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Let’s face it: Tiny houses aren’t for you. Or am I wrong?

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Tiny houses are an amazing way to live, they just don’t work for most people. It’s like we all want one so bad but we know we can’t have one yet, so maybe later.

Some people have families and it just won’t work. If this is you, how about just a smaller house? Other people have spouses that just aren’t willing to go that small. Again, how about just a smaller house? Or a new spouse? Just kidding, but people are saying we need a tiny house dating service.

Will all the stuff you want to keep really fit into one? Do you live alone? I’d much rather live in a tiny house than in my current apartment but I’ve stopped myself because it’s challenging to do it unless you are living alone.

I already live in a small apartment and it’s already challenging because I work from home. My desk is inches away from our bed and I get interrupted constantly unless I’m alone.

I don’t like being interrupted and not having a truly dedicated space for my work but I’d rather have it be in a space with more windows, natural light, vertical storage and the feel of real wood. But I think the real challenge is how is she going to fit her clothes, shoes, purses, and bathroom items in a tiny house?

So are these little houses just a fantasy for most of us? Sometimes it feels that way because they’re not easy to get and big banks don’t really want it to be easy for us. Or is it just because we haven’t figured out a better way yet? So here’s my question to you..

If you could go to the bank and apply for a loan for a tiny house on a lot in a community with only other tiny houses, how fast would you fill out the paperwork or online forms? I’d do it super fast. I would even think about moving to another state for it. Would you?

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Photo Credit Four Lights Tiny Houses

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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!
{ 122 comments… add one }
  • Ann
    December 17, 2012, 8:10 am

    I know a tiny house isn’t going to work for me personally. However, thinking about tiny inspires me to carve my spaces efficiently. I want to learn how small CAN my house be and serve me as the machine for living it ought to be?

    I don’t want to heat square footage that lacks real purpose. I don’t want to use the resources on more house than I actually need. I don’t want to have to clean more house than I actually use.

    I want to teach my family to use space efficiently so that they live bigger in the same space.

    MY life and work require space, but that doesn’t mean I have to have a huge house.

    So, tiny is not for me and yet in a very real way it IS for me because it makes me better.

    • December 17, 2012, 1:48 pm

      Well said Ann. I think it’s true that a lot of us look at tiny homes and get a lot of design inspiration from them. But not only that we start to pare down after a while to live better with less and over time it makes a big positive change in our lives. Thanks Ann!

  • Rebecca
    December 17, 2012, 9:48 am

    That’s a complicated question! There are so many other factors like jobs, for one. If there were tiny houses available where I live, I’d buy one in a heart beat! After all, my best housing situations have been studio apartments. The problem is that I live in rural Kansas where basements are a desirable refuge from tornadoes, and small houses, much less tiny houses, are hard to find. At the very least, I refuse to buy a house as long as the only options are big.

    • December 17, 2012, 1:49 pm

      Thanks Rebecca. I also think a lot more people would live in tiny houses if they were readily available. It’s so sad that they’re not. But that’s what we have to change.

    • December 17, 2012, 5:36 pm

      Rebecca, what about tornado shelters? One would double as extra storage space and be better in many ways than a basement. I’ve been living in Wichita area… there are lots of small houses (less than 700’sq) here but no sellers!

    • jerryd
      December 19, 2012, 6:51 pm

      I agree it complicated but tiny homes can work in many ways. First a tiny home for 1 persson and for a family are completely different things.

      My rule is about 200sq’ or less for the first person and 100sq’ or less for each additional person.

      If one has a business there also then the room needed is added and still be a tiny home. I build boats, EV’s and other things so need the space for that. But as it’s at my home the saving are huge over renting or buying commercial property plus work when I want.

      If one needs room for entertaining, guests, etc then just build a sometimes space for it that you only, heat/cool, use when needed.

      The idea is just having the space one actually needs. For instance I’m in a tiny home but I also have another 12’x12′ I’m building on my old mobile home frame and likely another on the same 34′ frame.

      And I have another 8’x10′ former heavy built shed I’m putting in a loft, kitchen, bath and work desk then a 8’x10′ living room extension.

      Next I might make a 16’x16′ workshop into another one. Or as it’s built with screws, take it down flat pack and take it with me as my new workshop in St Pete.

      I’m doing these to make my property more valuable to sell and have a compound of tiny home for people to rent. Someone could buy and live there and rent the others for income is the idea.

      But even living here by myself these other units were used for my business so even thought I had likely 700sq’, I still live small as I only had to heat, cool one small space at a time and the others are business use.

      Now I’m building a 34′ trimaran I’m moving to when or before my place is sold which is really a 6’x 23′ tiny home to ‘retire’ on.

      The thing is build for investment and low cost which the eff of tiny homes can be a good way to do it. People want low cost living, rentals as many are finding out it isn’t how much you make, but how much you spend and what you spend it on. And wisely spending on well shopped, planned tiny home/s are a great way to a better life with the money to do it.

      That’s what tiny homes are for me.

    • jim sadler
      November 10, 2013, 4:13 pm

      Kansas might be a great place for a tiny home. The advantage you might have is towns that are shrinking in size. You may be able to find an older home that is sort of unfit to live in and not worth a real remodel for very little money. The joy is that water, sewer and electric are in place and keeping a tiny home in the backyard may be allowed. Simply tossing some paint on the home and making certain the roof holds up leaves you with storage or work space inside the old home while living in the tiny home in the backyard. States like W. Va. often have some lovely spots like this and the value of the home can be so low that property taxes come to next to nothing.

    • Edna Donohue
      October 7, 2015, 12:53 am

      I live in the Wichita area as well & have a family member whom has lived with us or other family members for years & it appears the only way for him to be able to stay away from his past friends who have been his downfall in the past. I found this string today & am going to be working on finding out zoning requirements & all of the information needed to see if I can put one in my backyard as he truly does want to be on his own as he is the oldest sibling of 7.

  • ST
    December 17, 2012, 10:21 am

    WELL SAID!!!!!
    and what about a ‘tiny garage’. I know bicycles are the most economical transport…. but I live rural….and sometimes the hail is pulverizing….

    • December 17, 2012, 1:49 pm

      Thanks ST! A tiny garage/shed would be great to store bicycles or even a smart car 🙂

      • TomLeeM
        December 17, 2012, 5:40 pm

        Being an owner of a Smart Fortwo, I have looked at some sheds that have a ‘garage door’ on them that would be great for a small car garage. I think it would go well with a tiny house. 🙂

  • Jennifer
    December 17, 2012, 10:32 am

    No loans for me, thanks. I’m attracted to a smaller homes because I can build most of it myself. After a few years I’ll build a larger one. Debt free. To each his own, I suppose.

    • December 17, 2012, 1:51 pm

      I like the no loans way too Jennifer but can’t help but think that being able to finance them would still be helpful for people because it would still lower their monthly expenses. I like cash better though, or build as you go as most are doing.

      • jim sadler
        December 19, 2012, 11:58 pm

        If one needs a loan or a deep pocket then I suspect that they are after a tiny home that is too fancy. In my area there are always boat trailers that are inexpensive. So there is a start. You can easily get a boat trailer that has a plate and a title and is ready to tow. It might be a trailer that could hold a 22 ft. boat for example. So you knock together a tiny home that weighs less than a 22 ft. boat and fit it to that frame. It only has to look good enough not to make people hate you. You might build an 8×12 tiny home that is easily expand able once you install it. Chances are it can be livable at less than 2K and made much nicer over time. If I took on a wife I would want a second unit in such a way that a bit of a hallway connected the two. Or maybe a workshop unit aside from the dwelling unit.
        Location is the key and buying a spot where all shopping and services are right at hand without hassles from building inspectors is key. I want to be able to easily replace any dwelling I own and I do not want to have to count on automobiles as they may be on the way out for most people. Look at the prices on new cars and the trend is clear. The age of autos in the suburbs is close to ending. And with the ever increasing climate miseries, floods and wind storms I don’t think it is a great notion to sink big money into housing. For example the recent hurricane will smack the insurance market hard and you can bet that home owners insurance will become a greater and greater burden.

        • Free
          November 10, 2013, 1:40 pm

          Exactly! I believe the main reason people are in the situations they are, is because their eyes are bigger than their wallets! Live within your means. Stay within your budget. Functionality should be your priority. Downsizing means getting rid of stuff, not trying to acquire smaller possessions that you still cannot afford. If

    • December 19, 2012, 11:39 pm

      Jennifer, that’s one of the things that really attracts me to tiny houses. But they are still out of my price range, so if loans were available I’d trade in my current mortgage for a small house mortgage in a heart beat.

