My Experience with Tiny House Living – 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Try It and 3 Why You Should

May 8, 2017

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our time in the tiny house was winding down (if you missed it read here). I didn’t think it would slip away so swiftly. I made a countdown to keep track and put it on the refrigerator.

Tiny House Countdown

And, when that didn’t feel like enough of a reminder to cherish this experience, I wiped the inspirational message off of our tiny chalkboard and replaced it with another countdown.

Tiny House Count

We are living amongst boxes, getting ready to embark on our third move in 18 months.  Our house plans are complete and we must move out, so the build can begin.  This move should be the easiest by far. Easy as far as effort goes that is. We only have 720 square feet of things to pack into boxes and are hardly considering bubble wrap and packing paper. Everything is well-used and the move isn’t far, so it all should travel unscathed.

The fine china is safely sitting in a storage unit smothering in cardboard, bubble wrap and paper hoping that it is freed one day.  Poor china purchased by friends and family from a wedding gift registry 14 years ago.  China that has never felt a fork scrape against it.  A friend lamented to me last week that every time she has put things in storage they have been ruined.

Oh my goodness. I hope that doesn’t happen to us! Please, no one tell our china that it may never feel the warmth of itself full of food!

When we started this tiny house living adventure our little house’s heat failed leaving us in the middle of an ice storm in February without a way to keep warm. I couldn’t help but think about people in the world who live that way every day, including many in the United States. Regardless, the relativity to me made it very frustrating.

Summer finally came and we conceded to purchasing AC units for the windows, which limped along just enough to help us survive the Carolina heat and humidity.

Our wonderful, geriatric German Shepherd, who continues to defy the grim reaper, became enamored with foraging through the trash can for morsels of food and coffee grounds.

Tiny Kitchen, Dining, Living

We still made bacon or sausage for breakfast on the weekends, despite the fact there is no hood vent for the stove. If I had somewhere to be I would be sure to tell my husband not to cook breakfast meat, as everyone I would encounter that day would know what I dined on for breakfast. No one wants to smell like bacon or sausage.  Well, no one except for my husband.

And, when the washing machine failed and trapped our clothes inside for a week the smell didn’t have anywhere to go but everywhere. And it did.  If you are intrigued about that, you can read about it here.

Now, the toilet is resisting the use of five people. Carpenter ants are meandering about as if they own the place.

Carpenter Ant

And, the other day the twins squealed with delight when they found an earwig in their room. They came galloping out searching for the bug playground, so they could capture the earwig and put it inside of the playground to play.

A nice woman down the street, who lives in a lovely and brand new home, told me the earwigs get into her house too. Supposedly it is due to the proximity to the lake, or she was just being nice.

We live small and dilapidated.

Arms Stretched tiny House

A carpenter ant crossed the line last week and invaded my space. I dropped it into the toilet. The kids were in bed and because the toilet doesn’t need any more flushing than necessary, I did not immediately send it swirling into the septic system. I should have known better because children (at least my children) never stay in bed.

My animal-loving daughter got up to go to the bathroom and before I could wash my blood stained hands and dispose of the body, she exclaimed in a high octave from the bathroom, “Mommy! There is. A living creature. In. The. Toilet!” She followed in a disapproving tone with “Did you put him in there?!”

Just so you know, carpenter ants can swim. And, when I rushed in, there he was doing the doggy paddle under the gaze of my daughter while they both contemplated his escape route. Needless to say, I had to build a toilet paper bridge for it under the watchful eye of my daughter and then had to transport its toilet water soaked self outside to live another day.

I think he will think twice before he steps in here again!

We have now small house lived for 15 months.  A family of five plus a 70 pound German Shepherd on the banks of a North Carolina lake in a fishing cabin.  Two bedrooms, one bathroom and no room for anyone else – not even a fish.  But, we are done with this house and it is quietly but firmly saying it is done with us too, regurgitating toilet contents more than several times over the last few weeks.  Or, maybe it is just nauseated because it knows we are leaving. 😉

The sun is setting on our time here and soon we will say farewell to all of this:

Tiny House at dusk


Tiny House Living Room

Tiny House laugh

Tiny House Kitchen

hallway and hamper tiny house

Tiny Master Bedroom

Kids' Room Tiny House

Small house living at its best.

In the last 15 months, I have been frustrated at times, yet I have also been thankful and joyful.  I have thought:  never in a million years would I do this again.  I have also thought:  I would do this again in a heart beat and oh my goodness I love this house.

