Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes and Regular Homes

Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes and Regular Homes

JT one of my readers sat down the other day and wrote down pros and cons regarding living in a tiny portable house and a regular larger home. I asked JT to let me share them with you and would like you to use the comment section below to add in your ideas.

Below is a photo of Dan Louche’s tiny house on wheels that he designed and built himself.

Tiny Homes on trailers:

Pros: (in no special order)

  1. You save money on utility bills.
  2. If you don’t like where you’re living, you can hook up to your home and leave.
  3. Not as much (if any) yard to take care of.
  4. Since you don’t have a lot of utility bills you can save money for things you always wanted to do in life.
  5. You can have a new front yard anytime you like.
  6. You don’t have a lot in property tax to pay.
  7. You can clean your home in no time flat.
  8. You have a lot less house to maintain. (again, saving you lots of money)
  9. You don’t have a lot of useless stuff tying you down.
  10. You can build it yourself and pay cash, you you own it, not the bank.

Cons

  1. You don’t have a lot of room to get away from one another if you’re married.
  2. If you’re a guy who likes to putt around fixing and making stuff, you don’t really have enough room in a Tiny home.
  3. Not much storage space or closet space.
  4. It’s very hard to find a place to park your tiny home and live in it. (that’s a big one!)

Regular Home: (JT’s house is under 1,000 sq feet with a 1 car attached garage)

Pros

  1. You have plenty of room for all that useless junk you’ve collected over the years.
  2. If you’re into hunting and things like that, you have plenty of room to store all your firearms, bows, hunting gear etc.
  3. You never have trouble finding a place to put your regular home, it’s on its own property.
  4. You always have all your utilities right at your fingertips. (Water, Electric, sewer etc.)
  5. You have a yard and don’t have to ask permission from anyone if you want to park your camper there or other things you might own.
  6. You have equity in your home as the years go by.
  7. You have enough space to entertain your guest comfortably.
  8. You’re always close to your doctors office in case anything were to happen
  9. You can grow a big garden.
  10. Having a definitive place to go makes you feel safe and secure.

Cons

  1. Payments even on a small home like mine are high and if you loose your job, you loose your home to. (that’s a big one)
  2. Taxes are high as are water and sewer rates.
  3. Utilities bills cost a lot more in a regular home.
  4. Your always working to support your house (pay the mortgage, insurance, utilities, up keep, it never stops) and it eats up all or most of your fun money.
  5. You have a lot bigger house to upkeep and repair!
  6. If your neighbor sells his house who knows what your next neighbor will be like, but who ever it is your stuck with them.

Above is JT’s house. It’s under 1,000 square feet. Doesn’t have a usable attic, just a dirt floor crawl space under it, no basement. We have a kitchen, living room, three small to medium size bedrooms, a bathroom with a tub/shower, vanity, toilet and washer and dryer. And of course the one car attached garage that I keep my Honda Goldwing (that’s our old bike in this picture) Kubota lawn tractor, motorcycle trailer and tools in. It has a wood/coal stove in the garage if I want to warm it up in winter to putt around in there. We have a fenced in back yard for the dog.

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colleen - September 30, 2010 Reply

we live in tiny and have solved some of the cons by having acreage and have separate tiny shop spaces for each of us. while tiny cleans up quickly, they just as quickly can get dirty. it’s an every day chore making sure everything is put away and wiped down. claustrophobia in winter. you really can’t do much to change the look, no rearranging. we do store art and other such in another tiny and change the walls and clutter on a regular basis.

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Colleen,
    Do you live in a Tiny Mobile Home? If so, I’m interested in asking a few questions.
    How do you get your mail?
    How do you renew your drivers license with no permanent Address?
    How do you find a place to park your mobile tiny home?
    Do the authorities give you a hard time about living in a tiny home?

    JT

Ed - September 30, 2010 Reply

I have both a tiny house (we call it a RV) and a larger fixed location (2250 sq ft)house. We travel & camp 2 to 10 weeks a year in the tiny house and enjoy it, but when the weather is bad cabin fever sets in very fast.

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Good point Ed,
    We have a Six Pac truck camper that we use for camping. I guess that would give a guy ( or Gal ) a good idea of what it’s like to live in a tiny home full time.

    JT

      Ed - September 30, 2010 Reply

      A lot of RV parks have shower & bath rooms plus a laundry mat.

Ell Ess - September 30, 2010 Reply

“Home From Nowhere” James Kunstler.

Impossible to recommend to enough people.

Luke - September 30, 2010 Reply

There’s one tiny point missing in the list; the need to own a car.

How can you move the said tiny house to a new location without the need of a vehicle with a Dino-Juice burning engine? All of this is beautiful but if you park the house away from any mass-transit system, you need that bloody car. This can be compounded fast if you need to make frequent trips to the grocery store due to the lack of storage.

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Good points Luke,
    What if you can park someplace within walking distance to your shopping needs and own a biodiesel pickup truck that you can use to move the tiny home when you want to? Then you can walk to most places and use old oil from restaurants to run your truck?

