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Why These 5 People Left Their Tiny Houses

The idea of a tiny house lifestyle is fascinating, adventurous, and even freeing.

But you and me both know that a tiny home isn’t going to fix all of our problems.

And assuming that a tiny house is going to make all aspects of our lives better (or easier) is just plain wrong. The truth is that tiny houses work for some people, couples and even families while they fail miserably for others. But why?

That’s why I want you to see why these five people decided to leave their tiny houses and go back to a more mainstream type of home. Beware. Tiny living isn’t right for all. The good news? As the years go by, tiny living options are increasing and the lifestyle will be less challenging and more obtainable to most. Is a tiny house right for you in your life right now? Are you prepared to go tiny? Read the full article and let us know in the comments below. Either way please enjoy and re-share below. Thanks!

Why These 5 People Left Their Tiny Houses

Why These 5 People Left Their Tiny Homes

Learn more: http://www.techinsider.io/five-people-who-abandoned-their-tiny-homes-2015-7

Please read the article above and let us know whether or not you think you’re prepared enough to go tiny (or small) and why or why not in the comments below. Thanks!

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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!
{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Deadrock
    August 3, 2015, 12:33 pm

    It seems to me that if you plan realistically for the most common challenges of tiny living, such as:
    1. potential offspring, which a young couple who want to have them are likely to do after a while
    2. zoning issues, which no one who has researched tiny living is unaware remains an ever present possibility
    3. the need to stay within a budget, which anybody who has the ability to add or subtract and some impulse control can do
    4. isolation and distance from amenities, which anyone who has any self-knowledge is able to judge where that line must be drawn…

    …then all that remains to scupper your dream is an act of nature, a loss of health, or an out-of-the-blue job offer on a space station that’s just too good to turn down.

    All of the people in this article, which is a very worthwhile read for the reminder of what NOT to do when starting the TH journey, didn’t necessarily think very far ahead before jumping in. For instance, lots of tiny housers manage to incorporate a baby, and I can’t imagine they never considered what having a child might do to alter their circumstances (was the pregnancy a complete surprise?), so possibly it was the unexpected health issues, which naturally can’t be planned for, that really did the young couple in. But they don’t specify what those issues were, and why they made living tiny no longer viable. Did climbing a ladder to a loft become impossible? Was someone bedridden and in need of in-home care? Did a wheelchair suddenly factor in? The house was paid for, so it couldn’t have been the medical bills.

    In the end, though, none of us know for sure how we’re going to react to such a drastic change in lifestyle until we’ve done it. As certain as we may be about what we’re able to handle, we may discover we’re not as self-aware as we imagined. Let’s just hope that, if push comes to shove, we haven’t spent so much building our now-defunct dream that we’ll never be able to sell it to anyone else without losing every dime we put into it.

    • LC
      August 3, 2015, 2:04 pm

      Deadrock…….. Well said. Our family of four just started living tiny 2 months ago. Have there been awkward, unexpected challenges? Of course, but just like embarking on a marriage, we work through the issues instead of turning tail and running. And each week that goes by it gets better. Of course, we knew what we were made of before embarking on this journey. We’ve spent years backpacking and camping together and know our strengths and weaknesses for adapting.

      • Deadrock
        August 3, 2015, 4:47 pm

        Yours sounds like a success story in the making, LC! It is indeed a commitment, although possibly easier to walk away from than a marriage. You can’t make a park model RV sign a pre-nup. 🙂

        I’ve known from the beginning that tiny would never work for me. Modest sq. footage, on the other hand, is not only do-able, I’ve been doing it for decades. A small thing, but mine own (with better space planning!), is certainly feasible and I’m working hard to see it a reality within another year.

