Remember when tiny houses were all the rage? While these micro homes may not be in as high of a demand as they once were, the concept of living tiny hasn’t exactly disappeared. In fact, I would venture to say the idea of living big in tiny homes is becoming even more popular.
Got you curious?
Let’s explore how you can reduce expenses, simplify your life and live big in a small space!
So What Exactly Constitutes as a Tiny Home?
There doesn’t appear to be a hard and fast rule on how little square footage is needed to be considered tiny, but generally, anything under 400 square feet could be considered a tiny house. In addition, anything under 1000 square feet is still considered small and could definitely count as “living tiny,” especially if there are a few individuals involved.
How to Choose Your Tiny Living Space
It’s important to decide whether you expect living tiny to be a short-term arrangement designed to help you reach a financial goal, or part of a longer term lifestyle.
Once you decide, you will be able to better allocate resources to help get started.
Short Term Tiny Living
If your plan is shorter term, then looking for a small space to rent from a family member or friend would be highly recommended.
- a bedroom,
- an in-law suite,
- a basement apartment,
- or a converted shed in the backyard…
…these tiny living options are meant to motivate you to reduce costs and save as much money as quickly as possible.
And sure, you could stick with them for quite a few years, but it’s really important to have a back up plan since these options rely on others’ living arrangements as well.
Longer Term Tiny Living
If you are looking at a longer term arrangement then it may make sense to buy or build a legitimate tiny house. There are a TON of free resources for getting started if you decide to go that route.
Depending on the complexity of your build, you could be looking to spend anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 on just the structure alone.
After that, you’ll need to figure out where to park it.
The most affordable option is to work out a deal with someone for a small parking space on their land. Maybe they will charge just enough to cover their property taxes, or only ask you to cover whatever utilities you plan to use.
Not many mobile home parks allow tiny houses, so if that’s the route you were hoping to go, make sure you call around and get it cleared before you count on that option.
Of course, you can always buy your own plot of land to park or build your tiny house.
If you plan to go the land route, do your homework first! It’s important to be clear on your township’s building rules. While you can likely skirt around any building requirements by constructing your tiny house on a trailer, some townships require that a functioning well and septic be in place before legally dwelling on a piece of land.
Modular and prefab homes are also on the rise and newer designs are getting a bit more of a modern twist. Once you have a plot of land secured, you can simply order your dream house and watch it get pieced together in a matter of weeks.
If building a tiny house isn’t your thing, why not pursue a ready-made living space? Welcome to the wonderful world of RV living!
- RV’s offer tiny living spaces that don’t require any building, and
- designs like fifth wheels and travel trailers provide the most square footage at the best price.
- Many gently used trailers can be found priced for well under $25,000.
If you have a larger budget, you can find some pretty swanky looking RVs between $50k-$75k that come equipped for all-season living. In fact, it is highly recommend that you look for a “polar package” of sorts so you don’t have to worry about your tanks freezing over the winter.
Don’t forget about vans and buses either!
These vehicles are usually pretty affordable, and with a bit of creativity and sweat equity, you can create the ultimate tiny house on wheels. Check out these amazing bus conversions for a little inspiration.
Obviously, you will need to consider parking options with any tiny mobile home.
However, you may have even more available options with an RV than in a traditional tiny house. RVs are easier to pack up and move as needed, and mobile home parks are more accommodating to these types of vehicles.
Other Tiny Living Options
If being mobile isn’t important to you, there are still quite a few more tiny living options.
Be sure to explore:
- shipping container homes,
- cob houses,
- treehouses, and
- houseboats (ok well…this one is obviously mobile, but it’s unconventional!).
Truly, if you can dream up a space, you can likely find a way to live in it quite comfortably.
So, now that you know how to get started living in tiny homes, here are some ways you can live and save big in the process:
With the cost of tiny living options coming in at significantly lower prices than traditional real estate, paying for homes in cash or paying off loans early is a very real option.
Life without a mortgage will allow for a lot of extra cash flow each month, or will simply provide the option to work fewer hours each week. You also won’t have as much space to fill so you will need far fewer household items and furniture.
Embrace a More Minimalist Lifestyle
Less space to fill may be just the thing you need to consider downsizing. You may be surprised to learn how little you truly need when forced to pare down. But minimalism isn’t just about how much you can take away. It’s also about utilizing and designing a space well.
- stairs that double as shelving,
- added storage under beds and couches, or
- fold down counters and table spaces…
…a minimal design seeks to create more with less.
A smaller space certainly requires a more creative approach to one’s daily routine and it can be a fun challenge to take on.
Read More: 9 Reasons to Consider a Minimalist Lifestyle
Reduce Utility Costs
Obviously, a smaller space will cost less to maintain and to manage, but it may also allow for some non-traditional energy options as well.
Since you will have less overall energy needs, solar or wind power may be a reasonable and cost effective option. Using small wood or coal powered stoves for heating, and working with nature to position your home to get the most warmth from the sun in the winter and the least in the summer will have a significant impact on energy costs.
Looking to hook up to traditional electric, water and sewer?
You still won’t need nearly as much energy as you would in a larger space. Sure, it’s totally plausible that some people can still be pretty energy efficient and frugal in larger spaces, but when you live in a tiny home, you don’t get to opt out of energy efficient choices.
Less Time Maintaining, More Time Living
Less stuff equals less needed space, and ultimately, less cleaning. Less cleaning requires fewer cleaning products, less time shopping, and less time invested in managing a home.
The Priceless Gift
At this point, you’ve successfully reduced your:
- energy needs,
- mortgage payments,
- home maintenance expenses, and
- the burden of needing to work so much.
What are you left with?
You now have a lot of extra time on your hands.
Basically, you may have more time on your hands than you ever imagined! Get outside! Explore nature. Volunteer. Take up that hobby or side-gig you’ve been meaning to pursue. In fact, living big in tiny homes may feel similar to leading a financially independent lifestyle, without, you know, actually being financially independent.
Do you think you could live big in a tiny home? Just make sure you do your homework before jumping in!
Living Big in Tiny Homes – Is It For You??
This lifestyle truly isn’t for everyone. You will especially need to consider the challenges of the smaller space if you have kids, pets or find joy in regularly hosting social events.
- Maybe you enjoy collecting things and need a space to keep them,
- or just love the look and feel of an older style, traditional home.
Ultimately, you just need to decide what brings you the most joy.
However, there are many positives to living tiny and no denying the incredible financial boost it can provide for many people, so do some research and at least try it out before writing it off entirely!
So what do you think? Do you, or have you, lived in a tiny home? How do you live big in a tiny space?
AUTHOR Kerah Kemmerer
Hello! I'm Kerah. I'm a writer and personal finance enthusiast with a background in marketing. I'm also a wedding and portrait photographer, part-time RVer and a lover of simple and minimal living. Always up to some project or adventure over @krisandkerah on Instagram.