Tiny House Living Tips- Things To Consider Before Going Tiny

living in a tiny house

Have you ever dreamed of living in a tiny house?

Maybe you’ve seen HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny House Hunters where they profile individuals and families looking to downsize and start life anew in a much smaller space. And something about those houses caught your eye.

If you’ve dreamed of living a life of independence and self-sufficiency, tiny house living might be right for you. And it just might be the best option for your homestead.

If you want to learn more about tiny homes for your homestead, keep reading.

What is a tiny house?

Tiny houses are homes that are usually 100 to 400 square feet; a fraction of the size of a traditional 2,000+ square foot family home.

These simple homes come with the basic necessities such as a kitchen and appliances, living space, bathroom and usually a sleeping space. And they can be as bare or as modern as you would like.

The idea of the tiny house is to make use of every inch and to get multiple uses from every item in your house. The kitchen table is also a desk. The stairs to the loft are also storage.

Tiny houses are also mobile. Many can be transported with just a pickup truck or an SUV while larger homes might need a semi to be moved. But that option is available in almost all circumstances.

Is a tiny house right for my homestead?

If you own land without a house on it, a tiny house would make a great option. Especially if you don’t have the money to build a more traditional house right now. You can live your dreams in a tiny house without needing to take out a loan.

A tiny house, as you would expect, is also easier to build. It can be built much quicker than a larger home and a single person can do most of the work themselves without the help of another person or heavy equipment.

And a tiny house reflects the homestead lifestyle. The purpose of a tiny house is to use only what you need. To live a simpler life. To not waste anything. And to spend more time outside.

How expensive are tiny houses?

The cost of constructing a tiny house can vary greatly. Many of the tiny houses you see on HGTV cost close to $100,000 for a complete, move-in ready 300 or so square foot home. You could do that. But it doesn’t need to be that expensive.

Regardless of your budget, here is what you need to keep in mind when building your tiny house.

First, are you going to do it all yourself? Or will you be hiring labor? Do you have materials from the homestead that you can use to build the home or do you need to purchase everything new? What type of materials will you use? And will your house be on-grid or off-grid?

As with anything, the handier and more resourceful you are, the more you will save.

Tiny houses truly do come at all price levels. For some, you might just need blueprints. Others might prefer the move-in ready model. Maybe you are somewhere in between. Regardless of budget, there is likely a tiny house option for you.

How many people can live in a tiny house?

The first reaction many people have to tiny houses are something along the lines of they look awesome but it’s just not practical for a family of four, five or more. Maybe if I was single, but not now you might say.

You can live in a tiny house with kids. As with any tiny house experience, it just takes some work. And intentionality.

Toys need to be limited. Everything needs a place. And all items need to be cleaned up and put away at the end of the day.

The tiny house will bring your family closer together, if for no other reason than because you don’t have another option. But if you are on a homestead and need some space, you can always send the kids out.

After all, that’s why you live on land, right?

What if I want to live off-grid?

For many, tiny houses represent a freedom. A freedom to simply pack things up (house included) and get on the highway.

So if you want to live off-grid, a tiny house is a great option. Setting up solar panels is relatively easy because of the small size. You can also go with a composting toilet and onboard water storage.

Whether your off-grid goal relates to travel or independence, you can make it work in a tiny house.

Tiny houses as a bug out option?

But what if you have different goals? Maybe your homestead is complete, and you have no need for a tiny house. Or it just doesn’t fit your lifestyle.

We talk almost every day on this blog about what you can do to be prepared in case of a disaster, whether manmade or natural. We have bug out bags, but do you have a reliable bug out location? Should you count on just a tent? Maybe you have family or friends on the other side of town or the other side of the state. That’s great, but they might not always be the best option.

As we’ve talked about with a tiny house, you get a house with all of the basics you need to survive. At a much cheaper price. The smaller size also means you can purchase less land to put it on for when you need it.

If you are looking for a bug out location, I’d think about a tiny house because it is practical, yet relatively inexpensive.