    • Rich
      August 3, 2015, 2:48 pm

      Very thoughtful response, Deadrock.
      I especially like your closing paragraph.
      I’ve lived long enough to witness the optimism following WWII, the tumult of the Korean Conflict & Vietnam War and the swing of the political pendulum from FDR ’til now. I still find it amazing how naive most Americans are about the realities that affect their lives of which the ‘tiny house movement’ is but a small symptom. I guess it is because we have been so fortunate to have abundant natural resources, freedom and a considerable amount of physical separation from the shores of Europe and Asia. But in our isolation we have failed to gain from their troubles and we continue to rape and pillage those resources.
      During the past year I have been searching for land that is neither over-regulated nor beyond a reasonable distance to health care, groceries and the occasional contact with other human beings. The lack of professionalism or honesty among realtors and landowners has been discouraging at best. I am fortunate to not be dependent on bankers. I have found one township without zoning but the influx of tech industries is inflating land values and tax assessments. Having learned nothing from the recent housing bust of 2008-9, McMansions are still being sought and built on lands with covenants preventing people from building even modular homes or hanging out their laundry! Truly discriminatory tho’ legal practices.
      Having owned what is euphemistically called “income property” for 20 years in a city of shrinking population now under 100k, I will be lucky to break even if/when I sell within the next year. The folks moving in here simply don’t care enough about their neighbors to behave in a civil manor…. so I hope to sell it to someone of similar ilk. I am done with it.
      Still I am most grateful that I have enough savings and the ability to design a modest abode of about 500SF for my remaining years. I have found 7 acres meeting the 2 criteria of proximity and regs having a portion of about 1 acre of land neither too steep nor in wetlands. Hooray for me!
      Tx for publishing this article of the perils and pitfalls of building and living in a tiny or smaller house. I hope it reaches a wide audience.
      I applaud those with the energy and inclination to change the world who will proceed with the work that surely needs to be done if we are to experience an equitable society as intended by our founding fathers.

      • Deadrock
        August 3, 2015, 4:49 pm

        Glad to hear you’re moving ahead despite the obstacles, Rich. Rich in more than name: if not in dollars, then in sense.

      • Angela
        August 3, 2015, 5:06 pm

        Congratulations on finding a good piece of land. It sounds like you have a fair amount of $$ to build your home and settle in comfortably.
        I’m sorry the land values in your area are skewed. It does make it hard to know what to do long-term. All the old rules don’t apply it seems.

  • Adrienne
    August 3, 2015, 12:36 pm

    The zoning one was especially hard to read. I thought our government was supposed to work for us, not against us.

    • D. Lowery
      August 3, 2015, 2:11 pm

      The zoning is the issue which is killing me now. Am in my mid-50’s & have usually lived in about 300 sq ft when you consider always having to share a place with a roommate or renting a bedroom in someone’s house. Want to buy some land to keep from living in a cardboard box when I get older from not being able to afford ever increasing rents…but it seems like everywhere I look has minimum space requirements…so I don’t want to spend the little money I do have to have some governmental entity who was out-bribed by people who don’t want the poor around them come and kick me out of my pre-fab cabin I would hope to have paid off. What’s going to happen when these same people who are fighting you lose their homes and can’t afford anything but like what I’m wanting to live out the rest of my life in? The worst part is that people don’t want to think about “when” it will happen…but only it will only happen to everyone but them.

  • Martha
    August 3, 2015, 12:42 pm

    Of course tiny house living is not for most people. I’ve lived in a 34′ 5th wheel RV for several years and loved the layout of the space. It was made more liveable by the fact that I had 3 slide outs, but the storage space and arrangement of living areas was exceptional. The one thing I wished for was more food prep space in the kitchen, but I now live in a mobile home and still wish I had more counter space. Some folks want lots of sq. footage in their homes, while others like me are content in a small space. I think it’s a matter of preference, although I wouldn’t want to raise children in such a small space.

  • Gracie
    August 3, 2015, 1:58 pm

    We live in a 600 sf home w a dog and 4 cats. We have 7+ acres for our horses and other dog. The farm life keeps us so busy, we don’t notice the size of our house. I do have a she-shed for my crafts and Dan has a garage for his model A’s. We are 30 minutes from the nearest town including our church. We only have the services of a Walmart and Tractor Supply. We have lived here for 8 yrs. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The only thing I would change is having our children, who live 8 hours and 17 hours away, be closer.

    • August 3, 2015, 2:06 pm

      We have 4 dogs and one cat, no horses but only 4.2 acres. 30 minutes to anything (Wal-Mart, tractor supply) two hours to major shopping. Also wish we were closer to our son.
      Yet, I remember how difficult it was initially when we moved here 18 years ago. Of course there was no Wal-Mart or tractor supply back then. 🙂 There can definitely be a learning curve to living in the boonies.

      Wouldn’t change it for the world now though…….

    • Angela
      August 3, 2015, 5:10 pm

      Sounds lovely Gracie. I am thinking of going a bit smaller, 500 s/f.

      I currently have 5 acres with my goats and sheep and chickens. I’m planning on buying as much land as I can afford after the costs of a small, all-in-one pole building.

      I’m convinced acreage is going to be the real wealth in the years to come, especially if we can keep our health and feed ourselves from that land.

