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Spouse or Significant Other Hesitant About Tiny House Living

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(You can read or watch the video version if you scroll down)

Now I’m not talking about a small house. I’m saying a tiny Tumbleweed house. You know, those little 65 to 120 square foot homes that are built on flat bed trailers.

Let’s pretend for a moment that your partner was completely cool with the idea because I know that most of us aren’t so lucky (understandably). So let’s just make believe for now.

And who knows, maybe you’ll have him/her convinced after this?

First of all, why in the world would two people want to live in such a small space? I mean, it’s practically a fully featured walk in closet with windows and a sleeping loft.

Who in their right minds would want to live in something so small?

Let’s go over the top 7 reasons for you and “yours truly” to move into a tiny house…

  • Your life would become super simple which means you’d have loads of extra time
  • You’d spend less than 30 minutes a week cleaning and maintaining your home
  • Your living expenses would be as low as ever
  • Your savings would skyrocket
  • You’ll discover enough extra time and money for your passion
  • You would be an inspiration to minimalists everywhere
  • You’ll have the resources (and time) to help the people around you

In addition to all of that you would get outside of your house more often which means you’ll be meeting new and interesting people in your community. And last but not least, you’ll start getting a lot more exercise.

Assuming that your partner agrees with the idea do you think it would work? What would be your biggest challenges? Let’s talk about it in the comments way below.

This post was inspired by two couples: Evan and Gabby who are in the process of finishing their tiny house. And Tammy and Logan who also have their own little home in the works.

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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!
{ 36 comments… add one }
  • March 8, 2011, 1:21 pm

    My biggest challenge is my office because I’m currently using the extra bedroom in our 600 square foot apartment to keep my business separate from my personal space because I work from home.

    So if Andrea and I were to build our own tiny house we’d have to figure this one part out by either building a separate space for my business, renting a separate office off site, or adjusting to something else??

    Right now I love my office space and it’s hard to give it up.

  • March 8, 2011, 1:26 pm

    Another huge issue for us is location… Right now we can walk to a bunch of cool places like the beach, restaurants, coffee shops and downtown.

    It’d be super challenging to get a tiny house in this area because they’re really strict on code enforcement so if we did it, we’d most likely have to move 10-30 miles away from the area we love spending time in.

  • March 8, 2011, 1:44 pm

    BTW – The largest challenge is that is no LARGEST challenge. There are a number of challenges that arise stemming from actual construction to emotional and spiritual as well. Oh, and did I mention the legalities involved? A lot of communities will not recognize tiny homes as actual domiciles which can create a lot of stress on the couple.

  • Ginnee
    March 8, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Tiny is a bit tiny for me. I design interior layouts for houses 500 sq ft or less. Most are between 320 -500 sq ft. Very easy to live as a family in this size house when you have designed the floor and wall space in an effective way. Think vertical, multipurpose, and use every inch of interior wall space.

  • constance blizzard
    March 8, 2011, 2:06 pm

    We’re living in about 140 square feet (a camper trailer with a mudroom we built onto it to house a wood stove) while saving bucks to build something more. I find that after the first few rocky months, we got along better than ever (with this much space, there’s no room for ignoring one another’s nonsense, slamming doors, or being passive aggressive… and no sofa to sleep on or door to slam!).

    I have the same problem with my office space– right now, I rent off-site space, where there’s internet access. If there’s ever access where we are, I’ll probably build (read: have HIM build!) a separate space on-site. I love the idea of multiple shacks for multiple uses on-site, to give you an excuse to roam your land some, and keep you from -really- “working from home.” That separation is healthy, I think….

  • Jimmie
    March 8, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I currently up scaled to a 27 x 17 unit. I am remodeling it for perm use. The cottage I had lived in was a small 20 x 20 1 bedroom 3/4 bath. The new one is going to be 2 small 7×12 aprox bedrooms and a liv/kit/full bath.
    The challenge I would have living in a tiny home smaller than I do is I require a lot of me time and “my” space. My private time is important to me. With 2 adults sharing a tiny space I start to get claustrophobic and thats not good. Just me I can function quite well in a small space alone. Right now I am remodeling my cottage for full time living of a 4yo and myself. That will be fun but we have our own spaces.

