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Here’s What I Think About Families and Tiny Houses

Since I’ve been getting several questions from readers related to families and tiny houses

I wanted to share my most recent thoughts on the idea of- let’s say- a family of 5 moving into a tiny home.

If you’re here it’s likely that you’re either thinking about moving your family into a tiny home

Or you might know somebody who has that ‘crazy’ idea.

Either way, I’m here to give you what I think are my most honest and helpful thoughts without the b.s.

I’ve been researching tiny living since 2009 and I care about every single one of you so I’d like to save you as much sweat, blood, and tears as possible.

Tiny houses on wheels, in my opinion, are not a great long-term solution for the majority of families with children.

And here’s why…

Nine out of ten times a tiny house just isn’t suitable long-term for a family with children.

And since finding or building a new home is usually very stressful and time-consuming…

Why do it more than you have to? Why make your kids go through all of the instability if they don’t have to?

Of course- it’s your life and you’re free to do as you wish.

Maybe this teaches kids lessons I don’t know about?

Just be careful, and think about the consequences for your children. Make sure that they will be thriving because of any changes.

You know, I do remember how frustrating it was having to change cities, schools, and friends a few times because my parents moved frequently. Not getting to see family as often either.

Just remember that you can simplify and enjoy many of the benefits of living tiny…

…without moving into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house on wheels.

You can do it in 490 sq. ft., 700 sq. ft., 910 sq. ft., 1230 sq. ft., or even 1790 sq. ft.

My point is…

Most likely, you can start simplifying in the home you’re currently in.

And that’s really what you need to do first if you have not already taken care of it.

You can make your life more simple in the house that you are currently in. It always starts there.

But other people’s opinions really don’t matter, right? Because it’s about you.

It’s really about making YOUR life better, even if it means adjusting your attitude on things instead of or before making any drastic changes.

My final thoughts on families going tiny are to just be careful. Think it through. And if you can, please try it first in some way before jumping in. Lastly, don’t just think about yourself, make sure to consider everyone else that you live with (including your pets).

Another idea is to keep your current home while finding a way to try out tiny living on your next vacation.

In MOST cases, living in a tiny house on wheels as a family just doesn’t work out long-term. We’re humans, and we need a certain amount of space.

But some people are doing it. And they’re loving it, too.

It’s not every day of the year that it’s pleasant to be outside. So please just think it through. Maybe you can build something on some land that’s a little bit bigger than a tiny house on wheels?

There are, of course, some people who leave their tiny homes once they start a family:

But what if you could design the perfect custom tiny home that works for you and your family? You know, there are some pretty extravagant and amazing THOWs out there that do seem to have enough space, even for a family. What do you think?

Oversized Family-Friendly THOW’s?

I’m outraged by the fact that there are way too many McMansions and the unaffordability of apartments in many areas.

And it makes me mad that there’s not nearly enough affordable small housing for everyday people.

But I also believe we’re headed in the right direction towards change for the better.

Real estate is very slow to evolve because of the nature of construction and the longevity of structures.

So it takes a long time for an industry like this to change and adapt, but a trend towards smaller homes is certainly happening.

What does your next home look like?

What do you plan on doing for your housing needs? Will you just stay put? Do you plan on building your own small home on a foundation like a cabin or a cottage? Do you want to build a tiny house on wheels? A park model?

The possibilities are endless because you could also choose to purchase a small home that already exists. What do you want to do for you and your family?

I’d love to read and talk about your opinion on families and tiny houses in the comments below.

Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? What do you think?

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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!
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Jay Olstead
    May 5, 2014, 2:04 am

    Dear Alex,
    I couldn’t agree with you more….this new lifestyle is too challenging for most families. However, there are always exceptions to this. For those that want to pursue their dreams, Ragsdale Homes, now offers solutions for families. Our new Sunday House, the prototype of which is being built now, delivers the most square footage in the industry. For this reason, we no longer use the descriptive phrase, tiny houses on wheels in conjunction with our name. Our homes are referred to as ” Tiny Wheeled Estates.” Tiny doesn’t have to be tiny anymore. Our new model, because of our patent pending “Room Roll Outs” will push the envelope with 368 square feet on one floor, and, with lofts, will be close to 500 square feet. This represents more square footage that a 44 foot rv with 4 slide outs. Additionally, there will be two covered porches totaling 80 square feet. Our Sunday house is our interpretation of a 1900s Sunday House provided by the church to aid weary farmers, traveling long distances to attend services. Our new home and floorplan will be available in 10 days. Limited pre-release illustrations are available now on request.