For homesteaders, for those just needing a bug out option or those who just want to downsize, a tiny house can be a great option. It can mean independence, freedom and the chance to live the life you truly want.

Do you or have you ever lived in a tiny house? Have you ever built a tiny house? If not do you know someone who does or has? Please add your comments below…

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31 Comments

  1. Nice article M.D. We live in what you would call a small house, 1600 s.f. I would not mind going smaller but I think the D.W. would say no and that is ok. I am fine with our current living arrangements. I’ve lived in tents for awhile, very small apartments, dorm rooms, barracks, so I could get along. The one thing I like about tiny houses is that many of them could be moved relatively easily.

  2. Our house is about 1100 sq. ft. The problem is that we have about 7500 sq. ft. of stuff in it! (not really but it seems that way). We are working a fixing that, but with the DW working 55-60 hours a week and my disabilities, it is difficult; especially with our preps.

    That’s life, until we can move into a place with more storage.

    • JP, I am in the processing of giving away box after box after box of MIL’s stuff plus stuff we no longer use. I could have made lots of $$ having a garage sale…but I hate having garage sales!! It is so much more satisfying to give stuff to people who want/need it. I can actually walk through our basement now, end to end!! Whoo-hooo! Today I gave away 4 boxes of misc kitchen stuff and 6 boxes of ‘whatever I dumped in there’ boxes. Waiting for somebody to come pick up about 1000 various greeting cards…Mom sent cards for any reason! Gave away a large box full of Cub/Boy scout stuff, uniforms, ponchos, a large bag of badges, Asst Scoutmaster clothing, you name it. It will help a local troop that has had financial issues. It feels good. Very stressful in the process of doing it, but well worth the stress. Nearly done!!

      • I am not a fan of having garage sales either.

        We usually give the stuff to the homeless shelters thrift shop or another here in town if they are full.

        Next “lot” is old clothes. I have not taken anything out of that closet in 3 years, so I guess all mine can go. DW is looking at a bunch too. My problem is now I’m “volunteering” and won’t have any real time until July.

      • Prepared Grammy

        I agree. I hate having rummage sales. I would much rather give things away to people who need it.

    • JP,

      That’s life, until we can move into a place with more storage.

      I know people with both large and small houses with anywhere from 1-3 car attached garages, and in nearly all cases the vehicles are parked outside most of the time since the garages seem to always fill up so I’m not sure it really matters in the end.

  3. After our house burned we lived in a 39′ camper for 5 months. If we had been able to stay on our land we might have stayed in it longer but our county doesn’t allow homes smaller than 1200 sq. ft. so we had to live in a campground. The next county over does not care what size the home is as long as all of the utilities are done correctly.

    I like the tiny homes and seen some really nice ones on TV, but when it comes to travelling I will just take a camper. We bought a 26′ camper a few months ago for only $550 that we plan to remodel and if necessary it would be our bug out home. All of the mechanical stuff works, it just had some water damage. Since DH was in the construction business he knows exactly how to repair it.

  4. In case of a disaster, I’ve a doubt about the fact a tiny house is appropriate, at least for reasons of security.

    • I wouldn’t worry at all in a small house, I live in one now and wouldn’t trade it for a larger one, smaller perhaps. What security did you mean? A nuclear issue, there’s almost no safe place. Simply intruders? If they can get through the different barriers I have around my perimeter *trip wires, snares first line of defense’ they face my second. If by some miracle they get through that they face me a combat Marine ’70-2015. Security is one thing I never worry about. I like these small houses because of the privacy and off grid options.

  5. I could be in a 1000 sq foot home, our house was 865 Sq foot, we added on around 600 more feet were about 1500 and our upstair office is 200 Sq foot. We have a cabin on our other property, thats about 400 Sq foot, that is being used for storage. We have been collecting sinks, windows, that hubby has been able to get from Contractors, and homeowners for free, so that helps our budget. Money, is a big factor but I’m working on hubby, to let go of some toys to help us in that department, I’m going to sell off a smaller 64 camper to help maybe that will help me to get him motivated????!!!!!…..

