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Family of 5 Living in a 40×12 Tiny House on Wheels

I’m excited to introduce you to this family of five (plus two cats and a hamster) who are living in a 40×12 tiny house on wheels at a KOA campground. They moved out of a 1700 sq. ft. normal house and into this 440 sq. ft. cabin on wheels. Please read their story in their own words below.

Hi Alex [and Tiny House Newsletter readers],

We have finally gotten our house to where we feel comfortable showing it to people we don’t know (yet). The five of us (plus 2 cats and a hamster) live in our small cabin (on wheels) in a KOA campground. The exterior dimensions are 40 ft. x 12 ft.

We had been reading your newsletter for about a year and decided to build our own cabin. In looking for a property we could rent and use the yard for a construction site, I stumbled upon a listing for this cabin, and it was very close in design to the house we wanted to build. We jumped on the opportunity to go small sooner rather than later, sold most of our stuff, and moved out of 1700 square feet and into this 440 or so square foot cabin. It was an excellent decision – we LOVE it! As is apparent in the video, there are still ongoing projects in the house, but we are very happy with where we are at right now.

I teach philosophy at the local university (Coastal Carolina), and my wife, Laura, has her Masters in forestry and hopes to work as a park ranger during summers when I don’t teach. We also home school the little ones. The kids have made a video tour, which we put on YouTube.

Family of Five Living Tiny in a Cabin

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Some of the things we have added to the cabin include:

We converted the front porch into a bedroom with a queen lofted bed and storage space on either sides of the mattress. One of the pictures is with our mattress in the middle of the living room. We slept in there until our porch was converted to a bedroom.

We built a spice storage area in the wall separating the kitchen and the bathroom. We have it almost finished

We built a fold-out dining table. It has three stages – folded under the counter and out of the way, folded into a small table that the 5 of us eat off of, and folded out all the way for guests. There is a stand that supports it when fully extended that we built as well. I designed the table and Laura built it out of a couple of display tables I picked up from a clothing store that went out of business.

We built a sofa bed to fit the space, with a memory foam mattress seat and cushions. It has two roll-out storage bins underneath.

We built a pull-out step for the bathroom to help the kids reach the sink better.

We built a cat litter room under the stairs, with a cat door going into the second step and a door that opens for changing the litter in the kids’ bedroom.

We built a fold-out sink storage compartment out of the unused strip above the sink cabinets.

We moved the exterior windows to the new exterior wall that used to be the front porch and built rough cut oak bookcases over the openings of the old window locations. We also put a fan that blows cold air from the living room to our bedroom and installed a high-power fan above our loft.

We wrapped loft posts in sisal rope for the cats to scratch.

We built a wine glass rack under a cabinet out of leftover tongue and groove cork flooring.

Anyway, I hope you will consider including our story in your newsletter. I have attached a number of pics, some during the construction process of making a walled-in porch into an interior bedroom. Feel free to use any or all of our photos and the video for your site.

Thank you for inspiring us!

Best regards,
William, Laura, Evan, Jasmine, and Jessica Baird

Video Tour of Family of Five’s Tiny Cabin

Our biggest thanks to the Baird family for opening up their home to us and sharing their lifestyle with us! Thank you!

You can help us spread the word on this tiny house family by “Liking” on Facebook using the button below and re-sharing this story using the e-mail and social media re-share buttons below. Every share helps, including yours. Thank you so much.

If you enjoyed this inspiring tiny house story you’ll absolutely LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Ms. Linie February 2, 2015, 5:55 pm

    Nice to see a larger family making positive use of space. They ap poo ear happy; who could want more?

  • lynnette February 2, 2015, 6:03 pm

    Love it! Everyone seems very happy and the use of space is awesome. God bless your family.

  • Kerri February 2, 2015, 6:03 pm

    Thank you for this. I’m trying to figure out how small we could go as a family of 3 with 2 growing kids. I’d love to see more stories of families living tiny!

    • Angela October 1, 2015, 9:54 pm

      One of these tiny home articles I read recently (not sure if from this blog or elsewhere) said that people should consider 100 sf per person to be a good guideline for going small/tiny. Everyone needs a bit of space to stay sane, but clearly you don’t need as much as most people think! They also said to consider if working from home or homeschooling that this guideline is especially important. We’re a family of four (two toddler boys), with expectation to add, and planning to homeschool, so we won’t be going smaller than 500 sf, probably…possibly up to 800, depending on what option we finally decide on. But it’s the homeschooling part that is really the reason for more than 500 😉

      • roger August 30, 2016, 4:45 pm

        How do you build a tiny home of even 500 sf? Most trailers I’ve seen max out at 32 ft. x 10 ft ??

