How to Convince Your Spouse to Live Tiny

by Kent Griswold on March 27th, 2012. 72 Comments
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I have been getting this question a lot lately. How can I convince my spouse/partner/significant other to live tiny?

I have featured several couples who have made this choice and are very happy that they have, but most of us find ourselves in a situation where only one person is totally convinced. So, I have decided to broach the subject with you, my readers, and hope you will join the discussion in the comment section below with your suggestions.

I, personally, still live in a small home, around 1200 sq ft. Our son is in college, but comes home fairly regularly and our daughter’s room has become the guest room/office/workroom.

Our goal is to downsize when the both kids are completely out. However, I don’t see us moving into an extremely tiny house (130 square feet like some couples have). We are getting older and a loft is out of the question and we each need some private space for work or play. I see us eventually in a smaller home of 400 to 700 square feet as our answer.

What is your answer and how will convince your partner to downsize with you?

Tammy and Logan in Dee's Tiny House

Photo Credit Tammy Strobel

72 Responses to “How to Convince Your Spouse to Live Tiny”

  1. My husband and I live in a 2000 s.f. house, which I think is more than twice what we need. I specifically picked out a cottage rental at the beach which I thought was what I would like to live in eventually. When we stayed there, he fell in love with it and took lots of pictures and began planning with me. He just needed to see it in person. The place we stayed, by the way, was Seabrook on the Washington State coast. They have beautiful cottages of every size for rent year round. http://www.seabrookcottagerentals.com/

    • molly says:

      I should preface this by saying I do not have a partner to convince, but these are things that convinced me to live small.

      I agree that rentals are a great way to test the waters, so to speak, of tiny or small homes. For me, what really convinced me to live smaller was how free I feel on vacation. It’s not just the vacation, it’s living in a smaller space with less stuff. I didn’t spend much time cleaning. I felt freer without all the stuff around, and I have very little to start with. I have stayed in many a small space and I love it.

      A lot of people think they need the space because of their stuff. Where would they put everything in a smaller space? I would recommend writing down everything you use for a month. You can also pack things up and put them in the garage, basement, someplace out of sight for a month and see if you miss them.

      A third idea is to keep track of how much time and money you spend on your living space. For some people seeing all those small blocks of time spent cleaning or maintaining their space added up is a shock. Doing the math on how many hours you work to pay for your space too can be shocking.

      • I don’t have a partner to convince either, which is probably one of the reasons I don’t have a partner–convincing someone is not the way I want to live. :)

        Anyway, I agree with Molly. It’s that feeling of freedom on vacation. I stayed in one of Tall Pines Inn historic log cabins in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and felt so at home I never wanted to leave. It wasn’t just the small space, it was the logs too. It was the perfect environment for me. I think once you’ve found what you like, you just know it.

        Another reason is the freedom of being financially independent and secure and tiny living makes that possible.

        I like living simply and easily and cleaning sure isn’t high on my list of things I like to do. I want to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and not the constant worry or maintenance of how I’m going to keep it all going.

        On another topic, I sure feel for everyone who has to go through their stuff and decide what to keep and not. Maybe a post is due on that subject. It seems like I’ve ran across that theme a lot in the blogs I click out of in these comments. I set up my things for tiny house living awhile back when I was in a position to rebuild and I did it with tiny house living in mind. I don’t live big now and I don’t collect and keep everything in mind for when I have my own small place.

        And on this topic here in this post, bottom line is some people will change their mind in a couple situation if exposed to different ideas and some won’t. Some good friends of mine, he’d live in a small Ozarks shack tomorrow and be perfectly comfortable, but her, no way. She likes big, open spaces and that ain’t gonna change. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone’s fine.

  2. Ozark Nick says:

    Wow! Twelve-hundred square feet is now considered small? LOL.

    Seriously though, I guess I’m pretty lucky. My Beloved and I have always been interested in living in small spaces. :-)

    • Kent Griswold says:

      By American standards :-)

      • et says:

        This. The credibility problem of tiny house proponents.

        How many of the tiny house builders/sales people actually live in tiny houses?

        Imagine carnivores advocating for vegetarianism, 2 car households promoting bicycles for others…

        • molly says:

          This doesn’t bother in this instance (tiny houses). There are lots of people who want to live in a tiny or small house, but there are hundreds of reasons why people aren’t able to at the moment. Some may never be able to. Tiny living is not practical or feasible in all situations. It doesn’t mean those people don’t have ideas or information to share.

          From reading the comments it seems like most people who come here currently do not live tiny. Many hope to some day, while others believe it will never happen for them. I still enjoy the information and ideas they share though.

  3. Carol Mc Daniel says:

    Having never had the “living large bug”, both of us like under 1000sq.ft. for a efficient place to nest. We are fortunate to have had that programmed into our DNA’s somehow.
    That being said, this ever pricey economy that keeps going up and up, I believe will make more people space conscience for the dollar one has to expend just to get by. Jobs are getting harder to come by and if one thinks about “compressing life in the depression” economy, eliminating expensive burdens where one can, begins in ones own back yard as it were. The word is “DOWNSIZE”, haves vs. needs and not looking over the fence at all the baggage the neighbors have!!

  4. molly says:

    I wanted to say thank you to Kent for starting this discussion. I enjoy so many of the posts you do, but I enjoy the conversations and exchanging of ideas and information just as much. We all have much we can learn from each other.

    Thank you!

  5. Meghan says:

    When my husband and I started dating, I was just getting into decluttering and had gotten rid of a significant number of my possessions. He is an artist and at that time had accumulated all sorts of random things that could ‘one day’ be an art project. When we got married, we did what was expected of us and moved into a large two-bedroom apartment.

    It was great at first, it fit all of our stuff including the 10 bicycles we had accumulated between each other. (mostly his). He was not on board with getting rid of stuff really at all. But once I left my job to go back to school, our budget forced us to consider smaller places.