    • Alex
      May 5, 2014, 8:27 am

      Thanks Jay! I’ll be sure to share your amazing new tiny house designs that you sent me via email on the blog here real soon so we can all see and discuss 🙂

    • Kristy
      May 5, 2014, 4:14 pm

      is there going to be a link? i tried to search for your business but I couldn’t find anything… We are a family of three and looking into different options. 🙂

  • Nicole
    May 5, 2014, 1:48 pm

    I think it’s a good idea to broaden your definition of “tiny house” beyond something on wheels. I just want anyone reading this to feel discouraged. My partner and I plan to have a family in a tiny house, but it was never going to be a wooden trailer home. We are looking at the shipping container homes on foundations. You can have a stable upbringing for your children in a tiny brick or stone house, please listen to your heart and just recognize you will have to go about your planning differently than the mainstream (even tiny house folks have a “mainstream”).


    I think some external factors also come in to play, like how many children you have and what the climate is like. For instance, if you homeschool, changing schools isn’t a thing. In a warmer/drier climate, your children are more likely to be able to play outdoors. Different strokes for different folks.

    • Alex
      May 5, 2014, 2:24 pm

      Great points Nicole, thank you! 🙂

  • Bob From Wisconsin
    May 5, 2014, 9:02 pm

    Thank you for your time and efforts! It is becoming one of my favorite sites for smaller-scale living. I encourage you NOT to be mad at the “McMansions”. I think it is a better use of your energy to fight for the rights to live as you want to. The owners of a large property have the right to build the large house if that is what they want. However, we in the Tiny House movement are finding ways, through innovation, to live the way WE want. We are a larger family (6 kids-2 adults) and are putting the finishing touches on our Tiny House on wheels. Although we have only 2 children left at home, we have been living frugally for the last 30 years. All we have done is decided what we wanted and reverse engineered it. Has worked very well so far.

    • Nicki
      July 13, 2015, 7:29 pm

      Bob from Wisconsin! What are the chances you will see this all this time after your original reply??? I’d LOVE to hear more about your life with all your kiddos and living frugally.
      We ourselves have 4 kids…13,12,10,9..(boy, boy, girl, boy)..so it will be awhile before any of them move on out. 2 of the four of them are as tall as we are now so when it comes to shrinking the size of our home, “lofts” aren’t very awesome anymore. Not to mention that they like their privacy, as do we! I have found ONE house plan that fits in enough bedrooms to make everyone happy.
      We are minimalist- even with 4 kids- and can live in a 1000 sq ft space, it looks like we’d have to build as there are no 5 bedroom 1000 sq ft houses on the market.
      Anyway, it’s so rare that I’ve seen a post from anyone with 4 or more kids and I’m interested in hearing more if you ever read this. 🙂 Thank you!!

      • June 7, 2017, 8:46 pm

        We lived aboard a 55 ft. tri-cabin motor yacht with our 6 children for several years and loved it. The kids still say thanks for the memories. The ages at the time we started were newborn to 14, 2 girls and 4 boys. The girls had a stateroom (bedroom) and the boys had a stateroom (bedroom) and we had our own stateroom (bedroom).

  • Katydidit
    May 6, 2014, 8:13 am

    Hopefully no one is mad at anyone over choices. Everyone has to decide what works, hopefully with understanding how to steward what we are given.
    Interesting story, one of my grandchildren’s caregiver who’s house recently burned to the ground, is going to Africa this summer to help others! We all can contribute to making our world a bit better. Home choices are a part of that process we can control. Thankfully at 70 I’m still able to choose! Thanks!

  • Jenna
    December 10, 2014, 2:54 am

    I know I’m super late to the party but thought I’d offer my two-cents anyhow. I’m a single mom (widow) with one almost 9-year old boy and a dog who weighs twice as much as my son. I’ve been dreaming of a tiny home life ever since first hearing about it after being downsized 4 years ago and have been planning and saving ever since. Now, I’m at the helm.. at the precipice of our new TH life as I just purchased the trailer Thanksgiving weekend!

    Sure, stability is great for children…but let’s not forget that kids are super resilient and nothing offers more growth and experience than change – change can be hard, change can be challenging, but it’s also good and hugely rewarding.