      • Ann
        December 27, 2012, 9:05 pm

        yeah I’d trade my 1100. mo. rent for financing one. I am working on it. I have property that will be paid off in a few years. I just bought a Travel Trailer that I plan on living in while I downsize, decide,design and build my own tiny or small house. I have seen so many great ideas on here!! I want something on one floor, maybe a loft for storage and lots of wood trim. Also, space saving hooks, drawers, and closet ideas for my necessities. Eventually I would like solar power. I hope for it to all be completed by the time I ‘retire'(can no longer work).

        • December 28, 2012, 12:49 am

          OMG, Anne your plan is the same as mine! I am planning on selling my house in the spring and buying a travel trailer to live in for 3 or 4 years while I learn how to build my own tiny house. I don’ have any property but will figure something out by then. (I am moving to Texas where I won’t have to worry about the winters.) I like the Keystone Laredo best so far, for the layout. Best of luck to you!

        • Free
          November 10, 2013, 1:41 pm

          Why not sell and build with the equity?

        • August 30, 2015, 4:12 am

          I just bought a nice 5th wheel that I am in the process of getting it off grid to live. 216 sq feet and lots of room for something so small. I have such a fixed income and can not build or fix anything, but it’s a start at something healthier. Will make a better home than where I have been so far.

  • Meg & Joe
    December 17, 2012, 11:06 am

    Choose what you will. I learned a long time ago that anything that is popular is usually not very good. I think it’s funny that people will work their life away, in a job they hate, to pay for something they rarely use. I choose a cheap life, as you only get one. Why spend it always working? You don’t get to take it with you in the end, and why waste the only life you have for what you’re told is an ideal one. I’ll choose my own path thank you very much. No wonder so many people are on prozac.

    • Ann
      December 17, 2012, 11:33 am

      I have to agree with you. That big house usually has a family in it that never spends any quality time together. When I delivered flowers, the middle class houses, usually had someone home at some point to take delivery, but those big huge fancy homes in expensive neighborhoods? NOPE, it was a real pain trying to get flowers delivered because nobody was home–ever. Why even have a house like that if nobody ever does anything but sleep there?

      • December 17, 2012, 1:55 pm

        Ann that is so true. There’s a local story where I live about a wealthy couple who just got married and they’re building a mansion for themselves. No children. Just for themselves. This is at least their second marriage. By the time it’s almost finished they get divorced. Now the man is going to live in this 7+ bedroom palace by himself. Sad. And your point on these mansions never being used… You’re so right. They’re so busy paying for them that they’re hardly even there.

        • Ann
          December 18, 2012, 8:45 am

          Yeah, it is sad. I don’t dispute their right to own their albatross, after all, I am into freedom for each of us to have the size house we want. Including tiny!

          I firmly believe in the right of every person to be wrong in their beliefs because nobody has the right to determine anyone’s beliefs for them!

          Which is why big or small, I think the government needs to get out of the job of telling people who large or small their homes must be.

    • December 17, 2012, 1:52 pm

      I always love your comments Meg & Joe. You guys are always spot on. Hope you both are doing great.

      • Meg & Joe
        December 18, 2012, 1:31 am

        We’re doing extremely well. I have made almost a full recovery and am looking forward to spending my spring-summer-fall in Glacier National Park. I hit the Gym every day and work my butt off. Tiny living has been a God send, and made my recovery all the easier. If I lived a “normal” life I would of been homeless. Tiny living for the win.

        • December 20, 2012, 1:21 pm

          Great to hear that Joe!

  • Teri
    December 17, 2012, 1:16 pm

    Like Jennifer, I probably wouldn’t take out a loan…it’s too easy to build as you go. But I’m soon to be an empty nester and as soon as I sell my house I’ll be able to have my TH on wheels built all at once! As a single person, I’m really looking forward to living alone in my tiny house, just the way I want it. Even though many people are doing it successfully, I don’t think I would want to share my TH with someone else. It’s just too personal! But if I were part of a couple, it would have to be two tiny houses side-by-side or a tiny cottage. A regular house will never again be part of my life….yay!

    • December 17, 2012, 1:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing Teri!

  • Teri
    December 17, 2012, 1:22 pm

    P.S. I’m going to be the first one to sign up for Jay Shafer’s Napoleon Complex when it’s open!

  • Jill
    December 17, 2012, 3:55 pm

    I am really excited about getting a tiny house, but I just don’t know how to go about getting started. I will start building in the next year or so an be on my own land in three years. I just can’t get enough information and have been drawing plans for my own place. I just can’t figure out how much it’s all going to cost, doing it a little at a time. I am going to use our local Habitat for Humanity store for supplies, and then I am tryng to either enlist the help of friends to help me get it built. I am praying this works out for me. I want to not work so hard all the time and so many hours.

    • December 17, 2012, 6:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing Jill. Sounds like you are on the right path. Wishing you the best.

    • Free
      November 10, 2013, 2:04 pm

      My tiny house is almost finished! I found that in designing the floorplan, not to commit any space exclusively, outside of the bath and kitchen lol, because you might want to rearrange stuff for functionality once you’re in it. Lots of new stuff can be found on Craig’s list. Fancy roofs etc. , have to be trimmed out later. Used trailers will need some welding, rust removed, tires, and paint. I know a lot of people build outside in, but inside out might be easier… And for me, I designed my house, found a builder that I was confident in, located a trailer, then started the house. If you list all the purposes you need the space to serve, it’s easier to design with the double duty in mind….. And if at all possible, hit an ikea, they have tons of good ideas! Good luck!

    • jim sadler
      November 10, 2013, 4:23 pm

      I own a condo in a building with eight apartments in Florida. Of the eight one owner averages one week a year here and another about two weeks a year. They do not rent out the empty units and have plenty of money so expense is not an issue. One of them owns homes all over the country.
      I’m not so certain that as a nation we can allow people to have more than one home while we have many people with no home at all.

  • December 17, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Well…It is definitely right for us, we’re building one in less than four weeks now and getting very excited. We took out a bank loan and figure once we are in the tiny house in a friends backyard and out of our current rental situation we will pay it off on no time. Our expenses we estimate will drop from $800 + per week (3 bedroom rental house, electricity, water, lawn mowing, cleaning) to around $200 per week + petrol. That’s the theory anyway, I think if people realized how free they could potentially be living in one of these things there might be more round.

    Chris and Natalie

    • December 17, 2012, 6:18 pm

      Hi Chris and Natalie. This is great to hear. I’m curious what you told the bank to get your loan. It sounds like you guys are going to love it. Please keep us updated. I’ll head over to FB page and “Like” so I can get stay tuned.

      • Chris
        December 20, 2012, 4:44 pm

        Hi Alex!

        Thank for directing us to our comment and thank you for the like…:)

        We told our bank we were building a caravan. We should point out that we live in Australia, by the looks of it is much harder elsewhere to get a loan? Our loan was a personal loan so they don’t really ask many questions. We both work full time so that allowed us to borrow 42,000(the answer to life, the universe, everything ;p) between myself and my partner. We have not yet spent all of this, and are getting a builder to help as working full time it will be hard to find the time to do it ourselves. The sooner it is built the sooner we can start saving money.
        We look at it like that’s the price of a deposit for a house here, then we still have to pay off a loan for 30 years. This way we can pay it off in 5 years max. and have no debt beyond that.

        Chris and Natalie

    • Jerilyn Paul
      July 20, 2013, 9:06 pm

      Chris and Nat what kind of loan did you get? The banks here aren’t sure what kind to do for me. Thanks

  • December 17, 2012, 4:25 pm

    After building our tiny house I really wanted to live in one. Our family of 4 lived in a 700sq ft yurt for a year and a half. I thought that was about the perfect space. We got kicked off our property with the yurt and are now living in a friends 3000 sq ft farmhouse. It’s way too big and we don’t know what to do with all the space! 🙂 If it wasn’t rent free I’d quickly be looking to downsize. It just seems silly to have to heat and clean a place so big…and yet compared to most, it’s not. And small is much more cozy.

    • December 17, 2012, 6:20 pm

      Hey Adam, great to hear from you. Hope you and your brother decide to go at it again soon. You two did an incredible job last time. If anyone’s curious, we did a post on it a while back here with plenty of photos: https://tinyhousetalk.com/tall-tiny-house-design/

      • December 17, 2012, 6:54 pm

        Ha thanks. 🙂 We’re working on some plans and thinking of doing a winter build. Thanks for all the interest your site has given to our house!

        • December 19, 2012, 5:09 pm

          Adam, the house you built is gorgeous! I love the modern look and the detailing you put into it. Very inspiring!