So, here are my ‘why you shoulds’ and ‘why you should nots.’  Spoiler alert:  The loving it wins, but not for full time forever.  At least not if you have a family of five and a medium-size, elderly, blind and trash-loving dog with dementia.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Go Tiny or Small House for Your Primary Residence

1. No Privacy

720 square feet.  Need I say more?

2. No buying in bulk

Go ahead and give up your membership to the cost club.  For the last year and three months we have stored our paper towels and toilet paper in our van.  I go to the grocery store at least three to four times a week because there is not much space to store food.  I recently gave up and started buying paper towels in a two pack mainly so my oldest wouldn’t have to share the back seat of the van with the paper goods.

3. It is harder to clean than you might think

Frankly, it is hard to move about with your vacuum and broom no matter how much of a minimalist you are in a small space.  You are also tucking things in nooks and crannies, and nooks and crannies gather dust just as well as open spaces.  Not to mention – toys, which cover 99% of bedroom floor space because no matter how much you take away there are still too many.

And, if you have a pet, you might want to stop right now and reconsider, especially if the pet sheds.  We have a German Shedder Shepherd.  Imagine excessive daily shedding condensed into a tiny space.  It seems like it would be easier to clean, but it just makes it necessary to clean more frequently than you would ever desire to.  Or, you must become at one with the hair.

I made the mistake of joking with a few friends about how I would be skipping along, free from the burdens of excessive housework.  Ha!  That bit me right in the rear end!

4. Limited entertaining space

If you like to entertain – where exactly are you going to put your friends?  We have entertained since being here, but only outside and only in very small numbers.  And there is the added concern of ‘what if it rains?!’

5. Clothes change out challenges

If you have children (and no closets), there is no where to gracefully rotate the clothes to when the seasons change.  Then, your car becomes not only your paper towel and toilet paper storage cabinet, but also your out of season clothing storage closet.

3 Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Go Small

1. You will spend so much more time outside

When we moved to the tiny house my children played outside more in the first month than they had the past 6 months in our 3400-square foot house in a lovely culdesac.

White House Not as Tiny

Part of that could be due to the proximity to the lake, but part of it was because limited space resulted in limited toys and less opportunity for entertainment inside. Since we don’t often turn to screens, they went outside to make do. And they did.

Outside Joy


Kites at Tiny House

Not So Tiny Snake

Happy Tiny Kids

Wagon Contemplation

2. You will be freed from endless material pursuits

When you live in 720 square feet it is easy to say no to your kids when they want a new trinket or toy. It is also easy to say no to yourself – even when you are surrounded by the dollar section at Target. Unless you want to live as if you are soon to be featured on that show about hoarders, you buy much less stuff. And, as you sift through what you do have, it further emphasizes what you really need versus what you really want.

In my case, you conclude that once you finish building your new house you will not bring everything back from its life in storage – except for the china, because it deserves to be fulfilled doesn’t it?

3. More Time With Family

You are forced to be in the same spaces. You must share. You are forced to connect.

Checkers in Tiny House

Cozy Reading

I keep asking my children if they will miss the tiny house. They usually contemplate the question and then never give me an answer. My oldest finally said the other day that he will miss the house because it is so very cozy.  And, last night at bedtime, my youngest started crying that he was going to miss his room.

I am a little sad too, but I know that time will heal the sadness of leaving our small house.  Plus, our home will be wherever we are regardless of where that is (and hopefully the earwigs and carpenter ants won’t find us there!).

Home to Tiny House

Journey on and consider a tiny house! If you want to know a little more, you can read a smidge about the tiny house craze below.

xo, Melissa a.k.a. the mamabrain at mamabrains

The Tiny House Movement

In 1978 the average size of a new single family home in the United States was 1,780 square feet.  By 2007 it was 2,479 square feet and in 2013 it had risen to 2,662 square feet even though the average size of a family in the U.S. had decreased.

The small house movement began in the late 90’s, although Henry David Thoreau is cited as an early inspiration due to his book Walden.  Today, there is a distinction between a small house and a tiny house.  The former is between 400 and 1,000 square feet and the latter is less than 400 square feet.  So, technically I suppose I small-house lived.  I think I would argue that the space per person in our housing situation qualifies as a tiny house though.

During the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the movement offered a much-needed more-affordable housing choice, but overall it still only represents a miniscule part of real estate transactions coming in at 1%.

Despite those statistics, the idea of living small still lures viewers to watch Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters.  I have never watched, but I wonder if they talk about the pet hair and the demands one bathroom must meet!  Tiny living struggles are real, but so is the joy that comes with the connections and with the force that draws you outside.


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