    Perhaps my tiny-sized family isn’t what Alex was referring to when he wrote about whether this lifestyle was appropriate for families – and I appreciate that he wasn’t making a blanket, across-the-board statement about it, but I do want to chime in and say that, sure, it’s not for everybody, but it CAN BE, if they want it… if they “get it”.

    One thing I sure do love is that these tiny lifestyles are bringing families closer together and enabling them to cherish the more important aspects of life. It makes every part of their lives that much more intentional. We ALL benefit when those around us are conscious in their decisions and deliberate in their actions. And I think the world could use a bit more of that right now 🙂

    • Alex
      December 10, 2014, 10:37 am

      Hi Jenna, thanks so much for sharing, that’s what it’s all about and I congratulate you on your efforts and decisions. Best of luck to you and your son. I bet he’ll enjoy the adventure. I can imagine it being fun if I were him 🙂

  • Rich K
    February 12, 2015, 3:02 pm

    Well, I can say that we are one family that is in the process of moving from a stick built 2400sq ft home to a Tiny House. Clearly we are not able to move into just anything, so we are looking at various builders sites and trying to see if modifications can be made etc… But, we are a two Dad family, with a 11, 10 and 10 month old and two kitties! The general reaction we get usually stems from the idea that we are looking to buy a shed from HD, slap some insulation on, and place on a trailer bed…. No! We want to be grounded, with a foundation (not sure yet if its a go on slab or a stand-up basement, but the basement might be nice.
    We have found a 29.2 by 10.2 Tiny house that appears to have the ability to be placed on a foundation that is slab or basement ready or on a trailer… it has one bedroom, as well as two loft bedrooms…. We have a few modifications we want to make (mainly, dormer one side of the loft level so these two lofts are more bedroomy…. and instead of ladders, stairs with drawers – though this seems to be taken care of…
    It is possible…
    OK, so why are we so into this? Well, in 2013 we traveled to India for what was to be a two week pick-up trip of our new baby; which turned out to be a 5 month span, living alone in one room (and I use the term “room” loosely, and being forced to choose with no notice, what I need/what I dont, because if its valuable, it MUST stay with me…. I came home with less than I left with by two bags.
    Point is, then Tiny House Nation combined with our newest addition, now ten months old, brought our mindset back to minimalist lifestyle – a way we both where raised…
    Do people think we are nuts, sure, but, we hope that by taking the months ahead to sell off our unneeded possessions via any outlet we can use, saving our pennies, using Smarty Pig effectively, perhaps a housing grant to help out…. Also, slowly but methodically stalking any and all building stores, home appliance dealers etc… (purchasing extreme deals when we come across them – and because its a process, we can be choosy, wait out the sale til its on clearance…) Additionally, we are making our house a nicer one for when it goes up for sale… and thus, we save those scraps from tiling the bathroom floor, because we just might have enough to do the entryway in our Tiny move…
    It is possible, just needs to be planned out – and we plan EVERYTHING!
    Maybe we are the first, i doubt it…. We are praying to be blessed with another addition soon as well!

  • Rosie
    April 20, 2015, 7:21 pm

    I am due with my 4th kiddo on the fourth of July. We just moved back into state one week ago and are desperately looking for a house we can afford in an area that is VERY pricey, but where my husband’s new job is. We put an offer on a 1/2 acre property with a 600 sq. ft house on it just yesterday. I’m not sure if we’ll get it, but I am really excited for this opportunity. The house is solid, new siding, plumbing, roof, widows, beautiful deck with views. Now I am nervous having all of us in the tiny space until we at least get a second bedroom put on this summer. Our first house was 930 sq. ft. The difference is that this house will make us debt-free in an area with an average house price of $350k! The plan is to expand the house to 1200 sq. ft when we can, but it is SO EXCITING to be debt free when we are young with 4 kids. I dreamed of it but never knew if it could happen before out 50’s (we are 32). I agree that I couldn’t do it in the long term, but I feel we could do almost anything for one year, and there is plenty of yard space for my bees and garden. I have been researching small-home living, but nobody hardly mentions doing it with kids. I’m glad you included this section.