  • C Breeze
    March 8, 2011, 2:43 pm

    @ Alex: buy a second one to house your business and write it off!

  • Manuel
    March 8, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Alex, great question. My son, his wife, and their two small children recently moved up from Santa Monica, CA. Due to a job layoff, they moved into our home of 1700 sq. ft. My wife of 40 years and I moved into a 12 X 16 Cabin on the same property. Complete with a full bath (shower), and a small Kitchen, (4′ wide), we have been living in this Tiny House for over a year. I love it, although my wife is coming close to her limit. In the right environment, eg, lot location, privacy from surrounding neighbors etc, I would say, with out question, this has been a memorable experience. Next time, 16 X 20 or a maximum of 24 X 24 cabin size would easily accoumodate our life style for a long time to come. I recommend it to anyone who might be looking to make a significant impact in todays world. Manuel…..
    PS. Keep up the good work !!!!

  • March 8, 2011, 3:24 pm

    Good points @Drew, there really are a handful of challenges for most of us. Especially couples.

    @Constance I looked through your site, boy does it look cold up there!!! I thought about renting an office off site but at this point I’d rather just keep my apartment with the extra room.

    @Jimmie good points on personal space.

    @Manuel, Ginnie and C Breeze thank you for your ideas!

    I know that a lot of people out there who write for a living or are able to work from home use coffee shops and things like that to do their work. Not a bad idea either but I still like to have the ability to print and use a whiteboard for brainstorming, etc. Although I know it can be done…

  • Mark Frost
    March 8, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Alex, this is an interesting exercise.

    I’m approaching this from the perspective of being 46 and have been married for over 22 years. If my better half was for living in a small “Tumbleweed” type house, I would build it tomorrow and move to Parry Sound Ontario, Canada.

    It would be great to have no mortgage, and less worries; however we would need a design with a bedroom on the main floor , and this would be challenging.

    A friend mentioned to me that you have to picture yourself further down the line, in a nursing home. All your possessions need to fit in the storage that they provide you , which is essentially an end table and a closet. This really makes you think about what is important.

    So my feeling is that living in a small house would train you to learn what is important and necessary. Just like living on a boat. I believe Buckminster Fuller had a quote that lends itself to living in a certain way……it will take me time to find it and I’ll send it to you later this week.

    Thanks for this opportunity to reflect on your question.

  • March 8, 2011, 3:45 pm

    I have always been torn on this issue. I am one that likes to spend time with my significant other, but I also like my alone time. Sometimes you just need some space, but a Tiny house doesn’t afford you an extra room. That said Tiny Houses lift an extraordinary burden of debt and we know the number one cause of divorce stems from finanical troubles.

    I talk about Dating in Tiny Houses in my post here:


    Ryan Mitchell

  • March 8, 2011, 5:44 pm

    I currently live in an 800 sq.ft. cob home, with my wife and twin 7 year old sons. We moved from a 500 sqft. cob house. It made the 800 footer look absolutely huge. Having kids in a tiny house would be quite a challenge. A simple solution would be to build 2 tiny homes. The second one could be a office/studio and with a loft you would get your spare bedroom. With carpentry skills you could build a tiny house in 4 to 6 weeks. My wife works from home in a big [7X15] teardrop trailer I built. If you live in a warm climate, you spend a lot of time outdoors. Minnesota in January with 4 people in a small space sounds lie a recipe for disaster.
    Pat at cobworks.com

  • Kirby Chapman
    March 8, 2011, 6:37 pm

    I have lived the majority of my life in a Semi. My wife and I lived in it for two years when we first got together. We did all our cooking in a microwave oven, And used a (5) gallon bucket with trash bags for a toilet. Living in a semi is almost like living in a tiny house only their’s no hot and cold running water, and no shower in the truck. I did have a bed in the loft. I do believe that a tiny house on wheels is the way that I will go once I get my medical problems taken care of. I’m working on a design that would include a washer and dryer on a 20 ft plus trailer with the amenities of the rest of the tiny homes.