    JT

      justin - September 30, 2010 Reply

      you could always jst rent a truck to move the tiny house if you were planning on living in an urban area…

        Laura - September 30, 2010 Reply

        Yes, that is my plan too!

awbirdhouse - September 30, 2010 Reply

Not a bad list,

A good point, I think a lot of people who live in tiny houses are “project oriented” people, and so it kind of begs the question, if you have a house, a workshop, a storage shed, storage under your house etc, are you really living any smaller? As well, tiny houses really are an effort to keep clean, particularly in mud season. And of another note, we still do laundry, use water, etc..and so are we simply displacing some of our own consumption habbits to our friends/public domain, for example, I do produce a lot less waste living tiny, but now I put it in public bins rather than a home based pick up bin, but that doesn’t change that it is waste.

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    awbirdhouse
    All great points, thanks for sharing them. I had never though of it that way.
    As to keeping a tiny home clean in winter time or mud season, couldn’t you just remove your shoes on the front porch before you enter the tiny home?
    My wife and I own our own washer and dryer. But I have to go to the laundry mat to wash our sleeping bags and other large blankets. I went there with 2 sleeping bags and a comforter and it cost me over $20.00 to wash and dry them. So I would imagine what it would be cost to wash your close if you life in a tiny home??

    JT

      Laura - September 30, 2010 Reply

      My tiny house plans include space for one of Haier’s small washers in the kitchen. I hang to dry. Monetary issues and inconvenience averted!

    Rebecca - September 30, 2010 Reply

    If you look at it, though, you are not an individual consumer of yet another washer and/or dryer, and individual trash cans. That in itself is less individual use and more community use of objects, which creates much less waste in the long run.

      Rebecca - September 30, 2010 Reply

      Also, with storage buildings, they don’t have to be heated or cooled, and that is what makes larger homes so expensive and wasteful.

        Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

        Very true about the storage sheds.A Tiny House would be much cheaper to heat and cool.If you had a rocket heater they burn less wood,so would be very cheap.And as far as laundry,you could catch and use filtered rain water.And hang them out,like pointed out already.

Delores - September 30, 2010 Reply

I am living in Hawai’i now, we are a military family. When we get back to the mainland I hope to be able to buy land and have a home built on it. I am batting around the idea of having a tiny home built for my Mom. She loves the idea of a small log cabin just for her. This list helped me. Thanks again and I look forward to going on Facebook everyday in hopes that you have another tiny space for me to check out.

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Hi Delores,
    First let me say that if your in the military I want to thank you for your service to America, if not then I want to thank your family members who are and you for supporting them.
    Have you seen these Log cabins on a trailer? http://forestclassicsloghomes.com/portableBuildings.html . I sure wish I could afford one for myself. I always wanted a cabin in the mountains but in this day and age I will never be able to afford one, this would give me the best of both worlds.

    JT

JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

By the way Dan Louche,
I love the tiny mobile home you built !!!

JT

    Dan Louche - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for your nice comments JT!

    I think your list is really good and comprehensive. You could almost combine the two as the pro’s to one are the con’s to the other.

    While this list highlights some really good points for someone deciding if they want to live tiny, for my mom, unfortunately there was no choice. For the amount of money that was spent, there simply weren’t any other safe options available for her.

    I think that is the case for a lot of people that research tiny houses. There is the camp that wants to live tiny to have a more sustainable lifestyle, and then there are the people that really just want a place to call home, and a tiny house is what is within reach (and obviously there are people in both camps). For someone who is forced to live with friends or family because they have fallen on hard times, the pros of living in a tiny house well overshadow the cons.

      JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

      That brings me to another good point Dan,
      Maybe everyone who owns a regular home should also have a mobile tiny home and a truck to tow it.
      If there where to ever be a disaster ( man made or natural ) and you have to leave your home in a hurry to get somewhere same, you could hook up to your tiny home and have a comfortable place to stay. You can also stock it with emergency supplys.
      What’s your thoughts on this?

      JT

        Laura - September 30, 2010 Reply

        Isn’t there kind of no point to having both a “regular sized house” and a tiny, mobile home? I mean, both from the cost-reducing and waste-reducing perspectives.

        I can see the benefit of having a GTFO box or truck stocked with truck-bed camper and some immediate necessities, but I question the value of a bunker on wheels. Especially because if a disaster is severe enough or sudden enough, that preparation might be a futile gesture.

          Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

          Just butting in.In the case of sudden emergencies.How hard or time consuming is hitching a trailor up?Basicly the Tiny home is just that.But with the Tiny House you have more of the things you may not want to lose.Putting back up pictures and documents(even though most have those on laptops).It would be much more comfortable in a Tiny House than a camper shell on a truck.I myself have fallen on hard times and lost alot.I am trying to redo a shed,into a Tiny House.We have gotten alot done,as far as deconstruction.But it is easier to tear apart,than put back together.My daughter and I have been staying with a friend.But the arguing and the constant rule changes are taking their toll.Things hit a real bad spot so we have stayed in a tent and our van(during the rainy days).It is what it is.You just roll with the punches.And a Tiny House sure would be glorious,at this point.

JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

I have noticed one thing. Most of the people who have these Mobile Tiny Homes build them themselves and i think for that reason they tend to be built better than most houses I’ve seen.

none - September 30, 2010 Reply

The best argument for a tiny house on a trailer IMHO is twofold:
1. No property taxes. The state can never take it away from you.
2. No mortgage. The bank cannot take it away from you.

    Epperson - September 30, 2010 Reply

    My fear is that the Tiny House Movement will soon get the attention of policymakers. Times are tough and there’s a fiscal crisis in our country. Revenues have declined and taxes will surely go up sooner than you realize.