    That’s when he started selling bikes and getting rid of larger ‘art’ project items. Once we got all of our boxes into our current 400 sq ft apartment and we could not move without relocating boxes, he suddenly got extremely excited about getting rid of stuff. Now, whenever he doesnt know what to do with himself, he hovers in front of the bookshelf picking things out to donate.

    I have never been able to ‘talk him into’ getting rid of stuff. But by leading by example and making gentle suggestions, I can plant things in his mind that would be good to get rid of. It has to be his decision to get rid of something or i’ll just meet resistance.

    One really great inspirational tool for decluttering was seeing Tammy Strobel’s tiny house and getting to know Russ and Laura of PathLessPedaled.com who sold all of their stuff to bike tour for 3 years. Meeting people we relate to who have done it makes it seem more do-able. After all, humans are community-oriented and tend to want what their friends have.

    Advice I’d give to people trying to get their spouse on board is to just start getting rid of your own stuff. Start getting excited about small places. meet people who live in small spaces. Go on adventures and dream about how many more you could have with a smaller cost of living. Make it romantic and fun!

    • Karanda says:

      My partner and I have been together a little over four years now. When we met I was over the upkeep of my fairy tale dream home and was in the down sizing process. Being eight years younger he had never experienced the nesting and still dreamed of buying a big old beautiful home and filling it with his collections. When we moved into student housing last year we stored a great deal of our belongings in my families attic. I found while living here, a large window sill where a collection could be displayed has been essential to his sense of home. I agree that living by example is the best way to adjust the mind set of a partner. I know too a display area is essential in my tiny home, not for me, but for him. Compromises of this nature can go along way with getting our partners on board.

  6. For me it would be about taking inventory of which spaces you actually use, and how often, and how many of them could actually be combined into one. The dining areas, for most people. And secondly, the space reserved for storing “stuff” that might be used again “one day”. This includes the junk areas, the racks of clothes in enormous closets, the guest bedroom.

    For many people who aren’t convinced of the merits of small living, things might need to be shown to them in dollars and cents, or in working hours. It makes sense to be able to say, “That storage room, which is only full of junk, has cost us $30,000 extra just to store junk which isn’t worth $30,000. The same house in this street, with one less bedroom, is $30,000 cheaper. Maybe it’s not so smart to keep an extra room to house junk.”

    Or, You would have to work a whole year just to have a guest bedroom that YOU AND I NEVER USE. How about we skip the guest bedroom next time we buy, and pay for our guests to stay at a ritzy hotel with a jacuzzi? It’s cheaper, Honey!

    Or, You and I could take an overseas trip for two weeks every year if we weren’t busy paying off $20,000 extra on our mortgage for the separate dining area that we only use on Christmas Day.

    • Mike says:

      Elisa, you’re analogy makes perfect sense to me! I have so much unused space anymore…

    • Tara says:

      Top reply! If only that was a common thought we’d all be living a much more relaxed life with a smaller mortgage or rent.

    • Lisa says:

      yes yes yes! This speaks to me, even though the practicality and aesthetics of tinyness also convince me. When you explain it in those terms, it makes all the more sense to put that cost elsewhere!

  7. Theresa says:

    I love this blog; I visit it daily, but I could never think of living in a tiny house with my husband. I envision two tiny houses side by side, with a larger bedroom in one, and a larger dining/kitchen area in the other.

    • That’s the concept we’re working toward. We’ll have living/sleeping in one and kitchen/bathroom/laundry in the other in a kind of a dog trot concept. Keeping all plumbing close together with short runs from the water heater to the appliances makes for much better efficiency and lower piping costs.

      We grow a lot of our own food and can, freeze, dehydrate and store food. A (real) tiny house simply can’t work for that kind of lifestyle. I believe we could justify a 200 sq ft kitchen plus a pantry about that size. We also have a home business and require storage space for the products we produce and shipping boxes, packing table, etc. That’ll have to go in building #3.

      Presently, we are doing all this in a 576 sq ft house and it is not enough! Our ‘living’ furniture consists of 2 Ikea poang chairs, a table between them, a bed and a dresser. The kitchen work table serves as the packing table and laundry folding table.

      Living and working in too small a space is too stressful to bear for us, long term.

  8. Cayora says:

    Personally, it got to the point that the tiny house is important enough that I told my partner I was doing it, even if he didn’t like it so much. We have both lived in small spaces before, but he really hates changes. However, I’ve been talking about it for a few months now and he is really coming around. Especially since this is the only chance we have of owning a home. Mostly, I’ve been talking to him about how to design a space like this efficiently, so it won’t look or feel like we are living in a tunnel house or in an RV.

  9. Jackie says:

    I’m from Singapore. And I live in a 3-bedroom apartment with separate dining and living halls…all in all, 1200-1300sqft. But it’s too much space for me, Mum and Dad. Grandma comes to visit with her maid every weekend to help clean up the house. The space is only fully utilised once a year during Chinese New Year.

    While I would love to have my very own 12ft-cube house, my problem is buying small land plots which is non-existent in Singapore. And if there is, it’s prob 1500sqft for at least US$1,000,000!!!…so by all means live small where you can over there in USA. You hv my green eyes checking out your cute little houses every week :)

    • tim says:

      jackie try looking at chinese junks and other boats as a small space.rent one for a week or weekend first and see if this might work for you. as soon as i can find some extra cash i intend to build a small boat to live on. the attraction of no salesmen. no more bothersome neighbors and ability to go on vacation with my house is just too tempting! :)

    • Ci says:

      I’m from Singapore too!
      While still studying in Poly, I dream of building my own tiny house in Japanese style but agree that owning even a small plot of land in Singapore is wishful thinking. My family and friends think I’m crazy but I don’t care!I might plan to move to America someday and then start from there. I’m so glad that some Singaporeans are into the tiny house movement as well. Keep spreading the bug!