        • December 20, 2012, 1:22 pm

          My pleasure Adam. Looking forward to that! If there’s any way I can help just let me know.

  • David
    December 17, 2012, 4:46 pm

    I had this very conversation with a friend last week. I suspect that many people will dream of living in a tiny home, but few will actually do it. And I think that is ok. Like others have stated, I have incorporated many ideas and philosophies from the tiny house movement. Because of market conditions, we still live in a 2800 s.f. house, but we are actively taking steps to be prepared to scale the house size down when we can do so. Nothing new comes into the current house unless two other items leave. I’m using ebay and CL to sell unused items and am applying the proceeds from those sales to pay off my modest car 3 years early. Meanwhile, I continue to look for a potential property for a tiny house. Because we need a yard for our dogs and don’t want to be tenants, we’re looking to purchase a small house with a modest yard where we can ultimately put the tiny house. Either the smaller home will be interim housing as we continue to scale back, or better yet, maybe the smaller home will be rental property and we, as the landlords, will live in the tiny house in the backyard.

    Bottom line–the possibilities are endless, and whether we ever live in a tiny house or not, we have benefited immensely from incorporating tiny house philosophies into our lifestyles.

    • December 17, 2012, 6:22 pm

      David thank you so much for sharing. It’s very encouraging to hear how the ideas are helping people like you even without actually going into a tiny house yet. And I love your idea of purchasing a small house with land, building and living in a tiny house in the yard and renting the house out front. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while too.

  • Carolyn B
    December 17, 2012, 5:02 pm

    If loans were available and affordable, I’d sign up in a heartbeat. Re: location — I’d prefer to stay in MO where I am but would consider a place close to family in AL or GA.
    Being a wheelchair user, tiny and lofts aren’t right for me but designs like Marianne Cusato’s Katrina Cottages are do-able. She has 1 one-bedroom design that is less than 600 sq ft I drool over and bookmarked just to stare at.

    • December 17, 2012, 5:32 pm

      Carolyn, where in MO? I just bought land in MO!

      • Carolyn B
        December 18, 2012, 3:02 am

        Mary, I’m in Southwest Missouri.

  • December 17, 2012, 5:31 pm

    I wouldn’t move to another state. I’d be hesitant to take out a loan depending on where the community was and what it would be like. After all, every community has rules, spoken or unspoken. I’d also want to know what jobs were like in the area.

    Whether tiny/small houses are for everyone or not, we can all benefit and learn from them. We can all opt for healthier lifestyles, less consumerism, less accumulation, more interaction with those around us, and more community.

    • December 17, 2012, 6:23 pm

      Well said Mary, thanks!

  • alice h
    December 17, 2012, 8:36 pm

    Sometimes I live in the country, sometimes I live in town. My town apartment in my son’s basement is just a bit larger than my 8×20 country house will be and in almost the same proportions (though not as well laid out or planned to my exact needs)so I’m “in training” and downsizing now. I already part-time in a 13′ Boler trailer (the tiny house will replace it, then the Boler will be a writer’s retreat for a friend). The Boler is too cramped for full time living, the tiny house will be just right for me, a cat and the occasional visit from my granddaughter.

  • Margot
    December 17, 2012, 9:42 pm

    I would be tripping over myself to settle in a Tiny community with like minded people. In our small town there is a huge need for sustainable and affordable housing. Very few rental subsidies available and everything else is very expensive to Rent or purchase.This type of lifestyle is so me. I have always loved tiny things and feeling cozy. I remember when I was little, my grandparents lived in a trailer park and I just loved that trailer. So cozy! As I grew into an adult I have come to realize that I really dont have much stuff. I hate shopping with a passion, I dont want to keep chasing the carrot either because it is not there in the sense of working my patooties off to pay these insane heating and electric bills and everything else that comes with a bigger space. I love the greener aspect and the tiny footprints left behind. I find it frustrating that the changes needed to allow for tiny homes and communities are most likely years away judging by how politics is such an animal. We had a meeting in our town last month on affordable/sustainable housing put on by the Eco-Society and over 100 people showed. Some of the speakers were builders of Tiny Homes, another with boxcar homes and a fellow who is building a passive solar home..slide shows showing their work and discussions abounded let me tell you. This is the way of the future and we need to shift in to this practical healthy way of living and enjoying our lives and I do feel that city council and planners etc are taking notice yes, but will it proceed soon I do not know. I am committed to doing something about it. My vision is to see a small community of Tiny homes being welcomed everywhere in our north american culture. Time for Holy Shift!

    • Ruth
      December 19, 2012, 8:23 pm

      Margot, I really appreciate your comments, as well as
      so many of the others on here. One point that I would like to make, when considering the shift to a healthier
      way to live, is that if you have regular electrical hooked up to your tiny house, please see that you do not have to have a smart meter installed on the house.
      Most of America (and the rest of the world now) is having to allow these health-damaging meters to be installed as replacement for the old analog type meter.
      If it means being off-grid, that would be a better choice…just putting in my two cents here…since I have become electrically sensitive from apartment living where the building had 31 smart meters in the parking garage directly under my apartment! So, if I had an option to build or buy a tiny house, I would insist that it not be with electric via smart metering.
      Anyone else out there who has had experience with this
      please post!
      Thanks…and good luck to all of you with your tiny houses. 🙂

      • August 30, 2015, 4:27 am

        Yes I am in that boat Ruth. I am on a vary small fixed income and mostly bedridden half the time. I purchased now a nice 5th wheel. BTW all the lots and parking unless you have mega bucks come with the horrid smart meter. I am now going thru the web of challenges of getting my trailer off grid and will be moving into a UN-dense park or the like. They can keep the electric power-I do not want. My youtube is: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2tODEUw0bz2aDGxTEY4VeA and my blog is at the top of my channel page. The channel is my story and about my solution and how I am doing it and all the ups and downs. There are a lot of pit falls for those who do not want to be blasted w/ EMFs, when setting up solar. I working around them, to avoid as much of the toxic “goodies” that most solar system “kill” people with.

  • Cindy
    December 17, 2012, 10:17 pm

    I currently reside in a home that I purchased when I was 50 yrs old. Unless I win the lottery I won’t have it paid off until I’m 80 yrs old! In the meantime, I become a slave to my monthly mortgage. Actually “owning” a home at 80 yrs of age, really doesn’t hold that much appeal. However, selling it in a year or so and scaling down to a tiny house that’s paid in full and being debt free is irresistible. I work from home and spend most of my day in one room except for the potty breaks required by my pooch to go outside. I truly believe that a tiny house community would be ideal for me. In preparation, I too have been getting rid of all the extra “stuff” that just occupies space and rarely gets used. It’s freedom in the making and it feels really nice.

    • Meg & Joe
      December 18, 2012, 1:34 am

      Awesome. Good for you! I had the same epiphany when I turned 40. Best decision we have ever made. Keep going.

      • Cindy
        December 18, 2012, 2:39 am

        Thanks for the encouragement. I do appreciate it. :o)

  • Ann
    December 18, 2012, 7:18 pm

    I am intrigued by the idea. I had my first yard sale to start getting rid of excess. It’s both exciting and scary. I have land and will be putting a small travel trailer on it to start. My concern is with noise. Dogs barking, etc. drives me nuts. The 3bedroom house I rent now is fairly soundproof, but I want to be able to work less and enjoy life. Besides earplugs, what can I do??

  • December 19, 2012, 4:15 pm

    Where did my comment go?

  • -billS
    December 19, 2012, 4:50 pm

    Approaching 50 empty-nest couple. One child in college another getting married this summer. In 12 years our 2K sq ft home will be paid off. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and finished basement. I would love to reduce my clutter and space but I want holiday memories with my future grandchildren. I would be interested in suggestions for holidays with extended family that are more than “go to fill-in-the-blank”. And if I could ever convince my wife, not sure I want to climb a ladder f

  • Mike
    December 19, 2012, 4:50 pm

    For me it’s all about where I would put it … I want to own the land and right now there are not a lot of options w/i a city … even in smaller cities … the building codes need to be changed.

    • Norma
      December 19, 2012, 8:31 pm

      I so agree with Mike. If building codes changed I would love to be the first to build a tiny house in my town. It is frustrating to be more than ready to downsize and to see that the only option in smaller housing in our area is getting scooped up by flippers (that can afford to pay cash only)who do shoddy work than put it right back on the market for much more than they are worth. 🙁

  • -billS
    December 19, 2012, 4:51 pm

    For bed or an evening trip to the potty. Perhaps a smaller house but not a tiny.