    The government will go after anything and everything to secure funding and at some point, one too many articles about the movement in a major news outlet will get the attention of a money-grubbing Congress person.

      none - September 30, 2010 Reply

      Indeed. Too many people in the tiny house movement decry government power when it is their pet cause that is affected (tiny houses), but are only too happy to want the government to have power to apply force to someone else they don’t like (environmental laws, taxes, healthcare). Government is not reason, it is raw power and any power you give it will be happily turned on you in the next election. Smaller houses, smaller governments!

      That said, tiny houses on trailers do make it easy to say “up yours” to a county or state that gets too onerous with property taxes – simply hook up the truck and move.

        Sarah L. - September 30, 2010 Reply

        That is so true… with a house on wheels if you do not like what is going on where you live then you can pick up and move. You get drug dealers living next door… move the house… The local government just passed a bunch of really stupid laws… move… The public school drops the art and music programs… move… Maybe if enough people start choosing where they live by the standards that are kept in the town instead of by how much they have invested in their property then things might just start changing.

          Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

          But what if there will be no change,cause it is to widespread.You can’t just keep moving,sooner or later you have no where to go.You have to stand up and make things change.Right?Heck go make your own bliss.but you are talking tax free.not everyone is in the movement is going portable.alot are buying land and going Tiny,so they will not have a mortgage.If all you pay is land taxes and very small utility bills,that is freedom in itself.Right?And as far as schools and drugs go.If you can get at least an acre and your Tiny house is dead in the middle.Well,you barely have to worry about neighbors.And schools,well home school.Teach your kids what you want.If you get to know your farely good neighbors,then maybe you can be better neighbors and keep the neighborhood safer by being more involved.The old saying it takes a village comes to mind.People in nice neighborhoods are nice to each other or civil at least.Block parties,bar b ques,trick or treating within the neighborhood,things like that.They have bungalow villages,so why not Tiny House villages.Movies on the lawn and neighborhood picnics.Sorry just dreamin of a better more friendly world.

        Epperson - September 30, 2010 Reply

        The assumption is that all Tiny Homes are on trailer when in reality, this isn’t the case. Many Tiny Homes are on private properties. The moment the codes change so will the tax laws. If you built on land, you have little wiggle room.

        So my argument is, less attention to the Tiny House Movement works.

          Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

          Speaking of attention.Just waiting for someone to be in the middle of a huge battle with DHR over living in a Tiny House.The whole each child needs a bedroom and all.I just want to know,are we still free?I think I am going to start a Tiny House relgion.LOL.That is the only way you get left alone.Well,most of the time.

        Gayle - October 1, 2010 Reply

        While the talk of being able to just move whenever you want being a plus for the tiny house of a trailer idea, reality is a little different for some of us. I was thinking of getting a tiny house trailer, but I think I’ve given that idea up in favor of a tiny house that is built so that it can be moved but isn’t on a trailer.

        I’ve come to this conclusion for a couple of reasons. I have family that I wouldn’t want to move away from anyway so why bother with a trailer with tires that will just disintegrate from staying in one position for years. The other is that I really don’t want to live in 100 sq ft and it’s a little harder to get 300 sq ft on a pickup-pullable trailer. So now I’m planning on a home built off site and moved to my (to be determined) location. The house could later be put back on a flatbed and taken elsewhere but it wouldn’t be as easy as decide today, move tomorrow. It also eliminates some of the cons in the list while not adding too many of the cons from the regular house list.

        I hope I can find a group of like-minded people with whom to form a small community of small but not-so-mobile houses.

        Gayle

          Anderson - October 3, 2010 Reply

          I’m with you Gayle, if you find that community let me know.
          Kathy

          Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

          Gayle
          I just said something in a differant discussion.They have bungalow villages,so why not Tiny Houses?Have you checked on the price of having it moved later?Does the extra weight make the price go up?Please let us know.

          Stacie - August 8, 2015 Reply

          Ross Chapin is an architectual company and have created “Pocket Neighborhoods” of tiny houses.http://rosschapin.com/projects/

      JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

      Yes Epperson,
      I have no doubt that will happen. America is suposed to be the Home Of The Free, but not much is free today.

      JT

        Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

        Not when in some places,they can tell you how tall your grass can be.Or what you can and can not have on your own land.If my child is healthy,happy,sheltered and doing good in school.Nobody should be able to say I can not live in a very small house,by candle light.If I make that choice.

      JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

      I agree with you Epperson,
      I have no doubt that will happen. America is suposed to be The Land Of The Free, but not much is free these days.

      JT

        JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

        Sorry, didn’t mean to post that twice, do’t know how I did that.

          Callene - July 10, 2012 Reply

          It was worth saying twice.LOL

        Davidrc - October 2, 2010 Reply

        America has been the the ‘Land Of the Fee’ for longer than I’ve been alive. But remember, by inaction or mere apathy, we gave the various government entities and the HOA’s the authority to do all they do.

        Everything the Government takes for granted now as their right, something, sometime in history, a lot of people decided they didn’t like and insisted ‘there ought to be a law’. So insistent they became that at some point a City, County, State, or worse of all, the Feds did passed a law. Requiring fines or fees to be paid. ANYtime government sticks it’s nose into something, they screw it up. Always.