    • Kristi
      August 4, 2015, 5:45 pm

      Gracie, I totally understand how you feel about wanting to have your children closer. Mine live 6 hours away as well. It’s great that you have your farm and she-shed to keep you busy. As I grow older I realize how much my stuff controls what I do or don’t do. My husband and I have been considering building me a she-shed on wheels so we can take it when we go see our children. My house is all paid for so it wouldn’t make sense for me to sell it and move elsewhere, but we’ve considered my idea and maybe even living in it in the back of our house and basically closing up the large house. Who needs this much space.

  • Susan
    August 3, 2015, 2:00 pm

    Enjoyed reading the article and agree with the other comments. It doesn’t seem there was much “what if” went into their planning. I watched the episode where the couple were rebuilding after the fire in Colorado. While being involved in a TV show sounds great it does have the downside of deadlines. I have been following the TH movement for over a year and know that as a single person though living on a large piece of property away from “civilization” sounds wonderful(in theory) it is not the right decision for me. I have also lived in hotel rooms for extended periods of time while traveling for business and would come home to 2000 sf and feel so overwhelmed, so I know I am adaptable and can live quite well small. I have also researched several TH builders to find what specific design choices work and don’t work for me. I know I don’t want a th on wheels. Where I get hung up is WHERE to live. I would like to get out of the northeast and go someplace warm but not sure where.

    • Deadrock
      August 3, 2015, 4:50 pm

      And then there’s me…trying to get away from heat and into someplace cool! Maybe we’ll pass on the road?

  • Tom Van Soelen
    August 3, 2015, 2:03 pm

    Very insightful article. The guy fighting zoning laws should have known better. You never can fight city hall, you are always going to lose.
    The dream and romance of living so remote is just that for most people–just a dream. It is hard to live so remotely and not having the availability of the basic need of a grocery store. Unless you are some kind of “survivalist,” can live off the land, the remote living is just not going to work no matter how romantic it seems.
    Life is a compromise no matter what you do. I moved into a tiny house earlier this year. I have no regrets. Is it an “ideal utopia?” No-but the good out weighs the bad. I live in an RV Resort in So. California where the density is very high. That is the biggest negative. However on the flip side we have many luxury amenities such as a gym, tennis courts, pools etc. Everything has it’s trade offs.
    My home’s bedroom is tiny and difficult to make the queen size bed. Also I no longer have a dishwasher, however I will be adding one. The small stack washer/dryer is great, but it seems I am constantly doing loads of laundry because of capacity limitations.
    On the plus side, I have no mortgage, I own the lot upon which the tiny house sits, only pay a monthly HOA due which includes everything except electricity. No too bad in the end for one retired person.

    • Darla Olsen
      August 4, 2015, 4:58 am


  • Korie Veidel
    August 3, 2015, 2:17 pm

    Very interesting article to read. I live in a tiny house, and I constantly tell people that tiny houses (and building tiny houses!) is NOT for everyone. It just isn’t. It’s not a sustainable option for young people who want to start a family. It’s not a “cheap” option for those who want to pay nothing. And it’s not a safe option for those who haven’t looked into the zoning.

  • Wende
    August 3, 2015, 2:37 pm

    I agree with the comments about planning an research..it’s a shame the zoning wasn’t changed for Mr Bellows..he could have paved the way for others..it seems that they all had a real reason to leave..not that it just did not work out..or it was horrible..I did watch the couple in CO on tiny house nation..sounds like they may still be there if it wasn’t for the internet situation..which I’m sure we all would want to move in that case..what I was surprised to read..all the terrible things that went wrong with their place..my biggest reservation is storage..I hope to go small not what is considered tiny..looking at 600 – 650 sq ft..but even at that I’m wondering where the heck will I keep my seasonally belongs..the only answer I come up with is a shed..if the day ever comes..I’ll share with you..here at Tiny House Talk

    • Varenikje
      August 7, 2015, 2:48 am

      Isn’t there something called satellite internet? Although it sounds like they had other problems besides internet and the internet was just the “last straw.”

      • Varenikje
        August 7, 2015, 3:03 am

        Oops. I see that was discussed further down. Never mind.

  • Kate
    August 3, 2015, 4:26 pm

    My late uncle wanted to travel and his idea was to buy property in various states and erect a type of lean-to shed where he could pull up the motor home and the shed would be like a regular bathroom and living or parlor area to entertain visitors. Never lived to see that dream.

    For about 14 years, I have dreamed, planned, etc for a small space for myself and Sam, my indoor feline. Have garden space and room for a few goats so I could have some income. Because of some health issues, I know I can’t go ‘tiny’ but small will be a perfect fit. Over the last 30+ years of experimenting with what I can do without vs. must haves, am feeling fairly confident things will eventually fit in. And if a w/c enters the pix, I can still do it. One can not anticipate every little thing, but then, life is a journey. Like a good book, I am in for the distance.