  • Kathy
    December 19, 2012, 4:59 pm

    My answer is- yes, yes, tomorrow, and yes!!! LOL but I am sorta serious. I lived in San Antonio Texas for 17 years and I have been pining after a tiny house since I discovered that they were being built just “up the road”. I fell in love with the concept. Maybe it’s part of aging, but I would welcome living a smaller lifestyle with less (pardon me) crap to take care of and store. What I need now is an ADU in Seattle, which I think is actually possible. I have twin granddaughters there and could really help my daughter. We are actually considering this move, and I am trying to think how quickly I can unload “stuff” to make it possible. it’s an exciting thought. So the answer is YES. 🙂

  • LaMar
    December 19, 2012, 5:00 pm

    I look at this from a different perspective and from a financial point of view a person can build a small home first and if designed correctly it can then be expanded with additions if the person gets married, has kids or just wants more room later on when they have the money.

    I designed my solar cabin that way with walls made for additions and expansion. I only use the main cabin but when my son inherits the place he can build on if he wants.

    Some people will always want more room but I think that is mostly a media driven ideal and more and more now see the sense in small home and debt free living.

    As prices for power, water, fuel, building materials and land continue to rise only the very wealthy will be able to afford a big home and I will bet there will be fees and taxes on that big home in the future to encourage people away from that lifestyle.


    • August 30, 2015, 4:34 am

      I was watching your videos earlier. LOL I found it amusing that they only allowed a house up to a certain size on your lot. Good. More common is they only allow McMansions on most lots any more. Allowing only tiny is a better use of regulation.LOL Looks to me that your cabin is a nice place to live.

  • Sandra
    December 19, 2012, 5:17 pm

    When iI built my tiny home I didn’t need to borrow..lucky for me, but there are personal ” line of credit” that can be used in Canada. They don’t care what you do with the money. My biggest problem was getting insurance for the darn thing. Still not sure if it is insured and that is bothersome. Mine is on wheels and registered as an old office trailer. The insurance company wanted to insure it for $1500.00. But it cost $30,000.00 to build.

  • Rita
    December 19, 2012, 5:18 pm

    I want my tiny house on wheels so I can go as I please!

    While I have always liked smaller places, I find myself striving to fit into less space every couple of years.

    I used to live out of the back of my vehicle – what didn’t fit didn’t stay! I loved living on the road. I look forward to going back to that lifestyle soon.

    In the last 7 years I have downsized from 1400 sq ft to 800 sq ft to 520 square feet. The next change will be to under 200 sq ft!!! Very Excited…..

  • Marisa
    December 19, 2012, 5:26 pm

    I love tiny homes, but know that they aren’t feasible for us as a permanent dwelling. We live in 1200 sq ft, and could pare down easily to about 800. Our mortgage is only $650 though, and we have a great yard and treehouse for our four kids. We homeschool, run a home business, and that requires more space for books and equipment. However, we plan to build our kids tiny homes when they are grown, so that they won’t waste money on rent and can save for a house or land.

  • Deborah Ercole
    December 19, 2012, 5:29 pm

    I am there! I would move today!!!!! No hesitation whatsoever. AND a tiny house dating service would be awesome too!

  • December 19, 2012, 5:37 pm

    A tiny house is not for us, but a small home using smart space design is for us. 800 sq ft, is a big small home, and it gives us a guest room/media room, plus room for our 5 not so small dogs. I try to make everything multipurpose. Guest rooms are empty most of the year. Been there done that.

    We are about to start building Earthbag homes on our farm. Some will be vacation rentals, and I have designed a new house for us. We love sleeping nooks, with no wasted bedroom space, but still big enough for our king size bed. (have a sleeping nook now) We use fabric walls to close off space for privacy when we need or want it. My theory is that all interior walls must have a function such as being a bookcase on one side and a closet on the other. No walls that are just walls standing there doing nothing. My husband made a 6″ dining table for the new house to be, that folds up against the wall when not in use, but it can also be used as a map/plan table because it is right next to his office space, that has no wall. His office can have a curtain pulled across it to make it go away.

    With each house we have lived in, we continue to learn what we need to have in our dwelling. Like closets. We got stuff. I have electronics, and charging stations, cell phones, laptops, ereader, tablets and 2 way radios, rechagable everything. We live off-grid, make our own power with hydro. Our lives have changed, but I am not into doing without just to live tiny. We grow all of our own food and our beef. Make our own bread, all cooking is from scratch. So designing a small space for me, means knowing where everything goes before it is built. My kitchen is about 1/3 of our house…we live in it. Never lived in the living room, so I said let’s build a house with no living room. Company comes, we cook and eat, hang out in the kitchen, eat in the kitchen.

    The tiny or small house project shown above it cute, but it needs to have some patterns add. Pattern Language patterns. The porches are not big enough to be functional. The people path is great, now add the other needed patterns…..

    I use to think bigger is better, a long time ago. But it is not, it was an illusion that just eats you money and time. Some people are impressed with that, I understand, I use to be. Now I like what I call smart design, living big in small spaces.

    • Carolyn B
      December 19, 2012, 7:41 pm

      Ginnee, I am very intrigued and impressed with your ideas of sleeping nooks & fabric walls. If you have a blog or some such thing, I’d love to see this kind of stuff in pictures.

      I’ve been trying to create an open floor plan with walls for headboard & foot board just wide enough for a full bed curtained off on the sides so during the day or if entertaining the bedroom floor space could also be used along with the living room space.

  • December 19, 2012, 5:48 pm

    I am designing and considering a tiny home for many reasons.
    -It is a space I will have meticulously crafted from the ground up. If I decide to build it, it will be wholly *mine,* a home for my body a home for my soul.
    -I want to reduce my footprint on the environment
    -I enjoy the mental exercise it takes to try and figure out what I need, and what I want. Where is that balance? How do I make it all work within the limitation that I have?

    I would look forward to more tiny house communities, but I’d also really appreciate being able to get *insurance* on my little wheeled oasis.

    I don’t think one size of *anything* fits all of *everybody*, ever, and I know people who simply *can’t* live in tiny homes due to health issues, careers requirements, etc, but they like the philosophy of making what you have the best it can be, regardless of what it is.

  • Bob
    December 19, 2012, 5:51 pm

    My house is 3,000 sq. feet. I now live alone and would move to a tiny house if I could, but my son and his family bought the house across the street in order to be close to me. As a compromise with myself, I have closed up my house and live in my attached garage which has been finished into a 450 sq. foot apartment (and it is still larger than I need.) I run the central heat and air in the main house about once a month for a couple of hours to keep fresh air circulating. I still get a lot of the benefits of the tiny house, such as very inexpensive heating/cooling (a wall mounted heat pump), easy cleaning, and no stairs. And, it is nice to have family so close.

  • December 19, 2012, 5:52 pm

    My teenaged daughter and I live in a 500 s.f. 1 bedroom home. She gets the bedroom and I’ve placed a twin bed in the living room. It is small but the rent is cheap ($250/mo.) and I enjoy the smaller area. The beauty of it is that I can see the potential in this place! Instead of a big stove I have a full-size washing machine in its’ place. We cook on a 2 burner hot plate, in a microwave and a toaster oven. Instead of a big empty refrigerator we went with an under counter dorm-sized one and invested in a small chest freezer instead, which meets our needs better.

    While I would open up the space and rearrange a bit if I owned it, even as-is it is quite workable and allows me to be a stay at home single mother to my kid. Thanks to our low expenses we are able to live on my book royalties and have money to spare.

    I look at the really tiny houses for ideas to make this home better. The amazing thing is that my friends consider this to be TOO small but it really isn’t bad at all. The only thing I would prefer is a more private place to sleep but I can’t justify spending several hundred more a month just for a bedroom!

  • December 19, 2012, 6:00 pm

    Our company teamed up with a local bank this year to offer financing for up to $25,000 for Historic Shed outbuildings, including our cottages. At present, we have only done site built cottages, so you have to own a piece of property already, although I don’t imagine it would be hard for us to build on a trailer instead for those in need of a mobile little structure.

    • signalfire
      December 19, 2012, 7:44 pm

      Wow Jo-Anne!!! Just looked at your website (click on the blue ‘Jo-Anne’ name). Gorgeous and you’ve arranged financing!!!!! Brava!

