5 Things I Love, and 5 I Don’t about Living in a Tiny House
5 Things I Love, and 5 I Don’t about Living in a Tiny House
The tiny house movement is sugar coated to an extent that at times can be baffling, the TV shows can be infuriating, and coming from a place of experience and knowledge, I’ll speak honestly. It’s in our best interest as a community to share our true experiences of building and living tiny with the newcomers. Without creating a frank conversation around the pros and cons of such a lifestyle we are doing a disservice to the movement at large, and holding it back from advancing in a positive direction.
To begin with I will start with the 5 Things I Dislike about Living Tiny. They are in order of most inconvenient to least.
1. They are ILLEGAL most places to live in full-time. Yes, that’s correct I’m living like an outlaw.
I encounter many people at the tiny house shows I speak at who are surprised to know this fact. It may seem like common knowledge to many of us, and I won’t go into the details of why, but the creme brulee coating on the Tiny House Movement keeps leaving this very key component out. As a result, sales of tiny homes continue to rise. Everyone and their mother are becoming tiny house builders and putting on tiny house festivals. Increasingly more tiny houses are for sale 1st and 2nd hand with nowhere to legally live in them. Many people I know are working very hard to change the laws around living full time in tiny homes, but as it stands, you may not live in your own tiny home (unless you’re in Fresno, CA and a few other lucky spots) full time in most places in the country.
I have been reported to the zoning department in two cities in two different states. First I was building in my parent’s backyard and someone walking by reported me. They didn’t live near us, were not affected by my home in any way, but merely wanted to enforce the law. Mind you, this was in a city that’s average house price has risen to $1 million. Affordable housing? What affordable housing???
After moving my house and entire life across the country, I settled in another backyard. The owner’s didn’t know their neighbors and before three weeks were up a certified letter arrived in the mail from the cities zoning department. So, I moved to a beautiful old homestead outside of town where no neighbors can see me.
I’m now very grateful for the beautiful place I call home, however along with fellow tiny house dwellers we can’t live in town for fear of being reported. I drive a good 20 minutes each way to work, grocery shopping, and to have a social life. It can feel isolating at times since I’m new to this place. I’m also using a lot more gas than I ever would living in town. I miss the days of biking everywhere and that simplicity in conjunction with living Tiny would be AMAZING!
2. No more dinner/dance parties 3 seasons out of the year.
I realize that not everyone is into cooking, holding dinner parties that often turn into dance parties, and having large groups of their favorite people over. However, dinner parties and seasonal gatherings are one of my favorite ways to bring people together. These parties alone have gotten me through dark winters in the PNW. During summer with the deck and a grill it totally works. For the rest of the year, the house is too small. Period.
3. Educating visitors to use the LOO.
And, by loo I mean composting toilet. It’s not to be mistaken, I LOVE my Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. I’m happy to be saving over 12 gallons of water a day and composting my humanure. It’s very simple to use once you know how it functions really well. It seriously never smells!
However, when guests come over it’s a topic that needs to be covered right away. That can be slightly uncomfortable if you just started dating, or don’t know each other well. Luckily I’m super comfortable with the topics of #1 and #2 and educating people on how to use a composting toilet is awesome! I’m currently crafting instructions. I may offer the pdf along with the Nature’s Head:)
4. Living in a tiny house with a large dog.
It’s not that the small space gets claustrophobic with a large dog, although it can be full-on when visitors are over or spending the night, but it’s rather that tiny homes are quick to get dirty. Living in Central Oregon with fine desert dust and a shedder like Luna Mae, the tiny house gets dirty quickly. I’m constantly sweeping, mopping, and cleaning my throw rugs. Yes it only takes fifteen minutes, but I need to do a full clean 2 or 3 times a week. This is one of the reasons that Luna Mae is not allowed in the sleeping loft.
5. Keeping up on everyday and seasonal functions of an off-grid tiny house that are unlike most big on-grid houses.
It may just be me and my tiny house, but there’s a level of daily functions related to keeping the house running that’s unique for living Tiny. It adds more to your “to do” lists. Sometimes it’s a pain.
-The tankless water heater must be adjusted depending on the incoming water temperature. That can change throughout the seasons, day, or in the middle of a shower.
-Winterizing the incoming and grey water systems. Heating a potable water hose and grey water drains, or running off of the fresh water tank, which requires filling every few days.
-Skirting the tiny house with hay bails in the winter.
-Taking out the urine container (I’ll be plumbing it into my grey water soon) every couple of days, and the solids container in my composting toilet once every 3-4 months.
-Living off of solar energy and depending on your array, it’s important to pay attention to your energy use and the sun, to make sure the batteries don’t drain too low throughout the day.
-Must refill and be conscious of propane use and always have a back up tank.
-Can’t leave certain heaters unattended like wood stoves or some propane heaters. Having a backup heater is necessary in cold climates.
The 5 Things I LOVE about Living Tiny
1. My own personal sanctuary.
I know it’s partially because my father and I built my home together, but I’m constantly struck at how grateful I am for a space designed and built by me. The satisfaction of finishing such a project is immense! It feels like The Honey House has me in a hug of calm simplistic beauty with an elevated function that suits my lifestyle in just about every way.
2. It’s a HEALTHY built tiny home!
The Honey House is built with many chemical free building materials. Not only are these healthy for me as an inhabitant, but the house is high performing due to the highly efficient materials built into it’s frame, wall system, and ventilation. I have no fear that mold may grow in my house as it does in many tiny homes, because my house is able to mitigate moisture issues by allowing that moisture to escape. Whether it’s moisture in the thin wall system from condensation, or a giant moisture load from boiling tea and taking a hot shower at the same time, my house can expel it. That’s huge! And, in a small space it’s mighty important. Reach out for more info on The Healthy Tiny House Kit and how your home can out perform conventionally built tiny and big homes.
It’s not only healthy for me but also the Earth. Living Tiny has made me way more conscious of my resource usage! Living off-grid, composting waste, and having a smaller footprint all have a positive impact. I know my house and I could do better…but it’s all about taking one step at a time to amount to something huge.
3. The ability to own my own home without paying a high mortgage.
Once my home is paid off I will be living quite cheaply. Especially for having my own home with a dog (no pet deposit!). Living in the tiny house will open doors of opportunity like saving for land, traveling because rent is cheaper, having a second home in the future, renting it out for short or long term rental, and the list goes on.
4. Living Tiny means not being tied to one place.
It’s fantastic to try out several locations and communities before settling down and investing in land or a bigger house. It’s a funny feeling to move across the country and “move in” to your house. Luna Mae was definitely surprised when we settled back into our well known and loved home in a different state. Sure, I packed up the house to make it road worthy, but I didn’t need to pack any boxes or suitcases. No need for a moving truck, just a big truck to tow my house and ALL of our belongings.
5. The Tiny House Community is truly AMAZING!
It’s really neat to automatically be part of a great community of diverse people. We are spread all over the country and the world but are united by commonalities related to living Tiny. Together we are working towards the legalization of tiny homes, common building codes, and a solid solution for the growing affordable housing crisis. Thank you for uniting over a common goal, for your creativity and ingenuity, and I owe this life to all of you who came before me. I also honor the ones who have come after, and for continuing to move this movement one tiny step or roll at a time.