I think every child who’s ever seen a treehouse dreams of living in one full time. One with running hot and cold water, electricity and maybe even an elevator. But what’s it like to live one full time?

With the popularity of Treehouse Masters on the Animal Planet, many of us have begun to think about our childhood dream of living in the trees. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? We look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Living at One with Nature – Imagine the gentle sway of a tall oak tree rocking you to sleep every night. Image looking out your windows and seeing birds in their nests and the stars overhead in the night sky. That’s what it’s like to live in a treehouse full-time. You wake up to the sound of the birds in their nests right by your front door! There’s nothing like the sound of a gentle summer rain falling through the trees! What more could you ask for?!
  • Living a Sustainable Lifestyle – There’s a good chance that in a 100 years from now there will be no sign that your treehouse was ever there.  You have options to build with light weight sustainable materials and take joy in the fact that your little house probably isn’t hurting that tree one little bit.
  • Be the Life of the Party – Let’s face it, if you throw a party in the trees, EVERYONE is going to show! You’ll have the coolest house on your block and be the envy of all of your friends! Your unique treehouse will ensure that everyone looks at and likes your selfies and actually cares what your view looks like at breakfast. And when it’s time for privacy just kick everyone out and you’re alone in the trees again!
  • All the Advantages of Living Tiny – As we’ve noted (you’re probably tired of hearing about it) there are a lot of advantages to going tiny. Tiny houses are easier to heat and cool, consume less in utilities. Less space means less stuff to buy. All of this is true of tiny tree houses too.
  • Original Designs – Tiny houses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and treehouses are no exception. Because every tree is different, every treehouse is (by definition)  unique. You can even put in all of those features you dreamed of when you were a kid, like trapdoors and hidden walls. The only limits are your imagination and what the tree will support!
  • Privacy – Door to door salespeople will likely be a thing of the past and people won’t be able to peep in your windows unless they have a latter or a telescope. Most days your only visitors are birds and squirrels.

Cons

  • Logistics – Living in a tree means you have to climb to get home. That’s not a big deal when you’re empty handed, but carrying groceries and moving furniture can be more than a minor inconvenience. To mitigate this some tree dwellers build dumb waiters and rig pulley systems.A treehouse may not be kind to you as you age. climbing ladders and stairs can be painful if you have the aches and pains of age and arthritis.
  • Weather – A severe storm warning means something different when you live a tree. When you live in a traditional house, a tree falling in your yard is usually an inconvenience, but not the end of the world. But if you’re in the tree and it falls it can mean a loss of your home or even injury or death.Also if you live a cold climate, keeping running water in the winter may be difficult or impossible. Treehouses can be difficult to heat and cool due to it’s being open on all sides. We don’t tend to think about it, but the ground is a great insulator for traditional structures.
  • Cost of Construction – Building a structure in a tree creates a vast array of challenges not found in traditional structures. Since weight is an issue, some more expensive lightweight alternative. For example titanium is substantially lighter than steel but is much more expensive. In addition to materials, particular care must be paid to safety. Special safety riggings should be used by all construction personnel. The movement of building materials should also be done by an experienced rigger.Running electrical and plumbing into the woods and up a tree can be expensive and time consuming. Which brings up another consideration, treehouses take longer to build than comparably sized structures on the ground due to safety and logistical challenges.
  • Living Conveniences – Getting clean water to, and waste water from, a treehouse can be particularly challenging. Some treehouses use composting or incinerating toilets as well as black water holding tanks.Cooking can be a challenge too. Open flames in a structure above the ground in the trees is inherently dangerous. Propane cooking, in addition to using a flame can be heavy to carry up and down from a treehouse.
  • The Flip-side of Nature – If you live in a treehouse, nature comes with the territory. You’ll have more spiders and other creepy crawlies than a traditional structure. And every once in a while a raccoon may want to battle you for territory. Woodpeckers can also be an annoyance if they decide to look for food in or near your structure.
  • Insurance can be a Beast – Treehouses can be challenging to insure and treehouses even more so. Because treehouses  can be so hard to reach, many insurers assume that in the event of a fire or weather event, they will be writing a total loss. For this reason, many insurers eschew the risk. When you do find an insurer to underwrite a policy the policies tend to be more expensive than comparable sized structures.

Do you live in a treehouse full time? If so we’d love to hear about your experience and your list of pros and cons! Until next time, think TINY!