        Sorry, didn’t mean to preach. Just thought a reminder that these things just didn’t materialize out of thin air was in order. Either someone decided they could do a thing and got away with it or a vocal minority kept insisting that ‘there ought to be a law’ and were self-righteously smug when there was one, until they realized it applied to them too. Especially when they had to pay up.

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Those are sre 2 very very good points which I listed in my comparison.
    But there are so many questions I have about living mobile and small.
    Where do I park legally?
    How do I get my water?
    Where do I dump my sewerage? Do I have to keep towning my house to a dump station?
    How do I renew my drivers license and Concealed caryy license without a permanent address?
    I am disabled and wouldn’t like to be far from my doctor, how do I make that happen?

    These are just some of the questions I have about living tiny and mobile and is why I started this discussion. Thank you for your input.

    JT

      none - September 30, 2010 Reply

      I think the only thing that you can’t manage with a tiny house parked just anywhere is sewage – you can collect water in a cistern, drain greywater outside, and use solar. That’s why I think that simple sawdust composting toilets should be the norm in tiny houses. Fill it up and drive to the nearest isolated spot in a park and dump it. It will be nice organic compost in three months.

      As far as an address, go to a private mailbox store and rent a box. Instead of “100 Main St., PO Box 234” simply put “100 Main St., Apt #234.” and it will be accepted.

      I do like the idea of a towed trailer with a garden in it. 🙂

        JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

        Thanks for answering those questions for me.

        JT

        Laura - September 30, 2010 Reply

        After about 12+ hours of research on the subject (that’s a lot of time thinking about poop), I think Nature’s Head and Air Head look like the best composting options. Less pricey, more successful at actually completing odor-free composting, and the internet is filled with rave reviews.

        On the other hand, systems like Biolet, Sun-Mar, and Envirolet have scores of scathing reviews about non-functioning, smelly toilets and horrible customer service.

          none - September 30, 2010 Reply

          In my research on humanure toilets, people universally say that the nicest smelling and most foolproof composting toilets are the simple ones – a 5 gallon bucket and peatmoss/sawdust. Every single one of the people I read that paid for the $2000 electronic composting toilets has had problems with the smell, they simply don’t seem to work all that well.

          Regarding “living” at an address, yes, some providers will require a utility bill. Therefore, contact the Escapees RV Club that will establish you as having an “address” as a file folder in their cabinet. They will get you all the information needed to establish residency in Texas, with which you can maintain bank accounts, get mail, get credit cards, etc. There are lots of other organizations like this, check around.

        et - September 30, 2010 Reply

        Don’t think this is possible in all countries. Many require you to actually reside at the address you provide.

sherri pierson - September 30, 2010 Reply

Thanks for your postings. I lived for several years in my tiny house while married (it was off the grid~ie.solar). The pros for me:
~worked when I wanted to, having no bills but gas and food
~met many wonderful people, inspired many to live more simply
~traveled to different hot springs and natural places (ie. warmer in the winter,mountains in the summer)
~realized happiness is about my heart and relationships, not the next possession to obtain
~sold the sheepherder wagon or vardo at a good price and built another one when we were ready for a new project or injection of cash in our lives.
~built a greenhouse wagon that we pulled behind us, growing mini-veggies
cons:
~was not able to put in a large garden
~was not able to have pets in such a small space and traveling
~was not as accessible to family and friends via phone
I’m designing my next house and appreciate this tiny exercise in value and lifestyle!
Happy Trails…

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Great Post Sherri !!!
    That is just the sort of conversation I was hoping to triger with this blog.
    For a phone, weren’t you able to use a cell phone?
    Did you find it hard to find a place to park your mobile tiny home?
    What are some of the things you found very diffacult about living mobile and tiny?

    JT

      sherri pierson - October 1, 2010 Reply

      i’ve never been a cell phone user but nowadays I would use skype to stay in touch (as well, my family is on FB so things have changed!)
      I never found it hard to find a place..in fact, people were always inviting us to stay on their land with them as guests. But we rarely stayed in one place longer than a month or so and I worked “from home”. I find now that parking the Tiny House would be the biggest challenge since I am wanting to stay in one location…
      While traveling I lost a dear cat that took off. We waited over two weeks but he never returned…dogs are much better travelers.

    Carol - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Am enjoying these comments. Some good points have been brought to attention.
    As to your comments Sherri, granted you couldn’t grow your own food, most places here in ontario have organic food markets run in small towns, i imagine they would have them other places as well. There is a large one here by my town, helps we have a large community of Amish folks nearby. But purchasing as your travelling is not a bad thing, support the local organic farmers. As to pets why should travelling or living in a small house limit you? So long as you give your dogs/cats exercise, the only limits are your own mindset. I plan on living in a small house and travelling with my 5 dogs. I don’t think that is cruel or unusal. So long as they are with their people and are exercised regularly they have no problems! Do it! You will have a closer relationship with your pet then you ever could have otherwise.
    Can’t wait to live this lifestyle myself. THe goal is Spring!!

justin - September 30, 2010 Reply

couldnt you have both… jst outside of the city in most areas you can find places with large lots with an existing home… i have one i paid $20,000 for in Paris texas.. its a rental… there is an existing parking place on the back of the property where the pervious owners parked their rv.. it has water and electric allready… would be no trouble to put in a new sewer line from the pad the the existing septic tank… i plan on putting a small fence between the main house and the rv pad after the current residents move out… then i will rent the main house and live in tiny house on the rv lot… not my idea btw a guy i work with at the fire station dose this as well… the renters basicly pay all his bills with their rent and gives him a little extra cash to boot… not for everyone but its an idea

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Hmmmmm, that’s a good thought. But I don’t know if I would want to play landlord these days. 2 of my friends are landlords. One is always having truoble with renters not paying and the other sold all his rental houses because he said that renters have more rights these days than the landlords do.
    Like you said, it’s not for everyone I guess, but if it’s working for him that’s all that counts.