  • Denece
    December 19, 2012, 6:06 pm

    Our two bed one bath post-war house has turned out to be about the right size for us. We loved the idea of a tiny house, but being retired types, we decided that we did not want to risk breaking a hip climbing down that ladder in the middle of the night with a full bladder! We like having an extra bedroom for when we have house guests and the rest of the time it works great for crafts/ sewing/ office space. Our space is probably larger than we need, but it small enough to keep utility bills low. We will keep it. If we were young, just starting out, a tiny house would def be the way to go

  • signalfire
    December 19, 2012, 6:23 pm

    I’m no banker but for those of you who might be able to figure this out; what if micro loans were made available for say, a three year term; $500 at 36 months is $18,000; just about what it would cost to build a lot of these houses, esp. if you self-build and re-use or re-source some of the materials. After the 3 years are up, the cost of your housing would drop precipitously; now it’s just land rental or land costs, taxes on ‘unimproved’ land being very low, and utilities.

    I know banks now loan money out of thin air; in other words, they create the money for the loan by simply entering it into a ledger; the money does not exist until the loan is created. I’m unsure of the sleight of hand that is required here, it may simply be a function of the bank’s net worth, legal stuff, I dunno. Someone out there may be able to help, but it sure seems like there’s a call for small house loans and that there would be money to be made on (hopefully less than usurious) interest payments. Maybe a great idea for a nonprofit or crowdsourcing?

    I also think the small house builders out there are missing the boat by not financing their products. C’mon guys, build a few, sell them by the month and create a revenue stream that way!

    • jerryd
      December 19, 2012, 7:02 pm

      Signilfire if one is building these and spending more than $25sq’ then they need to find out what they are doing wrong. I’m building at $10sq’ but rather good at it.

      And if building for investment/profit if you keep costs down then profits go up.

      That said I’m doing just what you mention except not getting the loan as banks won’t loan on them in many cases like mine.

      But for $500/month one should be about to build 2-3 12’x12’/yr studio units for rental or sale especially if good at finding bargains .

      • signalfire
        December 19, 2012, 7:38 pm

        Thanks for the response, jerryd;

        I pulled the 18K number out of a hat; I’ve seen such a range of prices for places from the ‘Little House on a Trailer’ website, to Jay Shafer’s quotes for building costs, and the little houses for sale on different sites. If you’re saying that a 100 SF place could be built for 1K, or a 500 SF for 5K, then that makes the land rental/cost a far bigger part of the equation, and the whole idea far less daunting. If you’d like to write more about how you build so cheaply (is this for shell or finished with electric, plumbing, etc?) I’m sure we’d all be interested. Sometimes it’s the fear of ‘how much will this cost?’ that keeps people from even starting.

        • jerryd
          December 19, 2012, 9:08 pm

          Hi Signalfire,

          I’m finishing my 12’x12′ one now and when done will write it up.

          There is nothing unusual about it though it’s not on a trailer but sitting on a mobile home frame instead. I use mostly standard stick built with CDX for outside sheathing and Luan/Phillipine Mahougany common 5mm ply/doorskin from Lowes/HD that with 2 coats of varnish rolled on looks fabulous for the inside with FG insulation. I did board and batten outside styling by cutting 1/4” thick battens out of 2×4’s 12” apart.

          I do find various parts like sink, toilet, WH etc cheap, used but new standard electrical and plumbing lines, etc.

          I use free window glass and make frames from nice/picked 2×4’s painted white as is the trim and light gray main color done with oil paint as it lasts, etc so much better that latex.

          Roof, shed style is commercial building side metal which now is cheaper than plywood with foam,then ply under it.

          Buying everything new and all foam insulation is still under $20/sq’ if well shopped.

          I can’t believe some of the prices charged by some of the builders but one can just hire people to do the work if they don’t want to do it themselves by the hr at far lower costs.

    • John Henry Designs
      December 20, 2012, 7:28 am

      To acquire loans and insurance to cover your “Tiny Home” it must be built to Government ANSI Standards by an entity that has an RV Manufacturers License. The DMV only issues a Title to Licensed Manufacturers

      If you possess these two assets, allowing for a DMV Title, you are in the business of building, financing and selling tiny houses on wheels or larger Park Model Homes on Wheels.

      Licensing is the key to manufacturing.

  • Frank Rodrigues
    December 19, 2012, 6:43 pm

    I’m planning for a life style shift and I’m okay with the tiny house, just a little bigger. The biggest problem and obstacle that I’m facing in Connecticut is the “ZONING LAWS” It’s just so tight here. I’m even considering Building a container home (2 40 footers).
    I’ve even looked at a larger Yurts, but there’s that dreaded issue with them as well. I did hear that there was somebody looking to create a Tiny Home Community in Danbury Connecticut, but I have been un-sucessful in finding this person. I wouldn’t mind a community, but I wouldnt be okay with many rules !!!

  • Linda Lyons-Bailey
    December 19, 2012, 7:04 pm

    That photo is beautiful!! Where is that??

    I know of the MOST FABULOUS place for a tiny house community. I have a dream of buying this land someday and starting one. It is right near a beach. A great place for tiny houses–right near a beach, a fishing pier, and a park, in a historic area, and if a hurricane hits, well, your house is on wheels. Strap everything down and move your whole house!

    But…I have no money, and my husband has brain cancer. So, it is just a dream.

  • Ellen
    December 19, 2012, 7:48 pm

    I have recently downsized from 1500 sq. feet to 500 sq. feet. I have two daughters. One lives here full time in a bedroom that is 4 1/2 x 7, and another is away at college, but has to make her home in the living room when she is here. MY bedroom is 10 x 13. We don’t have a kitchen. We cook in one end of the living room, and do dishes in the bathroom. (The toilet is walled off.) We also have two dogs and two cats, but we have a backyard with a covered patio and a storage shed. I got rid of a LOT of stuff, and the resulting space is much easier to clean and to KEEP clean. Eventually I want to go to a tiny house, or at least very small. But not while my daughters live with me!

  • Antonius
    December 19, 2012, 8:10 pm

    Those who say tiny houses are not good enough for them haven’t been without income long enough to appreciate their value. It’s a lesson that I can only recommend to everyone. Only then will they notice the disproportion they’re currently living in.

    Rejoice you Americans that you can own tumbleweeds. At least in Romania this is not allowed although I very much desire this. For me there is nothing better than a Tumbleweed, a little cod marine stove, a kelly kettle, a zebra light headlamp (+ small solar charger) and a wonderwash washing machine. Optionally solar panel + battery + dovado tiny router + laptop – that’s it. Your needs covered and (almost) environmentally sound. Compelled performance goodbye, creativity welcome 🙂

    December 19, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Tiny house community setup could work just like condominiums. Lots of units with lots of owners. Find like minded people with a little borrowing power then go find a lawyer who draws up condominium agreements. There is strength in numbers and affordability in splitting costs, I have drawings showing layouts of seperate units with minimal start up costs so I know this can be done.

  • Ashley
    December 19, 2012, 8:44 pm

    I would move in half of a heartbeat… actually I would move into a tiny house yesterday if I currently had a place to put it!!!

  • Joani
    December 19, 2012, 10:34 pm

    While I am completely enamored with tiny houses on wheels, I don’t think I’d happy with one for long-term living. Only because I love to do scrapbooking/paper crafts/art journals. I would need space to work and to store my supplies. So a small home (500-600sq ft) would probably be best for someone like me. Unfortunately, that’s a lot harder to come by than building a tiny home on wheels.

  • December 19, 2012, 11:35 pm

    If I could get a loan I would do it right away. As it is I’m planning on living in an RV for 2 or 3 years while I learn how to build my own. Bummer that these tiny houses haven’t caught on with the rest of America yet. But I also live alone (with my two cats) so that makes things so much easier.

  • Cindy
    December 20, 2012, 1:34 am

    I just have to chime in here. I agree it’s not for everyone.
    I think back regarding my own lifestyle. Growing up in a ridiculous big house. My first home my folks helped me buy-a townhouse in bay area.I had to buy “stuff” just to make it look lived in (way too big) and I hate empty spaces.-what a waste.(so yep, I bought stuff) then moved into a smaller cottage I helped design-still I admit over the 1300sq’ but then had to move in an apt near my folks. The rent for my one bedroom (700sq’) went up to $2100, that’s when I said I’m outta here!!! plus my gift money went dry from the family. -it put me in perspective. I now live in a 400sq’ old cottage- still big for me (no heat, it’s 1930 built) but I’ve fixed it up, the landlord loves me (rent is still a gasping $1700-but I’m close to my folks. I help take care of them. I have a tiny 2nd bedroom with nothing but boxes.of what? haven’t a clue, they have moved with me from house to house over a decade. also a cat tree in there.(yes I haves cats.) The kitchen is so strangely built, my stuff is yup, in boxes. I have out what I use and need. The bathroom is very tiny (2 people couldn’t fit, but it DOES have a tub!!)
    my bedroom holds just my bed and side shelves for clock radio,kleenex…(baskets under the bed for clothes. ) I hate shopping, I have plenty of clothes, I think I wear the same 7 outfits every week (aside from my uniform) I “live” in the cozy small living room.12’x14′ everything can be done from there-eat,read,nap,tv,computer,entertain. fresh air, view of my roses I planted. not to much street noise. no neighbors with kids, no smokers, no loud tv, no loud bikes (I sold mine, hated waking up the neighborhood with my pipes warming up-I’m over that phase in life. no wind chimes (those drive me

    So would I want to live in a tiny home? heck yes! easy to clean, cozy, have a friend over, love to sit out on a porch (Jay you have to work on that) I love neighbors that talk (not where I am now. I hear tree rats all the time (squirrels) ruining my flowers etc. I would hope the tiny community Jay is building will have electricity, water,sewer,internet,tv. I know lots of you like the idea of living literally off the earth. but I just want to live in a small tiny home that is no more than I need to survive. what a waste if bigger. –then I’d have to buy more stuff!!!! (I have vowed to stop that. I like nice things, but only need what I use.