  10. Donna says:

    My partner and I have been living in approximately 580 sq ft for the past 20 years. So to convince him to downsize even more is not too difficult. He is very reluctant to go to 120 sq ft however. We are looking into a “granny flat” that our local county officials have just approved. Since we have 5 acres another small structure relatively close to our current home will still not seem too crowded. I believe moving him into a spacious 280 sq ft new place of our own design and building will work just fine. It will mean we can retire, rent out our principle home and live out our lives in tiny comfort! Just us and the occasional moose that wander by. I can hardly wait.

  11. Dwills says:

    I am on year one of revealing the truth behind the tiny curtains. We currently live in a 980 sqft 1920′s bungalow and I spend my weekends and many waking hours fixing and maintaining this place. So what we decided to do is convert our unfinished basement into Accessory Dwelling unit (ADU), it is roughly 600 sqft. Talk about using up all my waking hours and weekends.We decided whatever won’t fit in our ADU (minus all my tools in the garage) will need to go. She was stoked on getting rid of stuff and after 4 trips to Goodwill we had downsized to the point we could fit all our stuff into our ADU. One dream it to convert our garage into a 400 sqft ADU as well, but again the time and investment is steep.

    The biggest thing that has grabbed my wife and me is, time. The time spent working to pay a mortgage, the time spent maintaining, the time spent worrying. I see our house as a big time sucker, I want to spend that time having adventures with my son, building forts, drinking beer (me, not my son), helping neighbors, building community, reading, learning. I might be a bit ignorant in thinking my little family of three could live in 300 -400 sqft but I am hopeful that the space/ materialism we give up we gain exponentially in life.

  12. Mike says:

    My wife and I have raised our kids in a 4BR house, just under 1400SF. With both out of the house now, we have one BR that is set up as a guest room, mostly closed off and gets about 2 weeks of use per year. Another bedroom is storage, and the last has always been a home office, but doesn’t get much use anymore. 1400SF is just too much room for us anymore.

    We recently returned from a year living and working in DC out of a 700SF apartment and found that size to be more than enough for just the two of us. We are now looking for land to build a small 700-800SF home on and although I wouldn’t call that “tiny”, its just about right for us.

    I never would have thought we’d have agreed on something so much smaller than our current home, but sometimes your circumstances have a way of helping out…

    • tim says:

      mike look at the peace dome. it can be made for low cost and has enough room for 2. if you want something small but cute look at the mountaiberry by pennypincherbarns

  13. Joe D says:

    My wife and I both live in a tiny house that’s under 130 square feet on the ground floor. We moved in over six months ago far before construction was done. In our situation it was a joint decision, so I can not offer any suggestions on how to convince your significant other to follow suit.
    What I can tell you is that every facet of our lives changed for the better. More money, way more free time, less stress, happiness and a contentment that we had never had before. We are closer (in more ways than one), and rarely if ever have any arguments. Afterwards I realized that most of our fight were based on finances and having to do jobs we hated in order make ends meet.
    I can not covey the feeling that this was the best life decision we have ever made. Oh, and going from 80+ hours a week to just 24 to live was worth well it alone.

    • Lisa says:

      Thank you for putting into words, what I have been sensing! Stress connected to money and time restrictions can be ameliorated by downsizing in a big way. Glad to hear you validate this based on your personal experience!

  14. Lina says:

    My boyfriend is a magpie! We live in a 60 square meter house and it’s stuffed with stuff. His stuff. He’s got his own work room, but it’s spilling out of it… I can’t live like this and he, unbelievably, actually needs most of the stuff for work. (He’s self-employed.) So I’m building my own place now – it will be 9 square meters and built with environment-friendly and/or used/recycled/dumpstered materials. I guess I will just put it in the garden – I’m just not sure whose yet. ;)

  15. I don’t like to use the word “Convince”. If there has to be any convincing either a tiny house or your partner are not the right fit for you.

    Matt and I have been together a very long time. Once we learned about the Tiny House movement we were both completely on board. One of my motivating factors was learning to live self-sufficiently and for him it was about building something himself so our values are compatible to begin with. Our 120 Square Foot home is almost at the finish line and our 120 square foot life is about to begin.

    • Dovierabe says:

      I agree that “convince” is probably a poor word. The best thing is just to compromise. If you want 400sqft and he’s wanting 800sqft try 600sqft.

  16. First, (and OK, this is a little off topic) but somehow seeing that rusty old circular saw blade hanging over my head, like a tidy little guillotine, every time I walked in the front door, isn’t exactly welcoming! At the very least, I’d lag that thing in place – stainless steel please. ;-)

    Second, every time I see a tiny house I’m jealous as all get-out. You know, the hardest part to living in a small house, is getting there – selling and divesting oneself of all that furniture that’s been handed down through the family for decades. But I think I might be able to whittle it down to two or three items.

  17. alice h says:

    It’s possible to live tiny and still have a lot of stuff like art/craft/food preservation/whatever supplies as long as you keep them very well stored and organized. You don’t have to go totally minimalist or in vacation mode to live tiny. You have to find whatever works for you (and partner if you have one). If you live too tiny for your needs it can make for a lot of tension and more time spent manipulating items or converting spaces for use so you have to put the thought into just how you want to live first. You may need separate small spaces for your living and craft or work activites or maybe just a really good storage shed for tools and supplies. It may seem a bit odd at first but you still have a smaller footprint and if you then decide you can make it work with one small space you can make somebody else happy by selling or giving them your second space.

  18. Ambershawn says:

    I’ve been trying (quite unsuccessfully) to convince my husband that tiny living is the way to go. He won’t even consider it. After a few years, it became a sore topic, so I don’t even bring it up any more. Once the kids are out of the house I might try again….