    JT

Heather - September 30, 2010 Reply

I like this list JT and thanks for writing it. You make a lot of valid points. I think if I was planning a small house I would want to live on a bit of land for gardening, etc. and would want a small root cellar and shop/garage for storage of hobby items I don’t want to give up (gardening, etc.) After all, having interests and hobbies is a good thing and sometimes requires having some extra “stuff”. Getting rid of everything and then realizing I want something back is a real waste of money if I have to go and buy it again.

I like the idea of a small storage building, and although it may not be living completely smaller, at least you aren’t paying for heated storage space for your extra items (i.e. garage).

I also think it would be a good idea, if a person really wants a tiny house lifestyle but now owns a regular home, to rent out your regular home and then park your tiny house in “your” yard – you still own the home so no one can tell you to move your tiny house (depending on zoning laws) and you are still building equity in your regular house. Renting your house and having someone else pay down your mortgage is a good thing. If you can get enough rent to cover house expenses (mortgage, utilities, etc.) you’ve got a win-win. Once your equity builds up, go buy that piece of land and semi-retire. 🙂

    Dan Louche - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Awesome idea! My biggest regret about buying the house that I live in now is that it is tightly controlled by a HOA. So this unfortunately would not be an option for me. My fiancé and I are currently in the process of a significant downsize with the plans to move into a smaller, older house where this could be possible.

      JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

      I wish ou 2 good luck dan,
      I hope you find the perfect house for the 2 of you.

      JT

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    I agree, you have some great ideas !!
    But like I said, it’s so hard to find good renters these days, so often you get people who you think are good people and then they don’t pay their rent, trash your house, live like pigs ect. I don’t know that I could have the patients to be a landlord????
    But you post did generate something else i had seen on TV. There were these people traveling around with a garden in the back of their pickup truck. I supose you could do that and still be able to tow your home anywhere??

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Heather,
    Check out this vdeo on Truck Farming you may like it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGGUfYFdFrc . While your there look for episode 2 and other truck farming videos.

    JT

      Heather - September 30, 2010 Reply

      Hey JT. I love the truck farm, very cool. Great music too. I used to have a truck like that, we called it Red. Thanks for the link.

Epperson - September 30, 2010 Reply

I love Jay’s Epu but I don’t want to drop that much for a stock plan.

I love the Micro Compact Home but its unrealistic.

Is there a bridge for this?

    Rebecca - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Have you looked at the Sonoma Shanty plans? I believe they are still only $27.00.

et - September 30, 2010 Reply

Some cons in a tiny house:
*Temperature swings – less thermal mass – more difficult to regulate
*Smaller kitchen – more difficult to do food prep & food storage
*No/less room for guests/relatives – both overnight and other visitors. Can’t accommodate friends in need of a place to stay.
*Difficult if you have a disability/are older

Pro
Negative equity/value loss limited

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    My wife brought up a good issue with Equity. If you own your own regular home and you get real sick or need surgery you can borrow from your houses equity to pay for any hospital cost not covered by your insurance, where I don’t think a mobile tiny home will give you that advantage??

    JT

      none - September 30, 2010 Reply

      Given the lower costs of living in a tiny house, and given that you’re losing equity if you own a house now anyway, you should be banking the savings in tax-sheltered investment accounts. Borrowing against a 401k or similar plan for medical expenses or school is easy.

    Carol - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Well those are good points, there may be some opposition to that. I for one feel that for one person food would be purchased as needed with little to no waste, really how much food storage does one need. If you are located in town just shop more often, like they do in Europe, where they eat more fresh food and eat alot healthier then our processed food here in north america. as for food prep, how much prep when you are feeding one or two people? even if you have a larger get together, the prep could be spread to a shelf that is gateleg (folds down to the wall)for extra prep area.
    As for guests, depending on the house you could potentially have extra sleeping space with lofts or built in couches that double as a bed like an RV, it depends on how long you want them to stay I suppose. In the design I have been working on I could sleep at least 4 extra people. Granted I would not want them to stay long but one person could stay longer if we could get along. Plus there are hotels or motels for out of town guests if they don’t feel that a tiny house is where they want to stay. There are ways around everything!!
    I guess it is about personal opinions though!

Jon - September 30, 2010 Reply

Ok, Pro’s of a tiny house, If your a Hoarder, you’ll know it IMMEDIATELY! Anothor Pro, is if you
lose your keys, relax, they are almost in arms distance!

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    LOL,
    Good ones Jon.

    JT

Parrot whisperer - September 30, 2010 Reply

I really appreciate meatier posts like this. I try on my own blog (click my name) to try to keep what I have to say reasonably substantial (not saying I always succeed), even though it is much more work to
write such posts.

A list like this will always be specific to the person and type of tinyhouse, too. Writing a more general list would have to be an open source project or something, to harness the variety of experience. Maybe I should start a tinyhouse wiki!