  • LC
    August 3, 2015, 4:46 pm

    Thank you, Alex, for posting this. It has stimulated some very insightful conversation.

  • Lynnette
    August 3, 2015, 5:21 pm

    This saddens me. Especially about the Tiny House Nation story of the two 5hat lost their initial home to fire. Quite honestly, family planning HAS to be a number one factor next to zoning on my opinion. I see these young couples investing in a tiny house, and coming from this grandma, it would not function very well unless the spaces were made accordingly. Kids need soace, be it outside or inside and quite honestly parents need their own space as well. I hope someday soon tiny house ordinances change to where the government cannot dictate how much space a person decides to make a home with. Further, what I don’t understand, is you can rent a small apartment and nothing is questioned. But you cannot build yourself a sustainable home without all the red tape. Obviously we know it’s all about the money. Tiny houses don’t generate taxes! I call B.S.

  • Emily c.
    August 3, 2015, 6:02 pm

    Good article. Everybody had stated most everything I would’ve said very well. I’ll just add that since watching “Tiny house nation and Tiny house hunting” I have learned to appreciate my small home and also to get rid of all my clutter. I also decided that there’s no way I could live in a teeny tiny little house on wheels with a ladder to a tiny loft and a toilet that doesn’t flush.

  • Kathleen
    August 3, 2015, 6:06 pm

    For several years I wondered what happened to Gungy (Jonathan Bellows). I had followed his blog about building his Tumbleweed, the unfortunate zoning problems, mostly due to a very unpleasant neighbor next to the property he bought, and then his move to Oregon. Glad to know his dog Barney recovered from being hit by a car. Hopefully he’ll be able to get his tiny house moved to Oregon where in some areas the zoning laws seem to be a bit more progressive.

    My own journey to a tiny house has stopped at the zoning laws. I live a tiny house lifestyle now to test my ability to be comfortable with minimal possessions. It’s working just fine. I’ve gleaned many great design ideas from Alex’s newsletter, and I’m ready to build! But where oh where to put it? That seems to be my final frontier.

  • mountaingypsy
    August 3, 2015, 9:19 pm

    Kathleen, I recently discovered that 2 towns now have changed their zoning FOR tiny homes! One is Spur, TX, the other is Walsenburg, CO! I am familiar with Walsenburg, as I lived near, there and am still in CO. The town is fine. I am not sure where land is offered or the price. I don’t know IF they are allowing in town lots or what. It is also right off I 25, about an hour south of Pueblo, has a hospital, shopping, etc. You might want to check it out! CO is gorgeous. Also 35 to 40 and over acreage is also available, for cheap, if flat, or many other options. Good luck! 🙂 Also several TH co’s are in the state.

  • Robin
    August 3, 2015, 11:44 pm

    When considering making a lifestyle change like this, I think it’s important to weigh in all wants, needs, and restrictions… and then see if a tiny house lifestyle makes sense for you. Rather than fall in love with tiny houses and make your lifestyle try to fit. We feel in love with tiny houses, but considering all life factors is what lead our family to embrace small house living. Everyone needs to consider the proper balance for them.

  • August 4, 2015, 12:20 am

    This isn’t the first home I’ve heard abandoned for lack of internet access. This puzzles me. You spend $260,000 on a house, then can’t be bothered to spend a grand to run a custom internet connection? Its like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I will live in a yurt if I can have fast internet, even if the internet costs more than the yurt and the land I put it on. Priorities, peoples, priorities.

    • Mame
      August 4, 2015, 2:32 am

      I am also puzzled by this abandonment re lack of internet access. My sister lives in the far north and they use internet supplied by satellite… is this not available to everyone?

      • August 4, 2015, 6:25 am

        I wondered about the internet access too. Sometimes you’re just so broken by a continuous stream of problems that you just want out. Maybe the internet was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back or a convenient reason to throw ones hand up and shout uncle! Sounds odd but when you’re totally overwhelmed I could see it feeling that way.

        • August 4, 2015, 9:53 am

          Understandableyes. Rational, no.

    • Mike
      August 4, 2015, 8:45 am

      The article says they needed “reliable internet” and while it it didn’t say specifically, I got the impression that satellite would be their only option…and it’s anything but reliable and certainly not fast. I don’t know what type of work they were in, but if it involved sending/receiving large files or video conferencing, then satellite would be nearly useless.

      • Mike
        August 4, 2015, 8:47 am

        “it it”

        Sometimes I repeat myself.