  • Roxy
    March 8, 2011, 8:54 pm

    I live in a 288 sq ft house by myself. Two could live here comfortably, but I’m not too sure about 2 people in a house half that size.
    Honestly, I really don’t get why you would want one on wheels. They are not meant to be moved around all the time like a travel trailer, so I can’t figure out where you would put one.In your relatives yard? And then where?
    Why not have a tiny house on your own property sans the wheels.

  • Timaree (freebird)
    March 8, 2011, 10:26 pm

    I want a fencl. My husband thinks I am crazy and I would be if I was dreaming of living in one with him. That’s why I am dreaming as I am not leaving him for a tiny house as much as I want one! We couldn’t share the space and the biggest reason is his snoring. That sounds like a little thing but having been married for 38 years I can tell you it is not. He now has his own bedroom and in a tiny house that wouldn’t be likely nor would it matter since the sound would travel too much. That’s the thing really. The little things are what can get to a couple sharing such a tiny space. They have to really understand themselves and each other to come to the decision to share a tiny home.

    On another note, Roxy asks why anyone would want a home on wheels. Well, I want to live in southern California and we all know how fast wild fires move and how often they are burning up areas of California. If the fires don’t get you an earthquake could. Well, a tiny home on wheels isn’t going to crack it’s foundation in an earthquake and it can be pulled to safety so as to not burn up in a wildfire. (My uncle’s house burned up a number of years ago and many of my family had to evacuate different fires hoping there would be a home to come home to. That makes me think a tiny home ON wheels would be a good idea for me someday.

  • Roxy
    March 9, 2011, 6:45 am

    Okay, I can see the logic in being able to move out of the path of a fire, but where to move it to? Can you live in a campground?
    Just sayin… I’m all for tiny houses and downsizing. I did it three years ago myself, I just think that people should really think hard about where to put one if it’s on wheels. Are these light enough to be moved around for traveling the country, as in a travel trailer?
    I considered a tiny house on wheels before I bought my property. I decided against it, as much as I love to travel, because there was no where to put it. Most of my family lived in neighborhoods where I would not have been allowed to park it. Campgrounds around here charge on average $40 a day to stay.
    What are some other options?
    I love this website, and the wonderful tiny house ideas, so I’m just trying to understand the practicality.

  • March 9, 2011, 7:08 am

    @Roxy – My wife and I bought land in our county and will be “parking” our Tiny House there to live. Zoning ordinances were next to none due to the large amount of mobile homes and modular homes in and around our location. For us it worked out perfectly as we have a hobby farm and spend far more time outside than in. We aren’t going to be fleeing a fire but we are also FAR from living in a campground. In fact, a growing number of campgrounds do not allow people to stay longer than 2 weeks due to the recent surge in unemployment/migrant workers seeing campgrounds as temporary homes. The thing I think you have to understand is that a lot of people do not view Tiny Homes as travel trailers but rather homes that are capable of being moved relatively easy should they decide to relocate or realize they need to (perhaps for work or to be closer to family). They are a new option in living in which you don’t have to leave your precious house behind when you move. You can take it with you. I don’t think suburban areas will ever allow tiny houses though as those same areas require septic/electrical/sewage, etc. which many tiny houses do not care for. It is a large grey area right now and a decision to be made on a very personal level.


  • Roxy
    March 9, 2011, 7:18 am

    I guess that’s my point. You have to have land to put them on, and apparently even that is hard in a lot of areas because of zoning laws.
    I plan on having 4-5 tiny homes on my property eventually and rent them for income when I retire. I’m lucky to live in an area where there are not so many rules and regulations and I can do pretty much what I want.
    Maybe I should consider just making spaces for people to move their own tiny homes here instead!

