Newlyweds Tim and L. moved into a tiny house in 2018. Tim moved from a house he shared with college friends ($400/month) and L. moved from an upscale apartment building ($1300/month). Their tiny house has two levels and is 269 square feet.
- Monthly “mortgage” payment: $433.53 (total cost of tiny house: $56k)
- Internet: $50
- Electricity: $40
- Insurance: $75
How much does your tiny house cost?
It retails for $56,000. We could have bought a cheaper version but the design has to be right for living in it day to day.
What is your favorite thing about living in a tiny house?
L: There are so many things! One that comes to mind is a life of intentionality. This relates to what we want out of our life, and what items we bring into the house. When we go to the grocery store, for instance, we have to be intentional with the products we buy because of storage in the house. We also live our life intentionally by having items in the house that bring us true happiness like my husband’s guitar or my camera. We are also forced out of the house to be outdoors on hikes. These small changes add up to be big life changes in the long run.
What caused you guys to start researching tiny houses?
Tim: We were in Atlanta for a concert, and we ended up staying in a tiny house there, just to try it out. And we were just like, could we do this? Could we actually live in a tiny house? It seemed crazy, just stuff you see on HGTV. But we had conversations about what do we actually need in life. You have a kitchen. You have an oven. You have a bathroom. You have all the necessities. And we don’t have a whole lot of stuff in it.
L: Well actually, I had a lot of stuff. I had to get rid of a lot of stuff, which was a process.
How did you decide to pull the trigger?
Tim: In Atlanta, it was just an idea in the back of our heads. But then we talked about how cool it would be to just travel while we’re younger and at the end of this donate it to someone in need.
We thought, should we just go for it? Because you start to look at all the times in your life where you wish you would have done something. We felt like we’re never going get this time back, let’s just go for it. If it works out great. If it doesn’t, we tried something that we really wanted to do.
L: We also thought that if the tiny house is built right, then it wouldn’t feel like we don’t have space for anything. So that was also part of the process of finding a tiny house that was made intentionally and thoughtfully.
Tell me about how you went about choosing your tiny home to make it feel livable for a long period of time.
Tim: We looked on Craigslist and Tiny House Listings, where they have a lot of used tiny houses.
There are also expos out there that you can go to and they bring tiny houses from all over the US. And they’re huge. They have all kinds of builders come together. It’s almost like an open house.
What were some features you looked for?
L: We wanted windows. That was one big thing on my list of things that would make it feel more spacious. The tiny house that we picked out has a huge window. We paid extra for another large window downstairs, that is basically a panoramic window. It helps us feel like we have more space and more light. And having lighter finishes makes the space feel totally different. The light makes a huge difference.
Tim: We also both wanted a set of stairs. If you look at tiny houses, a lot of them save space by having a ladder up to the loft bed. We wanted a set of stairs where we can actually walk. It makes it feel like it’s an actual home.
Another feature to pay attention to is kitchens. Some of them are really really small, like the ones you find in RVs. You have a super small one burner stove in the super small oven and maybe a microwave if you’re lucky. You have to think about things like, how am I going to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Am I going to meal prep or not? Do I have the space in a fridge to store all this food?
L: I was really adamant about having a washer and dryer from the very beginning. To me, it’s not practical not to have a washer-dryer.
Tim: Something that most people don’t think about is, if you are getting rid of a lot of clothes, you’re going to use the clothes you do have more often. So now you have to wash your clothes more often.
Did you guys have a hard time finding a place to park?
Tim: I think that’s people’s main concern about going Tiny. You always hear about laws and regulations.
For example, some regulations say your house needs to be at least 400 square feet, or it needs to have a fire escape and various things up to code. So when you’re doing your research, you have to look into that. You have to decide if you want it to be towed somewhere else or if you want a permanent structure.
We chose one on wheels because we knew we would be traveling.
You also need to think about insurance. Ours is classified as a travel trailer by insurance companies. So small little details like that will help you in your house hunting.
So how do you manage to fit all the things you need?
Tim: That’s a great question because you don’t have a whole lot of space. You have to use pieces that have a double or triple purpose in order to find storage space.
L: We had a chest that my brother made, so I was like well we can use that as both a storage space item and as our table. And I don’t think that’s something that somebody in a larger house would go, Oh let’s use this as our kitchen table.
How did it feel moving into a tiny home?
L: When we moved everything in at first it was like, whoa that’s a lot of stuff. But by the time we unpacked and went through everything and got rid of the things for a final time, well you’re always doing that, but once we did that it actually felt like we have more space than we know what to do with.
What do you miss the most about living in a conventional house?
L: I miss being able to have guests over. If you want to get together with any friends, you have to go out of your way to go somewhere and likely spend something.
And phone calls are annoying! Any time I’m on the phone with like my mom and Tim wants to have peace and quiet, and its raining outside, we have to figure it out. I have to talk quietly, but there’s no place in the whole house you can go and not be heard.
Tim: I am highly introverted. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Myers Briggs, but I’m an INFJ. I need my alone time to recharge. You can always just go outside like we have a picnic table outside you can sit on or go in the hammock or go for a walk or go the park. But if the weather is bad, I’m going to sit up on the bed upstairs and read a book or be on the laptop while L is downstairs doing her thing and you have to separate it that way.
L: Yeah, we definitely have our own spaces.
Do you see yourselves living in a tiny house long-term?
Tim: We just got married and we’ve talked about having kids in the next couple of years. We are just enjoying the travel right now, but it’s not something we want to do long term. So we had to think about what we do with the tiny house.
We talked about donating it when we are done with it, but that’s a huge chunk of change to donate, unless you have sponsors on board to help with the building costs.
You can also go to AirBNB route and turn it into something that someone wants to try, like we did when we went to Atlanta. Basically, you have to have an escape route for when you’re done living in the tiny house.
L: I do think you could probably still have enough space with a child in a tiny house if you are in the right location where you can take walks regularly and everything. The tough thing if you had a kid is, where are they going to nap so that you won’t wake them if you’re cooking dinner. So just to clarify I think that you could live in a tiny house with a kid if you were mindful about the design.
Tim: And you also have to think of your new child. Is this an environment conducive for their living situation and sleeping.
What do you enjoy the most about living in a tiny home?
Tim: I love the outdoors. I absolutely love it. So it forces me to go for hikes, it forces me to go for a run outside or bike or go to the gym.
It sounds very cliche, but you kind of take control of your life. You really start to value certain things in life versus like collecting little gadgets. You realize, well I don’t need that because it’s not bringing any value. So you start to learn more and more and more about yourself. It sounds really weird until you’re actually in a tiny house and you start minimizing your entire life
What’s your advice to someone who is thinking about getting a tiny house?
Tim: Do it for the right reasons. Don’t just do it because you think it’s glamorous on Instagram and HGTV, because there are things that you don’t expect in living in a tiny house. We have a composting toilet, that’s not always the most glamorous.
Otherwise, you’re going to live in it for a month or six months and be feel like this sucks, and those people on Instagram are lying and whatever. You’re not actually gonna be truly happy. You have to go to your core principles: why am I doing this, what’s my whole reasoning behind tiny house living. Is it just to escape a mortgage payment?
L: It’s not necessarily for everyone but I think that many people could make it work. Five years ago, I saw an article about a couple living in a tiny house and I thought, They’re crazy. Well, here we are.
Tim and L write about minimalism, financial independence and, of course, tiny house living at Life For the Better.