    JT - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for Chiming in Parrot Whisperer,
    I have saved your blog and will visit it tomorrow. Maybe a Tiny House Wiki would be an idea to look into?
    Thanks again.

    JT

scott stewart - September 30, 2010 Reply

Wow what a response this article has generated, I think its great. I am going to share a thought that keeps bugging me as I read all the comments, and its so silly , some of you are probably going to think I must be crazy, but as a builder of tiny houses I just have to chime in on a phrase that doesnt sit well with me, its the phrase, tiny mobile home,,,,,,, now that may not sound bad at all to most of you but to me it makes me think of a scaled down version of a flimsy 2×2 framed shell with nearly no pitch to the roof, sheet aluminum siding , thin paneling interior, set up on blocks with cheap underpinning, I guess its just the “mobile home” part of that that bugs me, and I know that is really what a tiny house is but to me “tiny house” just sounds so much better and makes me think of a scaled down version of a nice , well built home, I guess I look at it different, for me a tiny house, be it on wheels or on skids is portable by definition and therefore mobile, again I know this probably sounds absolutely silly and I do not in any way mean any disrespect to JT or anyone else, I love his post and the discussion it has created. I am ready to be beat up now on my crazy way of thinking, maybe someone out there understands what I was trying to say, and let me point out it could be where I am from, I live in the Ozarks, there are a lot of true mobile homes, trailers as they are called in my area, if I tell someone I am building a tiny mobile home I can assure you it will create a different mental image than if I say tiny house, or even tiny portable house,
Sorry to anyone shaking their head at the end of this long post, thanks JT for your article,

Scott

    Parrot whisperer - September 30, 2010 Reply

    I think they really are in a different category, though of course they share some things in common. There is a post on the tinyhousedesign blog about the difference between tinyhouses and mobile homes.

    Tim - October 1, 2010 Reply

    I think understand where you are coming from Scott, when I think of a “mobil home” I think of cheaply made, blow a-way in a stiff wind, run down trailer park type of dwellings, simply because that is what I see the most of, and hear the most of after a strong storm rolls thru.

    On the other hand, the majority of Tiny Homes that are built are far superior in construction to almost any type of Mobil home I have ever seen. As Tiny homes become more popular, and people become more aware of what is out there, I think that perception will change a lot.

    About 3 years ago I had finaly saved up enough money to buy a travel trailer, the type I bought is really just a shorter version of a mobil home, I had saved up for years to buy one and pay cash for it. I wish to god I had known about Tiny homes back then, because I could have paid cash for a Tumble Weed with what I paid for my travel trailer, and it would have been paid off, and would have lasted “decades” longer then this travel trailer will.

    JT - October 1, 2010 Reply

    I don’t think your crazy Scott,
    I can see where that could get a little confusing. My wife and I lived in a 16′ x 80′ trailer home ( Mobile Home ) and as you say it wasn’t built very well.
    I’ve noticed the people I’ve seen that build Tiny Homes ( on trailers ) mostly build them themselves and take pride in their work, as a result it seem these Tiny Homes are built better than the usual Trailer House and dare I say, Regular house.
    The reason I referred to them as Tiny Mobile Homes it because I was comparing the regular homes to the Tiny Houses built on trailers that can be moved to anywhere you want without having to hire a trucking company.
    Thanks for your input on this subject.

    JT

Margo - September 30, 2010 Reply

Scott – Yep, you have a point. I’ve lived in the great plains and Texas my entire life. Mobile homes (of whatever size) always have that stigma attached. And it doesn’t matter how nice it is or how well it is maintained. It’s still viewed as a “trailer house”.

Biggest Con for me in getting a tiny house is the cost. Building my own is not an option, and the costs of buying pre-built has become next to impossible. I was hoping this would be an option for me, and although I’m still trying to find a way to make it work, coming up with enough money is next to impossible on a fixed income.

    Rebecca - September 30, 2010 Reply

    Have you thought about getting the plans and materials, and looking into a carpentry class at a vocational school building it for you. It wouldn’t cost as much as having a professional contractor build it, but the teacher of the class would be a professional who oversaw the students in the actual building. Just a thought.

      Margo - September 30, 2010 Reply

      And a really good thought it is! Thanks Rebecca!

      Carol - September 30, 2010 Reply

      If you go to Jay Shafers Tumbleweed site there is a woman in ontario that did that very thing.

      sherri pierson - October 1, 2010 Reply

      brilliant idea, especially for a single woman. Though Dee and Janine have been a great inspiration to me. Another idea, in my situation I have a neighbor that is an architect and builder that I am trading some bookkeeping for their skills.

    JT - October 1, 2010 Reply

    I also niticed you can pick up some gentley used Tiny Homes on this web site every now and then for a good price. :O)

    JT

Barb - September 30, 2010 Reply

I think the cons of a tiny house would be the lack of social living and home-life space. I simply can’t imagine a home with no kitchen table to sit down to dinner, a kitchen not big enough to cook Thanksgiving dinner, no place for my sewing machine and no table for the Scrabble board.
Alternatively, the pros are so many and so well noted above, they probably outweigh my cons.
For me, I dream of living in a small home, rather than a tiny home.

    JT - October 1, 2010 Reply

    What if you to have a Tiny Home on a trailer and then tow it with a pickup truck that has a side on camper you could use as your hobby room?