        • Laura April 28, 2017, 12:14 pm

          It doesn’t have to be a tiny house on wheels…could just be a small house on a foundation. Good luck with your journey!

      • Laura Baird February 17, 2017, 10:27 pm

        We have found that homeschooling takes us outside…a lot! Field trips, library, playground meet-ups, etc. We did just change up the girls’ room to create a long desk surface and built-in cabinets for extra storage…as soon as we have everything in a spot we are doing an update video for everyone!

  • Karen R February 2, 2015, 6:17 pm

    Some very clever ideas, particularly the litter box and turning the porch into a bedroom. This is basically three bedrooms with a bath. Once they complete their organizing, it is going to be very comfortable, and maybe they can add at least a half bath off the master bedroom as the kids age.

    They are obviously having a great time. Good for them!

  • Mel Chenoweth February 2, 2015, 7:10 pm

    How wonderful to see families in tiny/small homes. I am tiny house obsessed. A sole/soul supporting mom of two loves seeing families making it work. How very inspiring. It’s wonderful to hear these two young ladies talk about how mom is making/building X. Sound like they have a handy role modeling mom. Beautiful!

  • Mimi Small February 2, 2015, 7:23 pm

    Curious as to how much they must pay monthly to live in the KOA campground. I have always found KOA’s to be much more expensive to camp in than others. What is the monthly fee to do so? Does it include utilities or are they a separate charge? I have been investigating the tiny house idea for a while now and the biggest issue seems to be where to actually park the domicile (regulations, codes and such being what they are). It would be really helpful to get an honest breakdown of the real costs of this particular living arrangment.

    • William Baird September 10, 2015, 11:15 pm

      Our land lease fee is $4,000/year. This includes water, sewer, trash pick up, internet, and cable (which we don’t use), as well as gated access and use of the pools, jumpy pillow, and counselor-led kids’ activities throughout the year. We are three blocks from the ocean. We have considered moving the house to a lot, but the kids will have none of that :). Living in a campground is pretty awesome for all of us.

  • Linda February 2, 2015, 7:44 pm

    Great job! Evan’s room looks huge! And you have so many storage spaces! I’m impressed!

  • Cahow February 2, 2015, 8:05 pm

    These two girls, Jessica and Jasmine (twins?) stole my heart! Talk about being “thorough”! The main girl doing the talking even covered the planter box outside, what plants went inside of it and that her Mum made it! These girls did a better job describing everything than half the adult-featured videos I’ve seen.

    Sweet family; I wish them ALL the best!

  • Marsha Cowan February 2, 2015, 9:16 pm

    That’s just too adorable! How does Mom look so good after having three babies?! Not fair! The house is great and very well organized for a large family, especially the kitchen and bath areas which are crucial areas for families with children. Beautiful and cozy! Great job, guys! Enjoy!

    • Randy Shelby February 2, 2015, 11:20 pm

      I enjoyed the girl’s tour of your little cabin. Thank you for showing us all the little details. I have become fascinated with the “tiny house movement”. I hope to retire in a few years to a place around 350 sq ft. I am so impressed that you all have been able to downsize even while bringing up three children. Great job!

  • Melissa February 2, 2015, 9:30 pm

    What a great video and a great house! Such ingenuity in many ways. I love the kitchen– the angled counter with sink was nice. Great idea for your spice cabinet in the wall, as well. Well done, girls! Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Alisa February 2, 2015, 11:04 pm

    These girls are adorable! They did a great job of showing off the house with all the clever storage. One thing about living in a small house with 3 kids, two cats and a hamster is that there can only be a limited number of toys! Everything seemed very well thought out and designed. Well done! Great job, girls!

  • Pam Demas February 3, 2015, 12:06 am

    I think this is a great space. The bedrooms are bigger than the ones we grew up in. Our family of 5 had only one bathroom as did my husband’s and we all did fine. People today just think they need more than one. Great job.

  • Aron February 3, 2015, 1:54 am

    I’ve been waiting to see a family of 5 and how they make it work. Love the layout and looks like plenty of space. Is there anyway to know the maker of the cabin?
    Cheers
    Aron

  • Kevin Redden February 3, 2015, 2:33 am

    I am looking to setup a small home like this in the Nashville area. I was wondering where did you buy the wide body chassis. Did you use a mobile home chassis? I love the house.