    • Linda T says:

      I envy those of you who are able to live in a tiny house. I sure wish I could also, but there is no convincing my husband to do it. He is content living in a 5 bedroom/2 bath house with all his clutter. And it is only the two of us. To me it is such a waste.

  19. sandra crane says:

    We have been living “tiny” for quite some time now. First a fifth wheel we traveled in, then a little cabin we bought and remodeled. It is around 1000 sq feet, so is quite a bit larger than some tiny houses, but we do have a guest room! I love having a small house, and would not trade it for a 4,000 sq foot house for anything! Less to clean, less to clutter up, a smaller footprint on the planet, not to mention LESS property tax! It has a lot of advantages.

  20. Mary says:

    My partner and I have been having this conversation for about 5 months now. I’ve been a wilderness guide for 8 years, traveling from job to job with only what will fit in a large backpack (I didn’t own a car), so I love living light. I’m ready to give up the nomadic life, and hoping to finally build a tiny house — I’ve been admiring them for years, but in my previous lifestyle even a tiny house was too big a possession and would have weighed me down.

    My partner has a fair amount of stuff, but when I moved in with her we read the book “Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston. We would read aloud to each other in bed and then get so excited about getting rid of our clutter that we couldn’t sleep! Its a great book, I first encountered it as a teenager and it has strongly influenced my relationship with material possessions. My partner liked it a lot.

    I showed my partner Jay Schafer’s book, but she didn’t start to come around until we visited the home of a young couple living in a 8×20 tiny house with their 3-year-old son. They did a really nice job on finishing their house, and suddenly my partner began to see that it could work. I also explained how affordable tiny houses are, and she began to see we could actually save enough money to build one in a year or two (if I do most of the labor), and then live really cheaply on borrowed land until we save enough money to buy land. She’s also quite taken with the idea of working less, especially after she has a child in a few years.

    We spent most of the winter living in a 300 sq ft studio apartment, and learned a lot from that. We liked a lot of things about the small space, but the design of the space didn’t offer enough privacy. I think if the space was divided differently (with at least one study/meditation room for solitude) it could work well. Similar to Theresa’s idea above, we’ve considered a two-house system, with one 8×18 trailer with a kitchen, living space, bathtub, and guest loft (later, the kids bedroom), and another trailer house with our bed loft and a space for her healing business below.

    That vision continues to evolve. Since we had to move for our jobs this spring, she is now staying with relatives for free while I build a super-tiny house/vardo on a 5.5×13 trailer. It will have a double bed with storage beneath and a 5×5 kitchenette with a Kimberly Stove to provide heat through the Vermont winters. I don’t think we could happily live together full-time in such a small space, but I can live there very cheaply and we can both save money for a bigger tiny house. The micro-house I’m building now can then become our master bedroom, or eventually become my private study (we jokingly refer to it as my “man-cave” even though we are both lesbians). It will also be light and nimble enough to serve as a mobile camper for vacations.

  21. Susan Goins says:

    My husband was amazed I was interested in going tiny…. I am a life long, and in fact second generation pack rat… but I find as I slowly go through stuff and give it away or sell it it gets easier and easier…. I started with the most difficult item, an antique buffet that has been in my family 3 generations, that went to my daughter…. I figure it is all downhill from here!

  22. laura says:

    The main thing that worries my hubby is that we won’t have enough space to meet our needs for food, rest and hygiene in an efficient manner. We have talked extensively about these problems and are working through a variety of plans so that when we do build our place every square inch will be both beautiful, useful, efficient and functional. Also sometimes as was mentioned earlier, compromise is necessary – we just can’t see ourselves raising 4-6 kids in less than 500 sq. ft. Our most current plan is 700 sq. ft. (which includes the loft sq footage of 200 sq ft and does not include the outdoor cold storage). The key is to talk about it while you plan together.

    On a somewhat separate note, I have to say this as well. What really irritates me when people talk about house sq. ft. most real estate agents (and homeowners) don’t include the basement sq. footage. I would argue that when we (as a collective global community) talk about sq. ft. in relation to our home we every sq. ft. where we have our stuff. (I know tiny homeowners already do this as their homes quite necessarily do not have a basement).

  23. Angelica says:

    It took me two years (we’ve been together three) to convince my fiance that tiny house living is for us. It was persistence, education, and making this blog our homepage. I was going to continue and write how I convinced him, but I will let him tell you. So Nic, how did I convince you?

    Nic: Well, over the past year I really put my mind to saving money in preparation to move away from the city, acquire some land and start a small farm. When I looked at my savings after that time, I was astounded by how little it was in comparison to the cost of a full-sized house. The thought of living under the burden of a mortgage is unappealing and ultimately the move is an effort to minimize the amount of time I have to give up in order to make ends meet. A tiny house on a wheels would give us the freedom to move around somewhat as we find our way through the next stage of our life together. I’ve come to appreciate that thought of owning the place in which we live, no matter the size, is comforting in an uncertain future.

  24. Joy says:

    I’ve always been most comfortable in small spaces. When my husband and I decided we could no longer afford our 2100 sf home we decided a town house would be our best answer… Until the day of our open house. We had to get out and as we were driving we saw “the wee house” (our nick name for our home) was having an open house… We stopped in (to kill time) I LOVED it and Jim commented that he’d never felt so at home and our dog walked in and laid down. Our house sold in the first 15 minutes of its open house and we made an insanely low offer on the wee house (it’d been
    on the market almost a year) we got it at the offer price which allowed us to live mortgage (and HOA) free in our #1 choice town at age 35… And when people comment that we are in a tiny house (which it’s not – it’s a perfect 708
    Sf) we smile

  25. Mat says:

    For the last 3 years, I’ve been fairly…obsessed…with the efficiency of design that good, small houses are blessed with. I talked to my highly skeptical wife a million times…but she didn’t get it. She’d look at the plans I drew up and just didn’t believe that we could have plenty of room in a place roughly the same size as the ground floor of our house (about 620 square feet).
    THEN! We went to Ikea. And they had 2 or 3 compact “apartments” where they framed out apartments and furnished them. Cool, right? WELL! They also had a 590 square foot, 2-bedroom house that you could get lost in. We’re walking through, and everything is perfectly laid out, with lots of storage and space. Heck, there was even a 9′ x 8′ sectional couch in it! That did it for my wife. She could see it, touch it, experience it. Granted, it was missing a couple of amenities (laundry and a full-sized bathtub) but the concept was sound and brilliantly executed.