    JT

      Barb - October 1, 2010 Reply

      That is certainly food for thought JT. I think one of the other posters said it best – I like a sense of permanency that might not be best met with mobile digs. But, finding alternatives such as a truck camper is good thinking. I like that you are thinking outside the box!

rocksmart - October 1, 2010 Reply

I live in a tiny home, (288 sg ft) on my own property. I have a shed for tools and building materials.
I would not want a tiny house on wheels, mainly because of finding a place to put it. I wouldn’t want to live in a campground and pay $400 or more per month, kind of defeats the purpose of saving money. Might as well have a travel trailer. They are cheaper than most of these tiny houses I see on the net.
The biggest drawback to a tiny home, for me, is having family over. During the summer it’s fine, we have lots of outdoor get-togethers here, but in the winter we can’t all cram into my house. So Christmas at Grandma’s is out!

    JT - October 1, 2010 Reply

    Hi Rocksmart,
    I can see your points and they are good ones. But $400.00 a month at a camp ground is cheap compared to some of the house and appartments for rent today. And as was stated in an earlier post Tiny Homes are built a lot better and stronger than travel trailers.
    Also, you can get deals to work part time at campgrounds and in return they take up to half off your site fee. Off season camping is also a lot cheaper.
    I’ve camped in some places that have a hall and during the off season no one is using it, so it could be a place to entertain your guest rather they have them all in your tiny home?
    Just thinking out load, don’t mind me. :O)

    JT

Jessica - October 1, 2010 Reply

I think that some of this boils down to your nature – are you more of a nomad or not? I know that personally the idea of not having a stable, permanent home makes me anxious and depressed. For me, freedom means being able to go off and visit many places but always having a home an place to come back to.

I love small homes and choose to live in one with family. And that brings me to another pro for a small house rather than a tiny mobile one – Family. I’m sure that some family somewhere has made it work but for most of us having kids means providing some sort of stability. Most kids need a home – small, large, apartment, house, etc. – but something that stays in one place.

So I would place

    JT - October 1, 2010 Reply

    Very Good issues to think of Jessica,
    I don’t think I could ever get my wife to live in a Tiny home because of those issues, she is the type of person who needs a steady place to call home. She doesn’t mind traveling, but wants a place to come back to, and I do to to a certain extent.

    JT

Gayle - October 1, 2010 Reply

I posted this comment as a reply to someone’s reply up toward the top of the comments but decided if I wanted to see if anyone has any comments about it, I probably needed to put it where people might actually see it. Sorry for the duplication but here it is again.

While the talk of being able to just move whenever you want being a plus for the tiny-house-on-a-trailer idea, reality is a little different for some of us. I was thinking of getting a tiny house trailer, but I think I’ve given that idea up in favor of a tiny house that is built so that it can be moved but isn’t on a trailer.

I’ve come to this conclusion for a couple of reasons. I have family that I wouldn’t want to move away from anyway so why bother with a trailer with tires that will just disintegrate from staying in one position for years. The other is that I really don’t want to live in 100 sq ft and it’s a little harder to get 300 sq ft on a pickup-pullable trailer. So now I’m planning on a home built off site and moved to my (to be determined) location. The house could later be put back on a flatbed and taken elsewhere but it wouldn’t be as easy as “decide today, move tomorrow”. It also eliminates some of the cons in the list while not adding too many of the cons from the regular house list.

I hope I can find a group of like-minded people with whom to form a small community of small but not-so-mobile houses.

Gayle

    Anderson - October 3, 2010 Reply

    Let me know if you want to work on that community.
    Kathy

justin - October 1, 2010 Reply

i like all the responses… thats what i really like about this sight.. everyone who reads it and comments is an individual.. i think thats why we found tiny house blog in the first place… my thoughts are that you cant have a exact plan in life , the ability to adapt what we want into what is possible makes this a good place for idean and innovation.. thanks everyone

Peter Engbretson - October 1, 2010 Reply

I’m an older guy who’s lived a lot of places in all manner of shelter, tiny to large. At times I’ve lived with a large family, at others by myself; commuted and shopped only by foot, bicycle and bus, at others exclusively by car; owned lots of stuff, at others not much at all.

I’ve concluded that what makes sense, dwelling wise, depends largely on your individual values, needs, responsibilities and resources at each stage of your life. Different strokes…

For me, a middle way makes the most sense. The “small house,” neither tiny nor large — say 400-700 sq. feet, give or take depending on circumstances — offers the best of two worlds. You give up some of the advantages of the extremes, of course. Like take-it-with-you mobility and enforced minimalism on the one end, and multiple-use spaciousness on the other. But you avoid most of the disadvantages too, like no room for a serious studio or workshop in a tiny space vs. the immoderate costs, dollar and carbon, of living large.

About all I’m sure of is that there ain’t no one way. To each her own.

Tiny House Living , Archive » Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes - October 3, 2010 Reply

[…] Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes […]

Kate - October 3, 2010 Reply

JT – I think there’s an important point missing in your pros and cons. You mentioned entertaining guests – but what about kids? I’m completely in love with the idea of tiny houses, and I’m all for de-cluttering, but my husband and I are on the verge of starting a family, and we both want 2 kids (at least), and you can’t raise those in the yard. Kids need space, and if the weather isn’t nice enough for them to play outside, the house needs to be big enough for them to play indoors without driving their parents crazy. Of course a smaller than average house could work, but I think a real “tiny house” is simply unsuitable for a family.

