Six Things to Ask Yourself Before Going Tiny

Making the decision to downsize our supersized lives and go tiny full time can be a very exciting one. However, many people, couples, and even families are seeing the trend catch on to minimize their impact and their “stuff” but are moving too fast without first considering some pretty major influences on long-term tiny living.

Here is a list of six questions you should ask yourself as you are planning to go tiny. These questions should be considered by people in the first thoughts of downsizing or people who’ve already been through several purges and are planning to build or buy their tiny house. Whatever stage you find yourself, be sure you have solid answers to these six questions before taking the tiny plunge.

Feature photo: Kent Griswold (Tiny House Blog)

Do You Have a Place to Park?

While the tiny craze is catching on across the globe, many U.S. states still prohibit parking tiny houses because of land laws and taxes. This is not something to be taken lightly. When buying used or building your tiny, you want to be sure that it can be licensed as an RV if you plan to travel with it.

This will allow you to park in most RV campgrounds without much hassle (some are more tiny house friendly than others), plus it is just an extra precautionary measure. With that in mind, be sure you know your home state’s regulations on living in an RV as a permanent residence.

Finding a place to park, depending on the type of tiny you go with as well as how it is set up for electric, plumbing, and/or gas, you will need to consider having the proper hookups as well as if you will need a way to dump/drain tanks. This isn’t as easy as one might think unless you plan to constantly be on the move and hooked up to a truck.

These are all things you will want to consider as you progress through your plans to go tiny.

Can You Really Live A Minimalist Life?

Downsizing is one thing, but taking all of life’s “stuff” and having to figure out where to put it when you once had 2000 square feet and you now only have 200 is no laughing matter. We are a pretty bare-bones family and we still do purges even now, after living tiny for the last six months.

We recommend going through your current home room by room and doing a fairly massive purge. It is best to take what you have and see if you can cut it in half. This goes for clothes, shoes, books, dishes, kid’s toys…everything. Once you have accomplished this, congratulate yourself…and then do it again about four more times. Our tiny is 36ft long (which is big in the tiny world) and we each only own about 50 clothing items. That may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t when you consider shoes, undergarments, and accessories.

It’s okay if this drastically downsized life isn’t for you, but trust us, it is way better to find that out now than after you’ve paid your deposit on a build and you just can’t get rid of last season’s boot collection.

Have You Prioritized Your Wants/Needs?

We aren’t talking about which jackets stay and which are donated. This is a serious list of what to consider when you are building or buying tiny. Tiny living isn’t like regular home buying. You have to think about what type of heat/air system you want-many are not offered with gas/propane so a split AC unit, window AC, or even a wood stove may be options to consider.

Additionally, you should think about what type of toilet you and your traveling companions are up for because standard flushing toilets require different hookups when parked than a composting or incinerator type. All appliances should be in this mix as well since standard sized appliances usually won’t fit or weigh too much for a THOW and the cost of special sizing can get pretty pricey if you have must-haves on your list.

Have You Considered The Costs?

With everything from the rising costs of materials for DIY builds to the increase in THOW prices by contractors, there is much to be considered in the way of the initial investment in going tiny. It should be noted that, much like anything, this is a quality over quantity situation. So, your up-front costs will offer you a mostly debt-free life where you have the freedom to do, go, and be wherever you want. It is pretty incredible!

Some specifics to consider would be the cost of your build, the cost of your appliances or upgrades, the cost to park when you are stationary, the cost of fuel and pulling your THOW (and whether or not you plan to have it moved professionally).

Can I Live In a Tiny House As My Family Grows?

The resounding answer is YES!! Many people fear this as they only see tiny home shows with sophisticated retirees or hip, urban couples starting out. We are a young, growing family of four with a pup and we absolutely love living tiny.

Considerations should be made when downsizing with kids for things like more portable items such as a high chair, jumper that goes in the doorway, and swing that folds up. Many families, ours included, with very young children build bunks for their kiddos and use rails instead of the traditional crib design. This allows the space to grow with your children and foldable Murphy-style bunks will provide more space to run and play.

If your family chooses a THOW and wants to spend time traveling, you could consider roadschooling. This is registered homeschooling but build for a life on the road boasting more hands-on learning and field trips.

Do I Want To Live Stationary or On Wheels?

This is a real consideration for most because, while living tiny provides some incredible freedoms, building a permanent home on wheels comes with its own list of things to think about. THOWs generally weight over 11,000 pounds. This will require more than a standard pickup truck to haul. That is something to add to your list of investment planning. Do you want to upgrade to a large pickup truck or pay a professional hauling company each time you move? Do you want to build in a stationary location with a deck to expand your outside living area? If so, do you have a plan to insulate the bottom during winter?

Going tiny has been an incredibly freeing experience for our family. However, it can be overwhelming to consider all of the options and costs, just as with any home buying or building experience.

Brynn Burger lives tiny, loves big, and laughs always. Writing with honest hilarity and violent vulnerability about parenting, adulting, downsizing, living tiny, and raising an extreme child is her attempt to escape the painful isolation that comes from a life of hiding to instead connect with people who are raw and real. Check her out at www.themamaontherocks.com.

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Ron Pickle - March 21, 2018 Reply

Very valid questions to ask! One must not go into it with out really exploring their reasons because it is not for every one.

ken - March 22, 2018 Reply

The idea of tiny houses has always fascinated me. I wonder how I would adjust to the difference in space. This is a great article on key questions to ask yourself keep up the great work!

Lane Reynolds- Reedy - March 25, 2018 Reply

I look forward to learning about tiny home living in a permanent location.

Susan - March 25, 2018 Reply

I was originally stuck in the housing crisis in the SF bay area. I was staying on friend’s couches and living out of about 5 paper bags and a few boxes. Then I got a 24′ trailer and thought I could finally fit more into it. Wrong! It just fit a tiny bit more than what I could have in refugee mode. Keep this in mind. But I have exactly what I need to live and I’m happy 🙂

John - April 12, 2018 Reply

Many tiny home builders make the mistake of wasting tons of already limited space by:
————————————————————————————–
#1: Putting the kitchen length ways the house, instead of width.
#2: Putting a ladder length ways the house, instead of either width ways, or vertical.
#3: Not fully utilizing floor to ceiling space for integrated storage/shelves/bunks.
#4: Not adding a roof-top terrace, or guest space when needed or desired by buyers.
#5: Not putting kitchen/bathroom close enough together, wasting water/pipes/space.
#6: Not going wide enough. 10 or 12ft wide makes a lot of difference, vs 8 ft wide.
#7: Not utilizing smart appliance placement. Example: Toaster oven over stove.

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