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What It's Really Like to Live in a Tiny House

9 Surprising Truths No One Tells You About Moving Into a Tiny Home


The meteoric rise of the tiny-house movement in recent years has been spurred on by contemporary homeowners' desire for a simpler, unfettered life. While these micro dwellings do come with some great perks — they're inexpensive and low-maintenance, freeing up time and money for other things — they also come with a few lesser-known cons. Before you sell off your belongings and take the dive into the tiny-living lifestyle, get all the information. Check out nine surprising truths of tiny-home ownership below.

Basic Life Functions

Everyday things you take for granted in a standard house, like getting mail and doing laundry, require thought when living in a tiny house. If you decide to downsize, you'll likely find yourself going outside the home to pick up letters at a P.O. box or wash clothes at the laundromat.

Legal Trouble

One of the biggest — and least known — complications of living in a tiny home is the legality of it. Many states have minimum home size requirements that tiny houses don't meet, making them illegal dwellings. There are some ways to navigate around this, such as having the house reside on land where it's a secondary accessory dwelling to an approved primary house or trying to have it registered as an RV. But these are complicated issues that require serious research. Ignore them, and you could find your tiny home with an eviction notice on it.

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Clutter Reality

The beautiful images of tiny homes that fuel your daydreams have been styled to Pinterest perfection. In reality, tiny homes get messy just as fast, if not faster, than traditional homes. In such a tight space, it begins to feel cluttered the second an item is out of place.

Entertaining Limitations

Say goodbye to big dinner parties. With a good floor plan, you can squeeze one other couple in, but otherwise you'll need some outdoor space to accommodate company. And when it comes to having overnight guests, you'll need a fold-out chair and an adventurous guest (and yes, that was guest singular). There just isn't room for more.

Forced Intimacy

If you plan on moving in with another person, prepare to get up close and personal. There's no private space to escape off to for alone time. You'll be constantly connected and have to compromise on basic things such as what to cook for dinner (no room to prep two meals) to what TV show to watch (only one set).

Plumbing Considerations

Depending on how often you plan on moving your home and where you plan on moving it to, there are several plumbing options. Homes can be built to plug into sanitation and electricity infrastructure in RV parks, have a pressurized water hookup to connect to a hose when parked in a backyard, or even collect rainwater and have compostable toilets for those looking to go off the grid. All require more work than plumbing in traditional homes.

Health Changes

Before taking the plunge, consider how your circumstances might change within the next few years. Changes in health or a growing family can seriously impact your ability to live in a tiny house; for example, it will be nearly impossible to navigate your way up to a loft bed if poor health causes your mobility to be limited or you're heavily pregnant.

Lifestyle Proclivity

If you're a homebody or one who enjoys decorating the house and tending to the yard on the weekend, you may not be suited for microhome living. Those who prefer being in the great outdoors and detest home maintenance — and generally live their lives outside of their home — tend to fare best in the microhome community, as domestic activities and decorating are extremely limited.

Downsized Belongings

One of the biggest perks is also one of the biggest challenges to small-space living: getting rid of things. On one hand it's very liberating to toss most of your belongings, but on the other hand downsizing means you have to get rid of some sentimental and valued pieces. If you're not willing to part with Grandma's treasured dress collection or heirloom antique furniture, then you might not be ready for a microhome.

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