        Sometimes I repeat myself.

        • August 4, 2015, 11:07 am

          Hughes net offers up to 15 megabit down, 2 megabit up, satellite internet service. If that isn’t considerable, I’m a monkey’s uncle.

        • August 4, 2015, 11:17 am

          Offering great bandwidth and speed is very different from delivering it. We tried satellite internet and, at least in our area, it was just too darn unreliable to consider keeping and I’d consider us to be light users. I also know others in our area that discovered the same when they took the satellite plunge. To fall back on a runner’s saying, “Your mileage may vary.”

        • August 4, 2015, 11:35 am

          You have your expectations which are one thing, then your actual requirements which are another – the end user has has to decide if any compromise or change in expectations to get closer to the actual requirements is appropriate given the tradeoffs – yes, satellite (or even fixed wireless) is not as consistent as wired internet. Heavy winds can vibrate the satellite dish – you may need to brace it more than stock in order to keep it steady. Not expensive, but throwing a fit over unreliability and never actually addressing the root cause is just irrational silliness. Hell, given my experience, if you think that the fixed wireless they were originally going to use is ‘reliable’ you’re being ridiculous. The three forms of fixed wireless I’ve used are at best approximately as reliable as satellite and not as fast – your antennas can vibrate, the moisture content of the air is a distinct issue, temperature inversions bend and distort the signal.

          But those who are space-fortunate enough to live in the higher altitudes of the west of this country have an distinct advantage of not being under another mile of the thick murky, distorting water-filled air that much of the country is. The connection I used that was entirely usable was in the high desert at about 4K feet elevation. I’m sure that the use case in question on a hill in Colorado will similarly find their performance and signals better than average.

          If they decided not to simply not invest in running a few wires or a couple of coax up to their property, so they can have all the internet bandwidth they care to have reliably, at least. Instead of abandoning it.

      • August 4, 2015, 9:51 am

        There is a difference between in the box consumer oriented services provided on a market and the realm of possible ways to get reliable internet. I assert they did not go beyond that box.

        Yes latency sucks for satellite but its bandwidth is considerable. I have used satellite for work and for all but immediate latency operations it is entirely reliable (except briefly during intense storms) and has sufficient bandwidth to push large files.

        That said they could have gone the other ways of running their own wires, or of putting up a relay station and microwave link to some base station with available internet. Once you already are 260 grand into a project abandoning it over another dozen is illogical.

        • Mike
          August 4, 2015, 11:03 am

          “Considerable bandwidth”? I assert you’re the only one on the Internet who has ever said that….it’s simply not true.

          Illogical? Who are you, Mr. Spock?

  • Shortbusus
    August 4, 2015, 5:01 pm

    Moved into a converted short school bus 11 years ago with 2 children. Two years ago I added a 13 ft trailer for the oldest boy. I found it exciting from the beginning and to this day. Prior to living this way I lived in a 4500 sq ft home and a 2500 sq ft home. There are some challenges but then living large certainly has its own. I find solitude when I need out want it and financially this makes far more sense to me. Too much wasted space and energy in a large home. This isn’t for everyone but to the people who are so negative about it I say shut up! The kids do very very well in school and are basically happy guys. Happiness, contentment in life is what you make it and I’m never going back to a large home. If you have kids, they will adapt if you are happy and model the way for them with regard to what’s important in life.

    • Alex
      August 4, 2015, 6:17 pm

      Thanks for sharing that! Well said! Best wishes to you and your family 🙂

  • Vernon OBM.
    August 7, 2015, 10:01 pm

    I had my round with hughes net ! In my experience their advertisement is far far below reality altho I realize that this may seem to be this may seem to be the only option for a very isolated tiny home.
    But : For my self all I can say is, NO NO NO !!
    I second the sentiment of David Ihnen about the necessity of an internet connection !!

  • Vernon OBM.
    August 7, 2015, 10:20 pm

    Sorry about repeating myself, Lol !

  • Ryan_NYC
    August 26, 2015, 5:16 pm

    Great article! I love watching Tiny House Nation, but always cringe when the host says “Tiny house is the next big thing!” as if it is something trendy. Having reside in NYC for the last 15 years living in small places is nothing new to me. Being a minimalist and single, I have entertained the idea of living tiny. Unfortunately, it is an unrealistic dream at this point as my job requires me to stay closer to metropolitan areas. Zoning in metro area would never allow a tiny house and there are parking space, grey water disposal, water access concerns … I am still thinking about how my tiny house would look like, and researching building materials though. May be one day.

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