Tiny Living: Is it for you?
As housing prices creep higher than ever, the idea of owning a home feels like a long shot for many of us.
With it’s potential to fulfill the dream of home-ownership and living mortgage free, it’s no wonder that the Tiny House Living Craze has captured the hearts of many!
Tiny houses are painted as a minimalist utopia — and while many tiny home dwellers love the lifestyle that brings, it doesn’t come without a few challenges.
Of course, tiny houses have their perks — they’re both environmentally and budget friendly.
But living in such tight quarters can create unique, unexpected problems. Things like: difficult zoning laws, easier wear and tear, taking care of compost toilets, and quick to become messy, to name a few.
On the flip side; repairs often cost a fraction of what they would on a large home, not to mention you have less to clean and furnish. Probably most importantly though is the lack of mortgage.
For many, that dream is worth the other sacrifices.
A Rise to Fame
In 2013, the Caravan Tiny House Hotel opened in Portland, Oregon, and reality TV shows Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters debuted the following year, putting tiny living in a national spotlight.
However, the roots of tiny living date all the way back to the 18th century. Popular in the days of Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pond, tiny houses have made a resurgence in popularity in the past decade.
In the last several years, zoning laws and nonprofits have been passed throughout various parts of the US to help relax regulations for tiny houses. Some cities have specifically changed the zoning regulations to include tiny homes at the request of the constituents.
One thing you need to think seriously on when considering going tiny is the downsizing. The vast majority of us have too much stuff and we know it.
This is never more apparent than when you’re trying to go tiny. You really have to pair down your belongings to only those “non-negotiables” that you truly need, and *small* touches that make it feel like home.
This can be the hardest part for most, cramming your life into that small space and still trying to make it feel like “home”. Some people have opted to keep some items in storage, or with friends or family rather than truly downsize that small.
When Small Seems BIG
The other issue that seems to come up often in tiny house living is that small things seem amplified. A small leak or necessary repair can feel exponentially more difficult in a tiny home.
Tiny homes call for high efficiency, and cleaning as you go. A glass of spilled milk feels more devastating when it covers half your kitchen! Three loads of laundry seems like it’s the end of the world when it means you’re out of clean clothes. Staying uber organized and keeping on top of messes is the only way to go in a tiny home.
Think Outside the Box
There’s a popular interior design adage; If you can’t build out, build up! Meaning that when you lack floor space, look to adding height, shelves, etc to gain extra space. This obviously applies well to tiny living, as you must max out every inch.
When going tiny you should really do both! Think of your outdoor space as living space potential. I’ve seen people make gorgeous detached dining rooms or conservatories by adding a green house. Add a large deck and awning or a screened in porch to easily double your living space.
Maximizing the space by having an outdoor cook area such as a BBQ and prep space. We love using the grill because it’s fast and we get to utilize our outside space as well. This also cuts down on the food smells in the house, and gives you that “on holiday” feeling.
Essentially it is a tiny house on your property to keep your parent’s or grandparent’s near you. This can be a great compromise, as they still have their space and a bit of autonomy, but they are still close enough to be properly cared for.
Economically speaking it can be an absolute life saver for those who are on a fixed income and don’t have the funds to live in assisted living. Emotionally speaking, it is the greatest feeling in the world to be able to have your family member’s safe and close by.
According to the Tiny House Association many counties in California, including Sonoma and Napa now allow for a tiny house on wheels to be parked at a residence as a “care giver’s dwelling”, and many other cities and states are following suit. Be sure to always check with your local authorities before placing a tiny house on your land.
Setting up a Tiny House as a Short-term Rental
Along with Granny Pods, tiny houses for rental income have also grown in popularity in the recent years. With surging prices in hotel and living costs, many are finding a way to bring in extra money through the use of tiny houses.
Perfect for short stays (no downsizing needed, just bring your suitcase!) these small dwellings can make the perfect backyard bungalow.
They are large enough that the guests have the “entire place” (read, higher nightly rate) and you get to make semi-passive income by leveraging your assets.
Small enough to furnish and upkeep relatively inexpensively, tiny houses can be a great income booster, or way to pay down your mortgage much faster.
For example: you purchase a tiny house on wheels for your backyard for say $20,000. You set up a firepit space, maybe a hammock, little touches to really make it feel special. Now you list your Cozy Cabin Retreat for $150/night.
Even at a 60% occupancy rate (you should be shooting for 80% ideally) you would be grossing over $32,000 annually. Obviously you will have to subtract the cost of extra electricity, linens, etc, but after one year, that tiny house has more than paid for itself.
Where Can I Get a Tiny House?
If a minimalistic lifestyle appeals to you, look no further than Amazon. With everything from she-sheds to full on 3 bedroom houses, yes you truly can buy a tiny home online.
There seem to be an infinite number of ways to design tiny spaces, and it’s never been easier to start building yours. We gathered 10 of our favorite prefab tiny houses on Amazon.
