The tiny house movement is a social movement which encourages individuals and families to downsize their spatial needs. In the United States, the average size of a home is more than 2,500 square feet. In comparison, a tiny house may be 400 square feet in size or less.
Living smaller may not be for everyone, though there are some immediate benefits that can be realized when the tiny house movement is embraced. For the average home, families will pay an average of more than $1 million in maintenance, taxes, insurance, and interest on a $300,000 property. With a tiny house, these costs are a fraction of what the traditional homeowner faces.
There are certain advantages and disadvantages that come with embracing this lifestyle, which is why all the pros and cons of living in a tiny house must be examined.
List of the Pros of Living in a Tiny House
1. It is easier to own your home when you live in a tiny house.
The ownership rate of people living in a tiny house is 78%. For those living in a traditional house, the ownership rate is just 65%. Many of those who own their tiny house don’t have a mortgage either. 68% of homeowners with a tiny house have no mortgage at all, compared to the national rate of 30% of U.S. homeowners.
2. Tiny homes provide all the modern conveniences.
Just because the home is tiny doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the conveniences of modern living. You can have air conditioning in your tiny home. You can have the space needed for a washer and dryer. Some tiny homes even have a second level available in them for a private sleeping space. The customization options for a tiny home are almost the same as they are for standard homes.
3. It is much cheaper to build.
The average cost of a standard house in the United States is $272,000. The average cost to build a tiny home is just $23,000 if it is built by the owner. Even if the work is contracted out to professional builders, the cost to build a tiny house is still 80% lower than the cost to build a standard home. That makes it much easier to save money because maintenance costs are also lower. 1 in 3 tiny house owners have at least $10,000 saved for their retirement.
4. Tiny homes are portable.
If you own property, then you can build your own tiny home and have a great place to live at a discount. One of the advantages of a tiny home is that they can also be placed on a trailer, much like a fifth wheel, so you can have a vacation home wherever you travel. Although there are vehicle registration issues to consider with a portable tiny home, many families have the option to travel full-time while still having the option to work from home.
5. It offers reduced maintenance requirements.
If you are living in less space, then you are going to spend less time cleaning. You’ll spend less on the cost to replace a roof or update the exterior paint. Those who have embraced the tiny house movement discovered that they have much more free time because there is less space that needs to be covered.
6. You’re going to save plenty of cash.
Alexa Nota calculated her total cash savings for Travel Well Magazine after transitioning into a tiny house lifestyle. In just rent and utilities alone, she is saving $560 per month. Compared to renting, they are paying $547 per month more when all expenses were considered, though she estimated that their truck and hose would be paid-off in 3 years. There are options to work in exchange for free camping sites to limit site rental costs, which means the long-term savings is quite high.
7. It provides opportunities for less consumption.
Living in a tiny house means being conscious of every purchase that you make. If you do not have room to store something, then you can’t have it in your tiny home unless you sacrifice space for it. That means your wasteful spending goes down. Your overall waste goes down in the kitchen. You begin looking for ways to recycle items instead of throwing them away. That means you’re always looking to reduce your consumption instead of worrying about how much you can afford.
8. Energy efficiencies are built into tiny homes.
When you have a smaller space to heat or cool, then you spend less on the energy required to make yourself comfortable. Although extreme conditions that make you uncomfortable in a standard house will also affect you in a tiny home, you’ll find that the actual processes for heating or cooling are very similar to what you’d find in any other home. The energy requirements are so low, in fact, that mobile solar panels and a good high-capacity battery could take you completely off the grid.
9. It doesn’t require a septic system.
Tiny homes built in the city can be connected to a sewer system for modern plumbing needs. The advantage here is that remote tiny houses don’t require a septic system to provide modern convenience. With a composting toilet, you can go anywhere without worrying about your connections. If you use the toilet full-time, a couple living in a tiny house may need to clean it out about once every 6 weeks. You can also equip a black water tank and plumbing capabilities for a traditional flushing system, even on a fully portable tiny home.