  26. Beverly says:

    I would like a tiny home. My spouse would not. He likes our current mortgage-free house of 2200+ sq. ft. But then, he doesn’t clean it (neither do I as health reasons preclude standing for very long so I have pay my daughter to clean for us). We just started looking for a piece of land to build our NEXT house on and I’m hoping to compromise with a home in the 800-1000 sq ft range. I’d really push for smaller but we have six cats and a couple thousand FAVORITE books so . . .need a bit more than 100 sq ft!

  27. Paula says:

    I left my copy of Lloyd Kahn’s Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter on the coffee table where my husband could find it. It was Ziggy’s cob house that did the trick, I think. We’re hopefully going to buy a country property and build a cob house on it, but first we gotta pay off our 1400 sq ft mansion, which should take a little over a year, at the rate we’re going.

  28. Blake says:

    This is a fascinating discussion. I’ve wanted a tiny house for a while, and I dislike clutter, but I live with a pack rat who hates change, and since she is so wonderful im disinclined to push it. When I mentioned the topic of this post and asked her what she thought, she half-jokingly said it sounded like an example of the Internet being used for evil! ;-)

    We live in a 970sq.ft 1950s bungalow – that doesnt include finished basement but since half the basement is devoted to food storage (root cellar, cold dry storage room, etc) not all of it is spare living space. Since we produce much of what we eat in this tiny 1/6 acre suburban plot, we need that space.

    Since the basement is also set up to potentially be a separate apartment, our thinking is that when the great depression hits and one or both of us are out of work and times are tight we would move down there and rent out the main floor to make ends meet. The challenge will be finding the time to go through culling stuff to make that work – life seems too short to spend so much time going through things paring down, even if the end result is a good and lighter one.

  29. Marty says:

    My wife and I don’t need convincing, however we need a better understanding of how to make it happen in a car culture. It would work more easily if we could walk or bike to do laundry and to by fresh groceries on a daily basis.
    More discussions on logistics would be quite helpful on topics ranging from shopping small to escaping the paper that crowds us out of homes!

  30. Mike says:

    We live in a 2600 sq ft home now. The 2 kids are in later end of college. One grads next month and one next year…so 7/8′s through!! We just bought a 1000 sq ft beach house on a 50′x100′ lot (paid cash – looks like a cute doll house) in an area that we,d like to retire in eventually..we are in our early/mid 50′s. We’re thinking that this would be a transitional house but upon further reflection and thinking about the future we could winterized it and make it our main home…we will have main house paid off in about 1.5 years and could just sell and put towards an earlier retirement……taxes alone are 1/3 of our big home now and get rid of my riding mower and all that maintainance for 1.5 acres…Rather have smaller or less “stuff” but better quality! Clutter be gone!!! More free time to smell the roses …in my ill back yard!!! Sounds like a no brainier!!!

  31. My wife and I live in two small buildings on one piece of land. We find the separation works well for us as we keep different hours and like the ability to concentrate on our different projects.

    We enjoy our small spaces because we aren’t living on top and intertwined.

    • Stacie says:

      Great Idea! My boyfriend is a computer junky. He is into gaming big time (at 40!). I am into reading everything natural. We both work full time and yet we both have medical issues that are very painful. I would love to get to a point in life where I could work less hours and live lighter… He would too. Problem is he still thinks he needs big housing to have the space he needs to do his thing… Two tiny houses really could work…

      • Carol says:

        Stacie, this sounds exactly like my husband and I. I love the idea of getting rid of stuff and moving to a smaller space, and he likes the idea but doesn’t think it can be a reality. He is also tied to much of his “stuff” because much of it is inherited from his grandparents. I would not be able to convince him to get rid of it, but hopefully on his own he may get there. As you said in a later post also we have moved around apartments habitually from 500-800 sq ft but every one of them is a weird layout and much of it is still wasted space. For me it is not so much about space itself, but how you use the space you have, if it is designed efficiently you need less. We are big “campers” meaning we hang out in the one room, regardless of what we are doing. In our current apartment the living room, dining room and kitchen are all separate spaces, so we don’t use the dining room for anything, and a combined living space with kitchen and living/dining together would be ideal. Though I grew up in a decent sized house (I have no idea sq footage 1500 maybe?) My parents were weird about who got to use the space, to them my room was my space, and the rest of the house was “their space” so I’ve been living in an 10′x12′ space for almost my whole life, minus kitchen and bathroom of course.

  32. Karen says:

    This is a wonderful discussion. I have received a lot of good ideas here, for which I am truly grateful.
    We do not live small–but I sooo want to. We live in a lovely-but too big- “family” house, practically given to us by my in-laws. Since this has been my husband’s home–or summer home– since early childhood, I understand his reluctance to give it up. Did I mention it is oceanside? Yah. Tough to move him away from here.
    I think my best first steps have been to downsize almost everything I have. I have made a tiny office in less than half of my laundry nook. I’m getting rid of books, extra projects, extra supplies everyday. Since I started doing this I have found my selected projects and books much more enjoyable. Yes, living small is really about living richer.
    I really appreciate the comment about adding up costs around the house. We spend an inordinate amount of time and money just keeping things going. It’s so counter-productive. Adding up the costs will make a huge impact on my husband. He is a very fine man but, understandably, he’s probably afraid of this change on some very deep level. If I am ever to get us to downsize from here, I’ll have to be the one to show the way.
    Many thanks for all the good ideas.