  6. With all the homesteading things I do, I’m not sure I could handle living in such a small space. Food storage would be a problem for sure. Canners, dehydrators, cheese making equipment, all take up quite a bit of room. Still, we are planning to purchase a very small trailer to put at our BOL/Weekend Get-Away within the next year. A 1/1 with about 400 sf will definitely be tiny! However, we also plan to build a 400 sf Bunkhouse beside the trailer with a large screened room in between. That will serve as our dining/lounging area. All told, it will total about 1,000 sf — still small, but do-able!

    • Goatlover ,

      With all the homesteading things I do, I’m not sure I could handle living in such a small space. Food storage would be a problem for sure. Canners, dehydrators, cheese making equipment, all take up quite a bit of room.

      I understand. The summer kitchen that we hope to complete later this summer seems small at 325 ft2 with the freezer, refrigerator, freeze dryer, dehydrator and a place for the oven / range combination along with food storage and about 12 feet of countertop space. A bit of that space is covered by the freeze dryer and dehydrator. It all really fills up quickly.

  7. My husband and found a used 37’ 5th wheel for 10 k that we use as our “in transition” home. Currently our family is in the process of moving from the Pacific Northwest to the mid west because of the taxes and liberal sanctuary state policies. We can’t afford our property taxes here so….

    I could certainly go much smaller without difficulty, however, having grandkids coming over when their parents come in to help on the farm has been nice to have the added space. Our plan is to put the RV in my shop and reside there. We have a shower/bath in the shop plans and this would get us started.

    Selling belongings and stuff to make everything work has been stressful for me. I’ve started with nothing many times before we had stability however, I have to remind myself the end goals. We put monies aside from household products sale to put in solar. It is easier to part with when I can imagine a much lower heat bill and options for expansion on the new farm. No tiny home for me! I need space for canning, sewing, and reloading.

  8. Jesse Mathewson

    We are in a 1300 foot home, for around 10 years I lived in a combination of 2 – 18 ft trailers with my 7 brothers and sisters- it worked but, I’m okay with 1300 ft now for sure

  9. I lived on a yacht on and off for ten years. Besides optimizing use of space. I learned how to live on 12 volts, save the limited water supply and control waste products. There is a lot to learn from boaters to help the tiny community

  10. When I was living in New Yawk City I shared a 275 square foot two bedroom apartment with a series of roommates. One at a time. It worked OK.

    In the early 1980s a friend of ours temporarily fell on hard times. To cut housing costs he bought a used insulated refrigerated shipping container and lived in that for some time. They actually work quite well for truly cheap living. They are made to stack -NOT bury!- and when they have damage which prevents stacking they sell cheap. I think around here around $1000.

    There are some companies which are happy to convert them for you, but then they are no longer cheap. All you need to do is pressure wash them inside, and move in. Want a window and a door? A saber saw and some Bondo and you’re set. Installing a toilet and associated plumbing is the biggest issue, but in some circumstances a pit toilet or Port-a-Potty could work. We have some family members who had a beautiful piece of weekend property in Wisconsin, and for several years before they built a house they had a canvas tent set up on a wooden platform, and a Port-A-Potty which they had serviced once a month. Worked fine for them, tho not for winter camping.

    Need more space than one shipping container or a very small house? Buy another shipping container. Or two more. One can serve as a workshop, another for storage. They can be set up to create a courtyard. There are lots of possibilities

    They aren’t pretty and they probably don’t have a lot of resale value, but they can be so cheap that they are virtually disposable. If sturdy and cheap and modular are important criteria, insulated refrigerated shipping containers, with or without a proper tiny house might be worth looking into for certain situations.

  11. I cannot imagine trying to can up bushels of tomatoes in a small house kitchen. I do not think I could live in 300 sq ft ever. I can handle camping in our travel trailer but we are outside a lot of the time and I precook our meals and freeze them.

