentials and maybe a few luxury items. You may have to rent a storage unit or buy a shed for those things that won’t fit, and you just can’t part with.
Bulk buying is also out of the question. I did not renew my membership to Costco because I don’t have room to store bulk toilet paper, paper towels and the like.
Most tiny houses don’t have the space to store more than a week’s worth of food. We go to the grocery store a little more often than we did before moving into our tiny house. Unless you’re lucky enough to live within walking distance of a farmer’s market or grocery store, the increased trips will probably bump up your gas consumption. I also can’t really shop in bulk as our refrigerator doesn’t have enough space to store the extra food. I end up missing out on most of those bulk savings.
At 204 square feet, I don’t really have room for my own washing machine. We typically do 2 loads per week at $1.75 per load to wash and $1.00 per load to dry. That’s $5.50 per week on laundry or $22.00 per month (about $264 per year).
If you want to avoid the costs of weekly trips to a laundromat, consider investing in a portable washing machine for your tiny house. I have had my eye on a Drumi, and I’ll recoup the cost in about a year. This is actually the next purchase for our tiny house! It’s not as large as a typical RV washer/dryer. I will still need to use the laundromat occasionally to wash bulky items like blankets.
Tiny house dwelling can be an affordable alternative to traditional living. My daughter and I love it. Just make sure that when you are sitting down and cracking the numbers you consider the hidden costs as well.
Are you considering living in a tiny house? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.