  33. Freth says:

    My wife dreams of a 6,000 sq ft home … but there is no way we could take care of it.
    We live in a 386 sq ft cabin with 2 bedrooms (one bedroom serves as the “mancave” and walk-in closet/dryer room). One of us can retreat to a room … both of us can retreat to separate rooms … or we both spend time together in the large common room (our computers are side-by-side).
    Our neighbor just bought a 14 x 64 ft FEMA trailer (896 sq ft). It has 6″ thick insulated walls, floor, and roof. Even though it had been sitting in the sun all day and it was 86 degrees outside (with no power to the trailer) … when we walked inside, it was significantly cooler. 3-bedroom, one bath (with fold-down seat in the shower) … handicap accessible. Complete with beds, stove, refrigerator, desk, dining table, coffee table, hide-a-bed couch, and assorted chairs. It has an A/C unit with ceiling vents. The large water heater is located between the bathroom and kitchen. Additionally it has everything set up for a washer & dryer. Cost: $12,000 plus transport and set-up.

    • Stacie says:

      I have yet to see a 6″ highly insulated FEMA trailer. Those were meant to be used as quick shelters in warm climates……. I had a buddy buy one and found out the hard way that it was missing framing and insulation in most parts of the trailer… Also, imagine the offgasing with all the cheap matterials used. He has since stuck about 20K into this cheap trailer and about another 60K in garage and foundation. For 92K he has a questionable depreciating FEMA trailer and a nice garage……. In these areas (UP of Michigan) that is overkill by about 50K which he will not get back…. If anyone is reading up on FEMA trailers and thinking about it, take along a stud finder and if there is any area that is damaged and lets you peek in, check for insulation. (His was bent on delivery and he could reach in and unlock his door the the wall space to the right of the door………no insulation at all).

  34. Mountain Girl says:

    I live in a 1700 sf home on an acre with my custom home builder husband in a small (957 pop.) mountain town (near year round resort/water/golf/ski recreation). I am 9 yrs here and done with long, cold,caved up winters and seclusion of small town life year round.

    I’m looking at snow-birding to AZ, CA, TX, or the like, seeking to live in a tiny house ( 120 s.f.) 6 mos of the year and come back to the mountains the other 6. We could trade visits during winter months and maybe he will be happy to come with me when he retires.

    I hope to find a sun-bird in my desired winter community to trade parking spots with. I park at your place in winter, you come to our place in summer. I can build a tiny house for cheap w/leftovers from new construction and my husbands tools and know-how.

    I hope to find a place with hiking/biking clubs, laundry, showers,warmer weather suitable to being car free (bike and moped only?) in or near town w/ fine dining for me to work waiting tables where lots of snow-birders come for the cooler months to dine out. Hope I won’t need much if any heat and I won’t need a/c if I return to the mountains for summer. I think I will move the tiny house w/a u-haul.

    I’ll let you know when I get the courage to talk to my husband about this idea. :)

    The first “convincing” is me with my research on how to do this and then “convincing” myself to talk about it with my spouse.

    Welcome comments on snowbird/sunbird tiny house parking exchange idea.

  35. Lisa says:

    At our RV park, our neighbors are a couple who live in a 400 sq. ft. cedar Cavco park-model cabin and they seem quite happy. For retired couples who want a little more space, that might be an idea. They bought it on sale for $28,000. That’s a great price and not much different than what we paid for our 140 sq. ft. Tortoiseshell. It’s true not all couples could live as small as we are doing.
    It did take us years to get this small in our minds. Especially my husband. We visited Jay Shafer 3 times, and Bill twice as well as two other builders. It was a gradual process of eduation and of getting used to the idea of tiny. I remember the first visit we paid to Jay he was living in his smallest, the X-S house, and my husband said it was like he was living in a phone booth. By the third time we visited, his new Craftsman design we both thought felt much larger, the design is better we think.
    We designed our own house and don’t feel claustrophobic at all for some reason.

  36. April says:

    I just stumbled across the tiny house movement earlier this year. My husband and I are both masters students, and we have a 3 yr old daughter and a baby on the way. When I first started showing my husband the tiny houses, he would nod and smile and brush me off. But this next year we are moving cross-country (not sure in which direction yet) for my Ph.D program, and we are both tired of the lifestyle that apartment living offers us and our children.

    It took me talking seriously about building a tiny home for several weeks to convince my husband I was serious about trying it. I then talked to my father (who is a home builder) about the feasibility of the plan on the budget we have ($10,000). We plan to use reclaimed/free/recycled materials for much of the building process.

    I think what is ultimately working for both of us is having adequate preparation. I spend my evenings in blogs like these, gleaning design ideas and building tips. We measured out the actual space we use out of our 750 sq foot apartment, and realized we actually live in 525 sq feet of poorly designed space. This next week, we are taking everything in the house we don’t use on a daily basis, packing it into one of the two extra bedrooms, and closing the doors. We will take up what we need as we need it, but this will help us live with less without actually jettisoning all our belongings in one shocking move. Oh, and we have set aside a budget that allows us to save for the building phase to try out for the rest of the year. If by the end of the year we are still happy, healthy, and have been able to save, we figure that we will know tiny living is doable for our family.