Some of the tiny house kits come with most of the materials you’ll need, such as windows and doors, while others provide just the main frame components as a sort of starter kit, allowing you to build the house to your personal preferences.
We’re going to start out with my personal favorite, the Q-haus Cliff. Gorgeous sleek modern design meets all the functionality of a full-sized home in this well laid-out beauty.
Cliff is a modular house perfect for those looking to downsize, or as a guesthouse for friends and family members overnight. It also can successfully be used to accommodate larger groups of people in ski-resorts or rent the units out in Airbnb, or as a private lake-house for a romantic weekends.
These modular houses are suitable in different climate areas all around the world. The idea of a Cliff is to offer more space with smaller measurements of the building with taking advantage of a smart-home technology for a more eco-friendly approach.
At over 1000 Sq Ft this Northern Spruce Timber Frame House feels anything but tiny. Thoughtful open floor plan, high ceilings and large windows make the place feel quite large.
Bring the outdoors in with an abundance of natural light through these expansive double tall windows.
Perfect for the beach, we think this little home is “just right”! This 2-story prefab tiny house is two 40 foot containers clad with timber and insulation, ensuring it’s cool in summer and warm in the winter. Large windows bring in tons of natural light.
Ground floor living space is 282.2 ft, then the second level consists of a large balcony along with a bedroom. Both levels are 40ft*8ft*8ft x 2 levels. It has also has one bathroom.
Built on a Iron Eagle Trailers that are specifically designed for tiny houses. Contain low VOC materials and finishes. Radiant Floor heating with your choice of bamboo or hemp floors. Full size Energy Star Appliances in gas or electric.
In addition to being used as a as a primary residence or for recreational use, it can also be a stand-alone retail space or office, a hybrid home/business, a vacation home or a granny flat.
This modular mobile container house can be placed anywhere with level land, ready to go! Fold out design allows it to expand to give you tons of extra living space.
This tiny home is an environment-friendly product with solar power system on the top of the house, to keep you going wherever you are, off grid or just in the back yard. The large windows let in tons of light and the covered deck is an absolute bonus.
If you are searching for a cabin with a functional floor plan, take a look at Allwood Avalon. 540 SQF combined ground floor area with a 218 SQF sleeping loft (whereof 53 SQF with min. 48″ headroom) allows many room allocation options.
Like all of Allwood’s kit cabins, Avalon is made from high quality Nordic wood. This cabin can be a lake house, guest house (rent on Airbnb so this Tiny House pays for itself!), beach or garden cottage or even a stand-alone retail building.
Avalon is very energy efficient and well suited even for colder climates.
The Timberline is a classic Scandinavian styled kit cabin made from high quality solid Nordic spruce wood. This bungalow with loft and porch boasts nearly 500 Sq Ft of living space.
Timberline makes a great guest house, Airbnb rental, granny flat or a lake house, but it can also be fitted to function as a primary residence.
This little guest house is ideal for a home office or studio at 273 Sq Ft . Contemporary urban styling and large windows allow an abundance of natural light in.
Suitable for environments where the classic cabin style does not fit. This timeless urban design is an alternative to classic log cabin styled structures. It works well in a variety of surroundings.
Just like the other two Arlanda models, this XXL version can also be set up on rooftops of multi story buildings.
This little guest house is a perfect way to add some Airbnb income to your backyard, extra space for the in-laws, studio, office space, she-shed or just a great space to hang out.
If you’ve considering downsizing to a Tiny Home the Sommersby guest house can alleviate the stress of having to fit averything into one small space. Split it up!
Would also be an amazing art studio, and at under $9000, it’s so reasonably priced! Made from durable Nordic Spruce wood with a total floor area 176 Sq Ft.
Think Outside the Box (or add another one!)
An easy way to expand your living space when going tiny is to add additional buildings such as storage sheds, greenhouses, outdoor kitchens or covered patio areas.
They add additional seating, storage, and most of all SPACE. Having extra outbuildings and usuable living area is invaluable when going tiny.
Expand your living space by adding a greenhouse that can double as a dining room, seating area, conservatory or studio. Treat yourself to this greenhouse and outdoor sunroom in one! Generous 101 sq. ft. of floor space, large french doors and two windows on the roof for ventilation.
The unique Garden Igloo is a multi-purpose portable dome shaped structure that can transform your outside area and can be used as a stylish conservatory, living space, dining room, seating area, or studio.
This geodesic dome is super stylish, multi-functional space that is also great for outdoor hosting — just ask the Coppa Club in London!
Could You Go Tiny?
So, what are your thoughts? Could you ever go tiny?
What if it meant you could live mortgage free? It really depends on how badly you want that, versus how much you enjoy your comfort. It would definitely be a sacrifice, but down the road you’d probably be very glad you made the decision to go tiny, even if just for a while.
If you have the space and the dream to pay down your mortgage quickly, you have the potential to bring in some serious passive (or semi-passive) income. To see what you could earn, check out our post Starting Your Own Airbnb Rental.