    My goal is to be debt free in a year, then have the money for Jay’s awesome new village 🙂 and not have to rely on others to survive (money doesn’t last forever especially when sudden illnesses come into play.
    I can’t wait to help design exactly what I need, live debt free, finally after 30 years of working I can travel and take new friends with me. (I’ve been working double time this year to help reduce my debt but now I have literally no life. Who wants to live like this?

    and….. to top it all off, my folks and family, maybe friends too- will think I’m nuts on my way of living I’m heading for.–such a contrast on how I grew up. I see the light at the end of the tunnel!
    I will still work (hopefully fewer hours) but with no mortgage or high rent $2100–seriously it blows one’s mind. I want to put all my earnings into an account to help my family, who soooooo generously and lovingly took care of me, It’s my turn to help. I want to live within my means. -never ever done that before. It’s time. Period!

    So Jay, I guess it looks like I’ll be #2 signing up, I noticed Teri beat me to being the first !

    • Teri
      December 23, 2012, 1:06 am

      Hey Cindy, we can be neighbors at the Napoleon Complex!

  • eileen
    December 20, 2012, 2:24 am

    My husband and I live in rural Australia and have a huge house. We definitely neither need nor want it as we are both of retiremnet age. We have come up with a solution, we are going to split off the formal living area to create a smallish unit and rent out the rest. Our unit when finished will measure 577 sq ft (I even converted it to feet for the american readers!). Once I would have not believed it possible to live in this space, but now, having followed this site for some time,I realise that even this much area is still comfortably large. I am looking forward so much to our new, more relaxed lifestyle.

  • Donald R. Slayton
    December 20, 2012, 5:50 am

    I am trying to get into a home all we have is the land that we are paying on and the work I do is not paying me that much, and me and my wife ideal don’t match I am willing to do any thing to get it dun just need help to get the point across to her

  • Matthias
    December 20, 2012, 8:42 am

    I love the concept of a tiny house, but there are definitely some drawbacks:

    1. County I presently live in will not let you residence on a property unless the structure is 850+ square feet. The county also requires an electric meter and septic tank, which are expensive. This pretty much prevents tiny house living.

    2. In the midwest and mid-south, it is not uncommon to find small (and large) houses that are priced lower than it would cost to build a tiny house. This was true prior to 2008, it is especially true now with the flood of foreclosures still on the market. In fact, I regularly see developed acreage (modular or small stick built and a couple of acres) selling for less than undeveloped acreage. $50,000 will buy quite a bit here.

    3. A tiny house built on wheels requires a big truck to haul it around, thus adding to the expense, even if only renting a truck or hiring someone to tow.

    My daughters and I presently live in a century old 1100 sq. ft. house on a few acres – the house is really larger than what we need. The plan had been to build a little house from countryplans.com, but see #’s 1 and 2 above. As we contemplate moving again, I find it hard to justify spending more just to “live small”.

    And like the other poster above, the goal for us is to do this debt free. Our current mortgage payment is $500 a month on a 15 year loan, but I’d like to sell this house, ditch the mortgage, and buy something for cash elsewhere.

    To sum up, I want to live small (tiny won’t work) but I don’t want to spend more to live small than is necessary.

  • Jessica
    December 20, 2012, 9:31 am

    Yup, it’s not for us right now. We have 4 kids. 6 people in a 200 sq ft house, especially in a climate where it snows 6 months out of the year. (Talk about cabin fever). But we do live in 700 sq ft. We live a very minimalist lifestyle and still working on paring down even more. Just force ample, we have a dishwasher. AND a drainboard. Well the drain board just broke. We decided not to replace it because things usually sat in it for a few days before getting put away. Getting rid of it forces us to dry the hand washed dishes right away, and keep our counters clearer, saved us the $15 of buying a new one.

  • Droolcup
    December 20, 2012, 11:17 am

    Love the comments. Have been dreaming of a small house community for years, since I first saw the concept pioneered in the San Juan Islands, around 1985.

    Currently inhabit a bedroom, and keep downsizing (as we used to be a family of 5 in 800 square feet, if something came in one door, something left out the other). Problem for me is husband expands to fill all available horizontal space. He has taken over a huge dining table, has most of a 2-car garage, the master bedroom, and a room for his office, though he recently retired. We’re in 2000 square feet, but there were four of us when we moved here. Hope to be moving to a smaller house up north soon, but that’s still around 1600 square feet. My kids laugh at my rich fantasy life, wherein I indulge my tiny house mania. My only personal concerns are having enough room in a tiny home to exercise (which I do daily). I can figure out the books, sleeping, cooking, sewing supplies, bathing, etc. But the exercise is problematic. Need a slightly larger, slightly wider space than the tumbleweeds seem to offer. Still chewing on that. I keep planning to purchase a tiny house when/if I’m a widow. It would be perfect for me. That way I could be near but not with my kids. Kind of separate but equal. I suspect I’m a bit too old and clumsy to learn how to build now – I hit Medicare this year, and my parents (and husband) were so concerned about my clumsiness I was never even allowed to paint! Other concerns would be how to insure it and where to put it… But this has been a dream of over 25 years now.

    In general, unless both parties in a couple are committed to this style of existence, it’s a deal breaker. And you certainly can raise children in a tiny home, but you must raise them in a specific way:less stuff, greater connectedness to the outdoors,etc.

    That said, I am thrilled that electronics have shrunk: Give me my laptop and external drives for images, music, graphic design, reading, connecting with others, and my sewing machines, and I’m a happy camper. I could manage for myself with a single burner and a dorm fridge. And with a ‘Giradora’ I could even manage to wash clothes, etc. Now, to figure out a way to hang them in the wet bath to dry…

    Greetings from California, Alex! We’ve spoken by email. Have visited Jay’s Epu in Sebastopol (two years ago) but Spousenik wouldn’t even go inside… And still, all the principles for tiny living apply to every life: keep a small footprint, leave less impact, spend resources (time, money, talents) wisely, have only what you need and perhaps a little more, to help others, and enjoy what you have. That is a blessed life!

    One more rant: for those wanting to downsize, one must re-examine concepts of clothing and cooking. Rather than owning every type of pot, think of vessels which are multipurpose or are a particular volume to perform the chore. Don’t own a whole wardrobe: pick a color and get a few things in variants of that shade, etc. Even for those who work in an office, you can downsize so you have a ‘uniform,’ of basic tailored stuff that you can update minimally with accessory change. I learned this from a woman in fashion design, who owned only two outfits for work. Could write volumes on this, but will stop here.

  • December 20, 2012, 2:06 pm

    Hi Tiny people
    I have had two ideas for a tiny home, one for a “cookie shack” to vend from. and the other a retreat for me to go hang in and write. I am not to either place yet, and the years are just zooming by.
    The community plan is awesome, the need for a “clubhouse” addressed, but instead of so much crowding, I would like to see them more sustainable and with an open area in the middle for a community garden in which organic non-GMO food could be grown. As far as living in one – I don’t do ladders, so single story would be necessary – no loft!

    • Matthias
      December 20, 2012, 6:17 pm

      I agree with Judi – I think there needs to definitely been some organic gardening green space for both veggies and herbs. If it was possible to plot this community on a sizeable acreage, I’d even like to see dairy goats or similar.

      The other thought was that there didn’t seem to be anyway for a participant in the community to remove their house if they decided to move – there isn’t enough space to tow through. Maybe Jay was intending on these homes being permanent – I admit I haven’t look at his website to know what exactly he has in mind.

      I really like the overall idea though!