  37. Wendy Adams McMurray says:

    I am married to a pack rat. I knew that when we got together and I still fell in love and married the man. :) We have been living in under 600 sq ft since we met. We have a teen aged son, an adult son who is currently sleeping on the couch (bmmer!), an 85 lb dog and 2 cats. It’s a small 2 bd house in the desert and is in really terrible condition. We rent it for $700 a month, which may seem cheap to some people but for us it is pretty hard. My husband works in a pizza joint and I had to stop working as a fill time musician because I have fibro and chronic migraine headaches and can’t hold down a job. It has always been my dream to live tiny but he just wants bigger. If we could build a tiny house on wheels when both boys move out in a couple of years we could go where we wanted and live rent free. But hubby thinks the whole idea is ludicrous. So, it’s either give up my dream or give up hubby.

    • AnthonyRizzo says:

      My wife doesn’t see a small home for our family of six as a good idea either. Her dreams involve a grandiose kitchen and bedrooms for all our children with a master suite right out of a magazine spread. While I imagine that 2 bunk bed nooks would suffice along with a kitchen that would fit in a wardrobe that could be tucked away in the corner of a utilitarian multipurpose main room. All together our home need not be larger than 400 sq. ft. The way I figure, I can continue to work hard and die trying to make her dream come true or I can work on making mine come true. Once I start building it I have a feeling she might come around. If not, the kids might have to decide if they want to follow daddy into the tiny blue yonder.

  38. Wendy Adams McMurray says:

    Mountain Girl, you should consider Tucson.

  39. AnthonyRizzo says:

    Tiny Houses are the logical synthesis/evolution of The Mac-Mansion and the RV. When America was younger people lived tiny because it was the first logical easy step. Today living tiny is expensive and one has to jump through hurdles to get it done. Most people that read this blog are like myself, just discovering it after already having started a family and life in much larger accommodations. Downsizing home and lifestyle to us is not only difficult but an unrealized dream we never knew we had. If we have kids like I do it will require reimagining what a family space should look like. Conventional tiny home designs all have standard features that are more for the single person or young couple in mind. Lofts don’t consider the elderly retired couple nor does it bear in mind toddlers or school age children. 120 sq. ft. is simply not enough space for a family larger than two people. We offer our input because we too want to live this lifestyle not just dream it. Children should be able to enjoy the benefits that small or tiny homes offer at a price their parents can afford. I can’t convince my spouse of living tiny if living tiny means that our children cannot be factored in to the equation.

  40. Joy says:

    I feel like we live tiny with our 1,000 s.f. house with a full basement. At one point we had 5 foster kids in the house with four bedrooms, two upstairs (plus the public areas) and two in the basement, plus a common room. Now we’re down to two teenagers in the basement. My husband uses one bedroom for his office and I’ve built a studio into a corner of the basement. That still leaves a little over a quarter for storage. In addition to the care of this house with its mountain of clutter (between my husband and myself working from home,) we have not one, but two cottages to care for. One is our own, the other belongs to our non-profit. When we retire, we plan to live in our cottage during the summer and winter down south. Right now our cottage is set up as one large great room. It’s a 1905 Victorian, 500 s.f., 13 x 36 with front and back porches and a side deck. A bathroom is almost finished, 4-1/2 x 9′. I have plans to build a couple of tiny bedrooms on the existing side deck. These will be just large enough for twin beds and room to turn around, along with drawer/hanging space. We’ve only had the cottage for three years, so it’s not renovated yet, but we have a kitchen with an island, and plenty of space in the living and dining areas. Because of the vaulted ceiling, we could put in a loft for younger visitors. Right now if we spend the night we use air mattresses. Honestly, it feels huge! We have just what we need there. When I’m in the nonprofit cottage, alone, I end up spending almost the entire time in the tiny bedroom. This reminds me of Thomas Jefferson’s house. Even though he and his wife had large bedrooms, they slept in enclosed spaces, and their bedrooms served as office/receiving rooms, looking more like living room/libraries than bedrooms. When we need privacy, we rarely need much space for that feeling. Something like we’re doing with the large open space and tiny sleeping space could make a huge difference for someone downsizing. As long as something seems spacious, even the most reluctant spouse may find the idea livable. Find out what your spouse needs for both privacy and spaciousness. Then show them examples of that. If we were to try to live there with our kids, each would need their own private space. Everyone needs a space to call their own. I’d arrange a bunch of storage sheds with an open room in the middle if I had a young family – let each person have their own room.

  41. Brandy says:

    I grew up in small spaces and even shared a room all of my life in small spaces. My mom raised us to believe that our love not our stuff was what mattered and I still believe that. Now that I am divorced, I am looking to buy or build a small space for my three kids and I. I really hope I can impart onto my kids some of my mom’s values.

  42. Rob says:

    My family of four plus two dogs live in a 3800 sq. ft. home, including the basement. It was a fixer upper in which we put a lot of money and sweat equity into. Our oldest graduates from H.S. this year and youngest in two years. I have convinced my wife to downsize, but she still thinks we need at least 2500sf and for it to have some old charm to it. I wouldn’t mind going to half that amount of space. We are waiting for the right place to become available that is within walking distance of her work so we can reduce our carbon footprint and save money on gas, etc. If I was on my own, I would love to go under 1000sf.

    • Rob says:

      I did neglect to mention that we live outside of town on a couple acres overlooking a river valley in Minnesota, so that will be difficult to leave and move back into town on a small city lot.

  43. Lisa says:

    I’m there! (convinced). He’s pretty much there too. One thing of many things that make my husband and me compatible: We are frugalists. Neither of us need the biggest, best, latest, biggest, BIGGEST thing of the day. Microliving appeals to us, as we get older. We are semi-empty nesters (our three girls are 23, 20, and 20- finishing up college), and we’ve found as the girls have moved out into dorms that we just don’t need as much space….or “stuff”. We watched an episode of HGTV’s “Extreme homes” which featured Tammy and Logan Strobel’s tiny home in Portland, OR. After watching them, reading the blogs here, and checking out different microhome images as well as researching information about the movement, we are pretty sure we could LOVE this!