  • March 9, 2011, 8:22 am

    Alex…. I seem to recall that you have asked essentially this question before. Now I don’t want to do any flaming, but at some point it makes one angry to see people continuing to keep their heads in the sand about the real problem here: zoning and other political issues.

    At some point it comes down to honesty. Are you just saying this stuff on your blog as fluff to try to bring in the ad revenue? Because I am afraid that is what it looks like.

    We KNOW what the benefits are already. They have been gone over a million times already on blogs like yours.

  • March 9, 2011, 8:36 am

    @Gregor – Great point. Forget ad revenue at this point. Let’s talk zoning. Along with a couple other people in my community we have worked together and read through our county zoning ordinances to bring to light the notion of tiny houses. We have been met with no opposition. Worse though, we have been met with indifference. Our commission seems to think this is an isolated case and that no one would choose tiny house living over traditional stick and brick homes. We cannot put our tiny homes in a residential area because of sewage and wastewater. We cannot live rurally unless we own 2 acres or more (which thankfully, we do). We are not an RV by Dept. of Motor Vehicle standards and we are not a home due to square footage laws. We are grey matter. What that translates to me is we do not fit neatly into a pre-established personal property tax assessment bracket. We need – as a tiny house community nationwide – a gov’t official that sees the benefit in tiny living and how it can revitalize a community, lessen carbon footprints, provide affordable housing without stressing the mortgage market, etc. My question is when will all the “big names” in tiny houses start advocating for this type of living in a real, honest, legal, way? They have the attention of the press now (attn: Jay, Dee, etc)…let’s start making a case for tiny houses. They are cute. Yes. But they are functional and they can serve a multitude of purposes. I would be MORE than happy to serve on the board and to represent my region. I want the same chance as everyone else to live in the home of MY dreams, whatever size/shape it may be.


  • March 9, 2011, 9:03 am

    Gregor I bring points up again because I like talking about them and hearing from you guys. And as our audience grows here we can enjoy better conversation.

    I agree with Drew when he says we could use (NEED) a gov’t official that understands the benefits of tiny houses.

    In the next year or two we’re going to continue experiencing more progress with these issues. They simply take time. But I can tell you the demand for these little houses continues to grow and grow.

    As for couples living in them… I’m still not sure it’s a good long term idea if you want to keep a healthy relationship.

  • March 9, 2011, 9:07 am

    More on zoning… Every area is going to have different rules, regulations and PEOPLE. So it’s not the same everywhere.

    Successful “tiny housers” have put their home wherever RV’s are allowed. Others have called their homes (to zoning) a trailer with a valuable “load”. Then they simply keep it out of site. This seems to work many cases but every situation is DIFFERENT (neighbors, code enforcement, the area you are in, etc).

    The fact is that right now if you want one of these you have to make it happen for yourself. But it’s all in HOW YOU SAY IT to zoning, code enforcement, your neighbors, etc.

  • March 9, 2011, 9:20 am

    @Alex – Using the divorce rate of the past 25 years I would say that living together in 2500 square foot is all that great for a relationship either. Hmmmmm…..

  • March 9, 2011, 9:43 am

    I doubt that divorce rates are directly related to square footage. I’m sure that you and your wife have a great relationship and would be fine wherever you decide to reside.

    Society, celebrity influence, television, movies, reality TV and all of that probably have more to do with the divorce rates in my opinion. And people change. Sometimes a lot later than others…

    If I were single I’d be completely crazy about getting my own tiny house. But I’m not going to force Andrea to live in 100 square feet with me while I attempt to work there too.

    And even if I had the land I’d prefer to build our own 300-600 square foot place that suits both of our needs.

  • March 9, 2011, 10:18 am

    Divorce can’t be directly linked to anything. I mean, if I didn’t match well with the person I could no more make it in 25,000 square foot than I could in 200. You either are are you are not compatible – to be very matter of fact.

    As for spouses. Yeah, if the other spouse is not 100% into it it will NEVER work. It has to be a co-dream. Something like y’alls apartment is a great compromise and that is what relationship is about, no? We are very different in that we both had this dream.