  • December 20, 2012, 5:28 pm

    For all the people who will be dependent on a loan. Forget Banksters and join a credit union. My wife and I now live in 36′ motor home with basement, full of mostly stuff we never use.(But we are well over the age limit)
    ” Patterns for Living” if you don’t use it in a year, you don’t need it.
    Although I plan to reduce our requirements to conform to what Tiny Texas Houses builds, I will still design 400 sq.ft. for seniors with the intent on a $25,000 maximum investment. My tugboatwilly.com site will have more designs to go with the ones there as soon as I can get back to Texas.

    • August 30, 2015, 4:45 am

      Texas? Maybe I have you mixed w/ someone else, but weren’t you living in PA and trying to get to AZ to build something? I was moving to AZ as well back then, but had my trailer destroyed and had to start over. I did and it’s going better this time around.

      Love your tugboat. It’s really a unique niche!!!

      • Bill Burgess
        August 30, 2015, 11:49 am

        J Dark Texas was just a stop on the coast to coast FloriDUH to Alaska books research project. Done with that and settled in Vancouver Washington to finish eight more books on Amazon.com and e-books on Blurb Publishing. My 4Fathoms Designs on Facebook will have a lot of what I have found on this eight year project. And yes my “Annie” was one of my better building projects and she turned out to perform MUCH better than the numbers said she would.

  • Walt
    December 20, 2012, 6:11 pm

    Maybe it’s worth pointing out that “peer to peer” lending is a resource that is here now. Companies such as Prosper.com and The Lending Company are viable means to borrow now at reasonable rates if your credit is good. Even if your credit is less than ideal it can still be a way to get into a tiny house sooner and start saving money. The interest paid goes to individuals rather than to banks.

  • stephanie wright
    December 20, 2012, 6:24 pm

    I want to move to the rural part of Sonoma county (from the more urban Berkeley-Oakland area).
    I love the tiny house semi-cohousing concept.
    Is a tiny house for me?
    No, but I would like a designer to help me design a small house that works for me.
    I am older and disabled (a growing demographic, there’s a market here!)

    With my limitations, I cannot climb into a loft (but wouldn’t mind some loft space for visiting nieces/nephews/fairy-god-children, etc and for storage of infrequently used items knowing that I would need assistance to get access to those items). The autoimmune connective tissue disease I have has also made me very stiff, I can’t bend, so I can’t get things stored at floor level either. Those limitations bust a lot of the super-efficient storage inherent in the tiny-house design…
    My electric bed precludes under-bed storage. I need accessible bathroom fixtures. While I am not in a wheelchair, I do use a walker some of the time, and may end up in a wheelchair at some point.
    I want to remain independent as long as possible, so I want a house that accommodates my limitations (current & probable future).

    On good days, I like to cook. And have people over to share meals.
    I used to be a professional chef & owned a bakery. A tiny kitchen is not for me.
    Yes, I also used to camp and backpack a lot, and I have cooked quite marvelous stuff with little equipment, but I am not interested in doing so every day, and with disability issues I actually need my food processor and kitchenaid mixer, I cannot manually do a lot of things (can’t squeeze a garlic press, or hand juicer for example).
    But I still do large food projects – for example, in early January, over a 3-4 day period, I will be making ten 9″ flourless chocolate tortes for the culinary dinner group I belong to – having space for producing a large number of cakes is something I desire. These kinds of large cooking projects are not rare for me, suggesting I find a larger kitchen space to use occasionally… no thank you, I do them too often.
    I make sourdough bread, large quantities of soups, make jam, dry fruit and mushrooms, and so on. When I have had a garden (and I hope to have one again after I move to Sonoma), I’ve canned and processed large quantities of vegetables and fruits, made garlic and onion braids – which then require storage space.

    I sew, knit, crochet and do needlepoint (and have lots of yarns, fabric, supplies) – and like to have a circle of friends over for a knitting circle, and almost all of us are over 50, we can’t sit on a floor cushion and be comfortable while knitting, we need real upholstered chairs or sofa. A tiny house doesn’t have space for a 1/2 dozen middle-aged knitters in comfy chairs.

    I have a piano.

    You get the picture.

    I have never lived in a place bigger than 2000 sq ft, and that was with 4-5 roommates, and an infant.
    I currently live in an 900 sq ft place with 1 roommate and frequent child guests.

    I could happily live in a well-designed 700 square-foot house.
    (I don’t want to live with roommates anymore… family or significant other would be OK, but I’m tired of living with people who are primarily sharing space to save money).

    A tiny house would be great as a retreat, vacation place, but not as my permanent home.

    • Judi
      December 22, 2012, 7:53 pm

      I read your post with great respect and commiseration. I am also disabled and enjoy many of the things you do as well. If you don’t mind, could you write to me off list at [email protected] because I would like to know more about your connective tissue thing.

    • Bill
      January 8, 2013, 6:26 pm

      Steph, I hear you loud and clear. I’m 70 years old – an active 70 I should add – and I love to cook (can’t do without my kitchen tools too), be outside enjoying nature, was an aircraft-missile mechanic in the Air Force and don’t understand people who can’t or don’t want to use tools. Have a tool bag that is always ready to go. Several of them actually; mechanical, electrical & electronics, plumbing, carpentry. So I must have a weather proof garage/workshop too. I also have to have a dependable source of electricity for my CPAP machine and there is no way right now I’d want to sleep in a loft. My significant other could never get there; nor could my Scottie who shares our bed. We too need a decent sized bathroom and room for books. A fireplace here in Wyoming is wonderful; but we also need a dependable energy supply for forced air heat. Wood is fine, but cutting, splitting, stacking and carrying the 6-8 CORDS needed to be off natural gas lines, won’t work here where there is REAL winter. I used to cut, split, & carry wood; but at 70 it takes longer & hurts more. 🙂 Take care and I hope you get your place in Sonoma. Plants some grapes; its a local thing!

  • Nick
    December 21, 2012, 3:19 am

    For me, the challenges are few but important. But when the dream is big…er small enough the facts don’t count…right? So just what are my limitations?

    1. Los Angeles. Forget owning land, buying property-and I have had ads up for months asking for a plot to park it. No takers. More or less, it would involve living an exponential distance and commuting…which is a no-deal for me and my $25k a year job in Santa Monica. So its after UCLA, and not here. See you in 2015…but not in Hill Valley.

    2. Monetary- but barely. I am more than fixiated with this concept, as it takes up shelves and less space than last year (I have downsized 80% this year to get a better fit) but I am dollars away from being able to afford starting a frame, etc. And I want to design my own plan…just artistic like that!

    3. School. Okay- lame excuse, right? But 32-40 hours at a job and busting 14 units at a major university make living life in transition harder than I like. Since in LA, I have stayed over 10 months in a vehicle so I know downsizing is possible- but as mentioned earlier, land for use and trying to live like this mid-busy is hard, though not impossible….hmmm Senior year maybe?

    4. Doubts…but not on the house idea. Just that it will work in my life work and location wise. Can I really get the utilities and can I learn to live with less amenities or will I just rough it and deal with it. Design is fun but you have to know in the pre-planning what you will need and not need. Especially if you consider I have no place to begin to park it, I feel stuck in the middle- for the moment. But visions of tiny homes dance in my head…forget sugar plums.

    5. Design challenges. I love to design architecturally, in fact am thinking of maybe going to architect or urban planning school with the idea of perhaps working on more intentionally small American postwar (2010) model communities. Eco and sustainable need to become unquestionable. But my home is a crux of modern design and tiny, so pricey may be an understatement, and I love to be original (ahem, weird and modern) with my design (Think Habitat 67) so picture basically Mini dwell prefab and you have my home. Still portable though! And maybe two stories on a trailer…custom trailer?

    Though for legal and episodic reasons I abandoned my several months of design on a truck bed home, I have instead downsized to a subcompact (which I lived in comfortably 10 days) and WILL use a large remainder of my GI Bill to start construction. However…I do not wish to leave UCLA, and I cannot build legally in West LA and am short the back-scratching power and 1/2 a million for a quarter acre in Malibu. Hope seems North…but the BA must come first. One thing is or sure though…this dream does not die.

    The point is in the first paragraph…if you want it, you’ll find a way. If it’s not for you- live vicariously through the builders and keep an open mind. I just finished the “Put Your Life on a Diet” book (Gregory Johnson) and one thing shines true to me, and you obviously for reading on; you have not given up on the thought that you might want to do this someday. Store things and watch the value fade. I gave away 15 large 21 gallon containers of stuff and everyday feel the itch. Read Francine Jay, other. Minimalist books. “Material Possessions” will make you think on a global level. New solutions will come out for my gripes and new technology for my woes of amenity. One day I will stop making excuses, move to a home where I can legally live this way, and begin construction. Until then…the tiny house community welcomes all of us dreamers, spectators, and appreciators, even gawkers!