    Possibly complicating our dream is the goal we have of retiring to Oahu in the next 6 years. Land is scarce and expensive in Hawaii, but we hope that we can find something undeveloped, and get our tiny prefab or unique design underway once we find that spot. Things happen very slowly in Hawaii, so we are prepared to meet frustration, and to have a lot of patience!

    • Lisa says:

      Adding current living situation: We are in a 2 bedroom condo of 1,600 square feet. The 3 girls grew up sharing the bedroom on the weeks they didn’t visit their real dad (My ex who lives in a 4000 sq ft golf course monstrosity). Before I married my current husband and after I divorced “big-house” man, I lived with the girls in a 1935 bungalow that was 996 sq feet. Having the two lifestyles to compare, I pick tiny.

  44. Sharon says:

    Hubby and I bought a 2200+ sq ft house 11 years ago, which includes a partially finished basement. We basically have filled most of our space with **stuff**, and live in only part of the first floor–maybe 950 square feet total. I would really like to downsize for a time and see how we like it: 700-800 at most. We really don’t need all this space, and if we discover we need more space we can always increase later. But in the short term, it seems to me we could save a lot on our mortgage, put more into retirement savings, and shed the weight of all this stuff we don’t need or use. But he is pretty attached to his stuff and stuck on the idea of UPsizing in our next home.

    My angle with him when we next talk will be more about efficient use of space. Our current home is a collection of broken up small rooms, very little open space and horrible natural light. If we had a more open floor plan, and more natural light, I think it would feel much larger.

    And taking the financial angle will be the other one I will try to take–letting him know how much less we could be spending a month and how much we could be putting toward retirement.

    I love the idea of renting a little cottage for a weekend away and really trying it out for a few nights. Would be educational for me, too!

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  46. Erica says:

    When my husband and I were first married, we lived with my parents in my old bedroom. We wanted to buy a house in the same county as my family because the school system is great and it’s always nice to be near your loved ones. The problem was, most of the “starter homes” in the area cost nearly $250,000, which was way beyond our price range. We really lucked out when we saw an advertizement in the local paper for a piece of property labeled: “Land for sale: Live in this while you build something bigger.” It was nearly 8 acres with a 832 sq ft house in dreadful condition. People who had visited it couldn’t get past how bad a shape the house was in and weren’t interested at all in living in it while building something better. My husband and I are outdoorsy people and to us, the acreage was the real living space. We renovated the house, added an eight foot covered porch all the way across the front, and now live happily in it with our daughter. We would like to add on a mud room with a second toilet in it because the mess from our farm chores are destroying the entry flooring in the kitchen. While some might not consider our living “tiny,” it’s still small by most standards but it’s a comfy, cozy home for our growing family.

  47. VS Christopher says:

    I was born in India and was brought up in a home which is roughly 275 sq feet. Those were the time when families did things together and not every kid or person had their own bedroom etc etc.

    I feel if you have a family of 5 (2 adults, 2 teens, 1 kid, 1-2 pets etc.), a house of around 500-750sq ft would be fine.

    I will be settling in the US with my fiancee who is a tiny house nerd like me and we have pledged to live atleast 10 years in a 174sq ft home before we think of moving to a bigger small home of around 500sq ft.

    IMHO Anything less than 200sq ft is Tiny.
    Anything above 200sq ft but less than or equal to 800 sq ft is small.

    I think its all about your needs and not your wants. I am at home in my 270sq ft home in my home city than I was in my 3 bedroom apartment when i was living in New Delhi for 10 years.

  48. Leah says:

    My husband and I along with our two young children will be making the move from a 2000 some odd sqr feet, 4 bedroom 3 bath two story home, to a 500sqr ft double loft, cabin. We are very excited to make these changes. We woke up one morning a realized that we are working and paying for a home that is so much more than we need. People have been sold a lie for profit. Higher taxes, mortgages, envy of your neighbor… For what? Living in a big house is not an even exchange for peace. Can you imagine living stress free? I want that. I want Daddy to have more time for the kids and I want extra money in the checking account for the fun stuff. Our new adventure is being delivered to land we were graciously given by my parents, we will be finishing it out and hope to move in by February. Time to get busy culling the crap and packing the things we will need. :-) Merry Christmas!

  49. Damon says:

    My solution to successfully pitching is idea is that I will begin by building a fencl – style tiny house that is equipped as a workshop/guest house with room for the extra closet space, bathtub, freezer, and solar power equipment first.
    After I have learned by making mistakes and fine-tuning my ultimate tiny-house design, I then build the real one I want to live in.
    This way we have two mobile dwellings that can together ease some of the limitations of tiny living. I don’t want my wife to give up everyone and become regretful.

  50. Ingrid says:

    My husband was recently sold on the idea by me ‘selling’ it to him this way: “If we had such an inexpensive living cost, we could afford to go on vacations, visit relatives, send the kids to school and stop throwing our money away every month”.

    You see, for the past 16 years, I’ve had a steady job, but his has been up and down and our finances have been hard to budget. Fast forward to moving to Southern CA where we are paying over TWICE the rent that we paid in WA for the same sq. footage and now we can’t afford to pay for our kids’ sports, our tremendously high utilities and sometimes even food! I’m sick of resorting to Dollar Store food. My kids deserve better and our entire family could do without all of the stress. He agreed. He just wants us to be happy.

    The way I look at it, I JUST now started to have some leeway in my paycheck to start stashing money away into my 401K (and my company has a nice matching program), so in 27 years, if I retired at the normal retirement age, I will NOT have much to retire on. My hubby will only have SS and ZERO retirement funds beyond that. I say it’s time to plan NOW.

    Plus, clutter and cleaning a 1700 sq ft house stresses me out after working 40 hours a week and taking care of two boys!

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