The internet is enchanted by tiny houses right now. You’ve seen the charming, perfect looking pictures, the cute nooks, and the cozy lofts. Downsize, simplify, be free! These pictures make it pretty easy to fall in love with the idea of living in a tiny house, but how realistic of a story do they actually portray?
I’ve been living full time in a tiny house with wheels, a less than 200 square foot RV, with my partner and my cat for the last 15 months.
Living in a tiny house was a big desire of mine and I am so pleased that I made it happen. I love it, I think it’s an amazing experience, I wouldn’t discourage anyone who’s excited about doing it. But I want to be real here, because it’s not all glamorous and adorable. We hear a lot about the benefits and appeal of tiny house living, but what about the frustrations and challenges? Here is my attempt to balance the equation a bit.
1. We still need a storage unit. Our tiny house life-style is a temporary life-style, so we had to find a place for our stuff. We downsized for sure, and we don’t own much furniture, but still – we needed a storage unit. It’s a 5×10 unit with some additional furniture stored with family.
2. There’s no bath. I really really miss taking baths.
3. It’s kind of hard to invite over visitors, we typically don’t. Yeah, it works, but we don’t have a lot of places to sit (and every seat is within a few feet of the litter box), we don’t have enough bowls and glasses and silverware, and we don’t have the space to easily cook a meal for more than 2 people at a time.
4. There’s not much room for creative projects. A lot of arts and crafts, sewing, wood working, any kind of construction, even puzzles are not possible in this space. If this were a permanent life-style, we would probably have to rent a work space, or make friends with someone who has a really big garage.
5. The bed is up against the wall on three sides. You can’t walk around it, “crawling in to bed” takes on a literal meaning. It doesn’t feel like a real grown up bed, and it’s a pain in the butt to change the sheets.
6. There is very little privacy. There are no separate rooms. We’ve had to learn to have our own individual space…together, which somehow works well for us.
7. This part varies widely of course, but for us, it’s not significantly cheaper. We were paying around $1,200 a month for half of a shared house with friends in Seattle with 4 bedrooms, a big yard, even a garage and basement! And now we pay $560 a month for our RV loan and often another $300-$500 a month in RV park fees.
8. It doesn’t take much for the whole place to be a mess. One trip to the litter box from the cat and litter needs to be swept in the kitchen and probably the bedroom too, a couple dishes left in the sink and it’s full, yesterday’s clothes laying around and suddenly there is nowhere to sit. (But, it also doesn’t take much to clean it all up again.)
9. You have to like your roommate(s). A lot. Living in close quarters means that the good days together are even better, and the bad days together are even worse. Effective and frequent communication is absolutely essential.
10. Your neighbors may not like you. Mobile homes and tiny homes alike – the people around you won’t always tolerate you, it can be hard to find a place to stay. Cities may try to kick you out. We’re in this liminal space, not quite a home, not quite a car or trailer, they don’t always know what to do with you, so they tell you to leave.
But other than all that, it really is just as awesome as those pictures make you think it is :)
It’s worth it, if you plan for it. Above all, mindset.