    • William Baird September 10, 2015, 11:18 pm

      We bought the house after it had been constructed. We made some changes to it to fit our family. The house was manufactured by Stone Canyon Cabins in Alabama.

  • joanne February 3, 2015, 7:20 am

    thanks for sharing. Loved it!! I could live in a place like this. The girls did a great job showing us.

  • kim February 3, 2015, 8:06 am

    Wonderful video! The young ladies did a great job AND mom I love how you said you have two dishwashers! I used to say that when my two oldest girls lived at home!!!! It doesn’t last long and your family is doing it right. You’ve found what matters most…..GREAT JOB

  • Liz February 3, 2015, 9:18 am

    Can’t hear it and it’s a mess and too much junk. Kids are great though.

  • alice h February 3, 2015, 9:34 am

    Those kids do a better job than a lot of the adult hosts on some regular home shows. Well done! Some smart solutions too. Making things work for the way you live is the most important part of living small or tiny and this family seems to have that figured out.

  • CDL February 3, 2015, 10:32 am

    Great kids and good video. The house is nice and yes, cluttery. There isn’t much you can do about that when you have kids and go this small. We moved from 1800 sq ft. to 640 a little over 6 months ago. City to remote rural area. 2 adults, 1 teen and a toddler. So far, I’m having a love/hate relationship with this arrangement. My expectations were much different than reality. In a larger house, the kids toys aren’t as noticeable or as much of a tripping hazard. The dishes in a larger kitchen seem to be able to wait till the next day – not in a tiny kitchen!! I feel like I’m a slave half the time, constantly picking up and cleaning. Not only because of it being so small, but in the country, the dust is much worse. Mud gets tracked in etc. Ya it may not take up as much time cleaning the entire house, but when you factor in how much time is spent picking up and cleaning every single day, it all adds up to the same. I could go on and on about the not so great aspects of our experience, but even still I wouldn’t go back to the city! Or a big huge house. I get to raise my daughter in the country, fresh air, fresh food from the garden, farm animals, great neighbors, peace and quiet! That part is all worth my un-comfort to me. I’m sure this is why alot of us choose this path.

    • Laura Baird February 17, 2017, 10:32 pm

      I agree about the cleaning aspect…I may even spend more time cleaning than in our 1,700 square foot house. However, I find that I was overwhelmed by the mess and cleaning job of the bigger house, and it just never got or stayed clean. At least here, it stays (fairly) tidy most days. Still wouldn’t trade it for the world 😉

  • LK February 3, 2015, 10:41 am

    Thanks to the family and kudos to the girls for the tour. I was able to hear just fine (and I have old ears, just turned up the sound). It was kind of them to show us a work in progress. May I never get so negative that I cannot see the good and enjoy the joy of others.
    As far as specifics, I think the 12 foot width makes a big difference in a 4oo+square foot living space – 12 by 40 versus 8 by 50 would make a huge difference in the layout and space use – or so I think. I realize that 12′ is not possible for most tiny home builders. The parents space is great. This home has been thought out so that things like the litter box, the laundry, the kids sleeping areas flow smoothly. You can tell this by the way the girls move from area to area.
    The idea doing it now rather than later means that some things will be done as they go along, and – because they are willing, able, and the sort who like that sort of adventure – they are sharing something very precious with their children. They all will look back on this fondly when they are older. Oh, and I almost forgot – the kids got a chance to help with some of the building of parts of their home. How often does that happen these days in this country? NEAT!!!

  • Marcia February 3, 2015, 11:02 am

    Sweet!

  • Rhonda February 3, 2015, 2:03 pm

    thanks for sharing, what a lovely cabin!

  • Lynn Benson February 3, 2015, 2:32 pm

    I enjoyed seeing the small house, but I couldn’t understand the words the girls were saying–even turned the sound up real high, but couldn’t hear–even with my hearing aids. Maybe should have had an adult doing the talking.

  • Judy B February 3, 2015, 4:56 pm

    I loved the video of your home I am wanting to do tiny with my two school age kids at home with me love seeing others making this work while raising our families the girls did great on the video.