  • March 9, 2011, 12:05 pm

    Very true. And you guys are doing things right by creating an outdoor space that meets all of your needs…essential for couples and families living in a really small spaces.

  • March 9, 2011, 12:07 pm

    @Roxy I don’t think these are meant for travelers. I think the main reason that they started to be built on trailers were to bypass the minimum square foot standards in most areas.

    If you want to travel with them, an RV is the way to go because it’s much lighter.

  • Roxy
    March 9, 2011, 12:16 pm

    Makes sense

  • March 10, 2011, 7:59 am

    What a great green idea that forces us to get along. One of my passions is visiting historic homes that ordinary people lived in. For millenium, people have lived in much smaller spaces. The shot-gun houses of New Orleans, for example, and my favorite, the log cabin. I visited a log cabin 20 x 20 ft with a sleeping loft that nine children were raised in.
    That’s a tiny house. And we all managed.

  • Jimmie
    March 10, 2011, 10:31 am

    I have two thoughts 1st is @Gregor. I really don’t understand why you would comment on a blog you dont like. I mean I seen and answered the question for the first time few days ago. So he is reaching people that possibly like myself didn’t see the last 100 post about it. I skip over info I don’t need and move on. I don’t comment on those things.
    2nd. I am wondering because of the rules for homes. If you build on a “frame” and wheels I am thinking for zoning purposes you can put anywhere a “camper” is allowed. If you build on a foundation then its a totally new ball of wax. It becomes a “building” vs a portable unit.
    Just two thoughts of mine meaning no offense to anyone.

  • March 10, 2011, 1:46 pm

    @Jimmie Exactly. Zoning and regulations are the reasons that people started to build these little houses on trailers. That’s part of the solution to the complexities we’re dealing with as far as zoning goes.

    And if a problem arises… No big deal because your house is already on wheels. You can literally move on by renting a UHaul or something.

    And just to address the regular foundation issues… People have been insulating sheds and outfitting them for “occasional camping” the same way that others are doing it with tiny houses on trailers. In regular neighborhoods too. Some are even doing it legally as “in law suites”.

    @Gregor I don’t even know what to say to you… Do you realize how you are acting? The laws are not going to change across our entire country just for you. Stop complaining and worrying about others and you will find the time and resources to make your tiny house dreams a reality. No offense intended to you either…

  • Kat
    September 15, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Sorry for coming into an older post and commenting, but I think my biggest challenge is that while I can (help) build a house, I can’t afford to buy a truck to haul the trailer!

  • September 16, 2011, 4:07 pm

    On the contrary Kat, thank you for coming by and leaving your thoughts. I’ve heard of people just renting a Uhaul truck when they need to move it. I think you even get insurance for the move through them. That’s probably what I would do but I guess if you have a car you have to find a way to drive that too. Or sell it and buy a new one at your new location?

  • Kat
    September 16, 2011, 4:15 pm

    That’s a good idea, renting a Uhaul. I don’t know how much weight they can haul but I think that places like Menards and Home Depot rent pickup trucks by the hour, if you’re only moving it a short distance. But yes, then you have to move your car too. My current car can only haul 1000 pounds – barely enough to haul the smallest of teardrop trailers.

    Another topic I would like to read about, if you’re accepting ideas for posts, is, let’s say I want to park in a friend’s back yard… how would I hook up to their water, electricity, and sewer? How much would it cost to set up an outside connection to those utilities? Are there permits involved? I know that around here, all the RV parks that have full hookups are expensive… around $50/day. That wouldn’t be an option for me.

  • September 16, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Cool idea for a post! I’m not 100% sure on all of that. I’ve found that some RV parks will offer you deep discounts if you agree to stay for a few months. So it can def get cheaper than $50 a day in a lot of places. Never hurts to call and ask for long-term rates.

    For power it would be much like an RV. Just a long power cord that you’d probably have an electrician set up for you. You can also have the plumbing done like an RV.

    As far as setting that up in a backyard I really don’t know. Lots of areas will require a permit for that although some won’t. Thanks for coming by Kat!

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