There are a myriad of options for living tiny. Each has its own unique benefits and drawbacks. So which option is best for you? Well, that may be a matter of preference combined with some element of opportunity and luck.
When it comes to living tiny, there’s no right or wrong way. As long as you are safe that is. Here are a few of the most popular (ok, some aren’t popular they’re just super cool):
Tiny House on Wheels (THoW)
When you think of tiny living, this is usually what most people think of. This is because tiny house builders are the ones who made it popular. This is that cute little gingerbread style, quaint house you always see on TV and in magazines
Advantages – There are a lot of options when it comes to tiny houses. You can go modern, victorian, you name it. There are literally hundreds of tiny house builders all over the world. They can be on wheels, allowing for flexibility and free spirited living allowing you to be on the coast one week and on a mountaintop the next.
Disadvantages – Finding a place to park your tiny house can be challenging. Finding insurance can be a challenge as well. There is also the issue of logistics. Water hookups, waste management and other issues can make tiny house on wheels difficult (but not impossible!).
Tiny House on Foundation (THoF)
A tiny house on a foundation can be that quaint little carriage house you’ve seen in Better Homes and Gardens or it can be that run-down shotgun shack you saw driving through the backwoods of Mississippi.
Advantages – Living in a tiny house can cost a fraction of living in a large, traditional home. It can have a smaller impact on the environment too, taking less to heat and cool. A tiny house can be easier and less expensive to maintain as well.
Disadvantages – Building a tiny house on a foundation can be challenging due to a number of complex housing codes and local zoning laws. Some areas try to discourage or outright ban tiny houses because they typically are worth less in property taxes. Tiny houses can also be difficult to sell because they tend to have a smaller pool of potential buyers.
Tiny Apartment Living
Living in an apartment usually involves a smaller dwelling than a house, but some apartments are actually quite palatial. What we’re referring to is a small apartment, sometimes referred to as micro apartment
Advantages – Small apartments usually cost less than large apartments or houses. Often these spaces are set up to be very spatially efficient with lots of built in features and conveniences. Tiny apartment living can be the best, and in some cases only, option for someone on a fixed income living in an area with high real estate prices. The other significant advantage is if anything breaks or you have any issues, you can just call the landlord and ask them to make the appropriate repairs.
Disadvantages – Close proximity to your neighbors can present a whole host of issues. Noise, smells and other inconveniences can be part and parcel of apartment life. The other potential drawback is that you are never building equity. You can pay forever in an apartment with the cost of rent going up over time.
Living on a houseboat has always been cool! Even back in the 1980s super cool TV character Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice lived on a boat. There’s just something appealing about the sound of waking up to water slapping against the side of the boat and the sound seagulls in the distance!
Advantages – Water everywhere! Beautiful views! The waves! What’s not to love? You can be either mobile or permanently moored. The ultimate in flexibility. You can head North in the summer and South for the Winter.
Disadvantages – Boat living can be expensive. Renting a slip, paying for bilge pumping, fresh water can add up quickly. Most boats require a lot of maintenance and upkeep due to their constant exposure to the elements. Another thing to be considered is safety. There is the potential risk of falling due to the constant motion of the boat. There is the risk of falling overboard. Fire is also a serious risk on a boat and for that reason, open flames should be discouraged on the craft. There is also a risk of sinking, as a friend of mine who lives on a boat full-time put it, “When you get a leak in your house you call a plumber and clean up a mess. When we get a leak we have to call the Coast Guard.”
RVs are a great way to see the country! They offer the ultimate in comfort and mobility! What’s not to love?
Advantages – RVs offer a great way to travel in style and comfort. RVs range from utilitarian to downright luxurious! RV parks have popped up all over the country and many are in stunning environs. RVs can offer many of the comforts of a home with all the convenience of being mobile.
Disadvantages – RVs can be difficult to insure if you live in them full-time. Fuel costs can also be high depending on the size of the RV and the amount you travel. There is also the costs associated with the logistics of mobile living such as the cost of black water disposal. RVs are a depreciating asset and you will lose the money you put into them over time. RVs are typically made of lighter, less durable materials than a home and can show wear over time
Destination trailers typically fall between an RV and a tiny house on foundation. They are usually larger than an RV, but smaller than a house. They can be moved or parked permanently.
Advantages – A destination trailer can be cheaper than a house and has the flexibility of being moved. Because destination trailers can be moved relatively easily they can be moved if a job or life change situation necessitates a change. Destination trailers come in a variety of configurations and can accommodate a larger family than an RV.
Disadvantages – Destination trailers can be relatively difficult to move. Unlike an RV which can be driven by the owner, destination trailers may require you to hire a professional to haul them from place to place. Destination trailers may be restricted in some areas due to zoning laws. Because of this many park them in RV parks. Destination homes, like RVs, will depreciate over time.
Admit it! You’ve thought about building a treehouse so cool you could live in it, haven’t you? We all have!
Advantages – Breathtaking views! Fresh air and waking up to a sway in the breeze! Treehouses can be the ultimate kid’s dream come true. A brilliant conversation piece with friends and neighbors.
Disadvantages – The logistics in living 30 feet off the ground can be daunting. From the challenges of construction to getting weekly groceries, living in a tree can be challenging. There’s also the fact that you in nature to contend with, a strong storm or a lightening storm can leave you homeless. There can also be challenges with zoning regulations and insuring your structure and its contents.
Advantages – They are inexpensive ways to live tiny. They offer the independence and financial flexibility of other forms of tiny house living. Because they are small, they can be moved with relative ease, providing for a flexible, nearly care-free lifestyle.
They can have many of the challenges found in other forms of tiny living such as challenges on where to park them and how to insure them. You also have the disadvantage of living in a structure for something other than its intended use. For example, in the case of a shipping container, you do not know what was previously housed in that shipping container and its former contents may have been toxic.
There are pros and cons to every type of living, and living tiny is no different. But the financial independence and flexibility of tiny living far outweigh the costs. The more you know going into it, the smarter the decision you can make about which tiny house lifestyle is best for you. Until next time, keep thinking tiny!