    If this was or became your main home, you would have to build another tiny house just as a kitchen, and another for your woodworking shop, and another for food storage, you might as well build one home! Naw, this is a phase, the latest and greatest according to HGTV.

  12. I spent about 18 years using a 29 foot travel trailer to live in while I worked as a traveling Construction Manager. I’ve gone thru a tropical storm with 50+ mph winds and a near miss from a tornado while in my RV. I had time to set 4 auger tie downs for the tropical storm, but the tornado came thru early in the morning and woke me up. I was hanging on to the mattress worrying about getting motion sickness. My wife traveled with me on the last assignment to Mobile, AL. It was the two of us and the two small dogs.
    I enjoyed it but it isn’t something I would recommend to everyone.
    I retired June 1, 2012 and gave the RV to a nephew for a hunting and fishing cabin. Now, my wife and I are thinking about a slide in truck camper. We enjoyed the time we had with the RV sitting around a campfire, cooking outside of a night and having just relaxed laid back family time. That part I would recommend to everyone.

  13. +1 on boat living teaching you lots. Wife and I lived on a 30′ sailboat for 18 months then moved up to a 42′ trawler. We felt we had moved into a mansion! My opinion on the Tiny Home movement is that people who want to do that are really interested in RV living but don’t want the stigma associated with “living in a trailer”. Every tiny home I have seen has less practicality than your standard RV or boat.

    However, while I can heartily recommend boat living, with the state of RV construction quality (non-existent) I cannot recommend an RV except for transition periods or temporary usage.

    Oh, and you can get quality boats, (and barely acceptable RVs) for far less than what many people are paying for tiny homes….

    • Prepared Grammy

      My husband and I were just talking about how much water could be saved if we all conserved like we do when we’re camping.

      • Prepared Grammy ,

        My husband and I were just talking about how much water could be saved if we all conserved like we do when we’re camping.

        If you mean wearing the same pair of socks for a week and changing underwear only every other day, I would have to nix that, LOL. When you are all camping, stains and a bit of sweaty odor is to be expected; but, living in normal society with those hygiene habits could quickly make you an outcast.

  14. Prepared Grammy

    I love camping. In fact, we’re coming back from camping as I’m typing this. As for living in a tiny home, no thanks. As others have said, I need room for canning, preserving, storing, etc.

    • Prepared Grammy

      After we had been home for a few hours, Husband commented that after camping for a week our house seemed very big. (It’s about 1700 sq. ft. with a small basement under part of the house.)

  15. Great comments everyone… love reading these.

  16. A lot of retirees live in caravans here – Australia – (you call them trailers?) and seem comfortable enough. The max width you can tow here is 8ft but vans up to about 32ft are built. Most have aluminium or canvas annexes to double the size. When put in parks permanently they have the drawbar and wheels removed and are put on brick stumps. They come up for sale regularly too and for what you get are quite cheap. If they have been sitting for any length of time towing them is not an option but sliding them up onto a flatbed for relocation is doable.

    Good option for a retreat/weekender/BOL in the boonies but personally I would put one inside a big, open fronted shed. You get a lot more space to store other stuff out of the weather that way and can collect a LOT of rainwater off the roof.

    I have a friend who has built a 40×30 steel frame shed on his bush block out in the boondocks, put a 26×8 van in one end and a shipping container in the other for storage and a bit of a workshop. That leaves over 20ft of extra space in the middle for his 4×4 and other bits and pieces. The whole lot, van, container and shed cost him $30K of our $$$ – about $24K of yours. He runs solar panels and a big battery bank and only has 12 volt appliances – lights, fridges, freezers, water pump. Cooking is LPG (propane you call it?) and hot water is via an on demand gas heater. Has a 25,000 litre water tank that collects rainwater from the roof of the shed. He has an outside “long drop” toilet but plans to install a septic one day. He is as happy as a pig in mud.