  • Steve
    May 24, 2015, 11:26 pm

    Hey Rosie!
    Don’t know if you’ll be back this way to read this, but… here is our encouragement. We’ve been living little for over 10 years now. 4 children and my wife and I. It’s been great fun, and debt free as well. Nothing like waking up and knowing you owe very little to anyone, save utilities you use each month and some insurance. As I’ve said before we started with a couple hundred square feet, then built another home with about 5oo square feet and then another about 600+ square feet. Yup, it can be tight but we have found ways to make it work, as well as operating 4 small businesses as well. Our kids have prospered and grown with an appreciation for relationships rather than stuff. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers, our children are now 18, 17, 15 and 12 all of them operating businesses. Our oldest son is about to start his first build, a 600 square foot home that he has saved up to build without debt. Be encouraged and enjoy life, you only get to do it once.

  • karen dewillers
    July 4, 2015, 10:49 pm

    I am blessed with three grown children and 6 grandchildren. I live currently in a 800 square foot home in upstate NY. I have been looking seriously at Tiny Houses but am concerned about the difficulty of lofts, ladders or even stairs.

    I have had several injuries and stairs are challenging now. I don’t expect that to get any easier as I age. How do I find a tiny house that still allows me a bedroom, washer and drier and a full refrigerator without going Mobile Manufactured home route? Because of extreme sensitivity to off gassing, a manufactured home with all the fiberboard and other off gassing materials would be impossible for me.

    A small, but one without the loft/climbing feature, would be perfect for me. Does anything like this exist in the Tiny House Movement?

    • June 7, 2017, 8:49 pm

      We lived aboard a 55 ft. tri-cabin motor yacht with our 6 children for several years and loved it. The kids still say thanks for the memories. The ages at the time we started were newborn to 14, 2 girls and 4 boys. The girls had a stateroom (bedroom) and the boys had a stateroom (bedroom) and we had our own stateroom (bedroom).

      • Natalie C. McKee
        June 8, 2017, 2:25 pm

        We went “camping” in an RV every summer and I still have the best memories of living in that tiny space for weeks on end 🙂 I think it would have been harder in the winter but it was wonderful during the good weather and even rainy days.

  • Evie
    March 11, 2016, 6:26 pm

    How do I get a chance to see these or buy one! How do I move into one here in California 🙁 it’s getting crazy here to buy anything period…(not even a coat hanger) I don’t have land, where would I put these cute houses. Is there a community of tiny houses I can live at and live in one with my cats & dogs?

  • Ce
    June 20, 2016, 4:33 pm

    Hi eveyone! We all love tiny houses or we wouldn’t be here. I am currently looking for a place to lay foundation and then the fun will start.

    I have already designed my house and, no it isn’t really ‘tiny’ persay. I have and elderly mother and disable sister and I’m not as young as I used to be but I am determined to go small.

    Due to family limitations I need to look at building my home very different. first, the house will be built on a concret foundation and thus stationary. 2 bedrooms must be on the main floor as will be 1.5 baths. The full bath will have a large shower with seat and no lip. If necessary it will be able to accommodate a bath wheelchair. All utilities will be provided so a flushable toilet, thank heavens.

    There will be two lofts. One above one bedroom (small) for general storage (ladder used) the the loft will be larger with king bed and ability to stand…if my height (5’2″). There will be regular stairs with banisters and a chair lift for days or future when doing stairs is no longer functional. Pleanty of space for stackable washer/dryer. There will also be closets in bedrooms…small but again functional. The house with will be filled with window.

    There will be a doable kitchen for our needs. As we age a large kitchen is not a requirement. But it will be quite functional to even entertain a few friends.

    The siting area will be incorporated into a all glass enosed half moon style for animal watching, reading relaxing.

    I have already had the planes drawn up and not including the loft it will be 800 sq ft. ThE house is a long house, not square. It will accommodate comfortably us elderly inhabitants with all the nessary bars aND handles. I am also looking into adjustable island table and cabinets.

    I am using my furniture and fridge and freezer from my house and recycling of wood, etc to maintain the price.

    Watching so many tiny house builders/hunters and tiny nation as well as doing my research I feel confident it will be what I see in my head and what was put to paper.

    It is was this elderly family needs to remain independent and debt free. One my mother has passed I will move to that bedroom and then the travel will begin due to all our savings. Forgot, we will also have solo panels.

    Sorry for the exceptionally long post but I wanted to share this baby boomers idea of small lively safely. As it is a family of women, we have to build accordingly. Can’t wait….just need the lot…and the selling or renting of my large current home.

    Hope I didn’t bore anyone. Cheers!

    The bedrooms are located at each end of the house. Each bedroom will have a door that leads to a 4×14 eclosed porch…made of wood and sreening as well as a doggie door for 5 tiny dogs.

    Bathrooms will be srategicly placed.

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