    Have an awesome and tiny-inspired holiday! Anyone seen a tiny house with music displays? Next year on youtube!!

  • kme
    December 21, 2012, 8:46 am

    Hi Alex,
    love your work and love tiny houses. Reading the above as a UK resident, I have to say that compared to an average American house, pretty much all UK houses are ‘tiny’. A friend of mine is from Ohio and when her mom came to visit the first time and saw her house, she went: ‘Oh my god. Are you alright??’ Of course, she’s fine, because 90% of us live with much less space. Having said that, you’ll still have a womping mortgage…
    Recently ‘shedworking’ has become a big thing (http://www.shedworking.co.uk/ – currently featuring guess what: Napoleon Complex).
    So, in summary, even in a country where people generally live (happily) in small houses, the idea of tiny living (and working) is becoming very popular. Therefore, I think the answer to your question above is yes, people should try it. It is liberating!
    If people sold a lot of their stuff on eBay they could probably raise enough for a hefty downpayment!
    All the best, KME.

  • jodi kautz
    December 22, 2012, 1:47 pm

    I have a family of 3 and plan to grow. We love the small house idea but both work from home. I design costumes and sew so I need a large work space my husband is a remote sensor tech and a cartoonist so he needs his drawing table. Our work is what requies the most space and our library since sadly not everything is available on kindle like our text books. However the idea for bedrooms only to sleep in is something we love about tiny house. I am planning to build a vardo to take and live in when we do our sca events like estrella war and pensic war. We also love to camp and that is the way we plan to get out tiny house. Also it doesn’t help that we have 4 cats, 2 dogs, and 4 birds. Lol. We need land and space for them and the litter boxes. Hey that might be another great article. Timy houses and pets. Trust me a stinky litterbox would make a tiny house reek and what if you own a greater dane?

  • karen taylor
    December 22, 2012, 4:50 pm

    I read the article rv vs tiny house. I think after much soul searching and investigating on the internet, I want a tiny house. You can build it to meet all your needs exs. single bed vs double bed, and so on. Also most Rvs or travel trailers are designed for a family and sleep way too many for my needs.and if Im going to spend that much money, I want what I need, not what the “industry” thinks I need. The rv s out there today can not realy handle northern wisconsin winters in a reasonable way. The tiny House I would build could. I just wish I could put it on the 20 acres i own, but zoneing will not permit it. so Ill have to live in a campground and hit the road 2 times a year.

    • Judi
      December 22, 2012, 7:47 pm

      Hi in wisconsin – my hubby is from Iron River
      we live in California near the Oregon border now and winters can vary widely – right now 2′ of snow on the ground and no power!
      Other winters barely any snow and it would melt right away. Good luck on your project, could you have a home built on a trailer or boat frame and get past the permit deal? Just curious.


      • karen taylor
        December 23, 2012, 7:34 am

        Hi in northern Ca.
        I plan to put my tiny house on wheels, but you can only “camp” for 2 weeks at a time in my county, (door) that is why it would have to be the camp ground. right now we have 4 inches of snow 1 of ice and about 19 degrees. I love the winters! If I could live at the camp ground full time I would!! will start my tiny house as soon as I sell my 4 bedroom 2 bath house on 40 acres, 3 car garage, 2 stall barn, and chicken coop. A tiny house will be a major downsize for me, but am looking forward to it. thanks for your interest in my project.

  • Dean Hutchins
    December 23, 2012, 12:27 pm

    It doesn’t require a novella to say… You’re right!

    I’ve lived in an 8′ by 33’camper for four years now. It sits on 4 wooded acres, beautiful setting. I can tell you that I’m as excited as a kid in a candy store to build my 720sq ft 20′ by 36′ Steelmaster Quonset Hut.

    Not having a real kitchen is killing me. I garden, can, dehydrate, cook and process my own food but in a camper it’s hell. A house with 720 sq ft. would be the bare minimum for me.

    I knew a family that had 8 kids in a home only 24′ by 36′ and they managed. That would be tiny house living for such a large family.

    720sq ft of living space right now sounds like sweet music to my ears.
    If you want to live healthy you grow your own organically produced meat & veggies or you pay through the nose to have someone else do it for you. 4sq ft of counter space and a 4″ deep sink is like a form of domestic abuse.

    I like the designs and they will make lovely weekend cottages or campers. Being disabled in a small space is not fun in the least.

    Sorry about the negative realities. I’ll keep my subscription simply because I like learning and I’ve picked up some great ideas from the Newsletter.

  • lucy
    December 29, 2012, 7:58 pm

    I agree about UK houses being so much smaller, but new ones are so poorly designed that I wish we could learn from tiny house solutions.
    House prices are so high here and rents too that people in many areas have no choices.
    However, our planning laws are incredibly strict and putting tiny homes on other peoples’ land is not allowed.
    Small living and tiny houses will have to get past the stigma and lack of plots suffered by our gypsy and traveller communities to get going anytime soon. But, where there’s a will… I’ve been badgering political folk who’ll listen about the potential of tiny living if it can only be facilitated. Fingers crossed (both sides of the Atlantic!)

  • john
    December 29, 2012, 9:30 pm

    Tiny homes are more a concept for most of us…not that i need or even want a regular house, but 8′ wide is a problem i’ve been stuck on…but then, a trailer need not be just 8′ feet wide…for you to tow it yes, but not if you don’t mind paying a couple hundred for a local mover to do it for you…

    Building on a 12 foot wide trailer is just as simple, and a lot more livable. Sure you can’t tow it yourself, but if you have a location worked out it’s still a great option for tiny home fans…room sizes would be a lot more conventional, furnishings more standard, but you could walk across the room.

    Moving a wide trailer isn’t the nightmare people would think…it’s height that’s a real issue for movers, and at 12 feet wide it would be simple and inexpensive for a local company to move it for you…of course how far is going to affect the cost…

    A simple change in dimensions can open up a whole realm of possibilities for tiny homes…every design i’ve seen for 8′ wide trailers would be out the window…that extra 4′ feet of width would change everything (for the better i think), no ladders or stairways in the middle of your living area, room for an actual bathtub would be another attractive option for many…the list of possibilities is nearly endless…

    The thing is, designing a home for your comfort and long term happiness is more important than how much it’s going to cost to move it…the fact that it’s mobile is enough to keep building codes from hampering your efforts and ideas even if it forces you to work out where you’re going to park it and how to move it when, or even if, it’s ever needed.

    Don’t let that wide load trailer thing fool you into thinking it’s a road block, it’s not, it’s just a speed bump. I priced a local source who moves mobile homes…53 feet long, 16 feet wide, they do it every day. If it’s ready to roll he charges 275 for the first 30 miles provided it’s road ready when he shows up.

  • Marissa
    January 4, 2013, 5:21 pm

    I love the concept of the Tiny House. It is such a shame that the government steps in to place restrictions on housing. If I want to live in a small space and NOT pay 600 bucks a month *just* for housing – then, as an adult, I should be able to choose that.

  • Lorelei
    January 11, 2013, 12:14 am

    I’ve been thinking about the ways this could work as well. I think that where I live… in a place where whole blocks might be available for rehabitation in some areas and where people would be willing to live… I think it might have to be a group of homes tied together by some variation of a homeowners association, or “condo” association. There would need to be a fair amount of open space that is usable for all occupants, whose maintenance is paid for by all of the residents/owners…a collective. There would need to be a measure of built in security where I am at, sort of like an old time walled/semi-walled and gated town.

  • Kara
    May 5, 2015, 11:39 am

    I own a houseboat which I’d guess is approx 250 sq feet if you count the half height berth down below which is my bedroom. I live on my boat from Memorial Day weekend to about Columbus Day (mid October) and I absolutely love it but it has grown a little tight for my 2 teenage sons. I share custody with their father so when it is just me on the boat, it is the perfect size but when the boys are with me we’re always bumping into each other. They don’t have their own bedrooms either, but instead sleep in benches that convert into beds at night. They are good sports about it, but I can tell the lack of privacy and small space is starting to bother them. The rest of the year I rent a small cottage which, at approx. 800 sq feet, feels huge in comparison. It’s nice to have a larger house in the winter but I miss the snugness of my boat. My dream is, after the boys are off to college, to move to a warmer climate so I can live on the boat year round. But I’d still need to rent a storage space for the stuff that won’t fit on the boat! I’ll miss having a basement. 🙂

  • Tami
    May 18, 2015, 9:42 am

    In a heartbeat and yes, I’d move across the country if I had to. Too bad my credit is crap.

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