    Aussie

  17. We have lived in a 400 s/f travel trailer w/2 furkids, That was small enough for me.

    We now live in a 2-story, 3500 s/f house on several acres. The house is full – all things we use, things we need to work our homestead & keep us all fed.

    We are prepared to take on a “crowd”, if need arises. And that was the oint of a big house. We know who that crowd will be, of course.

    I agree w/some – I cannot can food, bake bread, prepare herbals, and all the other things we homesteaders do, in a “tiny house”.

    Other considerations: (1) where to park it? Permanently? Many municipalities won’t allow tiny houses, unless they meet code. This IS NOT about “big government” – it’s about safety. (2) Insurance: most people cannot afford to lose their home, then run out & replace it. Some insurance companies will not cover tiny homes & contents. (3) Residency requirements: a ‘mobile’ (literally, “move it at a moment’s notice) home may pre-empt your residency rights. This could affect tuition costs, if for school, voting rights, etc.

    Of course, if your tiny home is going on a piece of land you own, that is a game changer. Just comply w/codes & you should have no problems – other than straight-line winds, heavy storms, etc. In any substantial weather incident, a travel trailer OR a ‘tiny home’ will be dangerous.

    Do your homework before moving forward. Know what you are signing up for. And have a safe shelter for bad weather.

  18. We live in a 480 sq ft cabin on 19 acres. I love it. I just canned 32 jars of strawberry jam. I prepped on the screened in porch, made up the jam on my 24″ SS gas stove and water bath canned on a camp stove in the back yard. While I was canning I roasted a chicken we raised and butchered ourselves on the grill with some baked potatoes. Served up with fresh lettuce and spinach from the garden with ice cold spring water. Life is good in a cabin in the woods.

  19. Jeffrey Fitzpatrick

    DW and I also did the living aboard a 42′ ocean going trawler. I was already on it when we met but she went from a 3,000 sq/ft Craftsman that she spent decades renovating herself, to about 400 sq/ft boatlife. I would be gone for weeks or months at a time during my military service and nearly sick with grief for her giving up all that space and all her belongings to move to Cali and live with me. That boat was our bug-out vehicle as it carried 400 gallons of diesel, 300 gallons of fresh water, a water maker, ten 300 amp/hr batteries, plus solar and wind generation. We kept it packed to the gills with food, bottled water, meds, etc. We now reside in southeast Kansas on 5 acres in 1400 square feet of cabin life. She is much happier here and has no regrets. I’m a lucky man. Her gift from me is going to be a master bedroom/closet/bathroom addition where she can have a king-sized bed. But, shhhh….she mustn’t find out until construction begins.

  20. IDK if I could go THAT tiny. We live in a 900 SF home now, and while I would like a second bathroom, it’s plenty of room for us, now that the kids have moved out. But all the STUFF, LOL! I think I could live more austere (except for my kitchen stuff), getting DH to downsize his clothes and toys is another project in and of itself.

  21. When you state:

    If you’ve dreamed of living a life of independence and self-sufficiency, tiny house living might be right for you. And it just might be the best option for your homestead.

    I’ve seen the Tiny house shows, generally while sitting in my 525 ft2 living room that’s chock full of furniture or in my 560 ft2 office / lab / ham shack / man cave with it’s workbench computers test equipment and numerous radios, so a tiny house just won’t cut it for our needs.
    In a pinch we could move into one of the barns with the large one at 1600 ft2 with another 900+ ft2 of lofts or the small barn with its 1200 ft2 space on 2 levels. In the large barn we keep a horse and goat plus feed and tackle with the mowers, tillers, and other equipment in the small barn along with a small workshop. We had another storage building that after nearly 100 years was no longer viable and has been torn down. For about $2500-3000 we can replace it with a 15×25 1 ½ story building that they just set on site already built and ready to use. All I need is a foundation, which I plan to construct with a large pile of gravel.
    Tiny house living might have made sense to me 40 years ago; but, I’m now just too old and set in my ways, and I like the comfort.