Tiny House Living FAQs

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The problem with “reality” shows, is they still paint you this Hollywood Happy ending. Tiny house shows walk you through the construction, the family picking out their custom features, and then the big reveal. Everyone’s happy and excited. The end. Except, it’s not. Now they actually have to live in this tiny place. They don’t show what it’s like to cram all your worldly goods into a shoebox-size space, or the discomfort of running out of heat in the middle of the night because your propane tanks are necessarily small.

I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture; I happened to love living in my tiny house. I simply think it’s important to know the realities of living tiny and making an informed decision. Also, I learned a few tricks that I’d love to pass on.

I’ve included some pictures to give you a sense of what we were able to do to make it feel cozy. You’ll notice that, while the kitchen is small, it is larger than many we looked at and had a good amount of storage, including a pantry hidden behind the front door. That said, in choosing our furniture and kitchen utensils, I kept in mind that anything that could do double duty was a winner. For instance, since I worked from home, I had to have an office space. We cleared out the 5 foot slide in the living room and put in the 5 foot IKEA desk (it just fit) and put it on wheels so that it could roll out and become a dining room table to seat six. Our computer monitor was actually our TV. Instead of regular drinking glasses I bought Ball jars so they could double for food storage. We discovered an added benefit that you could mix a cocktail directly into the glass, tighten the lid and shake it. The more you drink, the bigger the house feels.

Here are some FAQ’s.

Why did you choose a 5th wheel?
5th Wheel LivingWe had several considerations. Obviously, money was the big one. Any wood frame tiny house was well beyond our budget. Also, the loft was an issue for two reasons. One, we both felt the idea of sleeping in a space with the ceiling 3 feet from your face was discomforting. Second, the height required to include a loft made it seem scary to move. Trailers are designed for mobility, and with the slides extended the square footage was incredibly similar. Lastly, it just worked out that we bought the trailer from a friend and he also had the truck and willingness to move it for us. That was huge.

Can I live in a tiny house and still shop at Costco?
I did. You have to be more careful about what you choose. The 50lb bag of rice is probably not going to fly. One trick I learned, is get a friend and split things. Like, if you still want the Kirkland toilet paper, but you can’t house 48 rolls, see if you can go halfsies with a friend, and then you only have 24 rolls to manage.

What is the bathroom situation like?
I’ve seen some tiny house designs where the bathroom wall didn’t extend all the way to the ceiling, and I thought, eww. Our trailer had a throne room, enclosed, with a window. To me that was huge. We regularly put the RV toilet tank deodorizers down the tube. I also discovered poopouri. It’s a pre- toilet time spray. Rather than cover up odors, it creates a coating on the top of the water to block the odors from invading the room. I also had a thing about the plastic toilet. Because plastic scratches and stains, to me, that means it’s dirty and gross. For $100 I got a porcelain bowl toilet at Camping World, and it was totally worth it.

Can I really save money?
Tiny House Maybe. There are a lot of variables, so do your research. Do you have a place to park it with water, electricity and sewer? If so, can you park it there legally? Some places allow it, and some will require you to pull the wheels off and sit it on a foundation. Call your local zoning office and keep in mind that county laws may be different than city laws. How much can you afford to spend on buying your tiny house and can you afford to have your money tied up in it if it doesn’t work out and you have trouble selling? Would you have to take out a loan and what would the terms be? These are all things to consider before you cancel your lease or put your 3000 sq ft house up for sale.

Is tiny house living really for me?
Only you can answer that. But I do believe it’s not for everyone, and that’s ok. Some of us don’t live in an area that’s friendly to tiny houses, some of us have kids. For whatever reason, you may need space. I think, though, if you take any principle away from the tiny house movement, it’s more isn’t always better. If you’re paying to heat and cool a lot of empty rooms, maybe it’s time to downsize. And living in a space that’s impossible to clean and cluttered with things you’ve forgotten you own is decidedly un-peaceful. Don’t work just to afford a bigger space, make your space work for you.