    Erik - February 15, 2011 Reply

    That one’s easy.
    Kids are, by design, tiny. They like little spaces like club houses and bed tents. Their own tiny house, right next door is perfect.
    and tiny home(s) can be set next to each other or even connected.
    One house for you and your spouse and another for the kids. If the two houses are connected, like lets say the two porches (if yours has a built-on rear porch) are next to each other, you can easily go from one side to the next as if it were all one house.

Mike Moore - October 4, 2010 Reply

Good comments, Peter!
I’ve found that the “mid-range” works well for me (about 450 sq. ft.). But you’re right; different solutions work for different people.
And to Gayle and Kathy: YES to community! That’s what makes things possible. Our community is celebrating our 20th Birthday this year, and we’ve been able to accomplish quite a bit by working together. Not always easy, but worth the effort!

Pepe - November 4, 2010 Reply

Another pro of a Tiny house is that if you get a horrible and terrible neighbor (this is a big one!), you just move away. This is a huge problem in Mexico where people are so noisy. I wish I could go somewhere else instead of having to stand such a horrible situation. I have always dreamed of having a place where I am not surrounded by lots of people; A place where I can sit and read at easy.

jpatti - October 11, 2011 Reply

I think a Tiny House is EASIER for many disabled people. Indeed, my disability is part of why I want to build one.

Obviously, the loft is out, so we will have a not-so-tiny house – more like an 8 1/2 by 20-24 trailer.

But paring down belongings, getting rid of indoor stairs, using flooring instead of carpets, and just generally building so I CAN take care of most of my needs in there will be a huge advantage.

Rob Rheaume - December 31, 2011 Reply

I think you still would reduce your waste and carbon footprint living in a tiny house on an acreage with external buildings vs living in a large home with garage.

I currently live (Edmonton, AB, Canada) in a 1500 sq ft home (2400 if you include the basement). It can get really cold here in winter for long periods of time so the natural gas furnace runs constantly from October until late April. During that time, I spend 8 hours a day at work, than spend most of my time when I am home in the kitchen and family room, while the remainder of the home sits unattended. My point here is that a large portion of my home is heated, unattended for a better part of 16 hours a day.

Now compare that to living in a 140 sq foot custom made tiny house. You can work all day, come home, crank up the heat and within minutes you have a comfortable living space at an extremely reduced cost. I currently store my backpacking, kayaking and ski equipment in my home which does not require heat so i could store these and several other items in a separate building without heat. However, one could have a wood stove or some form of heat in each separate building which would be similar to water on demand heating, that you only crank up heat when you are working in that space.

I have given much thought to the Tiny House Movement and have decided to build a home and purchase 1-2 acres of land close enough to a large town or city but far enough from its eventual urban sprawl to where I will set up my trailer. Land does not come cheap as I want to live close to the mountains so I can enjoy my outdoor activities.

Cabin fever will not be a factor for several reasons and one of them is the fact that I will still be working for another 20 years at least. That equates to time away from the home. I love being outdoors so my acreage will include a screened gazebo where I can hang out when I am not mountain biking in the summer or cross country skiing in the winter.

As for washroom facilities, my intent is to build a wood stove sauna with a gravity fed shower adjacent to the sauna. The heat used for the sauna will heat the gravity fed water tank for the shower facility. As for laundry, I have not come up with a concept for that, so one option is using a local laundry facility.

As for power, solar, wind are part of the concept along with propane and wood stove heating. I will have a gasoline inverter so I will never go without. The main thing is heat and a small wood stove in a tiny home on trailer will do the trick. The gas inverter will provide the power when I require it. LED lighting with solar power will provide enough lighting during majority of the year. Lighting is not an issue in Canada for 6 months of the year. Where I live, it does not get dark out in June until 11pm and its bright at 5am in the morning. Solar will work fine during the summer months. Its really about having several options and using the one which works best during that particular time of year.

Great conversation though. Thanks for letting me ramble.

    alice h - December 31, 2011 Reply

    Hand laundry isn’t that bad, washing is always super easy and you can get a hand cranked wringer. There are also gas powered wringer washers. I have an old double laundry sink that accommodates the wringer in the middle section but you can just use washtubs and wringer to save space. A sauna is a great place for a laundry setup, and you can dry in there during bad weather. It’s always nicer to wash at home if there’s no other reason to head to town. If you search off grid laundry you’ll get a lot of options. I tried the bucket with holes with another bucket you sit on to press out water but it wasn’t as good as the hand wringer.

Linda - January 20, 2014 Reply

I had to laugh when I read Tiny House Con #4 (It’s hard to find a place to park your tiny house.) Look at it this way. If you built a regular house wouldn’t you buy land to build it on? Well, same applies to a tiny house. Buy a small piece of land to build it or park it on.

Solar Power Pros And Cons For Kids | Clean Green Solar Power - October 1, 2015 Reply

[…] Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes and … – JT one of my readers sat down the other day and wrote down pros and cons regarding living in a tiny portable house and a regular larger home. […]

The Pros of Living in a Tiny Apartment | SquareZebras - July 13, 2016 Reply

[…] Pros and Cons of Tiny Homes and Regular Homes […]

Awada - June 1, 2018 Reply

looks amazing

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