  • Jay February 3, 2015, 8:03 pm

    I am impressed. Great work mom, your doing a great job with your family and project. Also you solved my cat issue. I could comment on many things, but other reviews have said just about everything that could be said. Go for it and the best of luck (or skill)

  • Ashlynn February 5, 2015, 1:30 am

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for posting this! I have been fascinated by alternate forms of living for the past several years. I think I have looked at almost every post you’ve done on your site (which is fantastic). We are a family of 5 (mom, dad and 3 young kids) There doesn’t seem to be many stories on here of families living small or tiny so this one is a breath of fresh air. Please keep any new ones you hear about coming this way! Love it!

  • paulette February 7, 2015, 10:17 am

    Where can I purchase one of tiny house. I live in Texas .I am very interested in them.Please let me know .Thank You. Paulette

  • Sheila February 17, 2015, 5:20 am

    The girls did a fantastic job. Though it was hard to see a lot of things due to house being messy. Great job on the cat box area. Whoever thought of that was very smart. The kitchen was beautiful. Three bedrooms and one bath serves the purpose. Next time you show the home maybe it could be straighten up some so the viewers can figure how everything fits.

  • Carrie G. February 19, 2015, 3:54 pm

    I love this wonderful cozy house and the adorable girls who share their house. Not only does this family appear to appreciate their special closeness, they are thankful for what they have – love truly comes in small packages. One of my all time favorites.

  • Lauren March 2, 2015, 11:32 pm

    I’m so glad I found this, my husband and I were thinking of doing the same exact thing! They sell those cabins on wheels and they have a large porch on front that looks like it would be a great 2nd bedroom, we also have three children two 6 year olds and a 1 year old. They are all on board, how to deal with the bank, zoning, and the other problems small homeowners can run into…..I’m curious to know the cost of living in a KOA and what the rules are about doing so?

    • Laura Baird February 17, 2017, 10:35 pm

      Hi Lauren, I see we never answered your questions! Sorry about that. A few other people who commented before you had the same questions, though, so I hope you saw our answers there!

  • Randall bryant March 23, 2015, 10:47 am

    I like the idea for the cat scratching posts. How much does koa charge per month?

    • William Baird September 10, 2015, 11:23 pm

      Our land lease fee is $4,000/year. This includes water, sewer, trash pick up, internet, and cable (which we don’t use), as well as gated access and use of the pools, jumpy pillow, and counselor-led kids’ activities throughout the year. We are three blocks from the ocean. We have considered moving the house to a lot, but the kids will have none of that :). Living in a campground is pretty awesome for all of us.

  • DJ October 1, 2015, 10:35 am

    We are a family of 8 with number nine due in two months. Out cabin in Texas was 600 sq ft. We recently relocated to Idaho and our current living space is 221 sq ft wall tent and then we have a 200 sq ft. Storage building. Small spaces are definitely doable, just be creative:-)

  • Sharee October 1, 2015, 10:41 pm

    The two girls give a different perspective, too. Sponge that used to be bigger, switching up who gets to sleep in top bed, not all the toys were in one place. Too cute. Thanks.

  • Caren February 2, 2016, 6:45 pm

    Very inspired by your move to a small house. Do you have a floor plan you could post/link/email? I really like the lay out. About how much would it cost to build? I really like the creative cat box idea. The bathroom is a good size and has a good lay out also. I like how you did your master bedroom, as it gave you floor space and a sleeping area. Would very much like to see a floor plan though. Thank you.

  • Linda February 2, 2016, 8:16 pm

    ADORABLE! Did great with the space..wow

  • Gabrielle Charest February 4, 2016, 10:42 pm

    Wow! I am so impressed with these girls. This is a real home that real people live in. The children are learning good, sound values that will help them succeed in the world. Congrats to Mom and Dad for providing a healthy, creative environment for their children!

  • Dave April 26, 2017, 2:40 pm

    If you ever want to relocate to the mountains of TN, we would love to have you and your family on our property with my wife and 4 year old twins. I am just about completely off grid including transportation fuel via my private natural gas well. I am looking for a family that could help out with kids along with assisting me grow my small transport (expediting) business. There would be no rent. Fully developed mountain view lot with septic, water, natural gas, electric is available to the right family. Dave/Karolyn

    • Laura April 28, 2017, 12:18 pm

      We appreciate the offer! We actually are about to move to 10 acres in NC, so we are set…We’ll document the journey for everyone 😉

  • GreenAcresWV April 27, 2017, 9:27 am

    Bravo! Thanks for sharing.

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