10. There is plenty of space for your pets.
Although you’re not going to be able to live with three dogs and two cats when you embrace the tiny house movement, you are not excluded from having pet companionship. A cat (or two) in a larger space works just fine. If you have some outdoor space, a small dog breed works well with a tiny house too. For those who love to travel, the tiny home, acting as a fifth wheel, makes it a lot easier to take your furry friends with you on your next adventure.
11. It gives you the chance to splurge on building materials.
Because you have less space to worry about with a tiny home, you can splurge on certain items with your building budget. You could upgrade your floor to hardwood or bamboo flooring for a minimal cost. You could add stainless steel appliances without much issue. You could even opt for more exotic woods for your interior. Although space will always be precious in this type of home, you also have more personalization options then you might normally be able to afford.
List of the Cons of Living in a Tiny House
1. It falls into questionable areas of legality in some communities.
There may be building codes in some communities or neighborhoods which dictate the minimum size of a home. In such an instance, a tiny home may not be approved for construction. For portable tiny homes, some jurisdictions classify the home as an RV, while others may classify it as an actual house. You’ll need to review all zoning codes and administrative requests when you embrace this lifestyle to ensure you’re staying in compliance.
2. Two words for you: composting toilet.
Although composting toilets are cheaper and arguably easier to use, they are also smaller than a standard toilet. People with mobility concerns may struggle to find a model with a toilet bowl height which meets their needs. You may even require a specific permit to have it installed in your tiny house. Then there is the cleaning requirement, which has you sanitizing the toilet on a regular basis. Not every compositing toilet contains its odor well either, which can be tough to live with in a tiny home.
3. It requires cleaning more frequently.
If you live in a tiny home, then expect to clean at least 30 minutes on the average day. When you’re living in 400 square feet or less, a little disorganization can create a big mess. The house can become a complete disaster in only a few minutes. You may be able to save time cleaning when looking at this issue from a long-term perspective, though you will be cleaning every day in most circumstances.
4. You may find higher purchasing costs for your needed items.
If you live in a standard home, then there’s a good chance that you’ve got space to store canned goods, extra water, emergency supplies, and other needed items. You can purchase in bulk with that space to save some money. That luxury does not exist when you embrace the tiny house movement. You have to purchase items individually, which increases your costs. It also increases the amount of packaging that you’ll need to process.
5. It provides minimal storage space.
You might be saving time on your cleaning with a tiny home. You might not be saving time with your meal prep needs. Because there is limited storage space with a tiny home, you have fewer opportunities to prepare meals in advance. There are fewer opportunities to order out as well if you live in a remote location. That means you’re almost forced to cook every day and practice portion control. Using fresh ingredients might mean healthier living, though it also means you’ll be spending more time at the stove.
6. Accessibility can be an issue in a tiny home.
When you’re talking about storage in a tiny home, you’ll find that many of the built-in spaces for storage are not easy to reach. You just don’t have space to store items on counters, dressers, or furniture. That can make it difficult, if not frustrating, when you’re trying to manage a specific chore or task. That also means if you’re sharing this space with someone, you’re always going to be kind of in the way when either of you are doing something.
7. It may come with unique rules to follow.
If you do travel with your pets, living in your tiny home, then there may be legal issues that you’ll face. Your pets will need their shots updated to travel into most states. Some states or communities may have bans in place for your breed of pet that would force you to go somewhere else. Then there’s the fact that pets shed a lot, which means you’ll be cleaning even more because of the smaller space.
8. Privacy becomes a thing of the past.
There are ways for you to manage privacy issues, such as having a second loft or a bathroom with a door that closes. Because there is much less space in this type of home, however, there is no getting around the issue of privacy if you share that space with someone else.
These tiny house pros and cons show that organized individuals, couples, and families can maximize the value of their living space without the same costs of a traditional home. There are some challenges to face, of course, and an adjustment to the smaller space, which can be met in time. The portability of these homes, with their cost savings potential available, makes it worthwhile for everyone to examine the full potential of this lifestyle.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.