Beginner's Quick-Start Guide to the Tiny Home Lifestyle - Tiny House Blog
January 24, 2020

Beginner’s Quick-Start Guide to the Tiny Home Lifestyle

Thinking about embarking on the journey to transition into a tiny home? From downsizing advice to design, read on for an intro to what you need to know to get started.

Are you drowning in clutter? Instead of walking into your home to decompress, you walk into a hodgepodge of stuff. Countertops covered with mail, dishes on the table, miscellaneous boxes huddled in the corner.

The tiny home lifestyle is all about simplifying and living a more fulfilling life. Not only do many tiny home residents enjoy a more fulfilling lifestyle, but they’re also leading healthier lives too.

Scientific studies show that clutter can cause chronic stress and weaken your immune system. Can you imagine what decades of living with clutter could do to your body?

Read on to learn a few tips and important considerations about downsizing into a tiny home.

Choosing a Tiny Home Lifestyle

Before you start making plans to build your tiny home, your first need to know why you’re doing it. When you know your “why,” it’ll be easier to overcome any obstacles that may present themselves. Right now, take a moment and write down three reasons why you want to downsize your living situation.

Here are three common reasons people choose the tiny home lifestyle:

  • Financial freedom
  • Low maintenance/more free time
  • Environmental concerns

For your transition to be successful, you’ll need to identify what’s driving you to make this change. Dig down deep and find out your true reasons.

Once you know your reasons for getting a tiny home, you can move forward with confidence and certainty. Now, it’s time to begin taking steps to make your tiny dream home a reality.

Know Your Local Laws

You know why you want to live the tiny home lifestyle, and you’re ready to take action! Yet, you still have quite a few steps to consider before you can start planning your move.

Before you get too excited, you’ll need to check your local laws regarding tiny homes. There’s nothing worse than having your heart set on a specific location, only to discover they don’t permit tiny structures.

Local laws vary significantly from place to place. While some areas are completely happy to allow tiny homes to exist, others aren’t so welcoming.

Zoning laws, and building codes, in most cities around the country, can complicate the process. Watch the Living Tiny Legally documentary series to learn more.

Tiny Estates in Elizabethtown, PA

Expect to invest a lot of time learning the zoning laws, and applying for the appropriate permits unless you’re comfortable living under the radar. Visit the Tiny Home Industry Association for the latest news on tiny house regulations and helpful resources.

With a tiny house on wheels, the simplest way to avoid zoning issues is to park where its already allowed, like in cities that allow them as ADUs or permitted tiny home communities. Find tiny house parking near you on

Slowly Begin Downsizing

You don’t want to wait for moving day to start downsizing your belongings. Instead, start cutting back now and avoid having to rush when the time comes to move.

We suggest you begin downsizing in stages. You can do this by cutting back on one type of item at a time.

Here are a few examples of things you can downsize:

  • Office Supplies
  • Kitchenware
  • Clothes

All of the items on our list above, find ways of cluttering up your free space.

Downsizing Clothing

Go through your clothes and find all of the outfits your not wearing. Next, find all of the clothes that you rarely use, but are bulky. Separate these into three piles: yes, no, maybe.

Remember, the downsizing process doesn’t have to happen overnight.

Take your time as you go through your clothes in stages. Start with the clothes you rarely wear, then dig deeper into the closet and finally into any boxes with clothes. Once you have a pile of clothes you don’t want, get rid of them!

We sold many of our downsized items at a flea market to help fund our tiny house build

Donate and Be Free

Don’t just throw things away. Try to find a good home for them; it will make the process more fulfilling. Maybe a friend needs something your getting rid of, or you can donate them to a local thrift store. Once you’ve determined what clothes you don’t need, get them out of your living space.

Whatever you do, don’t put them in bags and pile them up somewhere. We find that if you let your old clothes sit around, they usually manage to work themselves back into your belongings. Instead, be completely free of the things you are no longer using, by getting them out of your space.

Maximizing Storage Space

While designing your tiny living space begins in the build phase, once your tiny home built, you can still easily modify it to better suit your needs.

Here are a few ways you can maximize space inside your micro-dwelling:

  • Wall-mounted shelves
  • Furniture with multi-uses
  • Light color schemes

Wall shelves are a fast and simple way to create space in every room. Now, instead of belongings cluttering up the floor, they can be neatly placed on their designated shelf.

tiny house bench/closet/bookcase with a pull-out step

Yet, keep in mind, too many items on your shelves is a recipe for disaster. Overstuffed shelves will end up making the room feel cramped, suffocating the residents.

Instead, let your shelves have the appearance of open space by only placing a few items on them. Next, we suggest buying or building furniture that has more than one use.

Multi-functional furniture saves floor space and makes it easier to enjoy your home.

For example, you could invest in a small staircase that also works as a seat and closet. Or doors that not only close entryways but also serve as pantry storage.

Light Color Schemes

Studies show that the color white has a fantastic ability to help us feel calm. More importantly, the color white is also capable of creating the illusion of more space. This is why we suggest decorating the entire interior of your small home, using only light color schemes.

If white walls aren’t your style, that’s okay. There are plenty of other light color schemes that will still create the illusion of more space.

Here are a few light color schemes you should consider trying:

  • White shades
  • Pale pastels
  • Light blues or greens

You also might want to avoid putting in too much dark wood. It could end up making the room feel instantly smaller, no matter how white your walls are.

Start Your Journey

Now that you know more about the tiny home lifestyle, are you ready to take your first steps? Having the dream to transition into a tiny house is an exciting feeling, almost like falling in love. Many other like-minded folks can relate!

Connect with the community of tiny home enthusiasts dwellers by joining a local Meetup and Facebook groups. Further, you can find both design inspiration and community at upcoming tiny house events across the nation.

Happy tiny living dream pursuing!

by Alexis Stephens, Tiny House Blog contributor
My partner, Christian and I are traveling tiny house dwellers. Together we’ve traveled for 4.5 years for our documentary and community education project, Tiny House Expedition. We live, breathe, dream the tiny home community every day. This is our life and our true passion. We are very grateful to be able to experience this inspiring movement in such an intimate way and to be able to share our exploration with all of you.

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